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PJC Regents hear how five years in, Pathways helps students

At their monthly meeting held Monday, Feb. 28, the Paris Junior College Board of Regents received an update on the Guided Pathways program. The College implemented the program five years ago, according to Vice President for Student Access and Success Sheila Reece.

“Guided Pathways helps students clarify their goals,” said Reece. “They select a pathway and stay on track with that pathway in order to finish a certificate or degree without any excessive hours.”

She distributed sample degree plans given to the students that contain courses needed for a specific program and other information such as marketable skills, program outcomes, and any specific university-transfer requirements.

“Because of Pathways, PJC students’ average semester credit hours is lower than our peer community colleges,” said Reece. “It takes 60 hours to graduate with an associate’s degree. PJC was at 70 hours to graduate while our peer colleges were at 76 hours, so we’re doing better.”

PJC is also outperforming peer colleges in time to graduate: 3.2 years compared to 3.6 years.

“You might think three years is a long time, but we have many part-time students and many who stop out and then come back,” said Reece. 

To help implement the plan, PJC has seven student success coaches spread among Paris, Greenville and Sulphur Springs averaging 150 to 250 students they see each semester. Two are licensed professional counselors who assist students with problems such as depression, anxiety, or other problems. A testing anxiety workshop has recently been implemented.

The success coaches also work with students undecided about what they want to take, and help them narrow their choices and pick a pathway. They also act on alerts from faculty if a student is not attending class or turning in work to find out what’s going on, get them back in class and set up tutoring, if needed.

In other business, the Regents:

• Raised 2022-2023 tuition by $2 per semester credit hour, following two years with no increase, and the general fee remains unchanged. The increase goes into effect with the Fall 2022 semester.

• Approved waiver of a portion of dual credit tuition and fees, keeping them at the same level. For the Spring 2022 semester, dual credit students comprised 40 percent of enrollment.

• Received the President’s Report, including an update on the 2020 Accountability Report that tracks 2018, 2019, and 2020 data about the college. It allows the College to evaluate and benchmark progress.

• Accepted employment of Student Success Coach/Financial Aid Advisor Elizabeth Joslin at the PJC-Sulphur Springs Center effective March 1.