Miami Dade College Shark Path

Academic Level
Issue Area
Key Personnel


Shark Path is an intentional weave of strategies, programs, activities, and interventions that guides students at every stage of their journey from admissions to completion of a credential and transition to the next stage—entry into a baccalaureate program or the labor market. The guided pathway integrates a three-tiered (pre-college, first year, and college mentoring) model of advising using a case management proactive approach. Pre-college advisors (PCA) engage students early and encourage their attendance in college while forming connections with MDC. Once enrolled, during mandatory orientation, new students become acquainted with their assigned First Year Advisor (FYA), who, during the first term, provides career exploration and, in conjunction with the student, develops an Individualized Academic Plan using the Course Sequence Guides. Once 25% of students’ classes are completed, they are assigned a college mentor, who is a faculty or department advisor, who provides guidance on internships, career options, and/or transfer to a four-year institution while focusing on persistence and completion.

Program Description

The program has two complementary goals: transformative change in the student experience to increase progression and completion, and increased organizational capacity for innovation and improvement to sustain this change. The Shark Path steps to success for students consist of: (1) complete admissions application and financial aid, (2) attend a mandatory orientation, (3) complete career assessment and declare program of study, (4) complete English, math, and first-year experience course during their first term, (5) complete an Individualized Academic Plan during their first term, and (6) reach milestones to stay on track to completion within less than three years. Overall, Shark Path seeks to increase enrollment of new students each fall, successful completion of English and math, fall-fall retention, and 150% completion rates.


Since inception in 2012, over 50,000 new, first-time-in-college direct-entry (FTIC-DE) students have benefited from Shark Path with clearly defined programs of study, aligned supplemental instruction and co-curricular activities, and policies that support student achievement.

In 2015, by the end of their first term, 94% of Hispanic students declared a program of study. Students were also able to improve the following:

Math pass rates

  • First Time in College students passing Gateway Math within their first year, first attempt increased by 12%.

English Pass rates

  • First Time in College students passing Gateway English within their first year, first attempt increased by 16%.

Average Hispanic Fall-to-Spring and Fall-to-Fall retention rates:

  • 91% fall-to-spring and 75% fall-to-fall retention rate for Hispanic students served by the program compared to 87% fall-to-spring and 69% fall-to-fall of white non-Hispanic students served by the program.

Achievement of sophomore status by the end of first Spring

  • Increased from 12% to 17%.

Increase in Hispanic applicants

  • Increased by 34% from 9,106 in Fall 2012 to 12,160 in Fall 2015.

Increase in Hispanic enrollment

  • Increased by 17% from 6,181 in Fall 2012 to 7,227 in Fall 2015.

Completion rates at 150%

  • Have increased from 31% of Hispanic students in 2012 to 36% of Hispanic students in 2015.