Dimensions of holistic student success

For today’s students, the traditional model of academic advising is not enough. From career planning and financial issues to mental health and basic needs insecurity, colleges and universities need to support students outside the classroom to ensure they complete their degrees and achieve their goals.


Achieving academic goals is critical to student success. Institutions need to support students academically to boost retention and completion rates. They also must monitor course success and learning outcomes.


Career aspirations are a vital part of a complete conversation about student success, starting much earlier than the search for an internship or job. Students must understand how their coursework aligns to career interests and have opportunities to develop important personal and professional skills.


Student challenges with financial, mental health, or basic needs insecurity make it difficult to succeed in the classroom. Institutions must support students' personal well-being to help them complete their degrees and achieve their goals.

The Holistic Student Success Framework

The Holistic Student Success Framework flips upside down the common conception of student success as anchored with institutional priorities. Instead, this model leads from the student point of view. The framework provides a roadmap for planning, implementing and evaluating an institution-wide culture of student-centric success, offering recommendations and strategies to use throughout the student experience.

Holistic student success strategies

Supporting students holistically requires a unified effort across the institution to align goals, develop targeted student support programs, drive engagement and accountability across departments, and take a data-driven approach to measuring success.

Align student and institutional goals

Aligning student and institutional goals calls for consideration of student success from a holistic standpoint. That means incorporating academic, social and emotional, health and wellbeing, and life-readiness needs into the institution’s desired outcomes.

Student success metrics should be at the center of conversations across campus and a true north when convening groups from across the campus. Ensure that campus leaders understand the concept and importance of holistic student success. Help them evangelize it at every level.

Develop effective initiatives and strategies

To develop effective initiatives and strategies, leaders must step back and consider the academic journey from the student perspective ‑ not from an institutional angle. A team approach to developing these strategies helps to ensure that best practices, multiple perspectives, and targeted interventions are used to reach a common goal. Existing programs should be reexamined to determine the best path forward to support students. 

Populations such as first-generation students, international students, adult learners, and other non-traditional students bring unique perspectives and opportunities to campus. In turn, they deserve customized strategies to foster success. Family support, financial counseling, transition assistance, and social-emotional care should all be incorporated into initiatives to ensure that every student has the support, tools, and outlets needed to succeed.

Unite campus around student success

Higher education professionals are dedicated to growing students’ minds and helping them reach their potential. However, faculty and instructors are busier than ever with teaching, research, and increasing administrative responsibilities, while staff members simultaneously have taken on more duties in times of budget cuts. And administrators are facing new challenges amid widespread financial uncertainty. Through all of this, getting campus-wide buy-in to the larger student success agenda can be one of the most vexing barriers to meeting these goals.

All too often, holistic student support is seen solely as the advisors’ responsibility. An effective student success strategy, however, involves every campus stakeholder in the business of helping students thrive. Student success should be written into every faculty and staff job description, and metrics should revolve around student progress, both academically and outside the classroom.

Measure impact of initiatives and strategies

Assessing the impact of holistic student success interventions and initiatives requires considerations beyond just retention and completion. Multiple factors influence student success in academics, career aspirations, and wellbeing – and the measurement of each component can tell the complete story about the true impact of campus wide efforts. Effectiveness should be measured at every level and with every population on campus. By digging into the indicators of the interactions, technology, communication, and evaluations that move the needle, ineffective programming can be modified or discontinued, while effective programs can inform future initiatives.

Support the whole student

Starfish gives institutions the tools to support students with academic goals, career aspirations, and well-being across all aspects of their lives.


Faculty, advisors, tutors, and others can assess student risk with predictive analytics, provide timely support when needed, and support students through to successful completion.


Advisors and students can create customized educational plans based on academic requirements, schedule preferences, and careers of interest.


Assess whether students need help with financial, mental health, or basic needs insecurity concerns. Connect students to counselors and protect sensitive information with industry-leading security and permissions settings.

Holistic success solution for the entire campus

Starfish’s Student Success Platform connects departments across the institution in an integrated success network to support students.

  • Align Student and Institutional Goals

Starfish consultants work with institutional leaders to elevate the conversation around student success and build a strategic, sustainable program across campus. 

  • Develop Effective Initiatives and Strategies

Give faculty and staff access to all student support resources in one system. Use analytics to identify areas where students need extra help. Learn from peers in the vibrant Starfish community. 

  • Unite the Campus Around Student Success

Connect advisors, faculty, and all departments across campus in one student-focused platform. Streamline communication, workflows, and alerts to provide seamless support to students.

  • Measure Impact

With all your student success data in one system, it’s easy to measure the impact of your student success programs on academic performance, persistence, and graduation for cohorts and populations across campus.

Want to learn more about how Starfish can support your student success goals?

Contact us to learn more.

Request Demo