Starfish Supports University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Efforts to Improve Campus Coordination, Early Identification of At-Risk Students, and Enhanced Student Planning

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Institution Advances Comprehensive Effort to Improve Six-Year Graduation Rate to 70 percent by 2017

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Implementing the Starfish platform has helped to transform UNL’s institutional culture, creating new collaborative partnerships across multiple units, and enabling systematic and intentional tracking and support for student retention.

Starfish Retention Solutions, Inc., a leading student success company, announced that University of Nebraska-Lincoln has successfully implemented the Starfish® Enterprise Success Platform™ to support a campus-wide initiative aimed at boosting its six-year graduation rate to 70 percent by 2017. UNL’s student success efforts are designed to develop and promote a comprehensive network of support, advising, and enrichment services that improve undergraduate retention, time to degree, and academic engagement.

In 2011, Chancellor Perlman announced a university priority to improve the six-year graduation rate. In response, the institution deployed the Starfish Enterprise Success Platform in 2012 to support three key areas:

  •     Improve Campus Coordination and Academic Advising. Prior to 2012, UNL’s eight academic colleges each used their own advising systems. Now, the Starfish platform creates a unified electronic advising record for all 19,000+ undergraduates across campus and enables academic advisors to access all advising records. To date, more than 100,000 advising notes have been entered into the Starfish platform, enabling transparent communication across offices to support students’ needs.
  •     Develop an Early Warning System to Identify and Support Students. Prior to 2012, UNL did not have any early warning systems. Now, with the Starfish platform, the institution is collecting manual and automated flags for a variety of student populations (e.g., learning communities, first-year students, and those on academic probation). Students who receive multiple flags are contacted by an academic success coach for follow-up. In addition, faculty have sent more than 600 Starfish Kudos through the platform to students, commending them on their academic performance and participation.
  •     Facilitate Academic Messaging and Planning. UNL recently used the Starfish platform to implement a new recovery program for students placed on academic probation. All students on academic probation are now required to attend a group intake session (scheduled through the Starfish platform) and then meet with recovery coaches to develop individualized success plans. Each plan includes specific goals and to-do items (e.g., attend tutoring sessions) designed to help the student return to good academic standing. More than 1,300 success plans were filed in the Starfish platform in the spring 2014 semester, representing 86 percent of the undergraduates on probation.    

“Implementing the Starfish platform has helped to transform UNL’s institutional culture, creating new collaborative partnerships across multiple units, and enabling systematic and intentional tracking and support for student retention,” said Amy Goodburn, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at UNL, who oversees undergraduate student success initiatives. “This culture change employs evidence-based decision-making and, as a result, is helping break down barriers that separate Academic Affairs, advising units, Career Services, and faculty on campus, spreading the message that student success is a major priority.”

The Starfish Enterprise Success Platform builds on the company’s mission to help students finish what they start. Comprising four distinct but connected modules, the platform enables institutions to view all their campus data and activities through the lens of student success. Starfish EARLY ALERT™ enables institutions to learn more about their students as early as possible. Starfish CONNECT™ makes it easy for students to engage with those on campus dedicated to their success. Starfish ADVISING™ gives students an academic path to follow in order to achieve success. And Starfish INSIGHT™, which will be available in 2014, will enable institutions to measure the effectiveness of their student success initiatives.

“University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a great example of a large institution using its resources, including people, systems, and data, to achieve a collective goal of improving student success and retention,” said David Yaskin, CEO and founder of Starfish Retention Solutions. “We are honored to be working with the team at UNL to support their efforts to identify at-risk students, facilitate cross-campus collaboration, and offer proactive planning to get students back on track to success.”

Webinar Invitation: Starfish and Amy Goodburn, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will be hosting a complimentary Webinar presentation on Tuesday, June 17, at 3 p.m. ET. Register at

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