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Veterinary Technology students at Foothill College. Photo courtesy of the CCC Chancellor's Office.The California Community Colleges (CCC) Education Planning Initiative (EPI) is ready to provide the education planning toolset—aka Hobsons Starfish Enterprise Success Platform—to colleges beginning in July 2016.

This toolset will transform the education planning process for the community college system by supporting pathways for student success and improved institutional effectiveness.

Implementation of the Hobsons solution is the next step in fulfilling one of EPI’s primary goals, which is to enable colleges to succeed despite ongoing funding challenges. The EPI announced this step in conjunction with the CCC Chancellor’s Office via a letter that was distributed May 16. In conjunction with this letter, EPI held a webinar on May 19 to discuss additional details and answer questions from the colleges.

EPI’s Goals

The EPI understands that categorical programs have recently undergone cuts, which have made it more difficult to support student services such as counseling, advising, assessment and tutoring. In addition, because of the disparity in funding between large, small, urban and rural colleges, and perhaps because institution priorities are varied, some colleges have technology such as degree audit/education planning/counseling case management, while others do not.

With this mixed model of some colleges having tools and others having no tools, a need exists to build systemwide solutions that provide economies of scale and benefit to colleges regardless of current capabilities. Those colleges without tools can better serve their students, while colleges that are currently paying for a solution may wish to adopt the systemwide solution and apply the savings to counseling resources.

EPI Program History

The Education Planning-Degree Audit Systems Steering Committee (EPTDAS), made up of eight pilot districts, was charged with conducting industry research, developing counselor and student-based requirements, then publishing and evaluating a competitive request for proposal including references from across the country. Three vendor finalists were invited to provide oral presentations and demonstrate their systems to the steering committee. As a result of this process, the steering committee selected the Hobsons Starfish Enterprise Success Platform to support the goals of the EPI grant.

Starfish is a web-based, mobile friendly, Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that is used by counseling faculty, instructional faculty, staff and students. It comprises three key functional areas:

  • Degree Planner for developing and maintaining step-by-step academic plans
  • Early Alert for student monitoring and planning
  • Connect for online appointments and case management

Building on lessons learned from the piloting effort, the EPI is now focused on a statewide rollout of the education planning toolset. The primary mission of the EPI program is to promote the implementation of an education-planning tool. Participation is entirely optional for any California community college. Colleges interested in only Early Alert and/or Connect may still take advantage of the negotiated pricing with Hobsons.

EPI Phase 2 Webinar

In order to answer questions regarding the EPI Phase 2 release of the education planning toolset to the field, the EPI team hosted a webinar which provided additional information. The call featured David Shippen, EPI Program Director, Warren Whitmore, EPI Program Manager, and Barbara Fountain, EPI Project Manager. A 30-minute presentation offered additional details regarding:

  • Phase 2, pilot program status
  • Student Success and Support Program (SSSP) resources
  • California Community Colleges Technology Center resources
  • Financial incentives
  • One-time and ongoing college expenses

Upon the conclusion of the presentation, the presenters remained on the line to answer questions from the participants.

The webinar was recorded and will be posted on the EPI website at An archive of EPI webinars can be found by clicking on “Webinars” under the “Resource Kit” tab. In addition, the site contains the CCC Chancellor’s Office letter in its entirety, along with frequently asked questions. Readers are encouraged to make use of the resources and to ask questions via the website’s FAQ page.

David Quintanilla is a project team member of the
California Community Colleges Education Planning Initiative