Saddleback College plans to condense nine academic divisions into five schools

Saddleback’s current Learning Pathways Kendall Stout | Lariat

An academic reorganization of the college will begin rolling out over the next two years.

Saddleback College President Elliot Stern and Vice President of Instruction, Tram Vo-Kumamoto, will organize an academic reorganization over the next two years to align with the Guided Pathways system. This system and restructuring are meant to better position departments based on transitions from high school to community college to a four-year institution.

In a town hall meeting hosted on Zoom discussing the reorganization, slides show how the faculty will slowly transition away from a “Cafeteria model,” said Stern and towards a system of “Guided Pathway,” a system where high school students can more easily acclimate to a four year university environment. This is what Guided Pathways is, a restructuring of nine divisions into five “schools.”

Currently, Saddleback follows the traditional “Cafeteria” model, where students pick their various classes according to whatever is available and what fits best with their current major. 

“This approach, while allowing freedom, has serious problems for an unprepared student’s long-term development,” Stern said. These development problems are ones that Stern and Vo-Kumamoto want to address with the transition to Guided Pathways.

“How can we get you onto this journey, get you onto a pathway, and put some guardrails in place to make things easy for you?” Stern said in relation to how Guided Pathways functions for students. “It’s student-focused, it is looking at how we organize not from our perspective, but from the perspective of a typical student coming into our institution.”

If a student selects a course that applies to a specific major and later decides to switch away from that major, then the previous course they invested in would not carry over. This failure results in a loss of time and money for the student, and stalls their progress.

Town hall meetings are also currently set to take place to allow the faculty to communicate with one another about any concerns or challenges that happen during this transition. The level of involvement of the student body is said to be limited to “deciding the names of the schools,” said Stern.

This way, students can take different classes than they would normally, but still have those classes function for other majors if they decide to make the change.

“We are looking at characteristics in the students in how they like to learn, and what opportunities we can provide to enhance their learning both inside of the classroom, and outside of it,” Vo-Kumamoto said. 

“All of our services are at the college level and a student might not know what they need to access them, or when,” Vo-Kumamoto said. “The idea is to create a home base for different students, tailoring the school to their needs.”

Due to the early stages of the planning and the uncertain timeline of the task, further details are not yet available. More details will be coming as the timeline and plan develops.