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 let you go abroad may be the make or break factor that might not only determine your future college career, but your whole life!
Here are a few tips to help you convince your parents to let you go abroad:
1. 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 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 classes 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 might receive enough financial aid 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 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 the efforts you made to make a budget plan and more often than not, if they are able, they will be happy to help you if you fall short in funding.
2. 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 grow and become more mature.
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 a great 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.
3. Explain the safety precautions
Next, you will want to talk to them about safety while abroad. Obviously, 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 in area of potential danger such as an active warzone or terrorist hot spot.
With that said, there are still potential dangers while studying abroad. Read up on articles about your host country and tips for students traveling there. Make sure to stay within your group and in safe, well-lit areas. Enjoy yourself, but don’t party to the point that you consume too much alcohol, and forget how to get home. These are the types of situations that lead to trouble.
Promise your parents you won’t be caught up in these situations. Reinforce the notion that your program provider has residence directors and personnel to help you out in an emergency situation.
You will also be provided with international health insurance while abroad. Go over this detail with your parents as well so they don’t end up hopping on a plane to come take care of you if you catch a cold!
4. Remember to communicate
Finally, devise a plan with your parents on how you will keep in touch. When I went abroad, I had to get an international calling card in order to contact my family. Nowadays, it’s much easier with programs such as Skype and Face Time. Plan a time once a week to catch up with all that is happening back 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 even a Xanga, you can document your travels with up-to-date 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!