Abroad101 Providers Update for May 2019

It was thirteen years ago when a motivated, idealistic study abroad student returning to Boston from a semester in Australia came up with the idea that his experience should not be just etched in his mind, it should be shared with the world. 

With some help from some entrepreneurial friends, they started a business with the goal to be the “Trip Advisor for Study Abroad.”  Soon there was a website, some technology, staff and the business known as Abroad101 got started.  You can still see “Review One

Recently we published Review 44554 and are on a pace to publish 6,000 reviews this year.  The business had its ups and downs, having succeeded by keeping its focus on providing students a forum to tell their story and helping universities and providers manage that process in a responsible way. 

Meet Phil, our new General Manager

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Philippos Kollitsis as the new General Manager for Abroad101. 

“Phil” is an experienced, professional businessperson who will be working from the Ledra Capital offices in Nicosia (Cyprus) and New York.  Ledra is the majority shareholder in Abroad101 and remains committed to the future of Abroad101.  Phil has served as CEO and as a Board Member of several companies over the last twenty years and has been an advisor to Ledra.  He too was an international student, earning two degrees from Lancaster University in the UK.   We are excited to welcome Phil on board to our team.

Phil will be at NAFSA and will be stopping by booths.  You can also arrange to meet him at the University of Nicosia’s booth #1131.  We invite you to stop by early in the week to pick up an invitation to UNIC’s 10th Annual Med Party (Wednesday, May 29 – 6:30pm – 9:00pm) and to attend the A101 Happy Hour immediately prior, at 5:30PM, both at City Tap House Penn Quarter on 901 9th Street NW. Register to attend by clicking here.

Do Reviews Matter?

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 understand how something as complex as an education abroad experience needs reviews. 

Also consider how reviews actually better serve the parents of students.  From our traffic analytics, we see that 20-25% of our web traffic comes from visitors who are 40-50 years old (parents).  We know parents are key in the decision-making process and the feedback we get from parents shows a hunger for candor and interest in using reviews to endorse or approve their student’s program choice.  While you may have testimonials on your website, independent, third-party reviews can be powerful additions to your marketing.

Candor is Key

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 38 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 of 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. 

For Parents, knowing what the risks are is actually reassuring as they can then help their child prepare. When parents inquire to you about programs and ask for referrals, direct them to Abroad101.

Advisors discuss 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  indirect peer advising 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

Reminder About the Display Algorithm:

Most visitors to Abroad101 will end up in a directory of programs.  We list programs by city, country, academic program as well as by provider and host university.  For those university partners who select the “approved programs” option, we create a directory as well.  Anytime there is a list, it is ordered based on our proprietary display algorithm which is designed to recognize recent review volume and quality of reviews.  

The algorithm has an impact factor that lessens the impact of older reviews and formulas that reward reviews that contain photos, complete descriptions and a range of review scores.  We do this because Abroad101 is first and foremost a review website.  People come looking for reviews and we want to highlight recent and well written reviews.

Student Inquiries:

Recently we have seen a rise of bots sending Spam email through our inquiry form.  We apologize for this inconvenience and are working to solve this problem; we hope to have it fixed soon.

It’s Free for Schools

We offer Abroad101 to American colleges and universities as free study abroad program evaluation software.  It is fully functional SaaS that manages inviting students to submit reviews, an approval process, approved program lists, graphs and benchmarking reports and the ability to export reviews for further analysis.  Using our unique serial number, schools can also link reviews to their student information systems or TerraDotta.  University partners can also add unique questions to the 38-question base review and also choose not to publish some of them. 

Our business model gives program providers and foreign host universities the option to pay to promote their programs through advertising.  A large portion of that revenue goes to support software services allowing colleges and universities to use Abroad101 without subscription fees.   We ask that our partner schools look favorably upon the organizations who appear in the “Featured Program” positions as a thank you for the free software. 

Added Benefits of Advertising:

If goodwill is not compelling enough for you to support Abroad101, we have designed the site so that advertising on Abroad101 will bring you more inquiries, improve your conversions and raise the brand and visibility of your programs.  Featured Listings start at $500/year and we offer generous volume discounts for multiple programs and display advertising. 

We also give extra emphasis to reviews from advertised programs in Abroad101 ‘s Social Media channels.  We post excerpts of reviews in our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels and are open to extra boosts for program news and highlights as part of an advertising package.

Meet Phil at NAFSA or Schedule a Call

If you’d like to arrange a meeting with our new general manager, please email him at philippos@abroad101.com to arrange a good time/place to meet.  

We look forward to re-connecting soon!

Abroad101 Providers Newsletter – Spring 2018

Ten Years Later, It’s Still All About the Reviews:

Abroad101 got its start as the “Trip Advisor for Study Abroad” being the first website to focus on study abroad reviews.  Ten years later we host the largest collection of program reviews, in part because a number of colleges and universities use Abroad101 as their official program evaluation software.  Abroad101’s system gives university administrators a nice set of web-based tools to:

  • manage the publishing of reviews (approve/disapprove)
  • add custom evaluation questions (optional)
  • measure their students’ results against other universities (charts)
  • generate performance reports on programs and providers (ratings scores)
  • export reviews for further analysis and trends

More than 70% of the reviews on Abroad101 come at the invitation of university advisors, many who will read and discuss the reviews as part of school’s re-entry process.  In recent years, we have opened up these features to program hosts (foreign universities) and providers who use the reviews for both marketing and quality control.  Whether you invite the student or not, you can see your program reviews and can use the comparison tools by accessing your account dashboard.  If you have not done so, we encourage you to login and explore what Abroad101 has for you.  If you need your password reset or would like a web demo of the software, email: mark@abroad101.com.

Abroad101’s Directories

Any list of programs on Abroad101 is displayed based on an algorithm we have fine-tuned over the years.  Recent review volume is currently the most important factor, adjusted by the age of the review along with several additional factors including standard deviation (range of scores).  Inclusion of photos and review completeness impact positioning.  We do this because as a review website, people come to us looking for current and thorough reviews so it seems only right that the programs with the most reviews are at the top of the list.

Student Inquiries:

As a reminder, the primary mechanism for prospective students to interact with providers is through Abroad101’s inquiry form.  When you get an inquiry from Abroad101, you will notice a “lead type” in the message.  These are:

  • fav = Favorite, where a student tags your listing as one to consider later, not a formal inquiry 
  • rmi – the standard Request More Information inquiry
  • app – student states they want to apply for the program listed.
  • mp – Matching Program (a featured offered to advertisers)

Often people will visit review sites to do further research, so when you get an inquiry marked Apply there is a reasonable chance that that student is already known to you and has come to a decision to apply to the program while on Abroad101.  Please don’t view these as duplicate leads, instead think of them as conversions and prioritize your response to the student.

For those of you who advertise, our LeadMatch (mp leads) feature gives students three additional programs to consider after they have sent an inquiry to a non-advertised program.  These matching programs are drawn from our pool of advertised programs, matching on city, country and/or subject.  It’s modeled after the popular recommendation feature on sites like Amazon.com and accounts for 13% of all leads sent from Abroad101.

Search by Subject:

As a reminder, Abroad101 is using the CIP Codes from the US Department of Education for our study subject search.  We presently list a total of 423 including all of the top level subjects and the most popular of the specific disciplines.  From time to time, providers will request we add a category, such as Kinesiology and Exercise Science which we added last month.  We encourage you to take advantage of the study subject field when updating your program listings with Abroad101.  Let us know if you’d like any additional categories/directories.

Include Abroad101 in your Advertising Budgets:

Abroad101 is supported by advertising from foreign universities as well as program providers.  Advertising on Abroad101 is designed to bring you more inquiries, improve your conversions and raise the brand and visibility of your programs, all at a price that won’t blow your budget.  Featured Listings start at $500/year and we offer generous volume discounts for multiple programs and display advertising.  Advertising is mixed gently in the pages adding additional choice to students.  With 20-25% of Abroad101’s visitors being parents or university advisors, advertising has the extra impact of reaching those that influence students.  We hope you will include Abroad101 in your next year’s budget.  Prices remain unchanged since 2015, please download our Ad Guide for more information.

See you at NAFSA?

Abroad101 won’t have a booth this year or a reception, but we will be at the conference.  If you’d like to meet at your booth, or after exhibit hours, please email: mark@abroad101.com.

Thank you,

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:

  • Program Widget
  • Provider Widget

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




Abroad101 Providers Newsletter – July 2016


Thank you for taking a few minutes to read how to get more from Abroad101.  It’s been 9 years since our first university partner, 2 ½ years under new management and we’re getting better every day!  Summer a great time to catch up on projects and plan for the year ahead.  Below are some ways you can benefit from working with Abroad101:

Login to Your Dashboard, Add Scholarships!

Abroad101 publishes a popular Study Abroad Scholarship Directory (Page 1 on Google).  These entries are also displayed on the matching Program (free) Listings under a Financial Aid tab.  You’ll find links to add/update your scholarships on the left side of your account dashboard.  Under the “Providers” heading, click “Scholarships Available” to a menu with 2 tabs: “Current Scholarships” and “New Scholarships”.  You will have the option to make each scholarship apply to all your programs, or specific ones.  Add as many as you’d like. 

After you revise this part of your listings, we encourage you to edit each of your programs, add some new photos, videos and don’t forget the study subjects.  Each study subject puts your Program Listing in an additional directory.  If you are an advertiser, your Featured Programs will also appear in matching Study Subject Directories.

Use Abroad101 to Connect with Universities:

When a student completes a review, a notification is sent to both the provider and the student’s home university advisor(s).  The reviews are displayed on the Program Listing, provider’s portal and the home university’s portal on Abroad101.  We hope you’ll use this as a calling card with each university as each review is:

  • a point of pride of the returning student
  • a testimonial for future students
  • reassurance for parents about what to expect from study abroad

Advisors have the option to create a preferred programs list on their Abroad101 portal and we encourage you to ask your partners to be sure your programs are included.  The “University Approvals” report on your Abroad101 dashboard will show how you’re doing.  We also hope you will encourage your partner schools to use Abroad101 for all program evaluations.  We’d be happy to give any an online demo of our free software to any advisor/administrator you nominate.  In return, you get a steady flow of reviews with the extra candor that comes when universities require the review.

Survey Fatigue? Use Abroad101 as YOUR Official Program Evaluation Software:

Universities who use Abroad101 as their official program evaluation software have the option to add to the standard set of 38 questions.  If you use Abroad101 as your official program evaluation software, you can have that same feature.  With Abroad101 you can also export the completed evaluations, tie them to your CRM/enrollment system with an API or use our “Graphs” for simplified reporting.

The core system and extra questions are free.  Managed Services and our custom Abroad201 tools are available at reasonable fees, so consider outsourcing your evaluation process to us!

Why Abroad101?  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 in concise and coherent ways. With Abroad101:

  • Each review becomes a web page managed by the student
  • Notification of each review goes to the student’s home university advising team
  • You also get notice of each review
  • You get important feedback and insight
  • You get good data that can measure against other providers
  • You take a leadership position in Transparency
  • You get recognized as a market leader who puts students first

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.  The 38 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.

If you are worried that negative reviews will negatively impact recruiting, think again.  For review websites, criticism draws traffic and attention.  Complaints are usually about things beyond the programs control: weather, crime, cost of living and attitudes of local students/residents.  For marketers, this goes against your natural instincts, but for Review Websites, the negative sells.  We suggest you read “You Don’t Want a 5 Star Review” and Reviews Sell Products (and lack of reviews can hurt).

Cost-Effective Ad Packages:

It’s that time of year when many of our client renew their advertising and new budgets bring new clients.  Our constant attention to detail and continual improvements to the site’s performance seem to be working.  Abroad101 is a review website, it’s all we do.  That means we are different than sites that focus on lead generation.  Our inquiry volume will be lower, but our quality is higher and a number of advertisers are telling us that they are seeing enrollments from those that visit Abroad101.  Respectable ROI has led some advertisers to increase the size of their campaigns with Abroad101 this year.  Don’t worry, we’re not sold out yet! There’s still room for more ads through our unique ad rotations. 

In case you need a refresher:  

  • Abroad101 is the first and largest study abroad review website, recognized by many as the “Trip Advisor” of Study Abroad, a responsible member of the study abroad community and an advocate for students
  • Abroad101 is the official evaluation platform at a number of universities which assures exposure on those campuses, more schools join use each month
  • Students visit Abroad101 to discover programs and also to research and validate their options, a good presence on Abroad101 can impact their choices and boost conversions
  • Reviews are used for multiple purposes, visitors are often parents and advisors who impact a student’s decision
  • Advertising is designed to increase exposure and generate extra clicks to program pages and generate additional student inquiries or requests for application instructions
  • Extra inquiries/leads are generated through Abroad101’s LeadMatch which gives students extra choices after inquiring to a non-advertised program
  • Advertisers see their programs highlighted and select reviews promoted through Abroad101’s popular social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest)

Ads appear in 190 country directories, 1041 city directories and 422 study subject directories.  Over the Past Year, Abroad101 has introduced the following new directories:

  • International Summer Schools (at foreign universities)
  • Law School Summer Programs
  • High School Study Abroad
  • Gap Year Abroad

For more information about advertising, please contact sales@abroad101.com

For support and general questions, please contact support@abroad101.com

Feel free to call us at 212-321-0928 whenever we can be of service.


Happy Summer!

Abroad101 Provider Newsletter – August 2015

Abroad101-reviews-logo-webIt’s the exciting back to school time.  For Abroad101 we start to see a surge in traffic and program inquires as students return to campus.  Thanks to the providers who have updated and fine-tuned your listings.  For the others, there’s still time for those last minute updates.  The following is an update as to what’s new with Abroad101 for Fall 2015.

It’s All About the Reviews:

Abroad101 is known as the Trip Advisor for Study Abroad because we were the first study abroad review website.  Today we host the largest collection of program reviews, in part because a number of colleges and universities use Abroad101 as their program evaluation software.  Abroad101’s software gives university administrators a nice set of tools including:

  • ability to manage the publishing of reviews
  • capacity to add custom questions
  • measure their students’ results against other universities
  • generate performance reports
  • export reviews for further analysis

There are also new tools to encourage integration of the reviews into enrollment management software, making the Abroad101 platform an integral part of study abroad.

We have started expanding the utility of Abroad101 as the program evaluation tool for providers of programs as well.  Providers have always been encouraged to invite reviews and that has generated a sampling of student responses.  With the added provider access to the tools, we hope to see more organizations embrace the Abroad101 system and standard set of review questions.  Students have long complained that they are over-surveyed, however by combining the university and advisor process, you can help reduce the survey fatigue that exists today.  If you are interested in exploring how your organization can utilize Abroad101 for its “Re-entry in a Box” please contact: mark@abroad101.com

What is the Perfect Review?

This is the million-dollar question that contains components of marketing, outcomes assessment, customer satisfaction, alumni relations and student success.  Add the issues around transparency and shifts in technology and you get the dilemma that exists today.  Students today, who are less responsive to email than they were before, instead communicate with their mobile devices and social media.  The interest in “being heard” through a survey is fading as just about every transaction that occurs for a student today is followed by a survey prompt, often with promises of reward (sweepstakes, reward points, etc.) 

At Abroad101, we have found that the best reviews are when the review is more about the student than the program.  “Reviews are good for the student” is a theme we push to advisors, emphasizing that the Abroad101 is simply a template for the student to build a showcase for their discoveries and successes while abroad, their place to shine.  When reviews like this come through, they reflect well on the program and give future students and parents what they want, a glimpse into what to expect from study abroad, and a particular program.  That becomes a powerful statement about the program and when combined with similar sentiments, can reassure folks who are skeptical at the one-sided picture painted by promotional brochures, websites and presentations.

This means that the reviews with the most impact aren’t perfect.  In fact, we see that reviews that aren’t perfect draw the most clicks.  Since people come to a review website to move toward a decision, it is the candor that can move a family toward final approval.  We suggest alumni ambassadors and other advocating participants read “why imperfection is ideal.” 

Revisions to the Display Algorithm:

To deal with older reviews and to recognize the importance of new review volume, we have adjusted the algorithm that drives the display order of our Free Listings.  You will notice that in the program listings, reviews older than 2012 have had the date removed and simply say “Past Review” We have revised the sort order so that these reviews no longer impact page positioning.  We have also given added weight to the count of recent reviews to encourage the submission of more candid reviews and decreased the impact of a 5.0 overall review score.

Student Inquiries:

As a reminder, the primary mechanism for prospective students to interact with providers is through Abroad101’s inquiry form.  When you get an inquiry from Abroad101, you will notice a “lead type” in the message.  These are:

  • Favorite – student tags your listing as one to consider later, not a formal inquiry 
  • RMI – the standard Request More Information inquiry
  • Apply – student states they want to apply for the program listed.

Often people will visit review sites to do further research, so when you get an inquiry marked Apply there is a reasonable chance that that student is already known to you and has come to a decision to apply to the program while on Abroad101.  Please don’t view these as duplicate leads, instead think of them as conversions.

For those of you who advertise, expect to see a further increase in inquiry volume as Abroad101 implements its new LeadMatch process.  LeadMatch is a new feature that gives students three additional programs to consider after they have sent an inquiry to a non-advertised program.  These additional programs are drawn from our pool of advertised programs, matching on city, country and/or subject.  It’s modeled after the popular recommendation feature on sites like Amazon.com.  There is nothing you need to do to implement this, but please do make sure that your listings are updated to include the academic subject areas so that your programs can match as often as possible.

Added Benefits of Advertising:

Advertising on Abroad101 is designed to bring you more inquiries, improve your conversions and raise the brand and visibility of your programs, all at a price that won’t blow your budget.  Featured Listings start at $500/year and we offer generous volume discounts for multiple programs and display advertising. 

For directories with more than 10 ads, we recently adjusted the Featured Listing display so that ads now appear in groups of 5 instead of 3, separated by blocks of 12 Free Listings.  For Featured Listings yet to receive a review, we removed the resulting “0 star” icon to help improve click through rates.  Some advertisers are choosing to have their new programs also link to their website when no reviews are present, an option for our advertisers.

Abroad101’s Social Media channels are a hit with students and their followers, as a solid stream of review highlights and program boosts flow through these channels.  The reviews highlighted in Abroad101’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels are those of advertisers.  Our Social Media editor uses attention-grabbing comments from reviews of our advertisers and turns them into click-drawing posts 6-10 times a day.  We encourage you to re-tweet, like and tag these as favorites to help add impact to this bonus.

Also for advertisers, Abroad101 has API’s that push inquiries and reviews directly into your CRM or student data systems. This means no data entry errors and fast “speed to lead” response time, which is why you should explore pushing leads directly into your CRM with the Lead API.  Viewing the review as a program evaluation adds a nice dimension to your CRM or student records platform. 

Download our Ad Guide for more details. 

As Seen on Abroad101:

As you visit with students and campus partners in the upcoming year we hope you will incorporate Abroad101 in your marketing.  Whether it’s awards from the rankings, badges from the Abroad101 program widget or simply links to the program pages, references to content about your programs on Abroad101 can help provide reassurance to prospective students and advisors.  We estimate that 20-25% of our traffic comes from parents and reviews can go a long way to win their endorsement.  Like the iconic “As Seen on TV” logo brings credibility to retail products, we hope you will recognize that references to being seen on Abroad101 will help bring added recognition to your education abroad program.

We’re Listening!

Much of the development and progress on Abroad101 has come from your suggestions and feedback.  If we’re not doing something you want, let us know.  If we’re exceeding your expectations, please let us know as well.  We’re ready and eager to help.

Happy Fall!

Mark Shay







Follow Abroad101 on Social Media:

Facebook | Twitter |  Pinterest | Instagram | Linkedin

Abroad101 Provider Newsletter – Early Summer 2015

Abroad101-reviews-logo-webLike many who exhibited at NAFSA, we are energized by the show of support and growth in awareness that comes from the Exhibit Hall spotlight.  We handed out nearly 1,000 T-Shirts and the message of Free Program Evaluation Software rang through to many study abroad advisors and administrators in attendance.  In case you missed the latest news, here’s an update on Abroad101 for those of you who offer education abroad programs to American students.

New Subject of Study Portals

In May we released subject area portals, dedicated directories of study abroad programs in over 400 academic disciplines.  Students and Advisors can now easily find academic focused programs in subjects ranging from Accounting to Zoology.  The subject areas are organized using the US Department of Education’s CIP codes (Classification for Instructional Programming), a first for the study abroad field.  The CIP taxonomy has very specific fields of study rolled up into more general categories.  As a program provider, we encourage you to update your program listings and add the relevant fields of study.  We also suggest you pick carefully as students in this area are looking for specific courses, and in many cases looking to fulfill a course requirement.  Please note these should refer to the subject area taught, not the students’ academic majors.

Please Update/Edit Your Free Listings

Your account dashboard also lets you edit the contents of your program listings on Abroad101. We encourage you to use the friendly format to update your listings this summer and add subjects as well as engaging content.  If you need to have program titles changed, locations edited, or host universities added, our quality control process requires this be made from our end.  Our crew is ready and happy to help you with these; please send those details by email to support@abroad101.com

Add Scholarships to Your Listings

Another item in the providers account dashboard is the “Scholarships Available” tool that allows you to add scholarships to your listings.  You’ll find this on the left side of your dashboard, under “Provider.”  You can list multiple scholarships and link these directly to the scholarships page on your website.  The scholarships you enter will appear under the “Financial Aid” tab of the matching program listing(s) on Abroad101.  Please note that the Scholarships Available option is not part of the account dashboard for foreign universities.  Foreign universities should include mention of any scholarship options in the general description of their listing.

Review Your Reports:

As part of your account dashboard, on the lower left side, you will find a few report options.  “Graphs” tallies the star ratings submitted by students in their reviews and allows for some comparison of your program against all others, as well as by country. These categories include: overall, academics, program administration, housing, food, social integration, heath care, safety and cost of living. The resulting pie charts can be copied and pasted into your management reports and provide some added insight into how students perceive your programs.

Bring Advisors on Board

Advisors are a key component in Abroad101’s marketing and are responsible for bringing the vast majority of reviews to Abroad101.  As a provider, you can help this process by generating student reviews at the colleges in which you have a strong following. Here are a couple of ways to see how a university performs for you:

  • University Name in Review Summary: For Provider organizations, find your program summary listing all your programs.  Under the tab that says “Study Abroad Reviews” you will see a summary of all your reviews.  There you will also see the home university of the reviewer identified.  For Foreign Universities, find your “Direct Enrollment and Exchange” listing and you’ll see the university name in the review summaries. 
  • University Pages on Abroad101: Each home university also has a summary page.  Use the search box at the top right of the site to find universities where you think you should be well represented.
  • Pre-Approvals List: In your account dashboard (log into Abroad101), at the bottom left is a report called “University Approvals” which will indicate which universities using Abroad101 have selected which of your programs in their pre-approved programs list.

Once you know how well your key universities engage with Abroad101, please contact us about engaging them further.  Together we can bring Abroad101 into their process and help them use the tools to help draw more reviews, more visibility, and ultimately more students to study abroad.

Utilize the Program Widget

For programs that look especially appealing on Abroad101’s website, we recommend that you use the Abroad101 program widget to share your results. The Program Widget creates a badge-like graphic for your website that includes a star-rating icon and a link to the reviews.  There is no cost to use the Program Widget and it is easy to install as a photo.  Add the widget it to your website and directories and encourage staff to add it to their blog sites.  Hopefully you’ll get your partner universities to install it on their websites too!  Create your widget by adding your program name and the width of the resulting graphic, click here to start  Then follow the instructions to add it to the websites of your choice.  There’s no limit to the number of sites/pages that can display that code, so add this to your list of summer projects!

Targeted Advertising

As you have hopefully seen, the strength of Abroad101 is in its detail.  Most site visitors are in the middle of their selection process, and use the wealth of content to research and set the expectations of the students and their families that support them. We estimate that 20-25% of our traffic comes from parents who often use the search term “reviews” along with program/provider/city names.  Reaching students, parents, and advisors deeper in the process means inquiries that come from Abroad101 are much more likely to enroll.  Advertising on Abroad101 can influence the final decision, as the impressions that come through in the research phase of program selection may well be the ones that trigger the decision to apply.  Remember: when you see “App” in the inquiry type, this means a student has checked the box that says “I want to apply to this program.”  This may not only be a strong lead, but may also be a conversion of a student you already know.

As you enter into your new budgets and marketing plans for the upcoming year, think of using Abroad101 by program.  If you have programs that need a boost, consider advertising them above the others.  Small and special focus programs, for example, often do well on Abroad101. With the new subject portals included at no added cost, you have even more reasons to include more of Abroad101 in your advertising budget.  We can customize a campaign to meet any budget; please download our ad guide and contact sales@abroad101.com to get started.

Alumni Job Board and Abroad101’s career initiatives

Abroad101 enthusiastically supports efforts to raise the number of students studying abroad and we believe strongly that a well-written, thoughtful, and insightful review can also help students jump-start their career.  Many of you are aware of the Linkedin Group we manage called The Study Abroad Advantage. If you haven’t done so yet, please direct your alumni and alumni relations contacts to this group.  As another step to help ensure that study abroad will be an advantage for students during their career search, we created the first job board dedicated to study abroad alumni. In addition to a range of jobs that may interest these students, the Study Abroad Alumni Job Board highlights positions that REQUIRE a study abroad experience.  We hope that when you are looking to hire, you’ll post your positions on the site: http://Jobs.StudyAbroad101.com

Happy Summer!


Mark Shay / CEO






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Abroad101 Providers Newsletter – Spring 2015


It’s been 16 months since Abroad101 has been under new management, and as witnessed by the strong show of support at the recent Forum conference, we are happy to report that Abroad101 is back in full swing, with the best yet to come.  Here’s just a little bit of what’s been happening at the first and largest study abroad review website:

Study Abroad Rankings Released 

Abroad101 released its fourth annual Study Abroad Rankings in late March, designed to highlight the thousands of program evaluations and reviews that we collect each year.  The rankings are compiled from rating scores in the student reviews, which we use to recognize top study abroad semester programs, top summer programs, and top providers.  Also highlighted are top non-traditional destinations, budget-friendly countries, most livable cities, and top food cities (remember, these are college students!).

To be considered for the rankings, programs must be listed in the Abroad101 directories and must have received a sufficient number of student reviews.  From the 1,424 programs that received reviews, our analyst crunched numbers, set thresholds, and used Bayesian Analysis with a Standard Deviation adjustment to generate the scores that determined the students’ choice winners.  We were quite pleased at the diversity of the programs that were recognized in this process and hope that the publicity this generates draws more students and their families to look at the breadth of what study abroad has to offer.

student-UniverseWe’d like to thank StudentUniverse, our sponsor this year.  In addition to saving students money on individual flights, they offer academic group travel and have some nice administration tools for program managers.  Click here to learn more 

Update Your Free Listings, Add Videos:

There are 9,400 programs in the Abroad101 directory; over 1,500 of these are foreign university direct enroll and exchange programs, and more than 3,000 are defined as faculty-led programs.  Our team is constantly updating, adding, and revising listings, and we hope you will help us by visiting Abroad101 to review your listings and then send us updates.  Each listing can be updated through your provider’s account where you can revise descriptions, add academic subject areas, and upload photos.  If you forgot your login, please let us know at support@abroad101.com

To make your listings more attractive, please add videos.  You can embed YouTube-style videos in your Free Listings by adding the “iframe” text to the video field in your listing.  You can find the iframe text on YouTube by clicking the share icon, then embed, then copy that text and paste it into the edit screen in your Abroad101 account dashboard.  If that seems too daunting, feel free to email us the link to the desired video and our staff will take care of that for you.

If you need to have program titles changed, locations edited, or host universities added, our crew would also be happy to help.  Please send those details by email to support@abroad101.com 

Rich Snippets and Review Star Search

No, Rich Snippets is not a B-movie actor. Rich Snippets are extensions to site tags for search engines.  Abroad101 has added them to our site so you can now see review counts, a rating score, and an eye-catching star graphic by your Abroad101 listing on the major search engines. Type your program name and the word “review” into your favorite search engine to see Rich Snippets at work.  

Abroad101 joins Generation Study Abroad

Abroad101 has joined IIE’s Generation Study Abroad and our pledge to help double study abroad comes in the form of doubling our support for Crowd Funding and our “Abroad101 Student of the Week” project.  Each week we take a deserving student, contribute cash toward their fundraising and boost their efforts with publicity and recognition.  In addition, the referenced program reviews can help students in their fundraising by highlighting the experience of earlier students and helping friends and family become comfortable with the student’s goal.

Reviews are Social Media:

A well-crafted student review is a beautiful thing.  With photos, constructive criticism, and reflective and forward thinking writing samples, reviews from Abroad101 can be points of pride with which students can highlight and share their experiences. Abroad101 syndicates the best of the reviews of our advertisers through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; we also highlight the best photos through Pinterest.  Our Social Media Editor takes a highlight or a quote from each review and shares it, along with matching hashtags and tagged accounts, into our feeds to further extend the power of each review.  When you see one, give it a boost: like it, retweet it, tag it as a favorite.  If you haven’t caught the Social Media wave, start now with these Abroad101 networks:

How Long Can You Avoid Reviews?

According to the influential research firm Forrester, almost everybody reads reviews. Seventy-two percent of customers trust online opinions as much as they trust their own friends and family.

Nielsen, the famous information and measurement company, reports in their 2012 “Global Trust in Advertising Survey” that 70% of consumers trust online reviews from people they don’t know, which is up 15% from four years earlier. Ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust word-of-mouth recommendations, whether from strangers or from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. 

If you are still not convinced that reviews are the among the most important force in marketing today, please read this article from Forbes

Direct your returning students submitting reviews to your program listings and click the “Write a Review” button or http://www.StudyAbroad101.com/reviews/new

Year-End Advertising

As the fiscal year for most begins to wrap up, consider using any remaining funds to boost your presence on Abroad101 through advertising.  We can customize a campaign to meet any budget.  Advertising on Abroad101 not only generates more student inquiries, it boosts your conversion rates by adding exposure when students and parents are using the site to research and compare programs.  Contact sales@abroad101.com for more details.

See You at NAFSA:

For those of you who missed us at Forum, please make a point to stop by and see us at NAFSA (booth #1203) to collect this year’s collectable T-Shirt and discuss how you can turn those once static program evaluations into a dynamic user voice that is in such great demand from students, parents, and advisors alike. 

Of course, you don’t have to wait.  Please feel free to contact us at Abroad101 whenever we can be of service.

Happy Spring!

Mark Shay







Abroad101 Providers Newsletter Winter 2015


Abroad101 Providers Newsletter Winter 2015

As J-Term ends and spring semester begins, our best wishes to you and your organization through this busy season.  While many of you are now focusing on summer and fall recruitment, we hope you’ll take a few minutes to review your presence on Abroad101 and explore ways to incorporate the many tools we offer into your marketing plans.

Check and Update your Free Listings:

Free Listings are the core of Abroad101’s directories, one per program.  Listings provide an opportunity to showcase a program with photos, descriptions, videos; listings are also the home for student reviews.  Each organization is provided an account to edit and manage their listings to help recruit future students as well as to help interested students and parents better understand a program and set their expectations. 

We encourage you to visit Abroad101 and try the search box at the top of the page to find your program(s) and see what the students, parents and academic advisors see.  Type your organization name in the search box and see the provider list that summarizes all the Free Listings for your organization; then login and edit your listings.  Contact service@abroad101.com with any questions about your Free Listings.

Use the Abroad101 Program Widget:

The Abroad101 Program Widget creates a badge-like graphic for use on your web site.  Using as much space as a small picture, the badge shows a tally of reviews, overall review score and a star-ratings graphic in an image designed to look like an award that also links back to the reviews.  There is no charge to use this, no forms to complete.  Pick one or pick all of your programs.  Simply copy the code generated from the widget maker and enter it on your web page where you might otherwise have a photo.  The code is dynamic and your badge will constantly refresh and stay current.

The badge is also great for your university partner websites.  If they have a webpage about your program then help them get the badge on their website to give you a competitive edge.  Click here for the Abroad101 Program Widget

More Benefits of Reviews:

In any directory on Abroad101, Free Listings are displayed based on a formula that favors recent reviews.  Since people come to Abroad101 for the reviews, the programs with the most reviews move toward the top.  Most reviewed and best-rated programs will be seen more often and have the greatest chance to generate new student inquiries for you.  As a reminder, those inquiries go to you, and only you, and are not repurposed in any way.

Programs with reviews are also more popular with Internet search engines, another benefit of drawing reviews through Abroad101.  Microsoft’s Bing has recently included Abroad101 star rating icons in their search results, so you not only get SEO with added reviews, you get an eye catching graphic on your Bing listing.  Here’s a star-rated search example

Still using Paper Evaluations?

A number of organizations use paper-based evaluations, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting those reviews online.  We understand that paper data collection generates high participation results, so if you’re not yet ready to jump to a completely online system, we suggest you consider a hybrid, two part process where paper is done first, then scanned and loaded into a database and that database integrated with the Abroad101 system.  The Abroad101 system would then send the student a confirmation and prompt them to complete some additional questions, add photos and then publish the review on Abroad101 to share their experience with the world.  We estimate the cost (with modest volume) to be $5 per paper review for the conversion.  If you are interested in engineering a 2-step process for your evaluations (paper or online), please contact mark@abroad101.com

Include Abroad101 in your Advertising Budgets:

In addition to your Free Listings, advertising on Abroad101 is designed to raise the visibility to your programs and increase the volume of student inquiries you receive.  Advertising comes in the form of Featured Listings in our city and country directories plus advanced search.  Cost is $500/year/program with volume discounts for multiple program purchases.

There are two run-of-site display ad options, banners on the city and country portals, plus our high visibility Global Rotation Ads, a group of six featured programs that appear at the top right of just about every page on the site.  We have lots of creative ways to mix-and-match ad to build an effective campaign to meet any budget. 

In addition to the added exposure that Featured Listings and Display Advertising offer, advertisers on Abroad101 get the following extras:

  • Ability to receive leads and reviews through automated API downloads directly into your CRM/database
  • Receive extra student leads, hand-matched from the general student inquiries Abroad101 receives.
  • Twitter posts of student review highlights that include a student quote, the home university and provider Twitter address, a link back to the review and relevant hash tags where possible
  • Facebook posts of the best of the Twitter stream, plus periodic boosted posts of Featured Listings
  • General favor for advertisers in professional references, student, advisor and media communication

For more details on advertising on Abroad101, please contact Sales@Abroad101.com or call +1-212-321-0928

Nominate an Advisor

In addition to Free Listings or providers, Abroad101 offers free accounts for universities to manage and control the review process. Abroad101 also produces an Advisors Newsletter for university staff and we are always looking to expand our advisor contact list.  If you have advisors who might be interested in using Abroad101, please direct them to us. They can also subscribe to our Advisors Newsletter 

Call, Meet or Just Say Hi!

As Abroad101’s CEO, I will be attending the upcoming AIEA conference in Washington.  Abroad101 will not have a booth in the exhibit hall, so if you’d like to arrange a meeting, please email mark@abroad101.com  I will also be attending re-entry conferences in Boston and Philadelphia in February.

Abroad101 will have a booth at the Forum conference in March.  If you are attending, please stop by and say hello.

If you have any questions about Abroad101 or would like a web demo of the system, please don’t hesitate to contact me to schedule an appointment, or just give me a call at +1-212-321-0928

Thanks for taking the time to read this and for your interest in Abroad101.


Mark Shay, CEO