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NY College Reports Better At Risk Response with Retention Software

After a couple of years of experience, a New York college has reported back on its use of a student retention program to enhance the work of its at-risk committee and other campus student advising resources. Manhattanville College, with about 2,700 students from 51 countries and 33 states, has achieved better referral coordination by using Early Alert and Connect software from Starfish Retention Solutions in its operations, according to users.

Starfish Early Alert identifies at-risk students based on data. Starfish Connect provides online appointment scheduling and digital documentation about staff and faculty interactions with students.

The college integrated Starfish's programs with Noel-Levitz College Student Inventory (CSI). In use at Manhattanville for the past six years, the Noel-Levitz survey tool identifies individual strengths and challenges of each member of the incoming class -- as well as his or her receptivity to interventions. Areas touched on in the survey include academic aspects such as study habits and math and science confidence, general coping such as sense of financial security and sociability, and receptivity to the use of support services such as personal counseling and academic assistance.

Manhattanville adds the results of the CSI survey into Starfish to automatically raises flags on students who are predicted to be at risk. "When students are flagged in the Starfish system based on Noel-Levitz data, they are automatically sent a referral encouraging them to schedule time through the Starfish system to meet with their advisors," said Megan Stanton, retention coordinator at the college. "This connection makes students aware of any concerns as quickly and as appropriately as possible, so that they can share ownership and help to address issues. As a result, we can work together to keep them on track."

Then, as classes proceed, additional information is added through Starfish Early Alert. Blackboard, the college's learning management system, feeds certain data about classroom activities into the software, and the college pings faculty three times a term for updates on each student. The first survey is done in week one to confirm student attendance; the second is done after the add/drop period; and the third one collects mid-term grades. The college said faculty participation in these surveys has increased by 80 percent from fall 2011 to spring 2012.

A benefit of the use of Starfish technology is that users are better informed about a student's situation and less confused about next steps. "Before we implemented the Starfish system, our students would get frustrated with so many people trying to help but not knowing the whole picture," said Stanton.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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