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Houston GPS strives to increase college completion and  improve the transition from community college to university.  In April 2015, the University of Houston was awarded a one year student success planning grant from the Houston Endowment. This gift supported the planning phase of the Houston GPS initiative, which included an assessment of the state of degree attainment as well as potential solutions to the problem of low transfer student degree attainment in the greater Houston area. By the end of the planning grant, Houston GPS developed a clear blueprint for a state-of-the-art program tailored to the unique needs of transfer students in the greater Houston region.

The Problems:

  • Student are not graduating
  • Students are taking too much time
  • Taking too many credits
  • Spending too much money

The Reasons:

  • Poor choices
  • Unavailable courses
  • Excess credits
  • Lost transfers
  • Unnecessary credits

Strategies: GPS Essential Components

  • Default pathways
    • Structured, default pathways – students need permission to take courses not on their schedule
  • Informed choice
    • Information on careers and opportunities
    • Uses high school performance and other measures to recommend meta-majors
  • Meta-Majors
    • Broad clusters of majors (STEM, Social Sciences, Liberal Arts, Business, etc.)
    • Math aligned with Meta-Majors
    • Help students narrow their study to a major
  • Academic Maps
    • Semester-by-semester academic map of the sequential, prescriptive schedule of classes
  • Milestone Courses
    • Prerequisite courses are designated for each semester
    • College must guarantee the courses are available
  • Intrusive advising
    • Students must see their advisors before registering for classes if:
      • They do not complete the milestone course
      • Fall behind 2 or more courses
      • Have a 2.0 GPA or less for the semester
  • Corequisite remediation


  • Goal is to improve student success between universities
  • Higher graduation rates
  • More on-time graduates
  • Closing the achievement gap
  • Fewer lost credits – saving time and money

Supporting Partner:

Complete College America

Established in 2009, Complete College America is a national nonprofit with a single mission: to work with states to significantly increase the number of Americans with quality career certificates or college degrees and to close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations.

Working with national consultants and practitioner experts, CCA is helping to build capacity to develop and implement guided pathway reforms across each participating college. The project will support a series of “scaling institutes” to train faculty/staff teams from the institutions to establish Guided Pathways to Success at scale on their campuses. Under the guidance of the institutional team leaders, teams also will work on crosscutting issues that impact GPS strategies (e.g., faculty engagement, transfer policies, performance management, registration, intrusive electronic advising, etc.).