GWC Steers Students Toward Strong Futures

By Wes Bryan, President, Golden West College

While the economic indicators are showing a slow, yet steady recovery from one of our worst recessions, the job market is still sluggish and is expected to have a slower rate of recovery.

Meanwhile, California Community Colleges continue to play a vital role in this recovery because of our ability to respond quickly to train the unemployed and the underemployed for the available and upcoming jobs. In addition to new students, we provide hope for displaced workers that need retraining at a cost lower than private schools, UC or CSU.

At Golden West College, we are no stranger to these challenges and have been working on some creative solutions to address them. For example, through our Pathways website at, students are able to map their educational plans from high school to career certificates and beyond. These educational plans are critical elements in providing pathways for students and keeping them on track to graduation or transfer. What’s unique about the Pathways website is that the students are able to run different career scenarios and select different colleges and universities to compare their transfer options. With this information the student can talk with their counselor, who can then provide focused assistance.

When displaced students return to college to complete their studies, they are often not sure how their previous coursework applies to their new goals. The college is also exploring technological solutions for these students. New software will help us identify the seemingly random courses that students have previously taken and repackage them into a new career path so that they complete their career certificates and/or transfer plans in an efficient manner. These pathway identifications will guide us in targeted communications and provide timely counseling assistance for these students, which increase their rate of success.

Finally, we have teamed up with high schools, ROPs, and other community colleges to form Regional Advisory Days. These events provide opportunities for employers from business and industry to influence our curriculum and educational pathways. By making sure our certificate programs match the needs of our local industries and businesses, we provide the kind of workers employers need. We know productive employees are the center of every successful business.

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