Abroad101 Newsletter – For Providers – Late Fall 2014

Abroad101-reviews-logo-webGreetings from Abroad101,

The first anniversary of the new management team at Abroad101 is upon us, a sincere thank you for your confidence and support.  For our audience of American clients, warm Thanksgiving wishes.  In this update we want to highlight the role of a review in today’s market and also highlight some creative ways to utilize them in your work with students.  Reviews not only in draw interest in your programs, they also get students engaged, enrolled, and better prepared.  In the full-circle view, reviews ultimately turn today’s prospects into successful advocates upon their return.

Reviews Are Social Media:
Perhaps you associate Social Media with websites like Facebook or Twitter, but Social Media is much broader and farther reaching than a few web sites.  Social Media is the modern phenomenon of “social interaction among people in which they create, share or exchange information, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks”  according to Wikipedia, which is a social media site; Abroad101 is a social media site too.

In today’s consumer market, having volumes of information online is not enough; the trend is to engage with your users publicly.  Successful engagement and loyalty comes from building a sense of community that is fueled by an ongoing interactive dialog. Anonymous testimonials have lost their effectiveness. To be effective in reaching the young and tech savvy crowd, you need to be open, share and receive commentary and offer lots of interaction.

Like other forms of Social Media, Abroad101 is designed to share.  Reviews on Abroad101 are given a unique and permanent web address, provide comment sections and are distributed through a number of outlets.  On the site, reviews are summarized by program, by provider, by home institution and by host institution (if applicable).  Reviews are streamed to third parties through electronic feeds, software widgets and our associated community pages on Facebook and Twitter.  Universities and providers are encouraged to share these reviews with their communities, adding power to the sharing concept.

Reviews Are Not Only For Marketing:
Reviews have a number of uses beyond building a first impression, which is why a number of universities incorporate reviews in all aspects of the study abroad process.  Reviews help in:

  • Measuring the “fit” – Each program has its own identity, not only in the stated objectives, but also in the personality of the students.  By seeing where students come from and reading their comments, future students can get a sense of how they might (or might not) fit.
  • Assuring the Choice with Family and Friends – Reviews and their first hand accounts can help anxious parents and concerned friends understand and grow comfortable with the student’s choice.
  • Setting Expectations – Often overlooked, but nothing will help communicate the reality of a program more than a review.  Brochures can’t highlight safety concerns, but reviews can.  Web sites won’t discuss the realities of the setting or economic conditions of the local community, but reviews do.  As the saying goes, “an educated consumer is the best kind.”
  • Gathering Support for the Student – In addition to assurance, students share reviews with others to gain support, sometimes literally through the recent phenomenon of crowd funding.
  • Pre-Departure Orientation – Nothing can better prepare a student than the first hand accounts of previous students, especially if the former students came from the same home institution.  If you create a Facebook Group for new students, start the dialog off with links to reviews to get discussions going.
  • Helping Students Jump Start their Careers – Using the review as a showcase of their time abroad, the published reviews should be included in Linkedin profiles, cover letters and other career building self-promotion.

Ranking, Ratings and SEO:
Abroad101 also uses reviews to determine positioning in our directories.  The Free Listings in Abroad101 are displayed based on a formula that favors recent reviews and review score.  More reviews means better positioning which means more inquiries.

In addition to the overall score, Abroad101 also displays the average ratings for six other aspects.  We compile those into our annual rankings, which we will promote early in 2015.  To have your program considered for the rankings, we need reviews, so please get those invitations to recent students out before the end of the year.

Five years ago, typing “Plumber in Kansas City” into your favorite search engine would have directed you to online phone directories and electronic yellow pages.  Today, it gets you to Angie’s List, Yelp and the yellow pages that now syndicate reviews.  Search Engines are increasingly using reviews and other Social Media scoring (likes, favorites) as a factor in their rankings; keeping or improving your position with them is yet another reason to incorporate reviews in your online marketing plan.

Follow us:
Facebook.com/Abroad101
Twitter.com/StudyAbroad101
Pinterest.com/StudyAbroad101
Instagram.com/StudyAbroad101
The Study Abroad Advantage on Linkedin

Check Out Our sessions:
Abroad101’s CEO, Mark Shay presented sessions that outline these topics in further depth.  You can download the session slides from our blog:

ISEP Conference: “Social Media & Web Marketing Tools for Marketing and Advising” –
http://blog.studyabroad101.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/ISEP-Session-Social-Media.pdf

NAFSA Region X/XI: “Why Require Student Reviews” –
http://blog.studyabroad101.com/2014/10/why-require-student-reviews-ten-ways-program-evaluations-can-advance-study-abroad-on-your-campus/

Work Closer with Abroad101:
More than 90% of the reviews on Abroad101 are the result of an invitation, and the most effective way to generate reviews on Abroad101 is to use the “Invite Tool” in your account dashboard.  Our system is configured so that duplicate requests won’t get sent, so use the tool to invite recent students – it works!

Double-check your listings.  Type your provider name in the search box at the top of each page and click to see your provider summary page.  As with all of the listings on Abroad101, the display formula applies here too.  If you see the Abroad101 graphic (thumbnail) in the listing, that program needs a listing photo.  Make note of the programs needing reviews and put special emphasis on getting reviews for those.  If you need program titles changed or programs added, send an email to support@Abroad101.com with the program name and a web link, we’ll update them for you.

Advertise with Abroad101.  We continue to create added benefits for those that financially support Abroad101 through advertising.  2-3 times daily we highlight advertiser programs on our Facebook, Twitter and other Social Media outlets.  Reviews from advertiser programs are also distributed through Twitter with the advertiser name and related hash tags included.  Advertisers also receive screened general student inquiries that come through the site.  This comes in addition to the high visibility, cost-effective advertising positions across Abroad101.  Now’s a great time to boost your presence on Abroad101, contact mark@Abroad101.com for details and a price quote.

If you are interested in using Abroad101 as your official program evaluation management system, we’d love to talk to you about how Abroad101 can replace your paper or other legacy application.

As a reminder, reviews collected in 2014 or the result of an invitation issued from Abroad101 in 2014 will be considered for our annual rankings.  Log-into your dashboard and use the Invite Tool to get your former students to submit reviews by December 31 and you’ll that review will automatically be entered into the rankings process.

And, as always, your comments, questions and feedback are welcome.  Thanks for a great year; the best is yet to come!

Mark Shay
CEO, Abroad101
+1-212-321-0928
mark@Abroad101
http://www.StudyAbroad101.com

Abroad101 Student of the Week #30 – Karly Eckes

Karly Eckes-Nicaragua

Karly EckesThis week’s Abroad101 Student of the Week award goes to Karly Eckes, a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Karly is an applied science major who plans on one day becoming a physician assistant. She currently works for Elite Medical Scribes where she is a medical scribe and gaining invaluable experience in the medical field. Once she graduates from UWS, she hopes to move on to a two year program at a PA school.

Karly has been given the opportunity to study abroad in Nicaragua where she will learn about health care in a foreign country. She is also excited to explore a new country and learn about the culture. You can check out Karly’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. To find out more about studying in Nicaragua, like Karly, visit the Abroad101 program page.

Stay tuned for our next Abroad101 Student of the Week!

– See more at: http://blog.goennounce.com/abroad101-student-of-the-week-0030-karly-eckes/

Abroad101 Student of the Week #29 – Ashley Broadus

Ashley Broadus - Florence

Ashley BroadusThis weeks Abroad101 winner is Ashley Broadus from Georgia State University. Ashley is a senior who is studying TV/Film and hopes to continue working with this medium for the rest of her life. She has already started making her way into the world of TV/Film by being the post production lead/manager of her university’s television station. Ashley also is an aspiring artist, having an art minor and practicing a form of art called printmaking. On top of all of this, in her free time, Ashely draws comics!

Ashley has always wanted to study abroad and finally has a chance to do it. And what better place for an artist to go then to Europe, Florence to be exact! As a filmmaker and artist in her final year of college, basking in the culture of Europe for several months is just what she is looking for! We think this experience will benefit her future career, don’t you?! Check out her Mission here to learn more.

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. To find out more about studying in Florence, like Ashley, visit the Abroad101 program page.

Stay tuned for our next Abroad101 Student of the Week!

– See more at: http://blog.goennounce.com/abroad101-student-of-the-week-0029-ashley-broadus/

Returning to Amsterdam after a year abroad

amsterdam studio

Shipping container complex – Stavangerweg, Amsterdam. Picture Source: dekey.nl

After researching cities around the world and various study-abroad programs, I found Amsterdam to be the most intriguing in terms of its urban landscape, seemingly progressive social policies, and central location in Europe. It was important that I live in a non-english speaking country but still be able to study in English—which is something Amsterdam would be able to provide.

My year abroad in Amsterdam

I eventually (and quite happily, I may add) landed a spot at the Universiteit van Amsterdam (via the ISEP programme) for the full 2010-2011 academic year. The university set me up with a studio in a unique shipping container complex where I had the freedom, accessibility, and opportunity to take the most of Amsterdam and its people.

I took a range of classes (including Dutch, Financial geography, the sociology of cities, and history of the Lowlands), befriended many internationals as well as Dutch, and was able to easily travel around the rest of the country and other hotspots in Europe.

To say the least, Amsterdam won over my heart that year — for a multitude of reasons. With a population of only around 700,000 – Amsterdam felt like a city of villages where you had the comfort of small scale but also the advantage of its international, cosmopolitan nature.

I also fell in love with the ubiquity of cycling. To live in a place where the majority of people cycle from A to B brought a sense of ease and smoothness to my life, something I’d never felt in other automobile-centric cities. The fact that I could easily reach any corner of the city within 30 minutes – always carrying my own weight and arriving to the next place with energy pumping into my veins—was invaluable.

The Great Return

When I finished my last year at the University of Vermont after my grand ol’ year in Amsterdam, I was determined to return back to Dam (or Dammage, Hamsterdam, Amsterjam – as I like to call it). I luckily have an Irish passport (I am American, but my father is Irish), so securing residency and work permits was not an issue. However, like many recently graduated, finding work became somewhat of a nervous scramble, and was exacerbated by the fact that I was searching for jobs in a foreign country.

With little work experience and professional connections in the Netherlands, I decided that it would be best (albeit risky) to move to the Dam without a job. With good friends I had met from my year exchange I had places to stay and knew people in the local job force who could provide me with ideas and leads.

After a month or two, I finally landed a job with Imbull, a company that runs a handful of websites including Flipit.com, a startup website that is aiming to become the number one couponing powerhouse in the world. Luckily, and rather appropriately for the theme of this article, I discovered the job vacancy from a friend I had met during my exchange year at the University of Amsterdam.
flipitDue to the international nature of the company, Imbull was quite enthusiastic when it came to hiring international staff. They took full advantage of Amsterdam’s cosmopolitan character and I feel a lot of international companies in this city accept and even seek after American or other English speaking degrees.   Because of this, Imbull was able to start a global venture without having to outsource much of the work or bring employees over from different countries.   They did, however, help a few staff members secure working and residency visas, which is one of the only ways the Netherlands allows people to remain in the country if they don’t have Dutch or EU citizenship.

For my bachelor degree, I studied political science and human geography, so how on earth did I end up at a marketing/tech-oriented company? Young startups are always looking for an energetic, young, and relatively inexpensive labour force who can learn quickly and grow with (and within) the company. Imbull promised to teach me the skills I would need and in return I was the sort of flexible, adaptable, computer-savvy, and low-level employee they needed.

Startups move with haste. Since there is less bureaucracy than larger, more established companies, decisions can be made quickly, and startups can generally do more with fewer resources.
Within the first week of working, I was given the task of content editing and Search Engine Optimisation for the Singaporean version of Flipit, which had just been launched a week before I began working. As I became more comfortable with the content management system and the other tasks I was given, I quickly gained more responsibility and control over the direction that the website would take.

The average age at Imbull is 27, which has been ideal for my first job outside of university since everyone is young, enthusiastic, and well, let’s just say … a little bit nutty. Flipit.com is active in 23 countries so we have quite the international staff, with each employee bringing a new flavour and attitude to our eclectic team. If you were in our office you’d hear the English girl cracking sarcastic jokes to the slightly more sensible but chatty Scandinavians; or you’d notice the slightly obnoxious American (me) speaking broken French to her Dutch-Morroccan-French colleague. Needless to say, it is quite the scene.

Oranjekerk - our new offices in Amsterdam

Oranjekerk – our new offices in Amsterdam


Final Words of Advice

As I mentioned earlier, I would not have found this exciting start up if it weren’t for my year exchange! So if you are thinking of going abroad remember: the connections and people you may come across will be invaluable for your future, particularly if you hope to return to where you’ve studied, either to work or to visit.

And don’t forget to branch out while you are abroad – I see many American exchange students stick together with other Americans for the entirety of their exchange. A lot of your programs will be engineered in such a way that you will be living and taking classes with other Americans. It’ll be difficult to step out of this bubble, but it will be worth.

 

 

 

Guest Post –
Eliza Shaw, Flipit.com

 

 

Abroad101 Announces “The Study Abroad Advantage”

studyAbroadAdvantage-luggageTag

Join the Study Abroad Advantage on LinkedIn

Putting the Ideals of Study Abroad into Practice, Abroad101 Announces “The Study Abroad Advantage”

International education software company extends its platform to help students advance their careers.

LinkedIn GroupJoin

New York, NY (PRWEB) October 06, 2014

Abroad101 has launched an initiative called “The Study Abroad Advantage.” Designed to help college students gain an edge in the job market after graduation, this collaborative effort involves students, college advisors and prospective employers. Students start their Advantage with a capstone summary of their education abroad published on Abroad101. This review is logo_prwebthen shared via social networks and other outlets with prospective employers who are looking for students with international experience, foreign language skills and the maturity that comes from being overseas.

Study Abroad is widely considered advantageous in the job market. Mark Shay, CEO of Abroad101.com stated, “The goal of The Study Abroad Advantage is to put this theory into practice by providing a platform for students to showcase how they have grown and matured while overseas. For employers, The Study Abroad Advantage is a place for HR departments, hiring managers and recruiters to get a glimpse into the personality and character of the student as a prospective employee.”

Connecting the two is a group on Linkedin called “The Study Abroad Advantage.” The group was created on August 30 and was joined by over 250 students in the first 5 days. Students in the group link to their study abroad review from their Linkedin profile as a reference point, while employers and job recruiters use the group to connect and network with these stand-out students.

Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, is an early supporter of The Study Abroad Advantage. Trinity has a vibrant study abroad program and requires returning students to complete a program evaluation through Abroad 101. Nancy Ericksen, Assistant Director for Study Abroad in the International Programs Office at Trinity, says, “The future is here. With the reality of technological advances and a growing global economy, I believe that the student with international experience has an advantage in preparing for the world of tomorrow. Using The Study Abroad Advantage, our students can showcase their experience and use it in opening contact with employers – leveraging that to start their career.”

Employers are increasingly turning to the web to investigate candidates, discover how well they communicate and present themselves added Martin Tillman, President of Global Career Compass, an international consulting practice focusing on the impact of study abroad on student career development: “There is much evidence (in research conducted by both academics, private companies and research organizations) that the value-added of international education experience to a students’ career development is diminished if students cannot clearly articulate the impact of that experience. The Study Abroad Advantage is a nice way for education abroad advisors and career service counselors to harmonize their professional skills with technology to enhance the value of study abroad for their students.”

The Linkedin group is just the beginning according to Abroad101’s Shay: “We are looking forward to working with university career centers and placement offices as well as large employers to find innovative ways to help these creative, ambitious and now mature students turn their real-world experiences to leap forward in their career development. The core philosophy of The Study Abroad Advantage is to provide a platform to channel the energy and idealism fostered by international education into organizations in need of talent.”

About Abroad101
Founded in 2007, Abroad101 is the first and largest study abroad review website that also gives universities a software tool for evaluating their exchange, faculty-led, third-party provider, volunteer and internship programs. Focusing on American college students looking for a semester or term abroad, this innovative system connects past and future students, parents, advisors and program providers. As part of the platform, the Abroad101 directory of study abroad programs is the most comprehensive database in the field today. To see the study abroad rankings rating and reviews visit http://www.StudyAbroad101.com

Read this Press Release on PR Web

Top 4 Ways to Include High School Study Abroad on Your College Resume

Close-up of an 'Approved' College Application letter.

So, you’ve come back from your amazing high school study abroad program, and now you’re basking in the glow of all your wonderful experiences and memories – the places you saw, the people you met, and (let’s be honest) the many, many crepes you devoured for both breakfast AND dinner. And while you may not exactly be ready to think about those pesky impending college apps yet, it’s likely that the time to fill them out will come much sooner rather than later. But, luckily for you, did you know that high school study abroad can really set you apart from the crowd when it comes to college admissions? It’s simply all about how you translate your experience into practical terms that look resume-worthy – for instance, stating that you “took a language course in Spain” isn’t as impressive as saying that you “improved oral proficiency in Spanish and gained a higher level of overall fluency”. Read on for the top 4 ways to include high school study abroad on your college resume!

  • You acquired the ability to speak a second language. Second language acquisition is rapidly becoming the norm for college applicants everywhere – when French is the official language of 35 countries, nearly 45 million Americans speak Spanish as their first language, and Mandarin easily has the most native speakers worldwide, it’s no surprise that this would be the case. The fact of the matter is, admissions boards are getting more and more used to seeing applicants that have intimate knowledge of second and even third languages, so including this on your resume is a no-brainer (just be sure to go into detail about your rate of improvement during your time abroad, what you specifically studied and how this contributed to your knowledge of the language, etc.)
  • You’re now on your way to becoming a true global leader. Whether you realize it or not, study abroad imbues you with some truly valuable global leadership skills – other than being proficient in a foreign language, these include acquiring necessary cultural empathy and the ability to make decisions through a global lens (all of which are note-worthy buzz words for college admissions boards). Get ready to ride the global leadership train all the way to your top school pick when you include these skills on your resume!
  • You increased your level of cultural awareness and tolerance. One of the best things about study abroad is that it forces you to become open to other ways of life. In today’s globalized world, this level of heightened cross-cultural awareness and tolerance is crucial – admissions boards want to see this demonstrated, in print. Immersion programs in particular (so, programs in which you live with local families and speak and hear the language constantly) are excellent ways to acquire these skills.
  • You overcame language and cultural barriers. Learning to successfully navigate your way through a conversation in Italian (rather than, ahem, faking it) is a huge victory in itself – and, bonus, this is also something that can translate into some serious communication skills development on your resume! Think about it: overcoming different cultural and language barriers likely required you to use communication skills you didn’t even know you had. Intercultural communication is in itself an in-demand skill, but learning to communicate across cultures also results in a higher level of assertiveness and self-confidence – hello, leadership skills!).

About the Author: Justine Harrington is the Admissions Director for SPI Study Abroad, a leading provider of language and cultural immersion summer programs for high school students. She is also the author of the SPI Blog.

Abroad101 Student of the Week #28 – Courtney Seyl – Studying in London England

image of London England

image of Courtney Seyl

Abroad101.com Student of the Week, Courtney Seyl.

This week, our Abroad101 Student of the Week award goes to Courtney Seyl! Courtney is a sophomore at the University of Puget Sound with a double major in theater and psychology. Her passion for theater runs deep and she stays very busy at school by directing and designing lighting for shows! Her favorite part of theater is behind the scenes and she hopes to pursue a future career in directing, lighting, or dramaturgy. She does love her psychology courses though, so is also considering going to graduate school for forensic psychology or social psychology.

To help see if theater is the right carer choice for her, Courtney is planning on heading to London, England to study theater and theater history. She will be attending the IES London Theater Studies Program where she is hoping to enhance her skills in the theatrical world. Even though her trip is not until next fall we had to admire her determination to get ahead, which only proves to how badly she wants this experience. To learn more about Courtney and her goal, you can check out her Mission page here! Happy filming, Courtney!

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. To find out more about studying in London, like Courtney, visit the Abroad101 program page.

Stay tuned for our next Abroad101 Student of the Week!

– See more at: http://blog.goennounce.com/abroad101-student-of-the-week-0028-courtney-seyl/

Social Media & Web Tools for Marketing and Advising

2014 ISEP Conference Hero Image

ISEP Conference

Thursday, November 13, 2:15 – 3:30

Potomac Ballroom D

As International Offices we are dedicated to advancing and internationalization plan because we believe in the transformative nature of global experience for students.  How much of that plan is influenced by our students and how often are we willing to meet our students on their own terms?  This session will explore the importance of leveraging student feedback in planning.  It will also challenge the traditional office-based approach to advising and demonstrate web-based platforms for engagement.

Presenters:

Joseph Burrow, ISEP

Duleep Deosthale, Admissions Table

Mark Shay, Abroad101  – Download presentation:  ISEP Session – Social Media

http://isepconference.wordpress.com/

Advisors – Reviews are Social Media

Social media doodles elementsWhen we think of social media in education abroad we generally think of brief and compelling messaging like posts, tweets, blogs and photos. With social media, we also think how we might like, follow, re-tweet or pin other peoples activity to stay active in front of our target audience. As promoters of education abroad we often struggle with just what to put into our networks and yet, one of the best forms of social media content is often overlooked, that of the study abroad review.

Being in the business of collecting and leveraging student reviews, Abroad101 has found that reviews make great social media content. As with other social media, a review comes from the student’s voice. A study abroad program review contains both quantitative data (ratings on a 0-5 star scale) and qualitative data like comments, descriptive passages and feedback on various program features. Reviews on Abroad101 are especially designed for social media sharing (syndication) as each review has its own unique web page (URL) and has its own comment section below the review.

In addition to the home university and the program name, the Abroad101 reviews have more than 35 other fields including a descriptive title created by the student and an introductory passage around the theme – “was it worthwhile?” Sharing these reviews with your followers is great Social Media content and a good way to highlight the success of recent education abroad alumni and get other communities on your campus to recognize the success of study abroad students.

Students are increasingly doing their own promotion of their reviews, sharing them with their friends, those who helped them into the program and those who will help that student into a career. One example of this self-promotion is the initiative called “The Study Abroad Advantage” where a group has been established on Linkedin to help study abroad alumni leverage their study abroad experience in their career development. Students in the Group are linking their reviews from their Linkedin profiles and using them to showcase their abilities, talents and experiences to get ahead in the job market.

Education abroad offices on campus should consider using these reviews to advance study abroad on their campus. Reviews will prompt discussion and facilitate the exchange of ideas about individual programs, program types and destinations. A number of offices already follow and endorse Abroad101′s social media activity on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram accounts. In addition to this, posting your own highlights of reviews in you social media can help raise awareness and understanding of how education abroad influences your campus. We encourage you to create social media out of our social media and make posts based on the reviews on Abroad101.

As an advisor, reviews from your institution can be pushed to you for consideration. For those advisors with account on Abroad101, each review from a student at your institution generates an email when it is published. You can find the links to those programs by logging into your account or by looking at the summary page of reviews for your institution. For those of you with a little more computer support, Abroad101 can push your student reviews to you through something called an API (Computer to computer gateway), or you can draw them through a RSS feed that we publish.

However you collect and reference our reviews, we hope you’ll see the benefit of taking the review title, summary paragraph and web link as social media content and use it to advance study abroad on your campus. The Abroad101 team is happy to work with you in finding better ways to network and connect and is available to get you using reviews in your social media marketing strategy.

You might also be interested in reading the slides for the session called  Ten ways program evaluations can Advance Study Abroad on Campus

Read here for more information and presentation slides on the ISEP Conference in Virginia

 

What Type of Study Abroad Program is Right for You?

Young pretty business woman dreaming about vacation and her tripAt first, Study abroad seems simple enough: just pick a place to go, find someone to take you there, apply and mail some money. Unfortunately, it is a lot more complex than that because for most students, study abroad is not part of the standard curriculum at a college, but an option. Additionally, credit hours earned outside the student’s home university aren’t treated the same as normal credit hours. The process will seem a little daunting at first, but by all accounts it’s worthwhile and many students report their study abroad experience had the greatest impact on them during their entire time at college.

To accommodate the growing interest in study abroad, universities and program providers continue to introduce creative ways to work study abroad into a college experience. One way is to study abroad when students are normally on a break because that way, the student doesn’t have to disrupt their curriculum and course progression. These off-season programs include:

  • January Sessions, or J-Term, are 3 or 4 week mini-semesters at the start of the year designed to squeeze a single course into the end of your Christmas break
  • May or Maymester is a single course over a 3 or 4 week mini-semester that follows Spring finals and finish before the usual summer sessions
  • Summer Sessions – 4 to 10 week programs that can offer one to three academic courses, sometimes broken into two sessions (Summer 1 and Summer 2)

Another consideration is what will be studied and how that relates to an academic major. If the university runs their own study abroad programs, students are probably in luck as the academic credits come from the home university and also the grades will show up directly in the home university transcript and satisfy requirements for the major. Bringing outside credits to a university Registrar will need a course equivalency. Keep in mind that the grade for those courses will not transfer, only Pass/Fail status will.

Since not too many universities offer a full array of courses abroad, so they offer alternatives, either through exchange partnerships or ties with study abroad provider companies. In these cases, programs offered by universities overseas are packaged for American students and offer credit on the student’s home university transcript as transfer credit. Exchange programs are generally most affordable as the student has to take on many more of the program components and while overseas will generally not have as rich a support network as those programs offered through the provider companies. In the study abroad program directories from Abroad101, these exchange programs are identified with the title of Direct Enrollment & Exchange. The programs offered at that same school by provider companies can be viewed in a second tab. Those provider companies offer a host of extra services and support services and can really help students navigate the complexities of an education abroad experience. For those students willing the take the challenge, exchange programs are a great option and the foreign university will have student support. The American study abroad student will be treated like an international student and will likely find themselves in a mix of students from other countries as well as those from the host country. As a tip, try typing the names of the foreign university in the search box in the menu bar on Abroad101.

Another popular option, especially in the off-season comes from Faculty-led programs operated by the home university. Faculty-led programs are growing in popularity and as the title suggests, are lead by a professor from the home university who leads an exploration of their area of interest, immersing students into a specific themed program. Think of it as an elective course on steroids. Faculty-led programs are generally groups of students from the home university and the programs often include organized travel, multiple destinations and tours. Faculty-led programs will offer home university credit, but because they are offered off-season, may not be eligible for standard Financial Aid.

Before committing to a program type, we suggest speaking with both the academic advisor as well as the education abroad office on campus. Consider all options when it comes to transfer credit, financial aid and your degree progression. Ask lots of questions so that you fully understand your options. There’s a program for everyone, once you understand what type of program interests you we suggest you use the advanced program search on Abroad101 to help find and use the reviews to better compare and understand the possibilities.