Improving outcomes with pathways reforms
College of the Desert

Improving outcomes with pathways reforms


Streamline degree planning and implement guided pathways reforms

  • Increased degree and certificate completion by 42%
  • Virtually eliminated its equity gap
  • Created dramatic new efficiencies in degree planning

Increasing completion and transfers while virtually eliminating the equity gap

Like many of its community college peers, the College of the Desert (COD) wanted to improve its student advising, shorten wait times for services, and reduce the number of excess credits taken by transfer students.

Those goals have become reality, thanks to a multi-pronged approach that includes big improvements to both process and technology.

Success by the numbers

Several years ago, the college began implementing reforms aligned with the guided pathways model of structured academic mapping and advising. COD also created the “plEDGE Program,” which provides tuition and fees for two years for local high school graduates who enroll full time. Finally, the college implemented Ellucian Colleague® Student Planning to help it improve academic planning, student self-service, and communication among students, faculty, and staff.

Since implementing its changes, COD has:

  • Increased degree and certificate completion by 42% between 2012 and 2018
  • Increased Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) students for the past six years
  • Increased four-year university transfer by 41 percent, with 59 percent of the cohort represented by Hispanic/Latino students

COD also revamped its course-selection practices. To streamline the process and encourage students to take a more proactive role in managing their coursework, the college moved to open-lab educational planning. As a result, COD’s counseling staff has gained more time for in-depth advising and targeted program development.

“By doing student educational plans in the lab and letting go of the mechanics of planning, advisors now have more appointments available for career counseling, for personal counseling, and for discussing specific transfer goals,” says Amanda Phillips, dean of counseling at College of the Desert.

The students like the self-service features. They like being able to look at things and move things around on their plan. They like that they have access to it at all times, and they like how they can control it.

Amanda Phillips, Dean of Counseling, College of the Desert

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