Joining nearly a quarter of California community colleges in adopting CCC MyPath as a student onboarding solution, Peralta Community College District has become the first multi-college district to launch MyPath concurrently across all its campuses.
Peralta’s Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College, and Merritt College went live with MyPath on March 11, 2019. The effort was motivated by various statewide initiatives around Guided Pathways, access, and equity, but the overarching goal was to ensure students had a more informed and consistent onboarding process across all its campuses, said Jason Cifra, Peralta’s Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.
“We saw that many students would just apply, with no sense of what they’re trying to get to. Also, we saw that many students did not choose a major because the major list was so long they either chose the first one or they chose undecided. That was contributing to some of the issues we’re having with trying to track students, to make more specific interventions,” Cifra explained.
To keep things simple, it was important that MyPath be the main entry point for students, and a clear return destination for tools and next steps, according to Cifra.
“We don’t want students bouncing around from application to tool, to this to that. If we create a complicated web of direction for our students they are not going to follow through. Because MyPath has a lot of functionality, a lot of information, we are having our applicants start in MyPath and complete their application in MyPath. Then they can go explore tools and information. When they come back to MyPath, based on the information they provide in their application, we can give them a more customized checklist so that it meets what they are looking for.”
“In that way, MyPath is not just an application tool, it really is a success tool throughout their career,” Cifra says.
MyPath is designed to let colleges customize the student onboarding experience. How students engage with MyPath, and at what point during the onboarding process they may be prompted to explore careers and other tools, is entirely up to the college, explained Mike Caruso, MyPath Product Manager.
“What the implementation team will do when they work with your college is help you figure out what onboarding steps you would like to display to your students, in what order. Whether those onboarding steps point to the Career Coach home page or specific starting points is really up to you. You can have some say in where your students start, how they go about doing things, and what it is they’re doing while they’re there.”
Student Feedback Incorporated into MyPath Homepage Designs
Cifra says the benefits of deploying MyPath district-wide were clear from the beginning. Because the key resources being presented to students through MyPath would be similar at all four colleges, development of individual MyPath home pages could be template-based, and colleges could learn and share best practices as they went along. In fact, a cross-functional team assembled at Berkeley City College quickly completed BCC’s MyPath design, and thus became the standard bearer, training and guiding other college teams as they customized and reviewed designs, worked with students for testing, and brought the designs to their shared governance committees.
The team approach to MyPath development is important to ensure knowledge was shared and not easily lost in the event of staff turnover, Cifra said. Team composition varies between colleges, but it typically includes counselors, outreach or enrollment services, and students. Each team creates a design specific to campus needs, and students help to ensure the design is student-friendly.
Student-testers of the initial designs generally found it easy to navigate MyPath, and their feedback will inform future updates, Cifra said.
“Great pilot program!” said one student.
“The ‘Guide Me’ is very nicely set up for returning students to find their way around the enrollment once again,” said another student. “It should also include [a reminder] to check if any fees are still outstanding before enrolling in classes.”
MyPath home pages for each campus feature similar information in the form of Advisor Cards that link to a welcome message, how to apply for college, and how to apply for financial aid. However, the vast majority of resources and links are campus-specific, Cifra emphasized.
Planned enhancements include creating an Advisor Card for non-traditional adult students. Cifra is also hoping to work with the CCC Technology Center to develop a translated version of MyPath for non-English speakers.
Cifra notes that the support of the Technology Center’s Enabling Services team was a key factor in Peralta’s decision to roll out MyPath at multiple campuses, simultaneously, instead of one at a time. “I would not have done a district-wide implementation if not for the collaboration the Tech Center provided. They made it easy for us; all the campuses got individual attention from the implementation team,” he says.
More information about CCC MyPath, including invitations to monthly demonstration webinars, is available on the CCC MyPath project website.