Columbus Technical College Supports Student Retention Efforts With Starfish

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Early warning system identifies struggling students, connects to support resources.

Our recruitment team does a great job attracting students to Columbus Technical College. Our job is to keep them here. Unfortunately, for a lot of our students, all they need to do is stumble once and they are out the door

Starfish Retention Solutions, Inc., a leading provider of student success systems, announced today that Columbus Technical College has deployed Starfish® to improve the institution’s retention rate by more closely tracking student performance and providing timely intervention to at-risk students.

Columbus Technical College is one of 28 institutions that constitute the Technical College System of Georgia. Offering an accessible higher education option to every citizen of the state of Georgia, the system supports a broad range of career opportunities through a variety of certificate, diploma and associate degree programs as well as continuing education and economic development programs.

The college serves about 4,000 students quarterly in Columbus, Georgia, enrolled in business, health sciences, professional services and technology programs. The institution provides an avenue for students, whether coming straight from high school or looking for retraining later in life, to help themselves through better career opportunities.

Given its diverse student population, the institution recognizes that each student requires a unique set of support services. This recognition is reflected by the TCSG’s guarantee to students, which offers to retrain at no instructional cost to the employee or the employer any graduate found to be deficient in one or more competencies as defined in the standards.

After initially developing a system internally, Columbus Technical College collaborated with Starfish to introduce a comprehensive early alert system that fully integrates with the other technology systems in place, including the college’s existing ANGEL Learning Management System.

“Our recruitment team does a great job attracting students to Columbus Technical College. Our job is to keep them here. Unfortunately, for a lot of our students, all they need to do is stumble once and they are out the door,” said B.J. Landen, counselor, CARE Center for Columbus Technical College. “The simplicity of Starfish makes it easy for our faculty, including a large percentage of adjunct professors, to communicate a concern they have for a student. Starfish takes the legwork out of simply getting a student in for help. In addition, because our team members receive the pertinent information about a student from Starfish, they are able to spend more time helping our students.”

Specifically, Columbus Technical College is using Starfish to track students taking developmental courses. For example, any time a student’s course average drops below 70 percent, Starfish alerts a CARE Center counselor who reaches out to the student to get them back on track. The system is also tracking students based on attendance, classroom behavior, lost employment and online activity. To date, on average, a counselor addresses issues raised through Starfish within five days.

“Within just the first few days of Starfish being in place, we were already seeing upward of 30 percent of our instructors using the system to raise flags on students,” said Ray Mercer, director for virtual learning for Columbus Technical College. “Starfish makes it easy for our counselors to ‘close the loop’ with the instructor who raises the flag. This simple step in the process encourages instructors to continue to get involved, because they know their concerns are being addressed.”

Accessible with a single login to an institution’s portal system or learning management system (e.g., Blackboard, WebCT or ANGEL), Starfish is a collection of two software systems. Starfish EARLY ALERT™ is an early warning and student-tracking system that makes it possible for instructors, advisors and academic staff to identify at-risk students in real time. Starfish CONNECT™, an education support networking system, helps students access a personalized contact list of instructors, advisors and counselors who are dedicated to helping them succeed. Together the systems generate valuable performance and resource utilization data for the institution, which helps optimize future service offerings.

“Starfish Retention Solutions is inspired by the dedication of Columbus Technical College to support its students – each and every one – to be their personal best and reach their goals,” said David Yaskin, CEO and founder of Starfish Retention Solutions. “Similarly, Starfish is committed to helping Columbus Technical College meets its goals of improving student retention, one student at a time.”

About Starfish Retention Solutions
Starfish Retention Solutions is a leading provider of student success systems. The company offers a collection of software solutions that harness the power of the campus community in order to engage, motivate and graduate more students – securing valuable tuition revenue through student retention. Specifically, the solutions help institutions identify at-risk students in real time, based on their daily coursework performance, and then connect them to the resources designed to help (e.g., advising or tutoring), all while assessing which services and interventions are working. For more information, please call 703.260.1186 or visit


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John Plunkett
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