You’re dead set on spending the next semester of your college career abroad. You know where you want to go and have your eyes set on the perfect program. You have visited with your study abroad advisor on campus and understand how it all works.
Before you can apply, the next step is to get your parents on board. No worries! You can do it! Depending on your parents, convincing them to support you going abroad may have an impact on our decision to study abroad and potentially your future college career.
Here are a few tips to help you convince your parents to support you going abroad:
Devise a financial plan
Future study abroad-ers beware. You must approach this with a concise and direct plan of action. Don’t leave any details out when presenting your opportunity to your parents. When writing your plan, make sure to compare the cost of tuition at your university and the program abroad. Depending on your program, the cost of studying abroad might be less expensive than taking courses at your home institution.
If you receive financial aid from your home university, ask your financial aid advisor if any of your funding can be applied towards the cost of the program. At some colleges, financial aid can be used for study abroad. If this is the case at your university, you may receive enough financial support to cover your entire study abroad program or at least, from a financial standpoint, get you closer to your goal.
With that said, don’t rely on financial aid to be the panacea to your financial ills, apply for as many scholarships as you possibly can. There is no limit to the amount of scholarship funding you can receive. To get started, look into the International Scholarship Directory list on the Diversity Abroad website.
Once you have all of the financials laid out, including your estimated costs of living (if it’s not included in the program) as well as additional spending money, compile it into an excel spreadsheet, so it is clear how you will fund your journey.
Parents will see your effort in putting together a budget and may assist if they are able.
Analyze the benefits
Upon presenting your financial plan, be sure to answer other concerns parents may have about you studying abroad. They may not necessarily know all of the facts about it. Explain to them the benefits of studying abroad. Talk to them about how learning a new language, and the independence you will have while living in a foreign country will help you become a global-minded citizen.
Although you will be learning about the culture and customs of your host country, you will be learning even more about yourself. Living abroad can be a catalyst for self-reflection. If there are things about yourself you’d like to change, doing so while you are abroad is an excellent opportunity to make those changes.
Make a list of the things from which you will benefit while abroad so that your parents will have a clear understanding of what your expectations are.
Explain the safety precautions
Next, you will want to talk to them about safety while abroad. There are varying levels of safety depending on where you are choosing to study. However, all program providers must follow the State Department Travel Warnings when sending students abroad and typically will not permit students to study in an area of potential danger.
With that said, there are still potential dangers while studying abroad. Read about your host country and find tips for students traveling there. Make sure to stay within your group and in safe, well-lit areas. Enjoy yourself, but be mindful of the areas you visit.
Discuss with your parents how you will avoid unsafe situations. Reinforce the notion that your program provider has residence directors and personnel to help you 24/7 in an emergency.
You will also be provided with international health insurance while abroad. Go over this detail with your parents, so they are aware of all aspects of your safety.
Remember to communicate
Finally, create a plan with your parents on how you will keep in touch. When I went abroad, I had to get an international calling card to contact my family. Now, it’s much easier to connect with programs such as Skype and Face Time. Plan a time once a week to catch up with all that is happening at home and share your new experiences with your family and friends.
If you are more technologically gifted and like to take pictures and recount stories, start a blog. Whether it’s a Tumblr, Instagram, WordPress, or a Xanga, you can document your travels with current pictures and stories. This will keep your family enthralled and eager to hear about your next adventure.
Overall, if you present to your parents a concise, comprehensive and logical plan of action to study abroad, they should have no reason to object. Prepare for anything, and have a response and answer for everything. The more preparation you put in beforehand, the better off you will be in the long run. Good luck, and enjoy your adventure abroad!
Author: Riley Skylar