Hundreds of adults from across the United States and the world have prepared to take college courses by enrolling in BYU-Idaho’s Pathway program.
Pathway is a three-semester program, designed to help adults of all ages overcome barriers that prevent them from obtaining college degrees.
Bryan Justesen, BYU-I Pathway director, said there are many reasons adults do not attend college including careers, children, location, financial difficulties and fear. Justesen said the number of college-age adults who do not attend college, have concerned leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Pathway program is meant to be an on-ramp for such adults.
“The whole idea was to create a program that would overcome those barriers for students,” Justesen said.
Pathway started as a pilot program in three sites across the United States.
“It was successful in pilot, so we got approval to offer it as a formal programs,” Justesen said. Justesen said Pathway is implementing 22 new domestic sites and 4 international sites. The new sites will open in fall semester.
The first year of the Pathway program is called Academic Start. During each semester of the Academic Start, students are required to enroll in an LDS Institute of religion class and one other course.
The first semester’s class is GS 120 Pathway Life Skills, a course that includes instruction about provident living, budgeting and preparing for college. The second semester students enroll in Math 100G (Personal Finance) and English 106 (Basic Writing) during their third.
“These classes were selected because they will prepare students for a full-blown college experience,” Justesen said. “These courses are designed to prepare them for Foundations math and English.”
Pathway students and local service missionaries gather every Thursday night in their respective areas at a stake center or Institute building.
“It only takes two or three weeks in that setting for the relationships to develop and for them to feel like a family. There is a great spirit in those Institute buildings,” Justesen said.
After completing the Pathway program, students can matriculate into the online program, allowing them to work toward an associate or bachelor’s degree.
Pathway is not only offered to residents of the United States. It is currently available in Ghana and Mexico.
Gene Hayes, BYU-I Pathway International director, said the Pathway International program is almost an identical set to the Pathway program.
“If the country is English-speaking, like Ghana, we offer the exact same courses that we offer domestically. However, the majority of our cohorts will be ESL-based. We still teach in English, but it is an ESL curriculum,” Hayes said. “Our courses are five credits. Ours do take the Institute class, but it is not for credit and it is any course.”
Justesen said if students get a B average in Academic Start, the admissions department has essentially agreed that they can be admitted as a degree seeking student without the ACT and high school GPA.
“They can go into the online degree program and do their entire degree online, or they could apply to come to campus,” Justesen said. “We only have a handful of students who have applied to come to campus.”
Bridget Parece, a sophomore studying floral design management, is part of that handful. Parece said she has wanted to attend BYU-Idaho for many years. She drove one and a half hours one way to participate in Thursday Pathway meetings each week, but she said it was worth it.
“It didn’t matter if you had a lot of college or if you were straight out of high school,” Parece said. “They didn’t make you feel down about yourself. It just was really good.”
When she was accepted into BYU-Idaho after completing part of Academic Start, she was excited. She began her first semester at BYU-Idaho in January.