Posted on Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Navigating a New Path to Student Success

You’ll soon have new tools at your fingertips to help students cut through the red tape and be better prepared in their pursuit of a degree or credential.

“Student success,” “guided pathways,” “onboarding” – these terms have gotten a lot of play lately in conversations and communications across Virginia’s Community Colleges. It’s easy to get lost in that language and sometimes hard to see what it has to do with your job and the students you serve. That’s all about to change, however, as we implement some new technology that will help cut through our red tape for both the work that you do and the journey our students take.

As you read this, your community college is making plans for implementing a new tool called Navigate, which we purchased from the company EAB. The first wave of colleges to use this technology has already begun. All of them will be using it by the spring of 2019.

So what exactly is Navigate? And how can it help our students?

First of all, let’s agree that academic rigor will knock off some students as they pursue a postsecondary credential and that’s okay. You don’t want to be poked by a phlebotomist who fails anatomy. You don’t want your car serviced by a mechanic who doesn’t understand how to use a wrench. And you don’t want to entrust the care of your child to someone who fails out of our early childhood education program for whatever reason.

Red tape, on the other hand, is responsible for our colleges losing many students along the way, not academic rigor. We can change that by helping them outside of the classroom just as much as we want to challenge them inside it.

The VCCS Student Success Listening Tour, conducted last fall, revealed just how prevalent and wide-spread this challenge is.

“What became clear is that many of our colleges have excellent results with small numbers of students based on high-touch programs that are indeed successful, although not scalable,” said Shauna Davis, executive director of the VCCS Student Success Center. “With the current fiscal realities, student success is imperative. While recruiting new students is a vital part of our educational pipeline, the most important task we face is ensuring our students can navigate our institutions, helping remove roadblocks to their success.”

The Navigate tools will provide our students with a modern and user-friendly interface to make it easier to enroll in their community college, and get the onboarding and academic advising they need once they’re there. Further, faculty and staff members will gain much-needed tools to track the progress of ALL students; the ability to communicate via text and email; along with behind-the-scene features that will make it easier to plan, anticipate and serve student needs. Look for more information on this effort as it moves forward.

Shauna Davis, executive director of the Student Success Center, contributed to the report. To view a demo of Navigate and to learn more about the implementation plan, visit The Resource Center,

CAPTION: This screenshot shows the Navigate tool from an Advisor’s perspective.'

Laura Osberger

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