Starfish Shares a Vision with Complete College America
Connecting students with potential career and degree paths has been a guiding principle for Starfish and our clients for several years, long before the CCA codified the Purpose First Project. In fact, shortly after I arrived at Hobsons in 2013, I met Dave Knapp, now Director for Academic Advising & Career Services at Whatcom Community College. He shared a story which aligns with the mission of CCA; it has stayed with me and has become our North Star for what we hope to accomplish with our clients. He said:
Once we started working with Degree Planner, I had a student come into my office for an advising appointment. As we started, she seemed nervous and distracted. We had a discussion about her professional and academic goals and which program would be right for her. When we had that settled, I simply selected her program in Degree Planner, input her schedule preferences, and within a few seconds had her individual academic plan. I turned the screen around so she could see which courses she would be taking each term and her estimated completion date. I’ll never forget seeing the tears start to well up in her eyes as she looked at me and asked “Wait, so this is all I have to do to graduate?” She was visibly relieved; shoulders dropped, breathing slowed. She had been so inundated by the number of programs, the course catalogue, the registration process that this moment of clarity overwhelmed her.
This story reminds me about the CCA/Starfish shared vision of student centric academic planning. Thanks to the work that CCA has done to push organizations like Starfish to demonstrate high impact practices proven through rigorous application, practices like 15 to Finish, Math Pathways, Corequisite Remediation, and having a Momentum year are not only supported by our systems, but have also become ingrained in our culture. Like CCA, Starfish focuses on providing institutions with an understanding that it takes more than just a desire to implement “a solution.” True progress is made by everyone on campus aligning to their own North Star and by understanding that the students we support at our partner institutions need us to remove the artificial barriers that exist within technology and process.
As Stan Jones liked to say, “Change at the margins will only produce marginal change.” CCA has become an instrumental voice in focusing the Starfish team to strive to help institutions ensure that every student has their best possible chance to succeed. We refuse to settle for anything less.