Interstate Passport Briefing

Guided Pathways and Interstate Passport

by Gary Pritchard, acting dean, academic affairs and dean, fine arts/communications,Cerritos College (CA)

As the California Community College system invests in Guided Pathways, leadership teams are considering equity, impacted programs, cost-of-living, and employment opportunities when building successful transfer models. Interstate Passport offers an approach to guiding students in a world that’s increasingly, as Thomas Friedman suggests, hotter, flatter, and more crowded. To succeed in such a world, students will need opportunities both inside and outside of California.

Many Interstate Passport Network (IPN) institutions are located in states with competitive living standards and significant employment opportunities. For example, a student who wants to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing may find an opportunity with a nationally ranked nursing program and high-quality instructors at the University of Utah.

With an Interstate Passport, the University of Utah takes all lower-division coursework completed from either California IPN institutions (Cerritos College and College of the Siskyous) and qualified students may enter into the nursing program as a junior.

California IPN institutions appreciate a broad understanding of workforce development and the importance of portability in higher education’s future. Cerritos College and College of the Siskyous demonstrate their willingness to meet students wherever they are in post-secondary education as the first two Interstate Passport adopters in California.

The great British explorer and mountain climber Edmund Hillary renowned for his successful expedition to the summit of Mt. Everest needed a great guide. Tenzing Norgay, his companion and very talented guide, is less remembered in history but equal in importance to Hillary’s success. California’s guided pathways project is headed in the right direction and needs to build a system of capable guides that expands on student achievement. Interstate Passport, currently with a membership of 30 institutions in 12 states and growing, allows exploration into high quality institutions that may not be on the radar of our students.

Cerritos College is currently in the early stages of implementing Guided Pathways. We are focused on improving student success with better alignment of all areas of the student experience. Student learning outcomes are essential to improving classroom instruction and completion rates. As our Guided Pathways committee meets, the quantitative, oral, and written communication skills required in successfully earning an undergraduate education occupy much of our conversations. The state requires that community colleges maximize the possibility of students completing college-level courses in English and math within a year. The Passport Learning Outcomes adopted by our college emphasize these important foundational skills. As the Interstate Passport Institutional Liaison, I believe that the IPN foundational skills in college-level speaking, writing, and quantitative literacy ensure that our college maintains high educational standards and best teaching practices held by our IPN partners.

Jim Collins’ books Built to Last and Good to Great take a deeper look at successful organizations and find that there is really no single lucky break, no miracle moment that makes for a lasting great organization. Within the continuum of change in higher education, there remain enduring values that shape our performance. Cerritos College, like all great colleges in the IPN, understands the value of foundational skill attainment for all post-secondary students at a deep organizational level. Our partnership within the IPN aligns our core values with other great colleges and universities outside of California. We are proud of the work we do for our students and proud to be part of the higher education IPN team.