Figuring out what you want to do with your life isn’t always easy.
But Columbia Basin College is trying something new to help students see the possibilities.
The Pasco-based college was inducted into the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Frontier Set, an initiative aimed at rewarding colleges and universities committed to increasing student success.
As a member, the college received a four-year $630,000 grant. The money will pay for salaries and training to develop the college’s “Guided Pathways” initiative.
The grant is managed through The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program.
Officials are developing what the program will do when it’s finished, but Kristen Billetdeaux’s vision is for each student entering the college to receive a plan to reach their goal, and a forecast for what they can expect when they finish their education.
We don’t want to just hand a student a sheet of paper. We want to have a connection with a student throughout their education here by providing them the tools and resources that lead them to their goal.
Kristen Billetdeaux, Columbia Basin College
For instance, if a student wants to pursue a degree in psychology, then they would understand the classes they need to attend, the outlook for jobs in the field and the types of careers available to them with that degree, said Billetdeaux, the program’s director.
“If I decided to go into psychology, it doesn’t mean I’m going to be a psychologist,” she said. “You could enter the workforce helping app or game designers.”
If a student doesn’t have a plan when they get to the campus, then they will receive support that allows them to explore their options.
“We don’t want to just hand a student a sheet of paper,” Billetdeaux said. “We want to have a connection with a student throughout their education here by providing them the tools and resources that lead them to their goal.”
The program is still in its early stages, she said. They are working with a small focus group of students to develop what the paths look like. There isn’t a date for when the program would be available for every student.
The goal is to support students in reaching their educational goals more efficiently, she said.