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.


Knowledge is Power

How many know what they want to do with the rest of their lives at 18? We’re sure there are some, but the vast majority, especially at the community college level don’t, nor have been exposed to tools to better understand their strengths, goals, and options. Much of the infrastructure to support Guided Pathways is being built as we write this, but for PCC we wanted to roll out the foundations for what is at the core of Guided Pathways—better equipping students with knowledge and support to get in, get out and get a career.

Our first project was to build tools to give students a single location to:

  1. Explore career options.
  2. Take a survey to understand their talents, strengths, and interests.
  3. Discover programs available at PCC.
  4. Explore Career Communities at PCC and the careers that align to particular career communities.

Power of Career Data

A major part of empowering students with the knowledge to choose programs and careers is to understand the outcomes of program choices. We implemented Career Snapshot within PCC’s Career Communities to give students career information about:

  • Growth
  • Salary
  • Employment
  • Education

All data is pulled directly from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and ONet. Learn more about Career Snapshot.

A Major Shift

Changing course when you’re on a bicycle is easy. Changing course when you’re on a ship is a bit more difficult.

Although the focus of Guided Pathways is the students, without faculty and staff engaged and on board, Guided Pathways doesn’t stand a chance. We worked with PCC’s leadership group to build out an internal communication website, as well as solidify and edit messaging, to empower faculty and staff with knowledge, resources, and information to help them better understand PCC’s implementation of Guided Pathways. The site also acts as a transparent location to inform the public, other institutions and track PCC’s progress as they progress through implementation.

The site is in its infancy, continuing to grow and develop alongside Guided Pathways at PCC.