Colleges Share Counseling and Student Services Practices at GP Workshop

03 Oct 2019

More than 250 community college practitioners from across California gathered Sept. 27 in Fresno for this academic year’s first Guided Pathways workshop about promising approaches to reimagining counseling and student supports. (For links to all of the presentations and materials from the workshop, see below.)

The event was produced by Career Ladders Project with funding from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

Here’s a summary of the day, starting with the goals for participants:

    1. consider whether redesign of student services and counseling is a priority on their campuses,
    2. during morning breakouts, learn how other California community colleges are reimagining counseling and student support structures and practices, and
    3. during afternoon team time, synthesize that learning and prioritize actions to keep redesign moving forward on their campuses.

The participants included Guided Pathways team leaders and members, counseling faculty, student services staff, deans, and other administrators from 40 colleges across California.


Fresno City College President Carole Goldsmith welcomed the group, expressing great pride in her campus, her city, and the promise that statewide Guided Pathways redesign holds for equity and improved student outcomes. She also recognized sister colleges in the State Center Community College District under the leadership of Chancellor Paul Parnell. Next, Ray Ramirez, director of equity and student success at Fresno, offered a land acknowledgment, and Luis Chavez, senior director at Career Ladders Project, framed the day and centered the work (presentation linked) on increasing equity and student success. Then college teams (facilitated by Career Ladders Project staff, partners, and select college staff and faculty) discussed what they hoped to draw from the morning’s in-depth breakouts.

Breakouts: Each tackled a challenge in reimagining student supports:

    1. Student Success Teams for an Integrated Campus: Putting Students at the Center (FCC presentation and CLP profile). Fresno City College
    2. Get Strong | Start Strong | Stay Strong | Finish Strong: A case management approach to student learning and achievement (WHCL presentation and GP Story from CLP). West Hills College Lemoore
    3. The Vision: Cultivating the Soil for a Collegewide Equity-Minded Approach to Student Service and Instruction (PCC presentation). Pasadena City College
    4. On the Ground: Applying an Equity-Minded Approach to Holistic Student Support (PCC presentation and CLP profile of Jam, CLP profile of Success Coaches). Pasadena City College

More than 50 participants attended each breakout; college teams were encouraged to distribute themselves evenly across all four, to maximize their learning as a team and enrich their planning. Participants were engaged, and the sessions were lively, providing them ample time to explore both innovations and challenges with the presenters. Participants were particularly grateful to have the opportunity to talk openly about counseling and student supports and to strategize about reimagining structures and practices. Handouts from the presentations included Fresno City’s handout on its student services redesign and Pasadena’s asset-minded exercise exploring the six kinds of capital that students bring with them, based on critical race theory work by Tara Yosso.

Afternoon: Synthesizing and planning

The college teams ended the day back together to consider what lessons might be most applicable in their local context and to plan their next steps in student services and counseling. The day’s focus on a single broad topic helped focus all the discussions; in each breakout, the sense of excitement and urgency around redesigning student supports was palpable. Each table came up with at least three top takeaways and a series of concrete next steps.

Here are high points of the workshop that participants cited (in online feedback at the end of the event): 

    • Excellent breakout sessions and table facilitators!
    • Lots of information on different pathway models, not a one size fits all.
    • The sessions and ability to discuss and share in [the] afternoon.
    • Great breakout session! Very inspired by the equity work that Pasadena is doing!
    • Creative reimagined solutions.

Registration information is coming soon for the next Guided Pathways workshop, “Redesigning with Careers in Mind,” also produced by CLP with funding from the Chancellor’s Office. It’s set for Feb. 18 in Sacramento.