Four years ago, the NMSU system began planning the Aggie Pathway to the Baccalaureate. The program was intended to provide a pathway to a baccalaureate degree for students who did not meet the admission requirements of NMSU Las Cruces, by having students start their four-year degree program at one of the NMSU system community colleges. Here the combination of smaller classes, cohort-based learning communities, access to advisors from both the community college and the main campus, and peer mentoring, would provide a supportive learning environment, help these students achieve success in the community college classroom, and allow them to obtain the study skills necessary to transition successfully to the NMSU Las Cruces campus.
Students in the program can transfer to the Las Cruces campus when they have completed 24 credits of non-developmental courses with a GPA of 2.5 or better, although many students will choose to finish an associate’s degree before transferring.
The response to the program has exceeded expectations, particularly at NMSU Doña Ana Community College. Here, more than 280 students entered the program in the fall of 2016. Enrollment in the fall of 2017 has risen to more than 650 Pathway students on the NMSU DACC campuses and more than 750 across all community college campuses in the system. Many of the students entering the program could have matriculated directly to NMSU Las Cruces, but opted into the Aggie Pathway Program because of the lower cost of our community colleges and the benefits associated with smaller class size and learning communities.
Not only do students appreciate the attention they receive in the program, this attention is having the desired effect on student success. The persistence rate from fall 2016 to spring 2017 was seven percentage points higher for Aggie Pathway students than for other degree-seeking students at NMSU Doña Ana Community College. Perhaps most importantly, students on the Pathway with high school GPAs between 2.5 and 2.75 exhibited a higher persistence rate (by 4.4 percentage points) than seen in 2015 when these students were on the main campus.
The success of the Aggie Pathway to the Baccalaureate demonstrates the benefits a university-community college system can offer to students when the various units work together, and when staff and faculty team up to make a program successful. My deep gratitude to the Aggie Pathway team for their ongoing efforts. Thanks especially to Greg Fant, Danielle Staley, Brad Mazdra, Michelle Guzman-Armijo, Monica Torres, Rafael Delgado, and David Burleson.
With all best wishes,