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Starfish Helps Students Succeed

Rebecca A. Eckland
starfish technology platform

Starfish is an early alert system designed to connect you to campus supports when you need them.

Let’s imagine you’re in your second semester at TMCC and, while you’re glad you’re working on your associate degree, life has turned like the winter weather: unpredictable and precarious. You unexpectedly lose your part time job so you’re not sure you’ll make your next rent payment, and your mom is sick, and she is asking for you to help her. So, you skip class a few times—once for a job interview, but a handful of others because you are overwhelmed by your situation.

Before Starfish, you would have been responsible for locating support services on campus in the old fashioned “sink or swim” kind of way—you either find them or you don’t. The idea behind Starfish is that it moves the burden of reaching out for help from your shoulders onto the professionals here that can provide it.

How It Works

Starfish is an early warning and student tracking module that collects information and manages concerns so that students can engage more deeply in support services and with their instructors at TMCC. For example, if you were the student outlined in the above scenario, Starfish would have enabled your instructors—who noticed your frequent absences in their courses—to utilize Starfish to “raise an attendance flag” about you. This “flag” generates an email notification to you (it lets you know that your instructor is concerned that you have been missing class) and to your specialist/faculty mentor.

Your specialist/faculty mentor will reach out to you, too, and try to find a way to discuss the “attendance flag” with you. They will review your attendance with you and provide you with action steps to remedy the situation. These might include referrals to other support services or offices on campus.

Finally, your specialist/faculty mentor will document the results of his or her outreach on Starfish. Then, he “closes the flag” by informing your instructor(s) that he met with you and reviews strategies to remedy the situation. If your specialist/faculty mentor can’t get a hold of you, they will send this information to you in an email.

Why You Should Use Starfish

If you’d like extra support to help you on your path to your academic and professional goals, sign up for the Starfish Early Alert Training through links provided on the Starfish website. The training will guide you through the process of setting up your profile and teach you how to connect to your support network on campus.

Setting up your Starfish account will enable you to get to know your support network—and to let them locate support services for you when you need them the most. For more information about Starfish Early Alerts, contact