Despite what you might have heard through the rumor mill, Starfish Early Alert flags are not something to be feared. If anything, you should be thankful for the information and take advantage of the opportunity to turn the situation around.

We understand that it can be hard to admit when things aren’t going well, but it is usually a lot worse in the long run if you choose to ignore the problem. An analogy that I like to use to help students better understand this situation, is a personal take on the old saying ‘don’t cry over spilled milk’.

So you’ve spilled some milk, what do you do next?

a) Dump the rest out because, let’s face it, you’ve already screwed up and there is no use in trying to fix things now.

b) Be happy there is still half a glass left and just hope that you don’t make the same mistake again, and oh ya about that mess… I’m sure someone else will clean it up.

c) Pull yourself together and take action to clean up the mess, then make the most of the milk you have left by taking steps to ensure you don’t spill the rest.

Hopefully through this simple analogy you were able to realize that answer C is the choice with the most potential for a positive outcome. In order to move forward you have to address your present issues before they become permanent roadblocks.

Early Alert flags allow your faculty to identify a concern about your progress and/or performance in class. Your professors care about your success and they raise these flags hoping that you will respond and turn things around. Sometimes it can be hard to determine what the best response is, so we’ve identified some of the most commonly raised flags and the steps you should take to resolve these concerns.

Attendance Concern: Attendance flags are typically raised if a student misses two consecutive classes, but they can be raised for other reasons based on criteria established by your instructor. It is essential that you communicate with your instructor any time you miss a class, but if you receive this flag the best thing to do is to set-up a time to meet with your instructor outside of class to talk about your absences.

Missing Work: A missing work flag can be raised if you forget to complete a discussion post or any assignment your instructor requires. Your teacher may or may not take the work late, so it is important to set-up an appointment to discuss your options with him or her. Also, if you find that you are often missing deadlines you should set-up an appointment with an Academic Success Counselor to discuss time management and organizational strategies.

Low Grades: You can receive a low grade flag because of your performance on an exam, an essay, or an assignment. It can be related to one low test grade or a low overall grade in your course. Your instructor can clarify questions you may have about grade requirements, but you should also consider attending an SI or signing up for an individual tutor. Also, it is very common for students to graduate from high school without the proper study skills necessary to succeed in college. Our Academic Success Counselors can show you some easy to use tools and strategies that can help you better prepare for your tests and exams.

Kudos! Its not all bad news! You can also receive a Kudos, which is an acknowledgment for doing good work or having improved performance in a class. If you receive a Kudos use that information to stay motivated and keep working hard throughout the rest of the semester.

SO, the big take away message here is that you should not ignore your Starfish Early Alert flags! There are always steps that can be taken to solve your concerns and the faculty and staff at PSC want to see you succeed!

Writer BIO: Courtney Bringley is an Academic Success Counselor at Paul Smith’s College. Courtney coordinates the early outreach efforts for the Academic Success Center and meets with many students on an individual basis. Through these meetings, she helps students to assess their goals and personal interests, develop time management techniques, strengthen study strategies, and develop action plans to help to achieve their academic goals. Courtney helps to design Welcome Week programming to help students to engage with their new campus community and prepare for the academic expectations of college. Visit Starfish to schedule an appointment with Courtney, call at 518-327-6059, e-mail cbringley@paulsmiths.edu , or stop by her office Library 109.

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