David Olvera / Courier PCC's Counseling Department door in the L Building at Pasadena City College on Thursday, October 24, 2019.
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PCC’s Pathways program, growing with hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual funding to offer services unique to its enrolled students while sharing some campus resources, is now spurring the general counseling department to step up its own delivery of services to non-Pathways students.

“The college has been very generous and very supportive of the program, and every year we get three quarters of a million dollars,” said Associate Dean of Pathways and Professional Learning Brock Klein. 

Klein later corrected the amount of funding; it is over half a million dollars. 

Funding flows through the organization.

“We also partner with other groups on campus to share resources, and so the Student Services program has funding, and some of our components are funded by them,” Klein said. “So internally there it’s kind of complicated, but there is a true partnership among various areas on campus to support Pathways. We also have several federal grants that help support this work.” 

With the funding it receives, Pathways is able to offer a suite of services unique to its students, such as priority registration and close attention from academic coaches and tutors. Groups of 10-20 Pathways students typically share a coach. They engage in one-on-one advising and group huddles.

Enrollment in Pathways eases the transition from high school to community college. Pathways students tend to graduate with more units and transfer faster than students not in the program, according to Dean of Counseling and Student Success Services Armando Duran.

Future Pathways developments are also underway in the program’s five core areas, according to counselor Myriam Altounji. These include guided entry, guided exit, student support services, curriculum instruction, and program mapping.

“Our focus is on guided entry, and we’re looking at what recommendations to make,” Altounji told the Academic Senate on Oct. 7.

For all that Pathways offers its students, non-Pathways students have a different experience. 

“We don’t just want some students to receive all of that great support,” Duran said. “How do you provide this for all students so you don’t have the haves and have nots?”

PCC’s general counseling department has several projects planned to better support their needs. 

A redesign of the current home of general counseling in the L building is anticipated.

There is a plan to knock down walls in the reception area. A new open space will have staff ready to assist students without a barrier, in “more of an Apple store style,” Duran said, adding that seats and laptops for would help students needing a quick answer. Duran also expects shorter wait times for longer appointments.

“A while back, we changed our appointments from 30 minutes to 45 minutes to give us more time with the student, because students often felt that they were being rushed out of the appointments,” Duran said. “We build a relationship with them, so that when you come back you can ask for that counselor.”

To increase equity within the student population it serves, Duran said he would like to see Guided Pathways become a support program for all first year students. Duran added that he believes there is a strong enough partnership between his department and the Pathways program for him to encourage students to join Pathways if the student meets the program’s requirements.

Student background is critical for effective counseling assistance. 

“The work in the classroom might be the easiest thing that they are managing right now in their life, so we try to provide for and understand the students,” Duran said. 

Different student groups on campus have different needs, and Duran wants to delve deeper. 

“If we look at it from a student equity lens, well then, we know that our Latino, Latina, Latinx students may not be completing, or graduating, or their persistence rate is a little lower than their peers,” Duran said. “What can we do to support them?”

Duran is one of the six co-founders of BRO, Brothers Reaching Out, a new support network at PCC for male students of color. 

“If our black males are not completing or enrolling, and not completing as well as their peers, what can we do to support them? What specific, unique programs can we provide?” he asked.  

Duran added that, in a joint effort with Pathways, there are empowerment programs to support other groups of disadvantaged students, including LGBTQ+, the undocumented and previously incarcerated students. These programs build trust, he said. 

Closing equity gaps in these student groups is a PCC initiative.

“We’re very intentional about the services for all student populations,” Duran said. “And it can’t be and it shouldn’t be the same we provide for all, because it’s not working. We have to take into consideration culture.”

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