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Student pathways may be limiting academic exploration

By Abigail Trujillo
Staff Reporter

Student “pathways,” developed by City Colleges of Chicago to help students graduate, are blinding students to academic opportunities outside of their declared major, according to faculty.

Because pathways limit student choice regarding their class schedule, students are given little opportunity to explore personal development outside of their declared pathway, according to Jessica Bader, Vice President of Faculty Council, or FC4.

“That’s my worry, that students won’t have full access. That district office is essentially prescribing the classes you should take,” said Bader.

Pathways were designed by CCC as a way to help students with a scheduling system that matches course offerings to students' needs and preference, according to Harold Washington College's website.

A pathway is described as “relevant, structured, supported path to succeed in College,” by HWC’s website.

While the pathway may be an efficient way to accelerate graduation for students and help them get a job, the concern for staff is that students are missing out on staple of the higher education system, which is exploring classes and topics that may be foreign to them.

“I think one of the most important things that college students are doing, in addition to educating themselves for their future careers, is for personal development,” said Bader.

HWC started the “College to Careers” program, or C2C, to help students with their college career path.

“Launched in 2011, more than 200 companies and universities are now helping align curricula and facilities with employer demand to close the skills gap. More than 3,000 students have found a job or paid internship since the C2C program launched,” according to HWC’s website.

The outcome of focusing on classes that are meant to get students jobs has been low enrollment in humanities, arts and foreign language, according to staff.

“Classes that never had a problem with enrollment are barely filling,”  said Bader.

Harold’s theater program is one of the low enrolled art classes, according to Bader.

The faculty council has been working for nearly two years on getting the district office to accept their proposal for having a committee to investigate the problem of the pathway, shopping cart, and financial aid, according to Bader. As of Feb. 1, the district office has agreed to their proposal of reconsidering pathways, said Bader.

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