How should advisors use Starfish?

UNCG uses Starfish in two different ways:

1) Starfish EARLY ALERT is an early warning and student tracking system at UNCG that takes a more holistic approach to student success rather than concentrating solely on students with traditional at-risk characteristics. Starfish EARLY ALERT relies on reporting by the campus community to identify students who need additional academic support.

At any point in the semester, instructors can raise alert flags, congratulatory kudos, and helpful referrals to provide students with feedback. To allow for more efficient reporting, instructors will receive an email invitation to complete Academic Status Reports (ASR) at 4th, 7th, and 12th weeks of each semester and will be asked to make note of academic and/or personal concerns. Advisors also have the ability to raise select items on students they support. For a comprehensive guide that summarizes the UNCG flag, kudos, and referral options available, check out our Detailed Guide to Flags, Kudos, & Referrals. Below is a quick summary of the feedback items that Starfish offers instructors, advisors, and academic support staff:

• Flags are used to let students know of someone’s concern for their performance. Instructors can raise academic flags (class attendance concern, low average/at-risk of failing course, and missing/late assignments) and behavioral flags (academic integrity concerns, disruptive behavior, and personal concerns). The flag options available to raise for personal concerns include (PC: financial hardship, PC: food/housing insecurity, PC: mental health/well-being, and PC: general). Academic advisors may raise flags on advisees for personal concerns and for retention-related concerns. Students are notified when they receive academic flags in their courses. Additional comments on academic flags are optional but encouraged and will be delivered to the student verbatim, so first-person comments are recommended. Students are NOT notified directly when they receive a behavioral flag. Comments for behavioral flags are required but not sent to students. These comments are seen by support staff in receiving offices.

Kudos are used to recognize student accomplishments and to congratulate them on their academic performance. Instructors can provide kudos for students who are showing improvement in the course or who are off to a great start, showing outstanding academic performance. Students are notified when they receive kudos in their courses. Kudos comments are optional but encouraged and will be delivered to the student verbatim, so first-person comments are recommended.

• Referrals can be raised to suggest a helpful campus resource that may aid in a student’s academic performance. Referrals may currently be issued to the following offices: Academic Achievement Center, Writing Center, Speaking Center, Math Help Center, Career & Professional Development , Students First Office, International Student Services & Support (IPC), the Office of TRIO Programs, the Office of Accessibility Resources & Services (OARS), and the Digital ACT Studio. Advisors also have the ability to issue referrals on their advisees. Students are notified when they are issued a referral, but referral comments are not sent to students. Comments will be seen by support staff in receiving offices.

If you are a student’s academic advisor or program coordinator, you will have access to the flags, kudos, and referrals that were raised on your student through Starfish in addition to the flags or referrals that you raised on your students. Advisors and support staff are encouraged to reach out to students who have received flags to provide additional assistance. Reaching out to these students can mean emailing them, meeting with them, or triaging their concerns in order to direct them to helpful resources on campus. Once a student’s concern has been addressed, advisors can clear the flag in Starfish so the student’s support network knows that they have been taken care of. Advisors can write notes in a student’s Starfish folder for other professionals in the support network to view. Advisors are also able to “close the loop” with the instructor who raised the flag by informing them of any flag resolutions your student has made and closing the tracking trail.

2) Starfish CONNECT allows advisors to post appointment availability in Starfish so students can easily make appointments to discuss advising topics or concerns. This appointment management system ensures that students, faculty, and staff stay connected and save time scheduling appointments. Advisors can customize appointment preferences including appointment name, length, scheduling deadlines, locations, and instructions. Office hours can be set up on a recurring basis or as a one-time occurrence and can be limited to a specific population of students (i.e. your advisees or students in your courses). Advisors can also set email reminder and notification preferences to suit their needs. Lastly, Starfish offers advisors the ability to sync their Starfish calendars with an iSpartan calendar to allow for easier calendar management and avoidance of double-booking. For instructions on how to sync your calendars, please refer to our instructional guide on the Starfish How-To website.

Many advising centers are already using Starfish as their primary scheduling system. Advisors who use Starfish for online scheduling should direct their students to the tutorial located in the Starfish How-To page to learn how to use Starfish CONNECT to schedule appointments.

What else do advisors need to know?

Starfish offers advisors the ability to refer students to specific services at UNCG. Currently, referral options include the Academic Achievement Center, University Writing and Speaking Centers, the Math Help Center, Career & Professional Development, Students First Office, International Student Services & Support (IPC), the Office of TRIO Programs, the Office of Accessibility Resources & Services (OARS), and the Digital ACT Studio.

When a student is referred to a service, they are instantly notified and will receive additional information about how to sign up for that service. Advisors should refer to the Starfish How-To page for instructions on raising referrals.

Advisors are strongly encouraged to use Starfish to issue the Personal Concern flags and the Retention Alert flag to their advisees. See the linked infographics to learn more information about each flag type. Advisors can also view our frequently asked questions (FAQs) document on personal and retention alert flag types.

How are advisors kept up to date on Starfish news and features?

New academic advisors will learn about Starfish when they attend the Academic Advising Institute hosted by the Office of Retention Initiatives. Starfish updates are communicated to all advisors at the beginning and end of each semester via Campus Weekly. Additionally, a Starfish newsletter is emailed twice each semester to inform UNCG staff of any important updates, news, and events related to Starfish. The newsletter is sent to all undergraduate course instructors and advisors. All released newsletters for the academic year are also accessible on this page at any time.

September 2021 – Starfish Newsletter

November 2021 – Starfish Newsletter 

How do advisors use these features?

For step-by-step guides and tutorials on how to use Starfish EARLY ALERT and CONNECT features, refer to the Starfish How-To page. Advisors and staff who have Starfish questions can also contact Starfish support at for additional help. Starfish 101 workshop sessions are posted to every semester to meet the ongoing training needs of the campus community.