This quarter, Cal Poly Student Affairs introduced the tool Paths, a pilot program geared toward first-year and transfer students aiming to connect them with learning experiences outside of the classroom. 

Paths is a self-tracker that allows students to log different activities around campus and the San Luis Obispo area that contribute towards their Paths progress. Each new activity is meant to engage students more meaningfully in the campus culture and help them refine different skills. As students attend more events and join more organizations, their Paths progress bar will fill up accordingly.

Before Week of Welcome (WOW) began on Sept. 15, incoming Cal Poly students were notified via email to take a skills assessment called the Index on the Cal Poly Now app. 

The Index comes from the Center for Expanding Leadership and Opportunity (CELO), a division within the Aspen Institute, which is an organization that strives to create and provide resources to help students become leaders. 

The Index measures six skills: self-awareness, sense of belonging, cultural competence, collaboration, personal responsibility and curiosity. The Index then compares student results with other assessment participant scores, providing a range of national and career benchmarks. 

“These are the skills and experiences that complement the in-class learning environment and are essential to long-term personal and professional success,” according to the Student Affairs website

Once students get set up with the Cal Poly Now app and take the Index, they’ll have the opportunity to begin the First-Year Success Path. The Success Path is divided into five categories, including connect, engage, thrive, belong and explore; within these categories, students can complete different activities to increase their progress. 

There are various actions students can take to satisfy the Success Path, such as joining a club, which builds progress for the connect category, or visiting the Climbing Wall Park, which helps fulfill the thrive category. 

This progress is tracked over time and once they’ve finished the Success Path, students will receive a certificate of completion which they can use in job interviews or on resumes. 

Landscape architecture freshman Talar Yerganian completed the initial index assignment but has not spent much time on Paths since. 

She said it has useful information, but the program was not brought up much during WOW or amongst her friends because of how new it is. 

“I can definitely see myself using it in the future,” Yerganian said. 

Student Affairs wrote that they hope to use this year’s data to inform future Paths for all Cal Poly students. They also hope they can use Paths to better connect all students to campus resources “from health and wellbeing to academic counseling, basic needs support and more.”

For now, the program will continue serving new students until future data is available.