Students who cannot be on campus for fall asked to 'Raise Your Hand' in Starfish

April 09, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As Penn State continues to make plans for in-person instruction for the fall 2021 semester, some residential undergraduate and graduate students may experience unavoidable circumstances (e.g., visa, travel or health-related restrictions) that will prevent them from being on campus. Students impacted by one of these situations are asked to self-identify their status by taking action in Starfish. By using the “Raise Your Hand” function in Starfish, the online system will create an alert for the student, and they can schedule a meeting with their academic adviser to review options for the fall semester.

“The ‘Raise Your Hand’ process in Starfish was created to be as quick and simple as possible for students to self-identify,” said David R. Smith, associate dean for advising and executive director of the Division of Undergraduate Studies. “Starfish provides an effective place for students — undergraduate and graduate — to easily take action and schedule a meeting with an adviser who can help them think through their circumstances and effectively plan for the fall semester.”

Beginning April 12, students will see an announcement in LionPATH directing them to take action and “Raise Your Hand” in Starfish if they anticipate not being on campus in the fall. The “Raise Your Hand” self-identification process has been developed for current undergraduate and new and current graduate Penn State students at all campuses that offer in-person programs. Penn State World Campus students do not have to take any action. Incoming first-year or transfer undergraduate students new to Penn State will be able to consult with an academic adviser during New Student Orientation this summer and do not have to take action at this time.

By clicking the link in LionPATH, students will be taken directly to the “Raise Your Hand” page in Starfish where they will see instructions for creating the flag in the system. In Starfish, students will be prompted to determine the type of help that is needed, where they can select “unable to attend in-person instruction” from a dropdown menu. Following this selection, there is an additional “Details” field where students may choose to provide more information about their situation. They are not required to fill out this field or show documentation about their specific circumstances. After submitting their information, students will see the status update in Starfish. Advisers will receive an email when students on their roster “raise their hands.” Additionally, graduate programs will receive an email alerting them that their student has “raised their hand.”

Students also will receive a follow-up message in Starfish that explains next steps. The message contains information customized to the student’s individual status; there is specific information for undergraduate, graduate and international students.

As part of the next steps, students are provided instructions for scheduling an advising appointment, either within Starfish or by contacting their adviser or graduate program directly. Students are also provided with additional academic options to research before that appointment. These options include online courses available through Penn State World Campus, options for taking a leave of absence from the University, or transferring credits from another institution. Students are encouraged to explore these options in advance of meeting with their adviser or graduate program so they are best prepared for the appointment and can develop an action plan that is responsive to their individual circumstances. If students do not see courses they need on the Penn State World Campus schedule of courses, it is important for them to discuss that with their adviser as early as possible, as some additional courses may be able to be added for the fall semester.

In addition to seeing the banner notification in LionPATH, students can go directly to the Starfish “Raise Your Hand” page to take action. More information will also be available for students on the Keep Learning Semester Planning website.

The self-identification process is designed to be fluid, and students can change their status more than once, if needed, as local, state and world conditions change in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest information about navigating the pandemic is available on the University's coronavirus information website.

Last Updated April 15, 2021