Abroad101’s Advisor Newsletter Winter 2018

Thanks for taking a few minutes to check-in with Abroad101.  Now in our 10th year, Abroad101 continues to be the only website focused on capturing the impact of international education through student-generated reviews.  For those of you who use our system, this is a reminder to send invites to your recent returnees.  For those of you considering new ways to raise awareness of study abroad participation, Abroad101 is here to help.

What Are Study Abroad Reviews?

  • Reviews are Published Program Evaluations
  • Reviews are Testimonials
  • Reviews are Points of Pride
  • Reviews are Social Media
  • Reviews are Popular

When students publish their program evaluations they become reviews, and when they are on Abroad101, they also become Social Media.  As Social Media, these first-hand accounts of experiences abroad becomes a great point-of-pride for students.  They become powerful reference material for future students and parents.  As social media, reviews have many uses, enabling:

  • Universities to promote study abroad to their own students
  • Students to research programs and view first-hand accounts from their peers
  • Parents to set their expectations
  • Advisors to keep informed of outcomes and student satisfaction
  • University Administrators to gather data.

Students are encouraged to share their finished review with their friends, family and other students.  Students are also prompted to include their review in their Linkedin profiles and to reference the review in cover letters and grad school applications.  The ability to include photos and writing samples can boost the pride a student takes in their review.  Each day, Abroad101 reviews are fed into Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets by our editor, school advisors and students.  Sharing further spreads their impact. 

Make Public Your Program Evaluations

We encourage you to take the leap 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 and with Abroad101, you can do this for free.  What brings so many reviews online, is the full-feature software that Abroad101 provides to universities.

Take a look at a few of our Best Practice Leaders:

Institutions like these trust Abroad101 as their program evaluation partner.  Abroad101 is a time-tested, integral part of the study aboard experience at our partner schools.  The Abroad101 team provides training and support for any issues that may arise in the process and we’d welcome being a more integral part of the education abroad experience at your institution.

Make a Review a Re-entry Exercise

Even if your school has an existing evaluation system in place for returning study abroad students, we hope you’ll still consider the student’s point of view and incorporate a study abroad review as part of a student-focused re-entry exercise.  The rationale goes as follows: 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 in future encounters as the student moves toward their next steps in life.  Showing they can express their emotions, in a published format is a big step forward and a reason to complete a review.  With a great sample of their writing 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.

Why Abroad101?

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 in concise and coherent ways.   They can add photos and turn their review into a point of pride, a capstone to their education abroad experience.

It’s for Faculty-led and Exchange Programs Too:

Abroad101 is happy to list your faculty-led programs in our system.  For your exchange partners, we have a catch-all “Direct Enrollment & Exchange” listing for every university abroad.  You are welcome to use Abroad101 for each of these types of programs in addition to the students on third-party programs and foreign schools.

Let us show you how.

We’re happy to provide you with a tour of the Abroad101 software, its features, advantages and benefits.  Please contact us for a 20-30 introductory walk through of the site and the system that manages is.  As we’ve been saying for 10 years – Its fast, free, easy!

Abroad101 remains free program evaluation software due to the support of our advertisers.  Many study abroad providers and foreign universities and schools pay for advertising in our directories of programs and that keeps us in business.  We thank them, and you for the opportunity to help enhance the field of international education.

Best wishes,

Mark Shay,

CEO / Abroad101

+1-212-321-0928

mark@abroad101.com

http://www.StudyAbroad101.com

Abroad101 Providers Newsletter – Winter 2018


Happy New Year!  As we all shift our thinking from holidays to work, please take a moment to reflect on how you used the Internet this holiday season.  Did you use reviews to guide some gift purchasing, select a hotel, restaurant or movie, or assist you in selecting someone to fix your home heater?  Reviews influence decisions and for 10 years, Abroad101 has been helping future students and their parents become better education abroad consumers.

How to Get Students to Write Reviews?

Your presence on Abroad101 is greatly enhanced by 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.  We find that students ARE inclined to share their experience if the exercise gives them a chance to tell their story – it is exactly what they do on social media for hours a day!

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 end-of-term 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 staff will help their students prepare for their return home by guiding them to submitting a thorough and candid review.

Alumni Ambassadors and Perfect Reviews

This “always sunny” concept is something that savvy marketers are concerned over.  Study Abroad providers are increasingly using Alumni Ambassadors in their marketing efforts.  These are typically very satisfied students who have demonstrated great affinity for a program and are fantastic spokespeople.  When they are tasked with writing a review, human nature kicks in and we have noticed these reviews are overly promotional and “too good to be true.”  In looking at the traffic these reviews generate, they get less page views than reviews with candid titles and lower overall ratings.

We welcome Alumni Ambassador submissions and in your training of them we hope you’ll reinforce the need to be candid in their stories so the review will be viewed as legitimate and credible.  Please read: Why Imperfection is Ideal.

What to do with Bad Reviews?

The most common objection we get to fully transparent publishing of student reviews is a concern about how a negative experience will impact a program or the institutional stakeholders.  In the complex world of social media and online transparency, the opposite is often true.

People often come to review sites to validate their choices and to search for the negative. Reviews of student struggles and reports of negative things will actually help future students prepare and set their expectations.  In an odd twist of logic, they go to review sites to relieve the anxiety about what happens when things go wrong.  Reviews also provide a practical balance to the always-positive websites, brochures and on campus presentations.  For those, like parents, who may not be present in Q&A sessions, reviews provide a welcome reality check.

Taking some best practices from the tech sector, it is ironic to discover that negative reviews actually have a positive impact.  We suggest you read “You Don’t Want A 5-Star Review”  When you get a bad review, we encourage you to respond using the feedback tool at the bottom of each review.  We suggest you restate what the student said went well, then thank them for their participation and feedback and reinforce your goal to make the program better.  It is never a good idea to tell the student they were wrong, especially in a review.  Some consumers look at the feedback to get a better sense of the personality of a program and the attitude of the staff.  The comment section is a place to showcase that. 

Please note that Abroad101 is still in business today due to our professional approach to review management.  The vast majority of reviews on Abroad101 come from our university partners who either require, or encourage their students to participate in the review process.  Our desire is to collect quality reviews and every once in a while, we have to intervene maintain the quality and integrity of our site, our university partners and our industry.  Count on Abroad101 to do to the right thing.

Putting Reviews on Your Website:

Each review on Abroad101 has a fixed URL, as does each program.  Each provider has an index of programs with an accompanying review tally and average score ratings.  These link addresses don’t change, so we encourage you to benefit from SEO and place web links from your website to your presence on Abroad101 with link text that says something like “Read the Reviews”

Abroad101 also offers a chance to summarize the review scores of programs or you as a provider with our widgets.  The widget produces a badge-like graphic on your website that is constantly updated with the latest results from Abroad101.  See how yours would look:

Ratings and Study Abroad Rankings:

Over the years we have used the data collected by the reviews to raise awareness of study abroad and publicize the best of study abroad.  Our system compiles and displays the reviews’ star ratings in nine categories.  We stress that these are indicators of quality, not a measure of quality.  Review scores can indicate strengths of a program as well as weaknesses and our scoring algorithms have adjusted over the years to best reflect people’s behavior.  The summary review score seen on a program listing is an average that factors out old reviews.  The program’s position in the directories is determined by a formula that favors recent review volume and has an adjustment that rewards candid reviews, photos and comments.  As a review website, people want to see reviews, want current, insightful and candid reviews and our ratings and display algorithms help deliver this.

We have produced The Study Abroad Rankings for years.  Our rankings included various factors, including a standard deviation designed to discourage flow of perfect reviews.  The publicity generated by rankings has been significant and has gotten us great media coverage, but we have come to realize that the publicity is not worth the cost.  In the end, candid reviews are what people want, and designating a best program is not in our overall best interest, or in the long-term best interest of our supporters.  We did not publish rankings in 2017 and we will not do so this year.

Advertising Options:

For those of you not advertising with Abroad101, we hope you’ll join us.  We’ve kept our prices the same with Featured Listings in our directories at $500/year/program with generous discounts for multiple programs.  Overall traffic to our site continues to rise, clicks are up, inquiries and review volume are holding steady.  Advertisers report seeing quality leads coming from the site as the majority of visitors remain American college-level students, parents and advisors. 

We want your business, contact me today for a price quote!

Mark Shay

CEO / Abroad101

+1-212-321-0928

mark@abroad101.com

http://www.StudyAbroad101.com