ECC started its mission of open access to education in 1947 with only 400 students. At the time the task was daunting, but manageable: those 400 students were spread out across only 8 programs. Today Erie Community College has over 11,000 students spread out over more than 80 programs. The astonishing choices that we offer to prospective students is important and it speaks to our diverse economy, but it also constitutes a difficult hurdle for students who are sometimes overwhelmed by the available career paths we offer.
The ECC of 2021 will respond to this explosion of choice with two major initiatives: guided curricular pathways and customized support systems that respond to individual student needs rather than one-size-fits-all solutions.
The guided pathways approach closely tracks the Complete College America GuidedPathways to Success model which has been the subject of intense research by the Community College Research Center, the Lumina Foundation, and other independent researchers. The approach promises to be a game changer for student onboarding and building the support structure for their success.
The customized support structures currently being built by ECC educators and professionals promise to offer administrators and faculty a 360-degree view of student life at the college. The shift away from data silos and decentralized academic support systems will lead toward a single source of data relative to student success and centralized systems at each campus to provide student support, thus eliminating confusion over how and where to seek assistance. At the same time as we are building a single intake system for student support, however, we are busy constructing a system via the Starfish platform that allows for customized success plans for each student, delivers actionable and precise data on each student to faculty and support staff, and gives students the necessary support while promoting a philosophy of independent lifelong learning.