Community colleges play a critical role in our education ecosystem by providing open-access education to a substantial majority of the country’s first-generation, low-income, and students of color. Community colleges across the country are collaborating with their K-12 partners to strengthen academic counseling and provide clear academic and career pathways for students. Institutional leaders at Miami Dade College (MDC) realized that waiting for students to arrive as freshmen was too late to begin providing the advising and navigational supports students need to succeed in completing a postsecondary degree program.
Through an innovative partnership with the K-12 school district, MDC has developed a three-tier advising structure that starts with prospective students receiving pre-college advising support in their high school. On-site advising is available at 97 high schools, and more than 90% of Miami-Dade high school students are assigned a pre-college advisor from MDC. These advisors are responsible for providing navigational support and facilitating workshops on financial aid and career selection for high school seniors.
The Miami Dade College Pre-College Advising Program (Shark Path) is a comprehensive series of programs, activities, and counseling sessions that guide students at every stage of their college and career journey. Shark Path includes a noncognitive assessment, a career assessment, assistance with applying for financial aid and scholarships, and an online curriculum that students complete prior to their participation in first-year orientation. The pre-college portion of Shark Path has increased the number of students who have registered for courses by 12%, approximately 78% of students enrolled in a developmentally appropriate English and math course and 90% of students attended orientation.
The program continues with new student orientation, which is an opportunity for students to meet their assigned advisor to discuss course selection and review the results of their pre-college assessments. During the first semester, students continue to meet with their advisor to develop academic degree maps, which have led to significant increases in the number of students who have completed gateway courses in their programs of study. For students who participate in Shark Path, the fall-to-fall retention rate is 75%.
Shark Path was developed after academic and student affairs staff analyzed student data, and conducted focus groups to identify the barriers to student success. Today, MDC continues to analyze student data to revise and further develop interventions and to implement their learnings at scale.
For more information about Miami Dade College’s level up strategy or to share your own Level Up story, please contact us.
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