Photo by Kayla Michaud |CIGAR|”However, many students on campus are unsure of what exactly the new system does.”

The University of Rhode Island has begun using a new system called Starfish for various tasks with regards to advising. However, many students on campus are unsure of what exactly the new system does.

The Coordinator of Student Success and Starfish Systems, Cindie Cruger, said Starfish is a system where students can make appointments with advisors, faculty or other offices at the University. Cruger said Starfish was partially implemented for the fall semester of 2016 and then fully implemented for the fall semester in 2017. Cruger said in 2016 all University College for Academic Success (UCAS) advisors were required to start using the program. She said the “broader launch” occurred in 2017.

Cruger said students can use Starfish for more than just making appointments with advisors. She said that students can also make appointments with faculty who use the system or even with offices such as Enrollment Services to make financial aid appointments.  

Starfish is mostly used by students who started at the University in the fall of 2017 or later, Cruger said. Additionally, all incoming students to the University from this point forward will also use the system. Since Starfish was implemented at the University, incoming students have been trained on how to use it during orientation since they were not already using another system for contacting advisors.

Cruger said that since upperclassmen were already working with faculty on e-Campus in their degree granting college, the University decided to have them keep doing what they had been instead of trying to switch them over to Starfish. “Our focus was really on working with the students coming into the college,” Cruger said.  

The system can also be used by advisors or instructors of a course for more than just scheduling appointments. However, Cruger said scheduling appointments on Starfish is and important aspect. “I think the ability for students to sign on and make appointments with their advisors has worked really well,” she said.

Additionally, Cruger said advisors can use Starfish to take notes on what was discussed during an appointment. Instructors of a course can use it to make a note on the student’s profile if they have concerns about their performance in the course. Conversely, instructors can also leave a note of praise if a student is doing exceptionally well in the course. Cruger said this aspect allows students to gain a better understanding of where they stand in a course.  

As a former advisor, Cruger said that she believes Starfish is a convenient program to use. She said it eliminates students and advisors emailing back and forth to set up an appointment time because students can simply sign up for an appointment online. She said it also allows advisors to make notes on a students Starfish profile of what was said during an appointment, which makes it easier to look back on what was discussed. Additionally, Cruger said it shows advisors a convenient calendar view of what appointments they have scheduled for the day.

A current UCAS advisor, Jake Clemen, also spoke highly of the Starfish program. Similarly to Cruger, Clemen said that Starfish makes record keeping and appointment scheduling more convenient and more user friendly. Clemen said he uses Starfish every workday.

All UCAS advisors now use Starfish for making appointments with students. Cruger said some major-specific advisors in degree granting programs use Starfish but that not all do. She said she hopes that eventually all faculty are on it.  

Of course, in order for the program to work best, students also need to use Starfish, not just advisors or instructors. Clemen said that the students he advises are in fact using the program.

“All students that meet with me set up their appointments in Starfish, with the exception of non-matriculated students who are not officially enrolled in a degree plan at URI,” Clemen said.  

Cruger said they are working on getting more offices at the University involved on Starfish as well. Furthermore, she said they may try to get satellite campuses to use the program so that students who take classes at those campuses can use Starfish the same way students at the Kingston campus do.

Cruger is aware that some students were having issues with the program running slowly at the beginning of the school year. She said that other schools that use Starfish had similar problems and that the issue was on Starfish’s end, not the University’s. Cruger said that issue has now been taken care of.

Students who need help with Starfish can look on the University’s website for more information and FAQs or can reach out Cruger.

“We usually answer pretty quickly,” she said. “If anybody has any questions, I certainly wouldn’t want students to not think they can approach us about troubleshooting or questions.” Cruger can be contacted for questions at starfish@etal.uri.edu.