Serving statewide coordinating and governing boards in developing and sustaining excellent systems of higher education.
Pathways to College Project

The Pathways to College Network is an alliance of over 30 national organizations and funders committed to advancing college access and success for underserved students, including those who are the first generation in their families to go to college, low-income students, underrepresented minorities, and students with disabilities. Launched in 2001, their emphasis is on connecting policymakers , education leaders and practitioners, and community leaders with research on effective strategies for improving college preparation, enrollment, and degree completion. Six guiding principles remain a the center of their ongoing work:

  • Expect that all undeserved students are capable of being prepared to enroll and succeed in college.
  • Provide a range of high-quality college-preparatory tools for underserved students and their families.
  • Embrace social, cultural, and learning-style differences in developing learning environments and activities for underserved students.
  • Involve leaders at all levels in establishing policies, programs, and practices that facilitate student transitions towards postsecondary attainment.
  • Maintain sufficient financial and human resources to enable underserved students to prepare for, enroll, and succeed in college.
  • Assess policy, program, practice, and institutional effectiveness regularly.

Project Activities and Plans

In 2004, Pathways published A Shared Agenda: A Leadership Challenge to Improve College Access and Success, a report that culminates three years of collaborative effort in gathering research, conducting discussions, and encouraging debate on how our society can meet the imperative of college access and success for all of its young people. The report summarizes research-based effective policies and practices drawn from over 650 studies and offers broad policy recommendations and specific actions that leaders in government, education, and communities can take to improve college access and success for underserved students.

Pathways’ action plan for 2004-2006 focuses on four priorities:

  • Encourage schools to make a rigorous college-prep curriculum the standard course of study for all students, so they will have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in both postsecondary education and the workplace.
  • Improve the effectiveness of college access marketing campaigns that aim to influence the college-going behavior of underserved students.
  • Encourage early financial aid commitments and early notification programs for underserved students.
  • Persuade postsecondary leaders to take steps to improve the retention and graduation rates of underserved students.

Their goal is to catalyze discussion around these key issues and to prompt leaders and practitioners to implement change. The Pathways Network will also continue to actively pursue ongoing research about how policies and practices can be improved to better serve students.

SHEEO's involvement in this project includes:

  • The Building Statewide K-16 Systems for Student Success project. This was a three-year effort that contributes to the state policy work of the Pathways Network by focusing on the characteristics of exemplary K-16 efforts at the state level. The project culminated in the publication of a series of strategy briefs, Student Success: Statewide P-16 Systems, that synthesized information from state case studies and roundtables and analyzed key issues and challenges faced by state leaders in developing and implementing statewide K-16 systems.
  • Ongoing participation in a working group led by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) charged with creating a resource toolbox focused on college access and success for all students.
  • The creation and dissemination of a survey on state-level outreach programs. This survey includes details on financial commitments and marketing strategies for these programs. The results of this survey are currently being gathered and analyzed.