Berry College lifts its international experiences office to new heights

“Having all of their travel documentation easily accessible helps to quickly verify when and where students are traveling”

Managing a robust study abroad program with a small office isn’t a simple task, and in today’s environment of shrinking global offices, technology support is a must to ensure student success.

Berry College, a small, private liberal arts college in Georgia, is a study abroad champion. More than 25% of Berry’s 2,000+ students study abroad while attending. But to increase the efficiency of their two-person international experiences office and have the ability to grow their programs, they needed to move from paper and Excel to an online system. Berry implemented a global engagement solution to centralize its study abroad information, showcasing their programs, enabling online applications and enabling quick access to accurate student travel information.

Impact on Student Experience

The digital transformation of Berry College’s global education programs has improved its application process dramatically. Students can now search all program offerings in one place by field, term, or location, and apply online, streamlining the process and enabling the international experiences team to better connect with students. Students can easily see what requirements and forms to complete along with the deadlines and can download items easily. Rather than dropping paperwork off, they can upload documents and track them through the system.

And, as travel safety and duty of care for students is of utmost importance, having all of their travel documentation easily accessible helps to quickly verify when and where students are traveling so they can be contacted in case of an emergency.

“This past spring, there were protests across Italy while we had a large group of students studying there,” said Elizabeth Davis, director of International Experiences at Berry College. “Our team searched the Terra Dotta travel portal for the protest locations and sent communications out to students nearby, asking if they were okay. The ability to check in with students and ensure their safety during a potentially tumultuous time in an unfamiliar country is invaluable.”

Impacts Across the Institution

Another byproduct of moving international experiences program management online is the insights into study abroad data and trends. With the use of Terra Dotta, Berry College can analyse their study abroad student demographics, locations of interest, programs of study etc. Advisers can see what groups of students are underrepresented and better target student outreach or identify gaps in the programming to ensure adequate opportunities for all their students.

Just as important as the global experiences students are gaining is also earning credits toward graduation while abroad. Berry has developed a process within Terra Dotta allowing students to submit their transcripts through a course approval form to transfer credits from their study abroad experience back to their home campus. Once received, the transcripts can be tagged and uploaded into the documents section for students to have easy access. Advisers can also view who hasn’t uploaded a transcript, allowing for a quick follow-up with those students and the program.

Berry College’s digital transformation has enhanced the study abroad experience for students, faculty and administrators. From enhanced program communication and marketing to a streamlined application and onboarding process and improved metrics and administration capabilities, digitising program management will help the international experiences office reach and support more students which Davis has said will have far-reaching globalisation impacts on Berry’s campus and in their students’ global education journeys.

About the author: John Wayne Zimmerman is Marketing Manager at Terra Dotta