UCF Regional Campuses is working with its four partner state colleges to upgrade the DirectConnect to UCF experience with what is being called the Enhanced Pathway, a new plan to add student “touch points” along the way as they transfer to the university.
DirectConnect is a nationally recognized program that guarantees admission into UCF for students graduating from one of the four institutions. The state college partners – Eastern Florida State College, Lake Sumter State College, Seminole State College and Valencia College – prepared about 70 percent of the more than 10,000 students who transferred to the university in 2012-2013.
The new touch points for students include things such as completing a career-assessment plan; confirming early major declaration; completing a tour of UCF; and completing skills workshops related to academic planning, financial literacy and other topics.
“This enhanced pathway provides an intentional and guided support structure, where students are engaged with advising and services that will help them clarify their career goals and academic plans,” said Jeff Jones, vice provost of Regional Campuses, which oversees 10 Central Florida sites.
The milestones are critical to the early success of students desiring to DirectConnect to UCF. Additionally, once a student transfers to UCF, the university’s commitment is to engage them further during their first two semesters.
The students’ touch points at that level include meeting with their college advisor; attending advanced skill workshops involving resume writing, internships, and job search; meeting with community leaders; and other guidelines.
The pathway teams include professionals and students from each institution and include areas such as advising, student services, and enrollment services.
“They collaborate and coordinate the various needs and milestones of students as they transition from the state college to UCF,” said Pam Cavanaugh, assistant vice provost for student services and advising.
Student focus groups that have been conducted at each of the state colleges during the summer have produced feedback on what students prefer as incentives to participate. Also, a new badging program has been designed to reward and showcase the skills and achievements of the students along the pathway. Students can display the badges in their digital world “so we can create value for these achievements as we acknowledge them institutionally,” Cavanaugh said.
A new online portal also has been established for students to be able to track their progress, and pathway teams can verify and acknowledge their successes and progress.
“From a university perspective, UCF benefits from having stronger partnerships with our partnering institutions and from having students that are successful both in their academic programs and as UCF graduates,” Jones said.