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Guided pathways is a strategy focused on building capacity for colleges, particularly community colleges, to design and implement structured academic and career pathways at scale, for all students.

Based on research from the Community College Research Center (CCRC) and the national Pathways Collaborative and building on emerging experiences from the field, pathways is intentionally designed to increase completion rates and assist our students to succeed in their higher education goals.

This integrated, system-wide approach to student success based on intentionally designed, clear, coherent and structured educational experiences that seek to guide each student efficiently from high school to post secondary entry through attainment of high-quality credentials at two and four-year institutions to careers with a focus on equity-based practices and supports.

SUNY Guided Pathways Institutes

Based on AACC Pathways Institute model where college teams participate institutes designed around the key pillars of the guided pathways framework, SUNY currently supports two cohorts of 18 community colleges. The four pillars of guided pathways include:

  • clarify the paths;
  • help students get on a path;
  • help students stay on their path and
  • ensure students are learning.

Each institute focuses on an important aspect of institutional change and pathway design and implementation with advance work by the colleges resulting in action plans. The institute combines presentations from national and state experts with facilitated discussion and planning sessions for college teams. The model supports coaches who help facilitate discussions and support teams to move forward in implementing their action plans.

Monroe Community College was selected as the lead college based on their participation in the AACC Pathways 1.0 Project with support from Mohawk Valley and Rockland Community Colleges.

18 Participating Community Colleges:

Cohort 1 (2018-2019): Corning, Jamestown, Mohawk Valley, Monroe, Onondaga, Orange, Rockland, Suffolk, Tompkins Cortland and Westchester Community Colleges

Cohort 2 (2019-2022): Dutchess, Erie, Finger Lakes, Hudson Valley, Jefferson, Schenectady, Ulster, and Nassau Community Colleges

Campus Leadership

A cross-functional steering team including representatives from academic and student services administrators, faculty, advisors, IR and IT staff, and other campus stakeholders participate in the Institutes based on topics. A key component of supporting the implementation is ensuring that team members have access to data regarding student enrollment in and progress through guided pathways. At a minimum, colleges monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) for student enrollment and progression each semester, gateway course and other milestone attainment, and credentials earned by exploratory or “meta-major” and specific program.


Creating guided pathways requires managing and sustaining large-scale transformational change. The work begins with thorough planning, continues thorough consistent implementation, and depends on ongoing evaluation. The goal is to improve rates of college completion, transfer, and attainment of jobs with value in the labor market – and to achieve equity in those outcomes.

Recognizing that some pathways within each college may be more fully developed than others by that point, each pathway should include at a minimum:

  • Clearly specified further education and employment goals for every program;
  • A full-program curriculum map with a default semester-by-semester sequence of courses to complete the program;
  • Exploratory or “meta-majors” to help entering students choose a program of study, identification of critical courses and other milestones students are expected to attain in each semester;
  • Program learning outcomes aligned with the requirements for success in further education and employment, with necessary assessment strategies in place;
  • Policies for intentional advising at intake to assist students in selecting a program that is right for them;
  • Policies to provide timely feedback to students when they meet benchmarks or get “off track” in their selected program.

To learn more about the SUNY Guided Pathways Institute model, please click on this link and you will be directed to the current SUNY Guided Pathways site hosted by Monroe Community College.

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