A New Partnership Tackles College Students' Housing And Food Insecurities

Tulsa Community College Selects Starfish to Enhance Student Success, Drive Evidence-Based Decisions for Improvement

Oklahoma’s Largest Two-Year Institution Highlights Commitment to “Achieving the Dream” and “Tulsa Achieves” Initiatives

Starfish Star LogoArlington, VA – Apr. 6, 2009 — Starfish Retention Solutions, Inc., a leading provider of student success systems, announced today that Tulsa Community College (TCC) has selected Starfish EARLY ALERT™ and Starfish CONNECT™ to enhance the institution’s environment for student success. The Starfish® systems will work together to enable TCC to identify at-risk students in real time and then connect those students with support resources such as an Academic Advisor, Dean of Students, Health Care Personnel and other “success network” staff that can assist the student when help is needed most.

TCC is the largest two-year college in Oklahoma, offering 200 degree and certificate programs. Ranked in the top two percent of 1,200 community colleges nationally by the number of associate degrees awarded in all disciplines, TCC serves approximately 35,000 individual students annually in credit and continuing education classes.

While benefiting all students throughout the institution’s four campuses and extensive distance learning program, Starfish will be used to monitor the performance of TCC students who are part of the Achieving the Dream initiative and the Tulsa Achieves program. For example, Starfish EARLY ALERT will automatically and securely notify the appropriate instructor or advisor on campus when a student turns in an assignment more than seven days late, or when a student’s grade average drops below 70 percent. Starfish CONNECT will enable all students, including those at risk, to conveniently find, over the Internet, advisors and tutors who can help them and schedule appointment times that meet their busy schedules.

“The Achieving the Dream initiative and Tulsa Achieves program are important commitments for Tulsa Community College to ensure access and success for our students. Today’s students live in a digital world, and Starfish will connect them to services early enough to improve their chances of graduation and success,” said Randy Dominguez, dean of distance learning for TCC. “As community colleges strive to demonstrate and improve outcomes for students, we are excited about using Starfish to provide data generated in real time to inform our decisions about who needs help and how to further improve our service programs.”

For the last three years, TCC has participated in Achieving the Dream, a national multiyear initiative to help more community college students succeed. The initiative is particularly concerned with student groups that traditionally have faced significant barriers to success, including students of color and low-income students. With this initiative, TCC works to increase the number of students who successfully complete their coursework, persist from one semester to the next and ultimately earn degrees and/or certificates.

The Tulsa Achieves program provides students in Tulsa County with an opportunity to attend college based on their ability to achieve, not on their ability to pay. Through the program, TCC will increase the number of Tulsa County residents with higher education degrees and the number of skilled professionals available in the Tulsa job market, encourage students to graduate high school and encourage community involvement through service learning/community service. Since it was started in 2007, more than 2,500 students have enrolled in TCC through the program.

TCC is not alone in confronting the challenges of supporting students and overcoming barriers to success. A recent report, “Imagine Success,” released by the Survey of Entering Student Engagement (SENSE) found that entering community college students are most likely to succeed when expectations are set high and when they receive the support they need to achieve at a high level. This includes financial aid advising, academic support (e.g., tutoring and skill labs) and social support to help students overcome feelings of isolation when facing challenges. Survey data further indicates that nearly a third of entering community college students are unaware of key student services during the first three weeks of college.

“Tulsa Community College is proud of our ability to use the latest technology to amplify the efforts of our students, instructors and advisors, regardless of whether they regularly visit one of our campuses or take classes online,” said Dominguez. “By incorporating Starfish into our course management system, our community of full-time, part-time, adjunct and distance learning instructors will now be able to know which of their students are having trouble and be able to refer them to the right support resources in time to help.”

Accessible with a single log-in to an institution’s course management system (e.g., Blackboard, WebCT or Angel), 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 networking support system, helps students access a personal contact list of instructors, advisors and counselors who are dedicated to helping them succeed. Together, the systems generate valuable performance data for the institution, including resource utilization, that helps optimize future service offerings.

“Starfish Retention Solutions is privileged to be working with Tulsa Community College,” said David Yaskin, CEO and founder of Starfish Retention Solutions. “Programs like Achieving the Dream and Tulsa Achieves have expanded access to higher education but require a great deal of effort in order to be effective. In a very affordable way, Starfish enables schools to administer these programs with limited budgets and staff. Our solutions help ensure that students who have worked so hard to get into college are supported in their efforts to achieve success.”

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 course work performance and faculty concerns, 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 www.starfishsolutions.com.


John Plunkett
Vice President, Marketing & Operations