Building a Thriving Mindset For College Preparedness: WGU Academy’s Program for Academic and Career Advancement (PACA)

A positive, thriving mindset represents the set of psycho-social attitudes and beliefs that lead to positive outcomes in a student’s educational experience. Consequently, it positively impacts perseverance, sense of belonging, academic behaviors, and academic performance. In addition, motivation, strong communication skills, focus, and commitment will help college students reach their educational goals and transition to a prosperous professional career where today’s employers also value the same kind of 21st-century skill readiness.

WGU Academy’s Program for Academic and Career Advancement (PACA) is a one-of-a-kind program designed to cultivate resilient learners and career-readied professionals. PACA follows an evidence-based approach, relying on social, cognitive, educational, and industrial-organizational principles that boost performance and help students set and achieve goals effectively. PACA also supports academic institutions in their efforts to recruit and retain today’s most eager and ready-to-learn college applicants.

Innovative Solutions for Academic and Institutional Success

Students participating in PACA develop confidence and tenacity and increase their emotional intelligence and interpersonal and communication skills that position them for long-term academic and career success. The three elements of PACA help to improve performance in college and the workplace:

Executive Coaching Principles – Students work with a Success Coach who guides them through performance-enhancing techniques used by some of the nation’s top Fortune 500 companies.

Peer Support Groups – A series of group and individual sessions help students feel supported by their peers and build a sense of belonging, a critical marker of academic success. Students translate this experience into their college or business setting.

Academic Success – With PACA, students ultimately develop greater success with managing a college course load and maintaining on-time academic progress.

PACA creates a unique and informed learning experience for higher education institutions to help students develop non-cognitive skills informed by behavior, psychology, and academic support needs. In addition, understanding what is essential to student development can help institutions diversify and recruit from today’s pool of untapped learners with high potential.

Preparing Students for College Success

There are seven outcomes associated with PACA:

  1. Identify foundational elements of communication theory and understand how it impacts personal and professional relationships.
  2. Describe the role of empathy, listening skills, and self-awareness in managing one’s own emotions.
  3. Identify strategies to reduce and manage conflict and improve interpersonal skills by applying appropriate communication theory.
  4. Describe self-monitoring and self-regulated learning to manage beliefs, thoughts, and emotions during decision-making.
  5. Describe the concept of a thriving mindset by integrating the role of self-reflection, self-efficacy, resilience, mindfulness, and interpersonal skills.
  6. Describe how socio-cultural environments shape self-identity, interpersonal communication, and learning opportunities.
  7. Develop meaningful goals through increased learning and internal motivation to achieve personal and professional pursuits.

Today’s students have unique life experiences that shape their decision to pursue a degree. Diverse life experiences are integral in a student’s learning experience and development. PACA positions students to see themselves as equally qualified and college-readied students who have the potential to succeed in any academic environment, a critical factor to their overall academic and professional performance.

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