ARLINGTON, VA (September 17, 2015) — Hobsons, the world’s leader in connecting learning to life, is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 Starfish 360 Awards Program. The awards recognize institutions that are using the Starfish Enterprise Success Platform to help students in particularly innovative and effective ways.

The distinguished panel of independent judges included Jonathan Gagliardi, Deputy Director, National Association of System Heads (NASH); Charlie Nutt, Executive Director of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA); and Dr. Karen Stout, President and CEO of Achieving the Dream.

“The Starfish 360 awards are our chance to highlight the successes of the outstanding institutions we’re honored to partner with,” said Stephen M. Smith, President of Advising and Admissions Solutions at Hobsons. “We are proud that Starfish by Hobsons is helping so many institutions ensure they’re able to meet the unique needs of each student, helping them to reach their academic goals.”

Starfish 360 Award Winners:

Columbus State Community College: Columbus State Community College in Ohio implemented Starfish Early Alert in spring 2012 as part of their campus-wide focus on improving retention and graduation rates for all students. Starfish was first used by a few academic departments and critical support groups (including Military and Veteran Services and TRiO), as well as by peer advocates. This year, Columbus State added Starfish Connect to their implementation and deepened integrations with on-campus technologies. Since 2012, course completion at Columbus State has improved by 4.2 percentage points. Among lower income students who are often more academically at-risk, the improvement was 5.7 percentage points. Today, 85 percent of faculty, nearly 94 percent of all Columbus State students, and all advisors interact with the Starfish platform in some way. “We are proud of how students, faculty, staff and administration have joined together to embrace the Starfish system and use it as the primary tool for providing wrap-around services to our students,” said Dr. Jack Cooley, Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs.

University of Nebraska–Lincoln: A large, public research institution, UNL is highly decentralized, and academic advising involves both professional staff and faculty members in many locations. Over the past four years, UNL credits the Starfish platform with fostering transparency and accountability for advising services, creating new collaborative partnerships, and enabling systematic and intentional tracking and support of student progress for time to degree. As a result, UNL is tracking measurable improvements in four-and six-year graduation rates, a decline in the number of students on academic probation, and increased service utilization by identified at-risk populations (such as undeclared students). “It is not an exaggeration to say that the implementation of Starfish has been a ‘game changer’ for transforming UNL’s climate for undergraduate advising and academic support services,” said Harvey Perlman, Chancellor.

Helena College University of Montana: Upon launching the Starfish platform in 2013, Helena College was able to coordinate efforts to ensure students were enrolled in the right program, receiving the right academic and personal support, and obtaining the appropriate financial aid. Helena College saw a surprising outcome from a simple faculty survey designed to verify course enrollment. Students identified for non-attendance were able to connect with financial aid staff in a timely manner, receive financial literacy assistance, and revise their individual loan disbursements. In fall 2013 alone, it was determined that $238,094 of “unearned aid” was saved, and students have decreased their borrowing by nearly 40 percent. “We have seen direct results of the program connecting our students to support services they didn’t think they had access to or didn’t think they required. This has promoted retention and, ultimately, completion,” said Dr. Daniel J. Bingham, Dean and CEO of Helena College.

The judges also selected three Starfish 360 Rising Stars. This distinction is given to institutions that have launched the Starfish platform within the past year and have already demonstrated measurable outcomes. The Rising Stars for 2015 are: Harrisburg Area Community College, Northern Essex Community College and the University of Toledo.

About Hobsons

Hobsons is the international leader in connecting learning to life. Through our student success solutions, we help more than 12 million students around the globe identify their strengths, explore careers, create academic plans, match to best-fit educational opportunities, and finish what they start. We partner with schools, colleges, and universities to improve college and career readiness, admissions and enrollment, and student support and advising. For more information, visit

About the Starfish Enterprise Success Platform

The patented Starfish Enterprise Success Platform™ helps hundreds of colleges and universities efficiently scale their student success programs so that more students can make informed academic and life choices to achieve their academic and life goals and finish what they start. Hobsons’ Starfish platform supports more than 4.5 million students each term. The Starfish platform identifies at-risk students in real time, pinpoints areas of concern, and connects students with valuable services, and helps assess which services and interventions will keep students on track. For more information, visit


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