By Abby Wargo
Student Life Editor
The Global Education Office has arrived in the 21st century with the advent of their new online study abroad catalog. Alexandra Levy, the coordinator of study abroad in the GEO, collaborated with the software company Terra Dotta to enhance students’ study abroad application experience.
Some of the changes include a catalog redesign and an online application for studying abroad. As of July 7, all study abroad applications must be completed and submitted through the new website at washcoll-sa.terradotta.com.
The same information is necessary, but before all the different elements of one application were submitted separately, now everything can be submitted online together and from one source.
“The application requirements haven’t changed, the programs haven’t changed, and the deadlines haven’t changed, it’s just all online and in one place now,” Levy said.
The former application was growing to be inefficient since most of Washington College’s partner institutions’ applications have moved online.
“GEO has grown significantly in the last five years in many ways, including our number of study abroad applications. And as the volume of applications grew, we needed to find a way to make our application process more efficient.”
GEO staff attended the NAFSA Association for International Educators conference and had the opportunity to meet Terra Dotta representatives.
Levy said, “[Terra Dotta’s] software integrates with our Registrar’s software, which means the programs can ‘talk to each other’. This way, the program can automatically populate basic information that students would generally have wasted time typing in—name, birthday, major, ID number, etc.—and students can focus their time and energy on more significant sections of the application, like the personal statement.”
Levy and the IT Department worked with a Terra Dotta representative to learn how to work the new software and how to redesign the site. The entire process took around seven months to complete the web page.
The new software makes it easier for students to access information relevant to their chosen school.
“For example, if you are applying for the American Business School in Paris, you will need to submit some passport-sized photographs with your application, but not all schools require photos,” Levy said. “Therefore, instead of making passport photos a requirement for all programs, we can tailor that option to be specific to the American Business School.”
Although most students who apply to study abroad end up doing so, Levy hopes that the number of applicants will increase with the advent of the new software.
“I encourage all students who are ‘on the fence’ about studying abroad to apply— it’s always better to apply than miss the opportunity because of a silly reason, like missing the deadline,” she said.
The updated website proves useful for administrators as well as students. Online access to files is convenient for Levy, since before she only had access to her work when she was in the office. She can answer students’ questions faster and easier, and the new software includes features that can aid students when they are abroad, like an “itinerary feature and access to support resources.”
According to Levy, Deans Patrice DiQuinzio and Andrea Lange have been invaluable resources during the remodel.
“We could not have gotten this project off the ground without Dean DiQuinzio’s enthusiasm and support…the GEO Staff has [also]been working with Dean Andrea Lange, who has been a constant source of encouragement and inspiration.”
The IT staff, specifically Molly Mears, and GEO Interim Assistant Carmen Clemons, was also critical components to the success of the project, she said. Together with Levy, they built the site’s content.
Levy said, “We couldn’t have done any of this without the amazing support of the Washington College family…I am so excited about this new website, and I hope you like it. Please bear with me for this first semester, as I am still learning.”