The Palomar Pathways Mapper is an interactive tool to help students envision their higher education and reach their goals faster.
SAN MARCOS — A new feature of the Palomar College website is helping students chart a course to their degree or certificate, an especially timely innovation during the COVID-19 health crisis that led to the suspension of face-to-face counseling.
While Palomar’s full counseling services remain available to students online, the new Pathways Mapper is specifically designed to lay out a student’s path from entering Palomar College to earning their degree or certificate, said Professor and Curriculum Co-Chair Wendy Nelson.
“A student can go on the website, open the Mapper and know exactly what classes to take, enroll in those classes, and complete their degree or certificate,” said Nelson, who helped lead the development of the new resource. “Our students are most interested in degrees and certificates—and the Mapper gives students the ability to say, ‘This is how I’ll get there.’”
It also gives potential students, high school counselors and parents a better feel for what lies ahead: “You don’t even have to be a student to get this information—you could be a community member, or a high school student who wants to start taking some of the Palomar classes they know they’ll need.”
The user-friendly interface begins with seven “meta-majors,” or subject areas at Palomar College, designed to help students narrow down their choices. Each one leads to a menu of degrees and certificates, and selecting one of these options yields a wealth of useful information to help students make their decision and see the path to their desired goal.
Each pathway page provides an overview of the field; several “learning outcomes” students can expect to achieve; a range of salaries in related careers; an industry growth outlook; and, most importantly, an easy-to-read, term-by-term course schedule.
“I am very excited about this first major step in establishing Guided Pathways for Palomar College,” said Interim Superintendent/President Dr. Jack Kahn. “Making our educational options clear and accessible for students is so incredibly important for their success.”
Associate Professor and Counselor Karan Huskey has been using the Palomar Pathways Mapper as a tool to help students explore various career options and review the courses required for their degree.
According to Huskey, a cybersecurity student told her, “I have attended several local colleges, and this is the first time I really understand how a degree works.” Another student said, “I love the way this is hands on, and if I need to change a course from my educational plan, I feel like I’m more comfortable selecting my classes now.”
Nelson said the Mapper will be updated at least annually to reflect new degrees and certificates, and future development is likely to include an integration with Cal State San Marcos, so that transfer students can see the entire four-year path to a bachelor degree, beginning at Palomar.
“We wanted to get this up and running before June 1 because of COVID-19, because our students aren’t able to get to campus and work with a counselor the way they would if we were open,” she said.