From Day One, Via offered CSB and SJU students a great user experience
Nicole Clements was completely satisfied with the homegrown, institutionally managed software system her office was using for study abroad applications when she was tasked with finding a new system in 2018.
“Our institutions determined that they needed the resources of their IT team to be doing other things,” says Nicole, Associate Director of Global Education at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Minnesota. “They wanted us to search out and find software that could free up time for their team.”
Nicole admits she was a bit “grumbly” about the request.
“Change is not my favorite thing,” she says. “The system was working for us. But I knew it wasn’t an option we were going to be able to stay with. We were clearly told we could ride out the year, but that was it. We needed to find something different.”
After an RFP process, CSB and SJU chose Via.
“One of the things that really stood out to us was how Via was smaller and, therefore, more willing to listen and adapt. That was the feedback we had heard from other offices—that Via was open to feedback and to making changes. Throughout the whole RFP process, we really felt like we were heard and cared for by Via.”
Nicole also liked that Via was started by international educators for international educators—and that it was women owned and operated. Via was also more visually appealing than a large software provider they had also considered.
“I could tell Via was more agile,” she says. “The other system looked clunky—like it hadn’t had a real facelift in a long time. Via looked modern.”
Still, as an early Via adopter, they experienced a bumpy transition, Nicole recalls.
Via Provides Great Student User Experience
Part of the issue, Nicole says, was that her office had to learn a new system. “We were going from something that had been customized to us to something that was also user friendly but different from what we had been using,” she says.
But there were also some glitches in the system that did cause problems on the admin side, Nicole recalls.
“Via rose to the challenge,” she says. “They addressed our concerns. I feel like their customer support helped get us through that rocky patch.”
Then and now, Via’s customer service “shines,” Nicole says.
“Via has been exceptional with customer support. I really appreciate that they listen and try to understand. Whoever I’m talking with, they try to understand my problems. That helps me believe Via is really listening.”
While there were frustrations on the admin side, Via offered CSB and SJU students a great user experience from Day One, Nicole says.
“That was really what sold us on Via,” she says. “The interface was like Airbnb—something students were accustomed to at that time. And today, it remains a really great student experience.”
Nicole says she’s glad CSB and SJU stayed the course with Via.
“Even if I could, I would not go back to our old system,” she says. “Via is far superior. It’s such a good experience for our students. It’s easy for them to navigate. Everything is so pretty. When I go into Via, it makes me want to pick every program.”
Engaging Students is Worth the Effort, Nicole Says
CSB and SJU is unique in that nearly 100% of students choose programs developed and managed by CSB and SJU. It’s rare that students choose third-party programs, Nicole says.
CSB and SJU has long been a leader in study abroad, ranking among the top baccalaureate schools nationally for both mid-length study abroad and the total number of students who studied abroad, according to Open Doors 2021.
“We know the transformative impact of study abroad, and we want to help even more students discover the options available to them. Via helps us do that,” Nicole says.
Nicole knows firsthand the value of global experiences. She studied in Spain as an undergrad at the University of Minnesota, where she also earned a master’s degree.
“Individuals who are having these global experiences, that’s what’s going to change the world,” she says. “One-on-one, people building relationships; people seeing differences and learning to appreciate differences.
“I think global experiences give students more compassion, which I think can change the world. And when they’re abroad, they build more confidence in themselves by accomplishing small things every day and, when they return to the U.S., they have confidence they can do those small but mighty things too.”
Like Nicole Clements at College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, Via believes global experiences will change our world. That’s why we created traveler relationship management and travel risk management software, which helps universities and study abroad program providers to empower global experiences. If you want a true education abroad partner, turn to Via.