The Rural Guided Pathways Project is a three-year project in which a national cohort of rural community colleges is working with each other — and with community partners in their regions — to implement evidence-based, institution-wide reforms grounded in the guided pathways framework. The project’s rural focus and in-depth participation of community partners set it apart from other guided pathways efforts.
The Rural Guided Pathways Project is the first time a pathways institute structure is focused specifically on the needs of rural institutions. Historically, rural community college leaders have not had many opportunities to problem-solve around the student success and completion issues that are particular to their culture, context, and capacity. The Rural Guided Pathways Project gives rural colleges opportunities to work through challenging issues and collaborate with peer institutions, all in the context of a learning community that provides a broad range of supports.
The Rural Guided Pathways Project is the first time community partners are deeply embedded in pathways implementation. In prior pathways projects, institutions were asked to involve outside organizations in work on discrete topics, such as dual enrollment. In this project, regional partners are an integral part of each college’s team. The value of Involving external stakeholders in pathways work — and giving them specific roles and responsibilities — is amplified in rural settings, where students’ education, residents’ economic mobility, and the regional economy are so closely intertwined.