The First in Family Journey Map

Navigating the paperwork and red tape of financial aid and housing applications is tough enough, but for first-in-family college students, without a support network of people who’ve been there before, the process can be even more daunting.

Graphic of ImageThink Method - Engage phase

Going to College is a Big Deal

Jackson State University was founded in 1877 as Natchez Seminary, and through its first hundred expanded to a teacher’s college, then a liberal arts college, and finally a fully-fledged university in the 1970s. 

ImageThink strategic visual detailing the college admissions process for prospective students at Jackson State University

A historically black college or university (HBCU), JSU has been the school of choice for many first-in-family students of underserved communities. These student populations often don’t have the benefits of generational knowledge of the higher ed system, nor the financial resources to attend school without debt. 

The university was looking to put together approachable yet comprehensive visual summaries about the admissions, orientation, and financial aid processes in order to present higher education as an achievable goal earlier in these students’ academic careers.

ImageThink strategic visual detailing the FAFSA application process for JSU

Picturing Success 

Visual Strategists from ImageThink’s studio team would work with school administrators to map out the student journey. Thinking holistically, ImageThink proposed a suite of visuals that would depict a typical student journey from an initial tour, through application and admission, and through orientation. 

ImageThink strategic visual detailing the DuBois-Harvey Honors College student journey at Jackson State University

By incorporating the school colors and mascot, the visuals would have a clear connection to other branded school collateral. The illustration would be fun and energetic, and because it would be created in studio, the university administrators would have ample opportunity to polish and refine the message, and final visuals would be crisp and cleanly rendered. 

Step by Step 

Over the course of a year, ImageThink and JSU partnered on several projects, from live, facilitated brainstorming workshops, to the design and completion of several journey maps and displays that the JSU team can use as educational and recruitment tools. 

ImageThink strategic visual detailing the ideal academic advising / student relationship at Jackson State University

As one administrator put it, “Our campus constituents are very excited about the work that has taken place between the university and ImageThink. So much so that departments are still asking about the services and how they can use the services. I make a referral at least once a week and sometimes more.” 

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