For some students, one of their biggest obstacles for study abroad is their parents. If your parents financially support you, or simply play a big part in your decision making, they could be the make or break for deciding if you’ll study abroad or not.
Some of the reasons that parents get apprehensive about study abroad could be safety concerns, financial concerns, and a general not understanding of the benefits. Well that’s why us, and this article are here! The key to getting your parents on board for study abroad is to get them to see that study abroad is one of the best ways you can invest in your future.
So, if your parents aren’t exactly on board with your study abroad dreams, here are 8 tips to get them rooting in your corner.
When you approach your parents about study abroad, you’re practically going in for a job interview and you need to be prepared. They’re going to ask you a series of questions about why you should go, what it will cost, where you’ll live, how safe it is, etc., and you’ll need to have an answer for each question.
Being prepared shows that you’re serious about your study abroad journey and you’ve done your research. So, before you dive into the big ask, make sure you’ve done your research on where you want to go and the study abroad provider you want to go through. These are the most common questions students see from parents when they’re approached about study abroad.
- Where do you want to go and how long is the program?
- How safe is the country you’re studying in?
- Will you fall behind in academics?
- How much does it cost?
- What program are you going through and what support do they have?
- Will you be with other students from your home university or locals?
Start with the benefits
Students who study abroad are 97% more likely to get a job out of college within 12 months of graduating. This is compared to 49% of college graduates who found employment out of college that did not study abroad.
Another great stat: 100% of students report greater improvement in their GPA post-study abroad. Students who study abroad see their GPA rise twice as quickly as those who don’t. And 19% of students who study abroad are more likely to graduate.
These are just a few study abroad statistics, and there are hundreds out there. When you discuss study abroad with your parents, start with the benefits of not only broadening your horizon, but enhancing your resume, making you more worldly and accepting, and earning independence.
Have a financial plan
Study abroad can be affordable if you do your research and select an affordable study abroad program.
USAC awards more than $1.5 million in scholarships and discounts every year, and there are hundreds of third-party scholarships you can apply for as well. No matter what provider you decide to study abroad through, get an understanding of how much it will cost. Present your parents with how much of the financial burden will fall on you and/or possibly them. Even if your family can afford to help you study abroad, show them that you’re willing to work hard to make your dreams come true, and provide a plan on how you intend to help cover the finances.
Talk about the academic benefits
The beauty of study abroad is that you can complete courses required at your home university during your study abroad. This means you can study abroad without falling behind in your schoolwork. You can also partake in classes that you wouldn’t have access to in the U.S. such as internships, field studies, volunteer opportunities, and service learning. You can even get up to two years’ worth of language credits in one semester.
Before you approach your parents, talk with your academic advisor about the options for study abroad. Assuring your parents you won’t fall behind in school and this will ultimately be a boost to your academics is another great benefit of study abroad.
Discuss your safety abroad
One of the biggest concerns parents have with sending their student abroad is their safety. Take some time to do some research on the safety precautions taken by the study abroad program that you’re planning on attending as well as other ways you plan on being safe while abroad.
If you are a diverse student, there are a variety of other things you should consider. Be sure to brush up on the common questions students ask about diversity and know where you stand with this article on preparing to study abroad as a diverse student.
Let them know you’ll keep in touch
Having your child wandering around a foreign city is a terrifying thought for a parent. But with technology there are endless ways to keep in touch. Talk to your parents about the different options for communicating with them while you’re gone. This includes FaceTime, texting, using WhatsApp, email, and phone calls. Knowing they can get ahold of you any time they need is reassuring.
You can also register with the U.S. Embassy Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) before you head abroad. You can sign up to receive alerts in places you’re traveling and document your travel plans to help the U.S. Embassy locate you if needed. Your parents can sign up as well to stay connected and in touch with the Embassy.
Connect them with an alumni
If you have a friend who has studied abroad before, bringing them along to chat with your parents about what the experience is like could help make your case. If you’re close with your friends’ family, you could even connect their parents with your parents so they can talk about their concerns with parents who have already been through study abroad.
Use the resources available
They say parenting takes a village, and so does study abroad. Whether you’re convincing your parents or are just doing your research for yourself you’re never alone in your journey. USAC has a variety of resources you can use to educate yourself on study abroad and share with your parents.
- Program advisors: Every program has a dedicated program advisor that can answer any questions you have about a specific program. They also have a variety of webinars and informational materials you can share with your parents.
- Enrollment team: Our enrollment department is dedicated to helping you with academics.
- Scholarship team: We work hard to make study abroad affordable and our dedicated scholarship team can help you get the most out of your scholarship application.
- On-site staff: Many USAC programs have a dedicated on-site staff team to ensure your study abroad experience is a great one. If we don’t have a dedicated staff member, we partner with the international study abroad office in your host country.
- Accounting team: Our accounting team can work with your parents on flexible payment plans for study abroad.
- Alumni team: Your journey doesn’t end when you return from study abroad. Our alumni team will provide you with resources on finding a job and teach you how to take your study abroad experiences to help achieve your goals.
Don’t let the fear of getting your parents approval stop you from pursuing study abroad. Often, parents just need to know the benefits of study abroad and how it will work out. By showing them that you’re prepared and serious about this journey, you’ll ease their mind and get their support. Happy talking!