🏆 The Award Goes To … Our Virtual Predeparture Orientation Program!

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IES Abroad
April 6, 2022

It was recently announced that IES Abroad was awarded the 2022 Best Practices Award in International Education for Study Abroad Programming by NASPA for our Virtual Predeparture Orientation Program!

NASPA, the leading Student Affairs organization in the United States, held their annual conference in Baltimore this past March where Matthew Rader, Ed.D., Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, and Rachael Ulrich, College Relations Manager, accepted the award in-person on behalf of IES Abroad. 

Congratulations to the IES Abroad Virtual Orientation Committee (including Matthew Rader, Rachael Ulrich, Meghan Culhane, Kiah Zellner-Smith, Kattrina Cannon, Katie Burke, Lee L'Hote, Stephanie Rock, Florencia Magnasco, Lindsey Lumley, and Destiny Oppe), as well as Chicago and Center staff for developing and delivering the award-winning program.

About Our Virtual Predeparture Orientation Program

The IES Abroad Virtual Predeparture Orientation Program utilizes synchronous and asynchronous content to support students in their transition to study abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic. Content for the orientation programs were based on The Forum’s Standards of Good Practice for Student Learning and Development with focus on the academic curriculum, preparation for culture differences, understanding visa and entry requirements, the impact of identity on their experience, and knowing how to manage health and safety abroad.

 The Virtual Predeparture Orientation provides:

  • An opportunity to ease predeparture anxieties by offering students a hub of information
  • A chance to foster connections
  • A forum to ask burning questions before take-off
  • Saved time on-site for students and staff (and we know that every minute of study abroad counts) so that once students arrive abroad, they can more quickly jump into the experience of study abroad

The program was piloted in two locations (Barcelona, Spain and London, England) in Summer 2021 with slightly more than 100 students. IES Abroad then implemented the IES Abroad Virtual Predeparture program at 17 different locations in Europe for the Fall 2021 semester with approximately 1000 students. For the Spring 22 semester, IES Abroad implemented the Virtual Predeparture Orientation Program for 23 locations. 

Overall Impact 

Feedback from students and in-country staff throughout the process has been positive. Students continually report feeling more prepared for their study abroad experience having particiapted in the Virtual Predeparture Orientation Program. 

Overall, this program has improved student learning for our students studying abroad. Students have better understanding of the academic experience to which they will partake and are better prepared for the out-of-classroom experiences they will encounter-interculturally and related to their health and safety. The overall result has been students with lower anxiety in their transition abroad and higher satisfaction with their study abroad experience.  We look forward to expanding our Virtual Predeparture Orientation Program across even more of our Center locations.  

Learn more about our programs and study abroad locations, and how to make your study abroad dreams a reality.

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