Now more than ever, we need the first-hand accounts of what goes on in study abroad. Parents and families worry about health and safety in study abroad so we suggest (to use the old sports analogy) “the best defense is a good offense.” Translated, this means we should flood the market with good news, and by news, we are referring to student reviews. Each review tells a student’s story and becomes yet another testimonial as to the impact that an international education experience has on a young life. If you are an existing user of Abroad101, this is your reminder to login and send review invitations out. Below you’ll find some additional suggestions and recommendations from Abroad101, THE study abroad review website.
Lack of Reviews is Bad Practice
The word “transparency” is used more and more when it comes to education. Despite some well-intended efforts, the field of education abroad has not conformed to the spirit of transparency and that is likely turning people away from participating. We hear arguments that education is different, but consumer research is pretty clear, lack of reviews turns customers away. Bad reviews draw more interest than good reviews AND random bad reviews don’t deter buyers. A pattern of bad reviews does indicate trouble and would impact participation as it should. A search for the negative is often what compels people to come to a review website and in an odd way, the negative provides reassurance to people skeptical of the rhetoric of other outlets. We suggest you read the influence of reviews.
Your Best Option: Replace you Evaluation Process with a Review Process
We encourage you to take the leap as a number of universities have done, and become fully transparent by turning your private study abroad program evaluation process into a public review process. When every student is required to complete a review in order to received credit, you get more candor, usable data and testimonials of the impact of study abroad. We can’t help but think this transparent process positively impacts participation at these institutions.
Take a look at our Best Practice Leaders:
Another Option: Make a review a Re-entry Exercise
If your hands are tied by legacy systems and processes, perhaps you can approach the problem from the student’s point of view and incorporate a study abroad review as part of a re-entry exercise. If a student can coherently state what happened to them in writing, they will be much more prepared to discuss their experiences with friends, family and as the student moves beyond college. Showing they can express their emotions, in a published format is a big step forward and a reason to complete a review. Having this review published demonstrates the student can express themselves in coherent ways and is a great writing sample and an expression of their new world view. You will help your students better prepare for their future by making a review part of the study abroad process.
WhyAbroad101? It is Re-Entry in a Box
The Abroad101 review is 38 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. They can add photos and turn their review into a point of pride, a capstone to their education abroad experience. As a university, you get to control this process using Abroad101.
Other Uses of Reviews
In addition to giving you better data and providing marketing material to bring you future students, perhaps the most innovative use of reviews is to help set expectations. Reviews and their insight can help students and parents have a better idea of what to expect making reviews ideal content for orientation. We’ve heard of overseas staff who welcome students to a program by directing them to their program listing on Abroad101 and using this to start a conversation about the program. A few create a Facebook group for the new students and the first posting is to review the reviews. It’s a real fresh approach to orientation and harnesses the power of social media. Please read: 10 reasons to use Abroad101
It’s for Faculty-led and Exchange Programs Too
Abroad101 is happy to list your faculty-led programs in our system. For your exchange partnerships we have a catch-all “Direct Enrollment & Exchange” listing for every foreign university. You are welcome to use Abroad101 for each or all of types of education abroad and study away programs. Remember, you can use Abroad101 to boost your home university enrollments. There is a feature to turn off the inquiry option for programs not open to outside students.
Managed Services, Abroad201 and Other Ways We Can Help
Every university is provided with an account on Abroad101 and free access to manage your portal on Abroad101. The software that operates our system is a fully functional program evaluation tool along with a host of utilities, provided free of charge. Abroad101 has a support team here to help you understand and make the most of the tools. We are quick to answer questions (firstname.lastname@example.org or +1-212-321-0928) and in some cases we can help you with simple tasks like your approved programs list, sending out invitations, creating faculty-led program listings.
If you need more, we’re able to help. With our Managed Services, we can tie Abroad101 to your enrollment management system. We can extract lists of participating students from your enrollment system, oversee review collection, then tie reporting back or produce external reports. We know data, and for a modest fee, we’d be happy help you get better data, manage it and generate effective reporting.
Our Abroad201 service offers a host of customization with options as to what to survey, who to survey plus what and where you might publish the data. It is an industry-specific version of survey software, so if you are using SurveyMonkey or Qualtrics, think about using Abroad201.
We thank you for taking the time to explore abroad 101 and for your continued support.
Mark Shay / Abroad101