Pathways to Education and Career Success are Beneficial

Low graduation rates and large skills gaps have created the need to develop positive pathways that lead to student success – and beyond. Pathways that lead to academic success and those that lead to career advancement are necessary to meet the labor market demands of today.

In the decade from 2005-2015 both student enrollment and education completion rose – but not at the same rate. Certificate and degree completion rose by 35.5 percent, but enrollment grew by only 12.9 percent, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) 2016 report. .

This is an important point according to George Pernsteiner, SHEEO president. “It says the institutions are more effective and the students are more focused on earning degrees that they were a decade ago. I think part of that is the drumbeat of the economy. Part of that is the focus that states have put on attainment goals.”

The focus on attainment is a key factor in the development of support programs that help students achieve their education goals. The American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) Pathways Project is one example. The pathways project is a national plan to use guided pathways to improve student success according to the Community College Research Center report. The schools participating in the report focus on key areas of:
• Mapping pathways to student end goals
• Helping students choose and enter a program pathway
• Keeping students on path
• Ensuring that students are learning

The report shows how mapping pathways to student end goals creates a connection between schoolwork and careers. For working students, who are the majority in higher education today, this connection helps them relate what they learn to their jobs. They will be able to see both completion and career advancements as possible end results.

Helping students choose and enter a program pathway can happen at school, but also as part of a planned career path at work and tuition assistance programs. If employers map out career pathways that include the education necessary to achieve career steps, employees will see the need for their education and the pay-off from it.

Everyone at a school is responsible for keeping students on a path, the pathways report states. Employers, who have a vested interest in the student’s success, can also help students stay on the right path. Career counseling within TAP can ensure that career requirements and class are aligned.

The workplace is also the right environment for students to enhance their learning. Opportunities to use education on the job create a positive environment for reinforcing what students learn in the classroom. In a Pew Research Center report, 50 percent of students said that gaining more work experience while they were in school would have prepared them better for their careers. Using a tuition assistance program to help develop student pathways to success is a double benefit. Students work towards completion, applying their new knowledge, and employers can create their own educated and qualified workforce.