18 years old and fresh out of high school – left with one decision to make. What do you do for the rest of your life? 

This question is going to become a lot easier to answer now for West Virginia Northern Community College students with their new Rural Guided Pathways Project.  

Provost, Jill Loveless, says that students’ anxiety of feeling out of control will be curbed with this new, evidence-based framework being put into place. 

“I believe that experience occurs when they don’t know what to take. They don’t know what classes they’ll need. They aren’t into the subject area right away, so they’re not sure they’re going to like that career. Often times, after that first class they kind of have that feeling, ‘This is for me,’ or, ‘This isn’t for me,’ and they can make some changes early in the college career so they’re not behind.”

Jill Loveless, Provost, West Virginia Northern Community College

They are only one of 16 other community colleges across the nation to be selected by the National Center for Inquiry and Improvement to participate in this 3-year project – grant-funded by Ascendium and Lumina. 

Guided pathways help students identify their career focus among their first courseload in order to help them choose the right program area and classes towards the career of their choice. 

President, Daniel Mosser, says that this program is unique in many ways. 

“NCII has chosen 16 colleges to work with – small, rural, community colleges – because typically, these best practices in the community college go to those big schools, where they impact tens of thousands of students, and the small rural areas get forgotten. This project flips that script.”

Daniel Mosser, President, West Virginia Northern Community College

Some of the community partners working with the WVNCC include WVU Medicine, Grow Ohio Valley, Marshall and Brooke County Schools, Oglebay and more in collaboration with their industry, allied health, and education pathways. 

West Virginia Northern Community College’s mission is to educate and empower individuals to achieve academic and career goals, leading to a highly skilled, well-rounded, and accomplished workforce – and this new program will fulfill this mission right off the bat. 

“The long-term goal is to have engaged partners who help our students see their future.”

Jill Loveless, Provost, West Virginia Northern Community College

The 16 colleges selected will be meeting several times over the course of the next three years and will have access to thought leaders in education, consultants and business coaches to improve student success and college completion.