College Life – Navigating the System and Campus Resources


Learning to navigate Harper is more than just finding your way in real time; it’s knowing how to find resources that are going to be important to your success at Harper. There are three different categories that are going to help you be successful:





College is a great experience that allows students to grow in many different ways. You will be challenged to learn many new skill sets, and your own identities will continue to evolve. Harper knows that your personal development is key to discovering who you are and who you want to be in the world. Counseling is one way that you can explore all different aspects of who you are. The Counseling Center is free to use for all Harper students enrolled in coursework. They offer 1-1 personalized sessions in three main areas: personal, educational or career development.

Students often have questions about how they are going to pay for college, and Harper has information on resources available to support students navigate this process.  You can take advantage of scholarships, grants, flexible payment plans, military benefits and work-study opportunities to cover tuition and living expenses, allowing you to focus on your academic goals.

Sometimes you need more help financially then scholarships can cover. Hawks Care can provide additional support financially, on a limited basis, to help you temporarily cover bills like grocery or gas. If you need more long-term assistance, Hawks Care will inform and connect you to community resources. Hawks Care Pantry can be a way to obtain non-perishable food items or personal care necessitates.

Your mental wellness is just as important as your physical wellness. With your Harper ID, you have access to using the state-of-the-art gym, the Health and Recreation Center. You have the opportunity to attend free group classes (ex. yoga), use the weight room, basketball courts, or run/walk the upstairs track. There are 8 Dimensions to Wellness at Harper: Emotional, Environmental, Financial, Intellectual, Occupational, Physical, Social, and Spiritual. Many of the items you will read about in this book will cover something in one of these dimensions.

Starfish is a platform that Harper uses for communication between support services and students. If someone in your support network is concerned about you, they may use Starfish to send you a message. For example, if you start missing class regularly, your instructor might notice this and submit a Starfish Flag to notify your support network, such as your academic advisor, about this occurrence. Your Advisor might then reach out to you to connect you with other support resources. It’s important that you follow up on outreach from your Instructor or Advisor because they can help share ways to get you back on track for success.

How to Access Starfish:

  • Step 1- You will likely get an email to your Harper email account that someone in your network is concerned about you. To be able to access Starfish, head to the landing page of your student portal. On the right side, under your advisor, you will see “My support Network” (picture below).

  • Step 2- The people you can view in your network is everyone assigned to work with you and guide you on your path to success at Harper. Every student has the Academic Support Center and the Job Placement Resource Center assigned to them, but then you may also notice, the Wellness Center, Academic Advising, Access Advocate, Athletics Support, Coach, or Glide Mentor.

  • Step 3- Review the other resources in the system, as these are all the departments on campus that can add value and help you achieve your goals.


Making friends as you age can be more difficult, but finding people that share your same interests can be easier than you might think. Student Engagement at Harper provides a variety of opportunities for students.  For example, Harper has over 50 student organizations to choose from to make new friends. No matter your interests, there is surely something to help you feel connected to Harper and your peers. If there isn’t a specific club of interest, you can always showcase your leadership skills and work towards creating your own legacy by founding your own.

Athletics is another great way to meet people. If you are interested in playing collegiate sports, Harper has 13 total opportunities, including the new e-sports team!

Harper Hawks Athletics Log

If you have ever served in the military, know that Harper appreciates and is grateful to you. Because there is a population of veterans seeking higher education, the office of Veteran and Military Connected Students is here to support you. The office offers free information sessions to learn how to use Harper resources as a veteran, but most of all, there is a safe space for veterans to interact and connect with one another in the office.

The Cultural Center opened its doors in November 2021 and is a safe space for students to feel their culture affirmed, but also have a shared common space for educational and social activities. From games to quiet study spaces, the Cultural Center was designed with creating community in mind for students of all identity groups.


Meeting with your Academic Advisor once a semester is going to help you stay on track. Whether you are looking to apply for a limited enrollment program, associate degree, transferring credits or a certificate program, your Academic Advisor can help you create a plan to reach your goals. Before you meet with your Advisor, you need to come prepared with questions you have. Maybe you want to know how long it will take you to reach your goal, or maybe you want to know if transferring to a four-year school is the right option- your Advisor will help understand your goals and ask you questions that allow you to think about the big picture.

The Library is much more than a place to check out books and movies. It is important to know that this is how to get help.

    • Librarians can assist you with any type of research you might need, but then also share how to cite your sources correctly.
    • You can also rent out a quiet study space.
    • If you needed a computer or hot spot at home, you can rent one for the entire semester (for FREE)!
    • The Library is full of these resources on top of free programs that happen monthly.

Each floor of the library is meant to build on your success.

  1. The ground level houses opportunities for tutoring (more on that in the next paragraph).
  2. The main floor has classroom spaces, study rooms, books and movies to check out, computers to print or work on homework, and allows for conversation amongst peers.
  3. The third floor of the library is the quiet zone. While you are welcome to study in groups, this floor is meant for minimal talking. It houses research books and additional study spaces.
  4. Feel free to stop by the library at any time and ask questions in-person, or get in touch by phone, email, or live chat. Never be afraid to make a one-on-one appointment with a librarian as well because they can certainly help you make your semester, project, and papers a success!

The Academic Support Center, located in the lower level of the library, houses a variety of educational support resources. The Tutoring Center assists students with learning content they might be struggling with in their courses. Sometimes subjects that are unfamiliar or new, may not come as easily to learn and by using the Tutoring Center they can help provide tips to improve your test scores and understand content. Another section of the Academic Support Center is the Writing Center. This area can help you not only with your English classes, but any paper you need to write for a class. Their goal is to help you become a stronger more confident writer. Furthermore they offer “FREE” success workshops in many different topics ranging from; Time Management, Test Taking Tips, Reducing Anxiety, Reading Strategies, Note-Taking skills and many more.

The last educational resource that is important to your college success is the Access and Disability Services office (ADS). If you had an accommodation in high-school, it was an automatic opportunity the school district afforded students (examples of accommodations came from an individualized educational plan, also known as an IEP, or 504 plan). College is different than high-school, as accommodations are no longer required. The only way an instructor would know you have an accommodation, is if one of the Access Advocates from ADS shares with your instructor that you need assistance in the class. You are not required, as a college student, to disclose you need or want accommodations; however, if you do want to use accommodations you need to have them in place at the start of term. The accommodation plan is only good for when it is implemented. That means if you decide halfway through the semester you need an accommodation, it can only be implemented from the midway point to the end of term. You will not be able to use accommodations for the first part of the term.

Are you looking for an on-campus job? Internship? Need help with creating a resume? Then you will want to utilize the services of the Job Placement Resource Center (JPRC). The staff there can assist you in thinking about life after Harper. Having an up-to-date resume is important to landing your next or future job. The JPRC has a variety of tools to help you succeed in your next job: from creating a resume and cover letter, to helping you with interview prep, using their services will give you an upper hand in preparing for your future career.

Appointments for any of these services can be made by calling the specific office, possibly through your student portal, or by going in-person.  Click on any of the links above for more information on these services.

Take a minute to watch this short video of Harper’s campus.


There are so many aspects of attending college, and with so many resources available it may be hard to determine where to go!  You may have questions about adding or dropping a class, registration, transcripts or other academic records, financial aid, tuition payments and so much more.  The One Stop at Harper is here to help, they are your go-to for help to get things done.

While most of the resources listed above are located physically on Harper’s campus, there will be important items that will not be a physical location. Keep reading for more!

  • Couse Syllabus
    • Every class you take at Harper will begin with a contract between you and your instructor- this is known as a syllabus. It will contain vital information for your success. The document will cover the instructor’s preferences for communication, expectations of you as the student, office hours, and most importantly grading and due dates.
    • Some syllabi even have a schedule of due dates, but know that some instructors have a separate document. It is important to follow this schedule and check daily to ensure you are not missing vital homework and assignments.
    • Instructors are counting on you to review this information and this is an important first step to starting any class off in a positive manner.
  • Blackboard
    • Instructors have the option to use the online tool to track grades, input resources, create group discussions, and collaborate on assignments. Each individual course layout and set-up is determined by the instructor.
    • In order for you to be successful, you must log into your blackboard at the beginning of each course. From there, click on each of the individual sections of Blackboard. Become familiar with the layout and the way the class is run. This will help you find resources quickly when needing to reference specific weeks or topics.
  • Technology
    • Did you know that with your enrollment at Harper College, you get access to Microsoft Office 365 which will give you access to Word, PowerPoint and Excel. You may need these to write papers or create project for some of your college courses.
    • Do you have technology needs like access to Wi-Fi, working laptop, or graphing calculator? Do not stress Harper College has your back with its “Semester Loan Technology program”. This is on a first-come, first-serve basis while supplies last. Students must be enrolled and present their Harper Id or other valid photo Id to request items.
      • To request visit Harper Library or email or call 847-925-6584.
      • Hawks Care also has limited laptops to loan out for courses that require a Windows operating system.


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Harper First Year Seminar: A Guide to College Success Copyright © 2023 by Harper College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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