March 12, 2020
BYU-Pathway Worldwide’s first decade has been a season of rapid growth and continuous innovation. In 2020, BYU-Pathway Worldwide will focus on three strategic priorities to simplify, sharpen, and scale its existing efforts.
“For BYU-Pathway to have the impact it needs to have, we have to review everything we do and see if it could be simplified. We are building an institution that needs to be much larger and extremely efficient, but still be personal to the student.”
— Clark G. Gilbert, President, BYU-Pathway Worldwide
1. Strengthen Retention
A key focus of BYU-Pathway Worldwide is helping students overcome obstacles to completing their education. In 2019, BYU-Pathway fully launched its mentoring program, and approximately 5,400 first-semester PathwayConnect students received assistance. The organization also introduced retention software and worked closely with missionaries, instructors, and mentors to help students succeed. Efforts to improve student retention in 2020 will include focusing on second-semester student retention; simplifying the mentoring model; formalizing the Success Network of missionaries, instructors, and mentors; and leveraging student financial support.
Increase second-semester student retention
Students who stay enrolled after the first semester of PathwayConnect are more likely to complete PathwayConnect. For that reason, a concerted effort will be made to increase retention in this audience group five percentage points above the predicted forecast.
In addition, many students who withdraw from PathwayConnect indicate that they want to reenroll at some point. BYU-Pathway has a goal to increase reenrollments (reups) by five percentage points.
Simplify mentoring model
The mentoring program will be enhanced to better match students to mentors. Additionally, BYU-Pathway will develop simplified processes and formalize the use of nudges and templated scripts to reach even more students.
Expand reach of Success Network
Missionaries and instructors will receive additional resources and training to understand the unique role they play in student retention. Additionally, the mentoring program will become available to students pursuing an online degree program, whereas before, mentoring efforts only focused on PathwayConnect students.
Leverage student financial support to increase enrollment and retention
Generous donations allow BYU-Pathway to help many students who would not otherwise be able to enroll due to financial constraints. To impact more students, scholarships will be expanded for young returned missionaries, and BYU-Pathway will pilot a needs-based scholarship program.
2. Improve Student Experience
BYU-Pathway Worldwide aims to provide students with a streamlined and impactful experience in PathwayConnect and throughout their online degree. After launching a full-feature student portal, rolling out revised PathwayConnect courses, and implementing a new certificate-first degree structure in 2019, efforts for the upcoming year will focus on simplifying the process to apply to and enroll in PathwayConnect, strengthening the efficacy of existing student tools, and refining the curriculum.
Simplify PathwayConnect application, registration, and matriculation processes
Several teams are working to streamline the experience of students as they apply to PathwayConnect, enroll, and then matriculate to an online degree program. Advancements will include opening applications a semester prior, accelerating transcript evaluation, and automating returning enrollment in PathwayConnect.
Strengthen user experience and efficacy of student tools
The BYU-Pathway student portal will be improved with extensive user testing, enhancing the personal assistant using artificial intelligence (AI), and strengthening its integration with BYU-Idaho services. To further improve the student experience, the organization plans to create a new student orientation.
The new graduation planning tool aligns with the BYU-Pathway certificate-first degree structure, automatically enrolling students in the courses required for their chosen certificate. Additionally, the tool gives students the ability to plan their schedule and register for classes in the same place.
Improve satisfaction for PathwayConnect and online-degree students
Goals for 2020 include increasing overall student satisfaction to 80%, as well as increasing student satisfaction to 75% in the areas of degree planning, academic advising, and student support.
Simplify curriculum and increase pacing
Curriculum for PathwayConnect and online degree programs will be further reviewed in order to identify and reduce unnecessary assignments and establish baseline measures for improvement.
3. Increase Scalability
As BYU-Pathway Worldwide continues to grow and expand to an increasing number of students, the ability to manage and provide an impactful experience to these students is ever-important. As the organization established a scalable priesthood model and expanded virtual gatherings in 2019, efforts this year will focus on expanding the impact of EnglishConnect, building scalable messaging and student support models, and increasing the scalability of the current field structure.
Expand the impact of EnglishConnect
Efforts will be made to scale EnglishConnect by establishing internal and infield processes, launching a new website, rolling out an English-language learning program for full-time proselyting missionaries, and expanding locations for EnglishConnect 3. BYU-Pathway also has a goal to help at least one-third of EnglishConnect 3 completers continue to PathwayConnect.
Build scalable messaging model
Messaging systems will be automated to accommodate enrollment growth and better reach individual student types through multiple communication channels. From application to graduation, students will receive messaging that is personalized to their circumstances and targeted at helping them succeed.
Build scalable student support model
BYU-Pathway will implement artificial intelligence and bot technology to better serve a growing worldwide student population. Automated chat services will allow students to quickly get answers to basic questions, and more complicated questions will be escalated to a support representative.
Increase scalability of field structure
In 2020, BYU-Pathway will continue to build relationships with strategic partners, with an emphasis on working more with Welfare and Self-Reliance in the United States and Canada, as well as standardizing how each area operates worldwide. Additionally, online-degree students will participate in a new course designed to significantly improve job placement.