California Community Colleges are piloting Guided Pathways in an effort to increase completion rates, reduce completion time, and increase equity among students. Moreover, Guided Pathways puts educational goals and career aspirations at the forefront for students. Pasadena City College (PCC) has adopted the Guided Pathways model, but has applied their own unique twists based on their own work via their Pathways program.
Guided Pathways transforms how community colleges onboard, support and guide students through their academic journeys. With this transformation not only comes an entirely new way of looking at success, but also how to achieve success. Part of this transformation is giving students tools to discover their strengths, their career goals, and clear paths and support to achieve those goals.
PCC asked us to be part of their journey of implementing Guided Pathways—branding, building and designing Guided Pathways for PCC.
Branding and Understanding Guided Pathways
Guided Pathways, for the most part, means nothing to students. When we first started working with PCC discussing Guided Pathways and how we would roll out this new concept to students, we all wanted to brand Guided Pathways. Call it something like “Onward” or “GPS.” But the reality is this is not a one-time campaign or one-off initiative that will sunset. This is a transformation of the college and how they help students find out what they want to do for a living and how to achieve success.
With the focus moved away from naming Guided Pathways, we turned towards the major components of Guided Pathways, in particular, Career Communities. Career Communities help a student understand where their strengths and skills align with careers, gives them resources and support through their academic journey and integrate them in a community of students seeking likeminded paths.
It was through Career Communities that we began developing a unique visual brand while maintaining the overarching PCC brand. We wanted to give each community its only identity but show that Guided Pathways and Career Communities are inherently all of PCC, not just a select audience. Working with PCC’s graphics team, we developed unique color palettes for each community and then built upon these using gradients of all the colors to show the cohesion amongst communities and the college.