Evaluations and Expectations : Tips for the Study Abroad Advisor

By: Missy Gluckmann, Founder of MelibeeGlobal.com

If you’re a study abroad advisor, you will get the magnitude of this question:

How can you collapse many days worth of information on preparing for study abroad into
your short pre-departure meeting?

One could liken covering what is vital in a pre-departure meeting to solving the Rubik’s Cube with one arm tied behind your back. It seems to be a mission impossible!

Students on lecturerThe reality is that there is simply too much to cover and increasing pressure to talk about logistics of getting from point A to point B. (I won’t even get into the “necessary” paperwork that has to be checked before departure.) Couple that with the fact that pre-departure meetings are often scheduled during a busy time of the academic year and students typically don’t read the detailed packets of information that are thoughtfully provided, and you can be left feeling rather defeated in your role as a study abroad advisor.

Ideally, the goal is to set expectations and to transfer knowledge about culture. With the advent of open source evaluations, the advisor’s role of inspiring students to carefully consider what to expect when they’re abroad becomes much easier.

Perhaps Terrell Owens’ quote best sums up the value of expectations:

“If you align expectations with reality, you will never be disappointed.”

Or at the very least, one hopes that your students will have a much better idea of what they’re stepping into!

Here are 3 steps to guide study abroad advisors in setting cultural and programmatic expectations for study abroad students:

1) Look to the past, first.
You’ve heard the expression, ‘you have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going’. This applies to setting expectations for study abroad too. Through the abroad101.com website, you can look up a specific program and read comments related to each category (such as housing, safety, food, etc.) as an initial starting point. What common concerns or feedback have students shared year over year via evaluations? Where have they rated fewer stars? Have they consistently commented about differences in housing and the type of food available at self-contained campuses abroad? Are there concerns about socializing with locals? Past evaluations will quickly surface common categories that students have felt motivated to share specific feedback about. These categories can translate into a roadmap for areas of focus in your upcoming pre-departure meeting, as these are the “hot buttons” that have come up time and time again, according to your customers (students). By looking to the past, we can see where we can set better expectations for the students (and their parents too).

2) Glean insights
Now that you know where to focus, you’ll need to carefully consider what students are saying about these “hot button” topics. Are the comments “one offs” or is there a pattern? Was the student particularly “picky” or was the feedback ubiquitous and verifiable?

I researched evaluations from one summer program in Quito, Ecuador – a place that I’ve been to twice – that carries a serious reputation for being unsafe. Here are a couple of comments that allow us to easily address expectations of safety :

“There is an overall inevitably high safety risk in Quito, however, I was
fine having taken proper precautions.

Another student candidly notes:

“Americans were definitely targeted but generally just for petty theft, nothing violent. I had my purse slashed and wallet stolen. A friend had his pocket slashed and wallet stolen. Both were on crowded city buses. However, these were the only incidents our group had, probably because we were given a very thorough briefing on safety. A group from another school that we encountered at one point said half of their students had been the victims of petty theft.”

These types of comments are incredibly valuable because they provide REAL accounts about what can happen in Quito. This also provides an opportunity to remind students that petty theft happens in their home country as well as in Western Europe (for example, my sister’s camera was stolen in a movie theater in Paris, France.) Theft happens. Setting expectations of how to avoid it by sharing comments like these is priceless. It opens the dialogue about what to pack (jewelry is completely unnecessary) and how to carry what you bring (put your money in a front pocket, skip the wallet and pocketbook, carry a slash proof travel pouch, the risk of taking crowded buses vs. traveling on public transportation during off peak hours).

Bold, truthful statements will help students (and parents) to set realistic expectations. They’re the kind of banter that is not included in marketing brochures, for obvious reasons, but the type that sincerely and authentically inform.

3) Tap into Culture
If we carry on with the example of safety in Quito, we step into a beautiful opportunity to create dialogue about culture. If we don’t, students (and parents) may be left with the impression that Ecuadorians are perpetual thieves or that you cannot step out of your homestay without losing your wallet.

By taking time to share the economic realities of Quito, students will have a better understanding of the WHY behind the expectation you’re setting. As Rebecca Adams de Garate, co-founder of El Nomad, explains “Minimum wage in Ecuador is a little over $300 per month. If the household has only one working parent, several children and earns only Ecuadorian minimum wage, pickpocketing is an easy way to make money. Things like smart phones, tablets and digital cameras are very expensive in Ecuador, so there is a very active black market for such stolen goods, especially in Guayaquil and Quito.” Improving expectations and providing the cultural realities – now you’re not only preparing – you’re truly educating!

For those of you who do not have a large enough study abroad population to host a group pre-departure meeting or you recruit students from many schools across the country, one solution for enhancing expectations through evaluations is to pull together links from several abroad101.com reviews and share them (by category, such as housing or safety) to include in your communication to students – whether it be a newsletter, a virtual pre-departure program, or via a PDF of your pre-departure materials.

No matter the method, setting expectations will make for a more smooth landing for everyone involved in the program – administrators, faculty, host country staff/homestay families and host country nationals, parents – and of course, the students!
About the Author:

Melissa Gluckmann, contributor to the Studyabroad101 Blog and founder of Melibee GlobalMissy Gluckmann is the Founder of Melibee Global, which aims to elevate the discussion about education abroad, culture, diversity and the lifelong path to global citizenship by offering trailblazing tools, speakers and professional development for the global education and travel communities. Raised in New York, Missy has lived abroad three times and traveled to dozens of countries. Missy currently resides in North Carolina and experiences culture shock there on a daily basis! She can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

Abroad101 Student of the Week #8 – Fernando Valle

Student of the WeekOur next Abroad101 Student of the Week goes to rising senior Fernando Valle from Arizona State University. Fernando will be traveling to the historical city of Florence, Italy for two weeks to learn conversational Italian and Italian business culture through living with a host family. After that, Fernando will begin a six-week internship program in Italy’s international business and financial capital, Milan, where he will gain hands-on experience to accompany his interdisciplinary studies track at school and earn credit towards his graduation. You can learn more about and contribute to Fernando’s Mission here.

The Abroad101 Student of the Week initiative awards a student who created a Mission for a study abroad program on GoEnnounce with a donation to their fundraiser. Learn more about this partnership from Abroad101 CEO Mark Shay and GoEnnounce co-founder Melissa Davis here.

We’re making weekly donations to #studyabroad fundraisers! We hope you can help us assist these students in reaching their goals to make their travel dreams a reality. Visit here to help with this mission.

Stay tuned for our next Abroad101 Student of the Week!

– See more at: http://blog.goennounce.com/tag/study-abroad-to-florence/#sthash.ryLJp3eY.dpuf

Study in Perth

 

Abroad101.com - StudyPerth

Study abroad programs in beautiful Perth Australia

Looking for a study destination with flexible study pathways, pristine beaches with the No. 1 student diversity in Australia?

Here are some of the reasons why you should choose Perth, Australia as your next study destin(HR RGB) Perth from above-Horizontal-resizedation!

Perth has been rated as one of the world’s top 10 most liveable cities (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2013), ranked in the top 10 per cent of 215 world cities for quality of life (Mercer, 2012) and top 30 Best Student Cities in the World (QS, 2013).

 

World-class education

Western Australia’s world-class universities, colleges and schools provide quality-assured education with flexible study pathways. The state’s practical approach to education, guided by teachers who are experts in their field, ensures that you are taught the skills that employers are looking for in today’s competitive world. Your study experience will not only provide you with learning, but also the possibility to be part of the growing academic and professional network that will guide the future of our city.

A lifestyle that’s hard to match!

Perth offers one of the highest standards of living in the world and yet is more affordable than the UK and the USA. As a student, you will receive a 40 per cent discount on all public transport throughout the state. Perth also has a relatively low crime rate compared to other major cities, making its campuses, transport and city streets safe and secure.

Most multicultural city in Australia

Perth is number one in Australia for student diversity. People of more tDSC_6028han 200 different nationalities live, work and study in Perth, speak over 170 languages and practise over 100 religions. There are numerous places of worship, with most restaurants and campuses catering for religious and dietary requirements. So, no matter where you’re from you’ll always feel welcome and respected.

 

 

Working in Perth

Perth has experienced an economic boom and is in the midst of a cultural rebirth. We currently generate around 19 per cent of Australia’s jobs, but have only 11 per cent of the population —meaning there’s never been a better time or place to find a job than right now, in Western Australia! Working in Perth while you study is not only a great way to earn some extra money. It will give you the chance to be part of our community and experience our way of life, and it’s also a fantastic way to work on your English language skills if you’re not a native speaker.

If you are on a student visa (a full-time international student), you will have the opportunity to work part time for up to 40 hours per fortnight and unlimited hours during semester break.

Making the most of your time in Perth

We value a balance of work and leisure in our lives and make the most of Australia’s open spaces with our city DSC_7642design and housing. The city centre is the home of business, as well as dozens of new bars, clubs and restaurants. Surrounding entertainment districts provide relaxed environments for music, theatre, festivals and cinema, and are minutes away from the peace and security of residential areas. Our Swan River, historic Fremantle port and King’s Park Botanic Gardens are the hub of outdoor recreation in the city, and our beaches are wide, pristine and welcoming.

Perth is at a unique point in its history and development. We are in a position to offer study choices, lifestyle benefits and career possibilities not available anywhere else, and in one of the most naturally beautiful destinations in the world. An education in Perth is a chance to be part of this exciting new future, no matter your goals and interests.

Search for your course today at www.studyperth.com.au.

StudyPerth is the first point of contact for anyone wishing to obtain information on studying and living in Perth, Australia.

Take What You Learned While Studying Abroad to Land Your Dream First Job

Guest Post…

Studying abroad is one of the greatest adventures and challenges any college student can take on. Many exchange students look at it as a fun opportunity to travel, but, in all reality, it’s a whole lot more than that. The experience can impact you in a big way, including the things you’re interested in, how you see the world, and what you want to do with your life…and it can make you more marketable, too.

If you’re a college senior or have just graduated, you probably have one priority on your mind right now, and that is getting a job. But forget the notion of just getting any old job and up the ante: landing your dream position. Remember all the things you learned while studying abroad and follow these tips for transforming your application process to land the first job you’ve been dreaming about.

1) Become a scrapper.

Remember how you were forced to toughen up when you landed in your foreign destination at the beginning of your study abroad program? Maybe you didn’t know the Metro system, couldn’t speak Spanish, or were greeted with stares from the locals. Over the course of your program, you overcame your insecurities, learned to live and speak like a local, and all around toughened up. Apply those learned skills to your job search by becoming more aggressive and nimble in your application approach. Just because your dream employer doesn’t have any job listings posted doesn’t mean they may not be accepting resumes. Call to inquire about any open positions and express your interest. If you can, drop by to leave behind a hard copy of your resume; it will stand out from the boatloads they receive via email. Follow key employers on social media, read their blogs, and stay abreast of any announcements they make regarding acquisitions of new accounts, and other signs of growth. Pounce on the opportunity to send a personalized cover letter congratulating them on the news and explaining how you would be a valuable asset to their team now more than ever.

2)  Perfect your language skills.

If you learned the basics of a foreign language while abroad, now’s the time to hone those skills to perfection. Most students return from their program with strong conversational skills, yet lack the needed reading and written skills to be considered truly bilingual. Sign up for formal training, such as one-on-one tutoring, to fill out your education in the second language. Add it to your resume and talk up your enviable Italian, French, Russian, or Icelandic skills in interviews. Employers will take note of your dedication to mastering the language.

3)  Get personal.

Students who study abroad can easily fall into a trap of highlighting generic takeaways from their experience. While the fact that you made friends with people from other cultures is important, it’s critical that you share your own, more personal highlights with potential employers. On your resume, bullet point three challenges you faced and how you overcame them. In an interview, talk about how the experience changed you and ignited a newfound passion for Bollywood films, Australian folklore, or German cuisine. Make it personal and at the end of the day, when potential employers think back on all those candidates they’ve interviewed, they’ll remember the recent college grad who got lost in Amsterdam or hitchhiked along the Pan-American Highway in Chile.

You may be riding on cloud nine upon returning from a study abroad experience, and rightly so. Enjoy the memories, the souvenirs, perhaps the last of that tan you worked on for the past 4 months. But when it’s time to build your resume, practice your interviewing skills, and get a first job you’ll be excited about, be sure to draw on that study abroad experience to give yourself the extra advantage among your peers.

Contributed by our guest blogger:
dustyFoxDusty Fox is a full-time freelance writer who contributes to Ivy Trainers and the Language Trainers network. Visit the Ivy Trainers website to learn more about the nationwide tutoring services they offer.

Abroad101 Student of the Week #7 – Janee Bailey

Our next Abroad101 Student of the Week honor goes to psychology major and rising senior at the University of Houston – Downtown, Janee’ Bailey. In July, Janee’ will be traveling abroad for the first time in her life. Her destination? Ghana!

JaneeBaileyGhana, located in West Africa, is not only oldest of Africa’s democratic societies, but also home to a rich natural and cultural landscape. From planned trips to wildlife sanctuaries like the Baobeng Rieme Monkey Sanctuary and historically significant landmarks like the slave castles on Cape Coast, Janee’ will immerse herself in Ghanaian history and culture while studying African American Psychology. You can learn more about Janee’ and contribute to her fundraising Mission here. Congrats Janee’!

The Abroad101 Student of the Week initiative awards a student who created a Mission for a study abroad program on GoEnnounce with a donation to their fundraiser. Learn more about this partnership from Abroad101 CEO Mark Shay and GoEnnounce co-founder Melissa Davis here.

We’re making weekly donations to #studyabroad fundraisers! We hope you can help us assist these students in reaching their goals to make their travel dreams a reality. Visit here to help with this mission.

Stay tuned for our next Abroad101 Student of the Week!

– See more at: http://blog.goennounce.com/abroad101-student-of-the-week-0007-janee-bailey/#sthash.NyUchJ0W.dpuf

Abroad101 Advertising Guide

Abroad101 is the first and largest study abroad review website.  Founded in 2007, our target audience is American university students looking for a semester or short-term abroad.  Much of our traffic and a majority of our reviews come from collaboration with university advisors who use us in their work with students to assure they receive academic credit for their experience.  Over 200 US colleges and universities promote Abroad101 to their students, over 140 have used our system to invite students to submit reviews.  Abroad101 serves as the official study abroad program evaluation tool at over 30 institutions who require  their students to submit their evaluations through our system.
Many of those who view Abroad101 are students and their parents,who are looking to validate their choices or expand on their initial selections.  If you are a program provider or offer a service related to American students studying abroad, Abroad101 offers affordable and cost-effective advertising to reach these students.
Click here to view the current Abroad101-Advertising_Guide or contact sales@abroad101.com for more details.

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