Abroad101’s Advisor Newsletter Fall 2017

We know you’re heading into a busy time of year, so we thank you for taking a few minutes to think about broader issues like using reviews to advance study abroad on your campus.  As we celebrate 10 years of serving American college study abroad, Abroad101 and our study abroad reviews are as popular as ever.  The best news is that Abroad101 is still free for schools and going strong.

Have You Seen Your Students’ Study Abroad Reviews Lately?

Each day Abroad101 receives dozens of program evaluations from students that have been invited by either their home university, their provider or their host institution.  We publish each review as a complete web page and tally them in listings by program, provider, host institution and also in portals for each home school.  As of today, 31,963 student reviews are on Abroad101 making it the largest source of study abroad stories.  Visit the site, enter your school name in the search box in the top menu bar and see what your students have to say!

Moms & Dads Use Abroad101

The target audience for Abroad101 is American college students looking for a semester, summer or short-term abroad.  We list third-party, exchanges and faculty-led programs.  Parents of prospective study abroad students are a big portion of our traffic.  Based on Google Analytics data, we estimate that 20-25% of the visitors to Abroad101 are parents, searching on the keyword “reviews” and trying to learn more about the options their children are considering. 

As an advisor, you will find that your recommendations are validated when prospective students and parents read reviews.  Providers will often use reviews in their discussion with students and parents as they find a well-informed student makes for a more successful student.  Reading reviews will help parents become more comfortable with study abroad and to help them set expectations on what lies ahead.  We hope you’ll mention Abroad101 Reviews in your parent communication and put a link to Abroad101 on your website to better prepare all.

How to Get Students to Write Reviews?

So often we hear that it is hard to get students to do anything, let alone spend 20-30 minutes on a review.  This is especially true when students feel that the activity has no benefit for them.  However, they are inclined to share their stories if the exercise gives them a chance to tell their story, and that is exactly what they do on social media for hours a day! Think of a review as social media for study abroad and a place for students to showcase their story and talk about themselves.  Our time-test review questions will do the rest.

If the student believes the review is good for them, they will generally participate.  That takes some groundwork before they go abroad and as they prepare to return.  One idea to get more engagement is to incorporate a review in your re-entry programming and use the review process as a step toward preparing the students to share their experience with others.  Just like career counselors who tell students to prepare a good resume for a job search, we hope that study abroad advisors will help their students prepare for their return home by guiding them to submitting a thorough and candid review.

Using Abroad101 as Free Program Review Software:

A number of schools use Abroad101 as their official program evaluation software because it is designed to draw an insightful student account of their time abroad.  These evaluations are also great for future advising and orientations.  The service is offered free to American colleges and universities, supported by advertising from program providers and foreign universities. The software offers:

  • Capability to approve/disapprove reviews
  • Invite Tool to improve participation
  • Graphs and Reports to tally student responses
  • Manage an approved programs list
  • Option to list faculty-led programs or in-house programs of your choosing
  • Compare your results against others
  • Add custom questions to the standard review

The Abroad101 team is happy to answer any of your questions by email or phone.  We also welcome the opportunity to walk you, and members of your staff though the system with an online demo of the back-end features of Abroad101 to see if our free program evaluation tool is right for you.  The demo will show how you can see reports, compare your results with other institutions, set pre-approved/recommended programs and add custom questions to the standard Abroad101 review.  Abroad101 also has promotional material for you to share with your students, so please let us know how we can help you.

Check-out the other “TripAdvisor for Study Abroad”

We recently came across a cool app for students to use while abroad.  It compiles the favorite restaurants, things to do, towns, and more from US study abroad students.  Read more about the Rayka App

Happy Fall!

 

How to Best Use Technology While Abroad

Taking the Tube around London or strolling past the Eiffel Tower on the way to class in the morning might be dreams of study abroad students the world over, but the logistics of the situation never seem to work out quite as well as they were planned. Despite having the best ideas, rolling with a group of new international friends, or having weeks to prepare, nobody is immune to the difficulties that come with being in a foreign place. Flying into the wrong airport? Not understanding the buses? Can’t find the place you’re looking for? This is where it pays to be living in the 21st century.

We’ve all grown up hearing our parents rant at us for always being caught up in our devices, being addicted to the internet, and forgetting how to interact with each other, but is this really all a bad thing? Maybe there’s a silver lining to the rain cloud that is our obsession with connectivity: the fact that we have the powerful tools to become pro travelers all in our pockets.

Smartphones are just that, smart! They can be smart at least. With your mother’s voice in the back of your head saying “always on that phone..” combined with the great things that ride-sharing apps, internet maps, and translators bring, where do you find the happy medium between starting at your shiny screen and exploring abroad like you should?

The distinction between a “tool” and a “toy” here is the most important. Apps on your phone can be used as both. For example, when you’re trapped at your little cousin’s recorder concert, Facebook is a toy for an escape. When you’re enjoying a glass of wine in Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast, Facebook Messenger is a tool to let your friends know that you got a table for them! The difference lies in the time allocated to using technology. When reaching for your phone, opening up an app, or connecting to wifi, do it for a purpose, not out of instinct. Humans rule because we have the conscious ability to overcome instincts, don’t give that power away to the little box in your pocket! You only have so much time to live the foreign experiences happening all around you, and I promise the internet will still be there when it’s over (or we’ve got bigger problems).

Before going abroad, start practicing this mindset. Slowly weaning yourself away from the “toy” aspects of technology. This can be done by simply being conscious about why you are opening something, looking at something, or watching something, then working your way up to identifying and eliminating the ones you’re not enjoying. Gotta start somewhere!

Before we leave you, check out some of our favorite apps for when technology should be used while traveling abroad:

Google Maps: You need a map. You might think you know Venice like the back of your hand, but this is a must. Also, you can now download maps to use offline!

Rayka: This new platform is the ultimate study abroad app for students. Instead of using TripAdvisor or Yelp, Rayka shows you the favorite places of past students who studied there: specifically made by students, for students. That way, you can see the best recommendations from people just like you.

Google Translate: If you’re abroad in a country that speaks a different language and your skills just aren’t quite up to par, this is a brilliant app. It requires data, so make sure you’re connected, but it quickly and accurately translates anything you’d like to any language you could think of.

Duolingo: This fun, addictive little game is great for those who are planning to study abroad and want to learn some of the local language. The interface does a great job of encouraging users to learn more, and they have most major language offered for free!

Regardless of what platform you use or don’t use, be sure to make the most of your semester abroad by using technology as a tool rather than using it to distract yourself from the incredible experiences around you. We promise you that it will be the best semester of your life!

Guest post by www.rayka-app.com