Abroad101 Providers Derby Results – Winter 2016

Providers Derby 2016

Leading Study Abroad Providers

IES Abroad widened it’s lead plus IFSA-Butler, SOL Education Abroad and CET have moved up in the latest round of the “Abroad101 Providers Derby”, the index of published review volume on Abroad101.  Study Abroad providers are one of the most trusted hosts for American students who want to study abroad and the reviews of these experiences can help reassure you, your parents or academic advisors that a given program is right for you.

At Abroad101 we collect program evaluation/reviews from students and publish them on our study abroad review website.  We also compile the ratings that students give the providers which you can use as an indicator of quality and you’ll see those results in our Study Abroad Rankings.

Organizations that encourage or even require their students to complete reviews understand the value of listening to their customers (students) and using that those testimonials to better inform future students as to what to expect in their programs.  Students use the reviews as a place to not only critique the program, but to describe their discoveries and their growth while abroad so we encourage you to look around for the kind of program than fits your dream.  Click Study Abroad Program Search or any of the provider links below.

IES ABROAD

International Studies Abroad / ISA

CIEE

CEA

Arcadia

IFSA/Butler

SIT Study Abroad

DIS Study Abroad

USAC

API / Academic Programs International

AIFS

The Education Abroad Network / TEAN

Sol Education Abroad

Boston University

CAPA The Global Education Network

CET Academic Programs

ISEP Exchange

CISabroad / Center for International Studies

The School for Field Studies / SFS

AMIDEAST

Abroad101 Advisors Newsletter – Winter 2016

Abroad101-reviews-logo-web

Please take a moment to remember the last time you booked a hotel, chose a movie or show in a theater, picked a restaurant, or bought a product online.  Did a review guide your decision?  If these small decisions were influenced by reviews, then we’re sure you’ll be interested in how something as unknown as an education abroad experience needs reviews.  Since 2007, Abroad101 has been helping universities manage the demand for reviews by turning the old-style program evaluation into a dynamic online review platform.  We’ve processed over 3,000 new study abroad reviews from just the last semester with more coming every day.  Abroad101 has pioneered the responsible use of reviews to complement university goals and in this edition of our advisor’s newsletter we take a look at reviews in the bigger picture.

The Best Reviews are About the Student

For students, study abroad is hard, the rewards are personal and telling their story is a big part of the process. Abroad101 helps universities collect student accounts of their time abroad and publishes them as reviews and personal points of pride.  A study abroad review is different than a restaurant review or that of a retail transaction as the best reviews are ones that focus on the student.  A good study abroad review is reflective, heart-felt and tells about the student’s growth and discoveries, even states the student’s worldview and views for the future. 

The reward for a good study abroad review is a lasting testimonial, one the student will take pride in sharing with you the advisor, their friends and family.  Please don’t feel it is necessary to pay or otherwise entice reviews through rewards or a sweepstakes.  This mentality cheapens the value of the student’s work and can sway students to be less than honest in order to improve their chances of “winning.” When you direct students to submit a study abroad review through Abroad101, the essential messages that you are sending are to share their experience with the world and take pride in those accomplishments.

Re-Entry in a Box

The Abroad101 review is 37 questions in length and is designed to walk students through a reflection of who they were before they left, who they are now and what they hope for their future.  As part of this process, they will rate 9 different aspects of their program and provide some insight and tips for future students.  Taking 20-30 minutes to complete, the review can help students put their feelings into words and start the process of communicating their experiences in concise and coherent ways.  As an advisor, you can manage this process by using the Abroad101 tools and then tally those responses in reports.

Candor is Key

Reviews are very influential in today’s consumer market and study abroad is no exception.  People come to review sites looking for balance to the always-positive websites, brochures and in-person presentations.  They know things aren’t perfect and want to understand what may be imperfect about a given location, program or host.  Quite often the visitors to Abroad101 are coming to validate their earlier discoveries and because of this, we see a significant portion of our traffic from parents and other adults who support students.  Students may be drawn to the ratings and comments about food and social aspects of a program, while parents see value in ratings and comments about safety and cost.  The 37 questions in the Abroad101 review give everyone something to discuss with plenty of examples to engage in a meaningful dialog and hopefully break some stereotypes about other people and other parts the world.

The vast majority of students who study abroad have an overwhelmingly positive experience, which is reflected in the reviews.  Those that struggle and report negative things will actually help future students prepare and set their expectations.  We hope you’ll bring these reviews to the attention of future students so that they can put things in perspective.  Costs in London are high, academics at Oxford are hard, petty crime is rampant in Paris and the food in Ghana is, well, … different.  Knowing these things before a student goes away may make a big difference in how they prepare.  As advisors you discuss these issues over and over, but with reviews the students are learning from their peers and for the schools that require reviews of their students, the peer advising affect seems to really help.

Please encourage your students to read the reviews as part of their pre-departure preparation and push them to be candid in their reviews when they return.  Students can start their review at http://www.StudyAbroad101.com/reviews/new

Transparency vs. Exposure and Risk

The concept of transparency is another reason universities turn to Abroad101. They want every story to be told and they want to capture the student’s voice in their promotion of education abroad.  The publication of these evaluations does worry some, fearing that unpleasant experiences will chase away future students.  We have this discussion daily with university officials and Abroad101 strongly believes that the risk of non-disclosure and suppression of a student’s story is a greater risk than any possible adverse affects of a negative review.  Failure to publish these accounts in today’s review-focused world is more telling than publishing stories of unhappy participants.

There are organizations lobbying government to mandate transparency and accountability and we strongly believe that using Abroad101 as your platform puts you at the forefront of this issue.  Publishing shows integrity and may well mitigate your risk if complications arise in the future. As the old slogan goes, “an educated consumer is the best kind” and when it comes to education abroad, it is riskier not to prepare students for the unknowns they face.  Using the Abroad101 system is an effective way to better prepare students and their families for the experience and lessen your liability for not disclosing past details.

Data, Data, Data

When you use Abroad101, you also harvest a wealth of data from your students and can compare it to students from other universities.  With our reporting you can see graphs on how your students rate their experience in those 9 categories and you can compare, even benchmark this against your own students (semester by semester) and all other institutions.  Those that use Abroad101 for their faculty-led programs can even compare, program by program against other programs operating in the same country.  One Dean recently told us about his use of Abroad101 stats in his university’s regional accreditation review.  He is using Abroad101 to benchmark his students’ education abroad experiences against others with the graphs report from his Abroad101 dashboard.

Publish or Perish

Faculty members often say they have to publish to stay noticed and relevant in their field.  We suggest that same guiding principle is needed for your study abroad offices.  In today’s consumer-focused, review-driven economy, reviews are key and those universities that don’t subscribe to this practice risk alienating their core constituency.  You may be using some other way to collect your evaluations and assessments, but if you are not publishing them, you are missing a big opportunity.  The Abroad101 software can provide you with the tools to manage this process reliably and effectively and at a cost that can’t be beat.

The software is free, the training is free, the support is fast and the process is easy.  Custom solutions are available if you need more functionality.

You can use Abroad101 for third-party programs, exchanges, faculty-led programs plus service learning and internships for credit.  Programs can be overseas or can include “study away” domestic programs as well.

We hope you’ll call us for a no-obligation demo of the Abroad101 software and use it to advance education abroad at your institution.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

 

Mark Shay

Abroad101

+1-610-357-4648

mark@abroad101.com

http://www.StudyAbroad101.com

 

Follow Abroad101 on Social Media:

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WHY STUDY ABROAD

Truman students jumping high in the gold coast australia

Part One

This is the first in a series of posts about “who-what-when-where-why-how to study abroad.” Today we’ll start with “why.”

So you’ve heard of this “study abroad” thing and you’re wondering what it’s all about, if it’s for you, and how it works. You’ve come to the right place, although I should warn you that I’m a bit biased in favor of study abroad. I studied in Prague, Czech Republic for a semester during my BA, then did a two-year MA degree program in Germany (for FREE, by the way, but we’ll get to that), then a one-year MS program at a business school in France. Let me tell you now, study abroad is pretty great. However, it is not without challenges and difficulties, and the whole idea can seem very daunting especially if you haven’t spent much time out of your home country. So let’s take it one step at a time! For this post I want to suggest a few reasons why you should seriously consider studying abroad. It’s not difficult to find lists of up to 100 reasons, but I’m going to narrow it down to the ones I find more significant.

INDEPENDENCE AND PERSONAL GROWTH

This is not an easy thing to do, and that’s kind of the point. As intimidating as living in a foreign country might seem, take a moment to imagine how you’ll feel at the end of the program as you’re preparing to come home. There is incredible power in knowing that you faced every difficulty and learned how to stand on your own two feet in a different culture, and had a lot of fun doing it! You’ll learn how to navigate a new environment (probably after getting lost a couple times, but you also learn that it’s okay to get lost), to be comfortable with new people, to deal with the unexpected more confidently, to simply be more comfortable in your skin. I truly believe there is no faster way to grow up than living abroad, outside your comfort zone. Later, when you consider how nervous you were at the beginning and how much fun and adventure you ended up having, no challenge or problem will seem as intimidating again. But don’t take it from me, if you look through the thousands of study abroad student reviews on Abroad101 it will only take you a minute or two to find students using phrases like “life changing” and “I learned to be independent” and “my confidence skyrocketed.” These students have earned the right to say to themselves: “I’ve been places, I’ve explored boldly, I have proven that I am brave and strong.” All it takes is jumping into the experience, and the confidence you gain is something no one will ever be able to take away from you.

Skills

There is a wide range of skills that you can learn faster and better being abroad. Language is the most obvious example, and you’ll find that six months of immersion in a language is equivalent to years of classroom study, if you approach it correctly. Other skills like writing and photography might suddenly blossom because everything around you is new and interesting, and the creative part of your brain will work overtime trying to capture the magic of your surroundings. There’s also the high potential of discovering passions you never knew you had by coming into contact with your host country’s sports, games, cuisine, fashion, history, landscape, etc. If you do get fascinated by something culturally specific like a Chinese martial art, or cricket in India, or French wine, or Spanish cooking, or Japanese flower arranging, then where better to develop your new skills than in the country that created it? You will very likely return home with abilities and interests you never knew existed. Not only does that bring joy to your life, but it makes you an interesting person who stands out from the crowd.

Broader Worldview

Broadening your horizons and perception of the world is kind of a skill in itself, but it stands alone as an extremely valuable reward of living abroad. Without seeing the real world beyond our own country with our own eyes, it is difficult or impossible to really grasp the complexity and diversity of our planet. The first few weeks abroad your mind will be working overtime to process everything that seems familiar but is so different, and everything that seems so strange but is actually quite logical. The result will be a much more tolerant, intelligent, and mindful approach to life, informed by a new understanding of how you impact the lives of others and how they impact you. The more you open yourself to new experiences and ideas, the more you’ll have the sensation of not being rooted to one small corner of the world, but of being a true citizen of the world. The freedom, excitement, and fascination that comes with this realization is truly life changing in all the best ways.

Job and College Applications

I suppose you can see where I’m going with this one. These days, whether you’re applying to universities or writing a cover letter for your dream job, the name of the game is to stand out and be exceptional. While everyone can talk about their maturity, determination, self-sufficiency, and willingness to try new things, no one can prove those things more easily than someone who made the choice to live in a foreign country. In 2014 the number of Americans studying abroad was less than 1.5% of the total number of students in higher education in the US. Anything that puts you in a category of the most confident and experienced 1.5% of students is probably going to benefit you greatly, sooner rather than later. This will make admissions departments and prospective employers sit up and take notice.

Fun and Memories

Let’s not forget, living abroad is an incredible experience that will fill your life with more adventurous stories and happy memories than many years in your comfort zone. Every day offers something new, you meet locals who enrich your life and like-minded internationals to share in your experience. Every person’s story is different, and that’s the beauty of it, but everyone agrees that it’s most satisfying and worthwhile experience imaginable. Again, look through the 28,000 student reviews on Abroad101, and while you’ll see a few that had more difficulties than they expected and left negative reviews, I challenge you to find one student who says they wish they had just stayed home. If you find one, then feel free to stay home as well, but otherwise it’s time to consider joining the thousands of study abroad alumni in embracing this life changing opportunity!

Next week I’ll discuss why Study Abroad is the best way to experience international living, and why sooner is better than later.  To find a study abroad program that suits you please visit www.studyabroad101.com 

– Caleb House

Caleb House grew up in Northern California and has lived in the Czech Republic, Japan, India, Tanzania, France, South Korea, Germany, and Côte d’Ivoire as a student, teacher, volunteer, backpacker, researcher, and school administrator. He holds an M.A. in Modern Global History from Jacobs University Bremen and an M.S. in International Management from the Burgundy School of Business. He recently married his French soulmate in her tiny village in the north of France, and the two currently find themselves in Washington D.C. He is preparing the launch of his website, HowToGoAbroad.com, and in the meantime can be contacted on his facebook page “How To Go Abroad” or on Twitter @HowToGoAbroad.  

Amazing Experience in Prague! – Abroad101 Cool Program of the Week!

CzechRepublic-Prague-UPCES

This week’s cool programs comes from UPCES in Prague, one of Europe’s most remarkable cities. UPCES is located in a historic palace in Prague’s city center with classes taught in English by prominent faculty from Charles University. An UPCES semester includes 16 academic credits, day and weekend trips, dozens of cultural excursions/activities, optional internships, and international classrooms. 

With UPCES, students explore the cultures of Central Europe. Each semester, UPCES organizes trips to Cesky Krumlov, Litomerice, Dresden/Kutna Hora, and a 3-night trip to Krakow, Poland. UPCES also organizes a series of cultural trips within the immediate area of Prague. Czech and other European students are invited on these trips as well. UPCES classrooms offer an opportunity to interact with students from around the globe. A typical UPCES course includes 10-15 students of several nationalities and provides a truly multicultural environment for learning.

Students live in flats of their choosing with other students in the program. Flat choices are offered by the program and are located throughout the center section of Prague. Students do not just interact with the Czech people, but truly live amongst them in real Prague flats.

Another opportunity for UPCES students is that they can apply for a variety of internships related to their major or personal interests through the UPCES Internship Program. Internship opportunities include a prominent legal institute, an international school, a city newspaper, and a media NGO.

To find out more about this program, read returning student reviews and learn more or apply, please visit:

https://www.studyabroad101.com/programs/upces-study-abroad-in-prague-cerge-ei-charles-university

A Valuable Internship in a Beautiful City – Abroad101 Cool Program of the Week in Sydney, Australia!

Australia-Sydney-BostonUniv

This week’s Cool Program is described as the ultimate academic getaway. It’s Boston University’s Sydney Internship Program, it’s a world-class city, it’s far away, it’s English-speaking yet retains a Pacific-rim vibe and has a large and attentive local staff that can help you both study and get the most out of an internship. What better way to start to focus on a career path?

BU-Sydney Australia reviewSydney and indeed all of Australia offer unbelievable opportunities to explore, from the Opera House, great shopping, and local beaches to Melbourne, the Great Barrier Reef, and even farther afield to New Zealand and Fiji. While participating in this program your housing will be on the outskirts of downtown near Darling Harbour. Studio apartments may consist of shared studio-type arrangements or large suites housing a larger number of students, but will always incorporate access to kitchen facilities as well as shared living space and bathroom/shower units. This gives students a wonderful chance to live in their own space and explore the many options for learning and fun in Australia.

Most programs require students to take a popular Australian Culture and Society course. It’s taught in the BU Sydney Academic Center, which houses the program’s academic facilities, classrooms, library, computer room, and staff offices. (Students who’ve been on the Sydney program have especially high praise for the five full-time and three part-time BU support staff.)

To find out more about this program, read returning student reviews and learn more or apply, please visit: https://www.studyabroad101.com/programs/boston-university-sydney-sydney-internship-program

Sending Money Abroad: How To Cut Back On Costs

bankwireStudents, or their devoted parents, are bound to send substantial amounts of money abroad if they (or their children) decide to study in a different country. A year at a UK university would cost £12,000 (or $17,5000) per year, and a year in Australia would cost even slightly more (AU$24,000 / US $17,500), and that’s for tuition and university fees alone, not including other expenses.

If you include living costs into the equation, the total annual cost would be approximately doubled, and would amount to anywhere between $20,000 and $50,000. That means that taking even a single semester abroad would cost thousands of dollars to fund. As stated before, these are significant amounts of money that has to be transferred between countries and currencies, and most people, students and parents alike, are inexperienced with the process.

Fees On Money Wires

As overseas education is an expensive business by itself, students often do whatever is in their power to reduce costs. They apply for scholarships, turn to public transportation, use free international call providers, and try to stick to a tight budget. What they seem to disregard or ignore is the incredible amount of money being spent on the process of move funds from their home country.

When sending money abroad, 3 or more types of fees incur. The first one is the simple upfront fee of about $30 per transfer in the U.S (eq. to that in other countries). The second one is the recipient bank’s fee which could amount to 1% of the total trade volume. The third one, which is the most significant one also, is the cost of exchanging money between currencies, which is usually 2.5% or more of the entire transfer. There are additional fees that vary according to country, bank, and account type.

Tuition fees of $20,000 could easily cost an additional grand just in bank fees, and a year at Harvard could cost an additional $5,000 just in bank fees, when it is paid for from abroad. That seems fairly illogical, as these fees are nowhere near proportional to the effort and risk that bank has to partake in order to execute them.

There are specialized services for those who are seeking for cheaper alternatives: commercial foreign exchange firms. The way they work is by “mediating” between banks – you send them the money, they exchange it for their much lower rates, and send it as a wire transfer to its new destination. With a transfer of $10,000 or more you can expect 1.5% or less in total transfer costs, and bigger transfers can induce a fee of 0.7% or less (it depends on the currencies exchanged, volumes, and timing). You can view a full breakdown here.

Some of the big names in the industry include Moneycorp, World First, Travelex, FairFX, HiFX, and of course Western Union’s money transfer platform (to to be confused with its remittances cash to cash transfers through branches).

Living Expenses

Living expenses is a different story. While money transfer companies could be the most cost-effective mean of transferring funds to a student abroad, students who only go abroad to study for a single semester would have difficulties with opening a local bank account.

The second alternative is with companies that issue pre-paid currency debit cards (some of the money transfer companies like FairFX or Moneycorp, also provide that service). These pre-paid cards can be loaded with one or more of several different currencies, are reloadable, the cost of currency exchange is lower, and there are no fees on withdrawing money or paying with them abroad. It’s extremely simple to reload this card with any type of currency – the parent just has to log to the online site, input his debit or credit card details, and the card is instantly loaded.

Summary

The exchange and transfer of money abroad is an important aspect that should not be overlooked by overseas students and their parents. It is possible to save thousands of dollars in fees by sidestepping from banks and looking into alternative providers.

Guest blogger…

Alon-RajicAuthor Bio: Alon Rajic is the Managing Director of Finofin LTD which owns and operates MoneyTransferComparison.com. He loves to read and write about everything relating to business and finance.

Awesome Amsterdam Adventure

4 out of 5
IES Abroad: Amsterdam – IES Abroad in Amsterdam
Lauren M (Environmental Studies, Macalester College)

This post was originally published on Abroad101.com

Awesome Amsterdam Adventure!

Netherlands-Amsterdam-IES

4 stars

 

 

 

4 out of 5

IES Abroad: Amsterdam – IES Abroad in Amsterdam
Lauren M (Environmental Studies, Macalester College)

I learned a lot about myself as this was my first time living on my own. Also learned how to bike a whole lot better which is definitely a skill to hold on to. Became a better traveler, came out of my shell, and overall just a great personal growth and cultural experience. Read my full review at: https://www.studyabroad101.com/programs/ies-abroad-amsterdam-ies-abroad-in-amsterdam/reviews/32014

 

Study Abroad Program Evaluation Software

10 Reasons to use the Abroad101 education abroad assessment system at your university.

Education Advisors, please direct your students to submit their study abroad program evaluation (review) through Abroad101 –

http://www.studyabroad101.com/reviews/new

A seldom seen section of the Great Wall of China

If your New Year’s Resolution is to advance education abroad on your campus, Abroad101 gives you 10 reasons why you should turn to us to manage your program evaluations:

1) Reviews are Rankings Nominations – Each review becomes a submission for the Study Abroad Rankings by Abroad101. The eight different star rated categories are compiled to recognize top providers and programs as well as highlight trends in the field like up-and-coming destinations and budget-friendly locations. This year, by popular demand, Top Academic Experience returns to the Study Abroad Rankings.

2) Reviews are Good for the Student – Abroad101 publishes each review as an individual web page and takes the student through 37-questions designed to summarize their experience and give them a point of pride to share with the world and jump start their career.

3) Program Evaluation Software – Abroad101’s systems works behind the scenes as software to manage program evaluations for third-party, exchanges, faculty-led and even internships and service programs for credit. In addition to the standard survey, universities can add custom questions, part of the free version of the software.

4) Reviews are Data – Unlike in-house evaluations, Abroad101’s standard set of questions allow for comparison among program types and against other institutions. By analyzing your trends over time, Abroad101 can help you report better on study abroad.

5) “Re-Entry in a Box” – By requesting or even requiring each student complete their program evaluation through Abroad101, you help students in their transition back to home campus life. The web-based survey takes the average student 20-30 minutes and gets them to focus on being reflective, taking responsibility for their actions, examining who they were before and what their worldview is now.

6) Be Transparent – Publishing the evaluations/reviews demonstrates you are compliant with all aspects of transparency and in today’s review driven economy it is better to put forward more information than less.

7) Set Expectations – Detailed reviews like those on Abroad101 can be used to help parents and advisors get insight into a particular program and destination. In aggregate, these are helpful in setting expectations and better preparing future students and their parents for what’s ahead.

8) Peer Influence – The Abroad101 reviews prompt returning students to give advise to future students on ways to better navigate their surroundings and also a specific question about money saving tips.

9) Integrate with Enrollment System – Abroad101 can be used as a complement to your enrollment management and student information systems. Using API’s, data can transfer between systems, or without much work, the systems can import/export data back and forth.

10) Fully supported – Abroad101 is web-based software that is fairly simple to use and user-friendly, but just in case, we have a team ready to support you. Free training through online demos and ongoing account support is there when you need it. Our founding slogan remains true today – Fast. Free. Easy.

 

Free Accounts are available for advisors and administrative staff at US colleges and universities. To get started using the Free Education Abroad Program Evaluation software that we call Abroad101, simply send an email to
support@abroad101.com or call us at +1-212-321-0928.

 

Flexibility, spontaneity, independence in picturesque Spain – Abroad101 Cool Program of the Week in Córdoba, Spain!

Spain-Cordoba-Preshco2

 

Student reviews say PRESHCO is like a family should be, supportive, encouraging and an experience that is rewarding.  That makes it this week’s Cool Program as in addition to studying at the renowned University of Cordoba, you have options to volunteer or intern, participate in sports, cooking, and studio and performing arts to further integrate you into the local culture and enhance your Spanish.

Preshco-Spain Review PRESHCO (Programa de Estudios Hispánicos en Córdoba) will provide you with opportunities to develop your knowledge of Spanish language, literature, and culture in one of the most picturesque and historically diverse cities in Spain. You will be engaged through your coursework, site visits, excursions, conversation partners, cultural program, and homestay. Options to volunteer or intern, participate in sports, cooking, and studio and performing arts will further integrate you into the local culture and enhance your Spanish.

To find out more about this program, read returning student reviews and learn more or apply, please visit: https://www.studyabroad101.com/programs/preshco-study-abroad-in-cordoba-spain