All too often, the path to university becomes difficult to navigate due to work, family, and economic conflicts. But an innovative online learning program is helping thousands who may have given up on the idea of getting a university education.
Pathway is a distance-learning program in partnership with BYU-Idaho. It extends a flexible, low-cost opportunity for Church-sponsored higher education to thousands of students in a growing number of locations around the world.
Pathway enriches lives and provides valuable education. The three primary objectives of Pathway are to get the gospel down into students’ hearts, help students become capable learners, and prepare students to lead and support families.
In keeping with BYU-Idaho’s focus on rethinking education, Pathway was developed around an ingenious yet simple solution: combine online classes at an affordable cost with a weekly gathering shepherded by local Church-service missionaries.
Online Classes Provide Access to Education
During Pathway, students take just five credit hours of classes per semester for three semesters, including institute or online religion courses through BYU-Idaho. This allows them to continue their daily activities and responsibilities while completing coursework on their time. Most teaching is done online, and the weekly gatherings are held in a local church facility. Students can have the kind of student-to-student interactions and experiences that many others have had at a Church school without ever setting foot on campus.
At the end of Pathway, students may qualify for BYU–Idaho's Online degree program at the low Pathway tuition rate or directly enter the workforce. They may also consider transferring to a local university, joining a trade school, or attending BYU–Idaho on-campus. The online program currently offers professional certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees.
In the United States, the cost per credit hour for Pathway students is less than half that of a similar course taught on the BYU-Idaho campus in Rexburg. It’s even lower in other countries. This is possible because online attendance is scalable, existing facilities are used, and volunteer missionaries provide help when needed.
Students who complete Pathway and matriculate to the BYU-Idaho Online degree program enjoy Pathway’s low tuition rate through the completion of a professional certificate(s) or a two- to four-year online degree. This has a tremendous impact on faithful missionaries who return to their homes in developing nations only to face limited or unaffordable education prospects.
Weekly Gathering Provides Spiritual Boost
In addition to online instruction, students meet every Thursday evening for an academic review and to take an institute class or discuss an online religion course. Following BYU-Idaho’s Learning Model, students control their own learning through preparation, teaching others, and evaluating their progress.
Local Shepherding Adds Confidence
Another key element of the program is that service missionaries are called by a local stake president specifically to shepherd Pathway students. They don’t teach, but encourage and motivate students to help each other and remind them when assignments are overdue.
Pathway is Priesthood Led
While Pathway is an online program, it is priesthood-led at the local level. An area seventy or stake president must request a program in his area, provide access to existing facilities, coordinate with the institute program, and call local service missionaries to facilitate the program. After requesting a site, the location is then approved, launched, and supported through coordination between Pathway area managers, Self-Reliance Services, Seminaries and Institute, and local priesthood leaders. Bishops and branch presidents encourage participation by their members. Ward and branch councils provide support and follow-up.
Through the support of Pathway, Priesthood leaders make it possible for members within their stewardship to obtain the education some members never thought possible. Their love and concern for these people is greatly appreciated, and because of priesthood leaders and their efforts, Pathway is reaching people worldwide.
Student Commitment and Requirements
Students can be accepted without a high school diploma or GED and are not required to have an ecclesiastical endorsement during Pathway. This opens the door for any Church member willing to strive to live the BYU-Idaho Honor Code.
Other levels of commitment are designed to help students succeed. Students must have daily access to a computer with high-speed Internet. They must complete assignments and attend a weekly gathering with other Pathway students. They are also required to have some proficiency in the English language.
Pathway is continuing to grow each year and continues to bless students, missionaries, and many others connected to the program in varying ways. You can be a part by learning more about Pathway, sharing the message with those who would benefit, or donating to the program.
For more information, visit: Pathway.