In its last 11 years, Complete College America has always been concerned about policy and structural impediments to student success. Whether addressing traditional remediation (Corequisite Support), the lack of clarity surrounding credit accumulation (15 to Finish), the unnecessary imposition to take college algebra for all majors (Math Pathways), or unclear pathways towards graduation (Guided Pathways and Academic Maps), CCA was looking at the barriers that too many students, particularly Black, Latinx, first-generation, and students from low-income backgrounds, had to overcome in order to achieve their goals. However, in the spirit of true institutional transformation, we recognize that simply removing obstacles doesn’t guarantee equitable outcomes. To eliminate institutional performance gaps and promote student success, schools must create new structures or dramatically modify existing structures to support students and foster their success.

In this vein, CCA is clustering several strategies that fall under structural reform to enhance student success and facilitate progression towards their degrees. In particular, CCA is encouraging institutions to adopt the following strategies:

  • Math Pathways: Identify the appropriate gateway math course that is aligned with the skills students need for their chosen program of study.
  • Meta-Majors: Provide students with opportunities to explore related programs of study that allow them to make more informed and deliberate decisions about their majors, while making progress towards their degrees.
  • Academic Maps & Milestones: Delineate the path to graduation and highlight significant milestones that contribute to student success in a clear and comprehensive format.
  • Smart Schedules: Design schedules that contribute to degree progression and meet the needs of all students.
  • Stackable Certificates & Credentials: Create competency-driven structures that encourage lifelong learning and attainment of degrees of value.

With the rising cost of higher education, increased life obligations, and the changing demographics of college students, predictable yet flexible structures that allow for greater support and faster credit accumulation are necessary to meet the demands of today’s students.



The Overlooked Value of Certificates and Associate’s Degrees; What Students Need to Know Before They Go to College
Center on Education and the Workforce

Getting Ready to Serve Today’s Students
Nicole Gahagan and Brad Piazza, Waukesha County Technical College

Academic Maps: Marking the Milestones
Larry Abele, Institute for Academic Leadership, State University System of Florida


Guiding Questions

  • What obstacles stand in the way of completion for your students? In what ways is the burden being placed on students to overcome them rather than on states and institutions?
  • How might the answers to the above questions differ across different student populations? 
  • Beyond removing barriers, why is it important that we explore new structures that meet the demands of today’s students?


With Equity & Justice For All

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