We (Sean Lennon and Chris Shepherd) founded The Education Abroad Network in 1995. We had both been volunteering at a university in Perth, Australia and, from our own previous study abroad experiences and interactions with students studying abroad at the time, realized programs were too rigid and didn’t cater to different preferences and interests.
This was pre-internet (hard to comprehend, we know) so individual research was expensive and time consuming. We wanted to create a study abroad program that was highly personalized and provided students with a range of options. One size does not fit everyone, and never will, so we wanted to treat each applicant like a family member, always going the extra mile to tailor their experience and providing advice based on our intimate knowledge of the locations and programs.
We didn’t have a business plan or flashy marketing materials, but rather just a deep desire to help each and every participant make the most out of their one semester abroad. It was more like a hobby in the early years – our first year we had one participant and the second year we didn’t have any, to be honest – but after a few years and a few more satisfied students we were able to capitalize on referrals and the numbers grew. We were onto something!
We opened up new programs in the eastern states of Australia and eventually expanded into New Zealand. Even as we were growing, we didn’t hire our first full-time marketing staff member until 2002 since we were so focused on operations and creating crafted, quality experiences.
In 2007 we decided to broaden our horizons even further and offer programs in Asia thanks to the help of several TEAN team members who had extensive experience in the region. From our first program in China in 2008, we methodically expanded into other cities and countries with a focus on the highest quality programs. Even now, we typically only choose one of every 10 programs we review.
In August, 2018 TEAN joined the WorldStrides organization. Worldstrides is a 50-year old organization that specializes in experiential travel programs for students.
Today, with head offices based in Chicago and staff around the world, TEAN is an industry leader and one of the few study abroad organizations that is geographically focused.
We are not trying to offer something for everybody. We know Asia Pacific and are the experts in the Asia Pacific Region. Despite our growth and range of programs, our company philosophy has not changed – we are still committed to providing the very same personalized approach and experience based off of our team’s firsthand knowledge just like we did for our very first student in 1996.
– Sean and Chris