Decreasing enrollment, flat retention rates, and a tighter budget were key drivers for Northern Essex Community College (NECC), a two-year public college north of Boston, to transform their student success strategy. In addition, NECC found that they were offering many services for students but communication challenges were causing a disconnect between faculty and students. But with the support of Starfish by Hobsons, NECC has been successful in increasing retention through an integrated student experience approach.  

Over the past two years, NECC saw faculty participation increase semester by semester and a higher number of Kudos were given to students compared to the number of Flags. NECC took this as a great sign because faculty was encouraging and supporting students and taking note of student progress. NECC uses Flags and Kudos for their GPA, FAFSA, and registration, and allows for student-raised flags so students can raise their own hand when they seek help.

In a recent webinar, NECC shared progress being made with their Student Success Center. The center was funded through a Title V grant and tracked not only Latino students but also the success of all students who were a part of NECC’s first-year seminar group. The Student Success Center and NECC’s faculty who taught the first-year seminar group worked closely together to support and track student progress, providing a great example of how department teams can successfully work together. Given the footprint this left on students, NECC is currently updating their handbook, “Be Your Own Success Coach in the Classroom: The Student Success Handbook,” that was developed during their early success.

NECC’s achievements in student success are receiving national recognition. Excelencia in Education recognized their college as one of four finalists in the associate’s category of 2015 Examples of Excelencia. They were also selected as a Starfish 360 Rising Star recipient by Hobsons, and one of twelve Hispanic Serving Institutions in The Alliance of HSI Educators’ national report, part of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

In the future, NECC plans to optimize their use of Starfish Early Alert and incorporate faculty participation and Starfish training into their student orientation. To learn more about their integrated approach and college-wide Starfish implementation, listen here.

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