Via’s Affordability Allows Concordia to Eliminate Application Fees
Concordia University Wisconsin’s Maggie Leimkuehler had a demo with Via during the 2018 NAFSA Regional Conference in Schaumburg, Illinois.
“It definitely looked appealing,” recalls Maggie, now Concordia’s Director of Education Abroad, “but I had just started at Concordia and was learning their software system, learning the office—just everything at once. I was too new to be making a change and I also didn’t know if Via was at the stage where it could serve us as well as our system.”
Concordia signed a three-year contract with their provider—a decision Maggie regretted when COVID-19 hit in March 2020.
“We had a revolving door of case managers. Every time I had a new situation come up, we had a different representative. That was quite frustrating. The contract model was not ideal. We were stuck paying for two and a half years through COVID assuming we were sending 400 students. There was no grace period offered, no discount, no nothing.”
Like many of her colleagues in international education at the time, Maggie was also dealing with budget cuts.
“I was paying full price (for their software system) and getting no application fees to offset that. We reached out several times to our provider and eventually got a slight decrease for one year—but by the next year, inflation ate up that discount.”
Six months before Concordia’s contract ended, Maggie began looking for a new provider. Last spring, Concordia made the switch to Via.
“We knew we wanted something different,” Maggie says. “It was really helpful seeing that Mark Eckman at UMass Amherst switched to Via. That gave me the confidence that, okay, Via is exactly where they need to be in the industry.”
Maggie also loves the fact that Via was started by international educators for international educators.
Concordia has “Fantastic Fall” Thanks to Via
Because her office is quieter over the summer, it was the perfect time to make the switch to Via, which has gone very well, she says.
“It has been a fantastic start to the Fall,” Maggie says. “The students love Via. It’s so much more intuitive. Students love the little airplane icon. They love the survey functions, the program matching feature.”
On the admin side, she likes that she and her six student workers “don’t need an IT degree” to be able to operate Via.
“That was my biggest headache with our previous system,” Maggie says. “It was not intuitive. I had to go to the knowledge base and search all the time. Via calls it what it is and puts it somewhere that makes sense. That was the biggest asset—and also knowing that the reporting functions are there.”
Love for Global Traveler Sparked by Mother, Grandmother
Maggie, who grew up in Toledo, Ohio, credits her mother and grandmother for her passion for global experiences. They travel internationally any chance they get.
“My mom likes to remind me that I’m the reason she never made it to the Amazon because she couldn’t get the vaccines after she found out she was pregnant with me. So I owe her a trip,” Maggie says, laughing.
As a youth, Maggie did two mission trips to Latin America—and her family hosted about 15 students and teachers from a variety of countries, including Pakistan, Philippines, Japan, China and Ukraine.
During her freshman year in high school, Maggie shared her bedroom with a student from the Philippines.
Maggie earned bachelor’s degrees in both German and Spanish from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where she studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, and Salzburg, Austria.
She received an early initiation into the international education field while still a student at Bowling Green. She worked with the international office on campus assisting incoming international students. Not only did she help them integrate and navigate the university, she also provided academic advising.
“I kind of fell into the role,” she says.
Maggie is starting her fourth year at Concordia, which has campuses in Mequon, Wisconsin, and in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She started as the study abroad program advisor and was named director of education abroad last May. She works on the Mequon campus and regularly visits the Ann Arbor campus.
The number of students wanting to study abroad is “exploding,” Maggie says. “Via makes my life easier because I can hand off things to my student workers,” she says. “They are able to figure out Via quickly. They’re not watching webinars. We don’t have a list of how to do this, that and the other thing. Via just makes sense.”
And because Via costs significantly less than what Concordia was paying for their previous software system, they were able to eliminate application fees, which, Maggie says, were a barrier to studying abroad for some students.
Like Maggie Leimkuehler at Concordia University Wisconsin, 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.