Don't give students too many choices. Back in the day, we valued choices and liked to be responsible for determining our path. Today? Not so much. Choice cripples, especially Generation F. From The Pacific Standard.
It isn’t unusual to feel bewildered in the face of too many choices. Many students — especially low-income, first-generation students — are overwhelmed by the proliferation of classes and majors available at a typical community college. What to study? Where to begin? Who to turn to for help?
“Students who face a cafeteria menu of choices — you know, ‘Pick one class from Column A, two from Column B, three from Column C’ — it’s very confusing. It would be confusing to most adults, much less the average recent high school graduate,” says Stuart Cochran, dean of strategic planning at Guttman Community College in New York City.
So Guttman has only five majors. Students are guided through a structured process to help them select the right major and succeed in their courses. Every student starts by taking an extensive, mandatory course exploring different careers, and only after this course’s completion do they choose their major. Once a week, students attend a required group advising session for support and guidance. They also have access to peer mentors, and are grouped together in classes to encourage mutual support and coordinated instruction. “Nobody falls through the cracks here,” Cochran says.
It seems to be working. Nearly 50 percent of Guttman College’s students — most of whom are low-income, first-generation college students — graduate within three years, “which is off-the-charts unheard-of in higher ed,” Cochran says. The average three-year graduation rate for community colleges in the United States is around 20 percent.