Systems Diagram Assignment

Project for Visual Culture & Design graduate course in Spring 2021. Students were asked to create a systems diagram of a system of their choice. The key to the assignment is scoping the system we chose and scoping the level of detail we provide. I choose to create a diagram of the Applerouth Tutoring Services tutoring program from the perspective of families and students.

What I did

  1. Research
  2. Ideation
  3. Sketching
  4. Graphic Design


3 weeks


  1. Illustrator
  2. Photoshop


Selected System: Applerouth Tutoring Services

For nearly two years, I worked as a Program Manager at Applerouth, which provides tutoring needs for students of all ages. They primarily focus on SAT/ACT prep for juniors and seniors of high school to make sure their applications are as competitive as possible. Program Managers are responsible for helping ensure that Applerouth’s students and clients receive the highest level of service possible throughout their tutoring program. As a Program Manager, I spoke to families from purchase to college acceptance to answer questions they have about their tutoring, the tutoring program, official exams, and more!

This diagram is aimed to help prospective clients understand how the entire program progresses in the context of life. Junior year of high school is tough. Students are pressured to take AP classes, improve their GPA, step into leadership roles, go to their part-time jobs, and so much more. While they understand test prep is important, it’s challenging to remember that it won’t last forever. To help students feel more at ease in a complex process, I wanted to create a diagram that walks them through it to show there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Deep Dive

Design Process

Round 1

While thinking about the Applerouth journey, the image of a road immediately came to mind. I sketched the “trail” and included the major checkpoints of the journey from sale to completion. Additionally, I tried to indicate when/why a Program Manager would get involved.

During the first round of critiques, my peers were confused by the difference between the yellow trail and the black trail. Further, they only understood the process because of the images. I agreed with the feedback; there is something unbalanced between the journey of the student and the Program Manager. 

Round 2

Based on the critiques in class, I refocused my efforts on showing the student’s cycle in the program in relation to the Program Manager. I tried to make the process as straightforward as possible. I didn’t want the Program Manager channel to distract the student’s progress, but I to look and feel like a support. Here are three versions:

Round Three

I finally landed on this version to present to my professor during our lab. In addition to the tutoring program journey (hot pink) and support journey (blue) I wanted to bring in context of student’s lives in the background. The colorful scribbles in the background represents the busy and complex lives students encounter as they are tutoring.

After speaking with my professor, he said this journey is very “playful” and reminds him of the board games Candy Land and Life. He suggested I transpose the journey to an existing game.

Round Four

Inspired by the colorful and playful board of Candy Land, I used the board and colors as inspiration for my system.

After tracing the board, I then workshopped how the Applerouth process “fits” on this board. Using post-it notes, I marked important markers of the process and decided where they will end up on the board. The most important aspect to me was having a space for “Program Manager Land,” and indicating that the tutoring/testing process is cyclical. Meaning, after official exams students return to tutoring and mock exams to prepare for the next one. Therefore, I took some creative liberties on the placement of the bridges.

Once I was happy with the placement of major milestones, I thought about the background of the board game. Candy Land does a beautiful job of showing different places of the land to feel like the kids are traveling. Instead of “places”, I decided to focus on events students go through while tutoring, such as AP classes, sports, Prom, Final exams, and campus visits. This is to help students understand where they are in the process.


I finalized the systems diagram in Illustrator. Below is the final version I submitted for the project and received a 93%.

One Final Revision

I really enjoyed this project! So much that I decided to make some final tweaks based on comments from the final submission. Here is the final version based on suggestions from my professor.

Icon Attributes:
“student” by Gan Khoon Lay from the Noun Project
“graduate” by Adrien Coquet from the Noun Project