Parent Edition: Why You Should Let Your Student Study Abroad
1. It is an experience of a lifetime.
Studying abroad is a life changing experience for obvious reasons. Doing something like this when we are young students gives us the experience and the confidence that we can carry into our adulthood. Not only will students learn how to pack light, but studying abroad teaches your student to appreciate amenities and privileges that we have at home that many countries around the world aren’t lucky enough to have. The things you learn while abroad are things you can’t teach in a classroom, and parents want their students to learn everything they can and take every amazing opportunity they can get, right?
2. The costs are relatively the same.
A lot of parents are turned off from letting their student study abroad because of the cost, which is completely understandable. But education costs money no matter where you get it. If you crunch the numbers on tuition, books, housing, food, and living expenses that you already have to come up with to go to college in the United States and compare it to the study abroad costs, the plane ticket is probably the only difference. Depending on where your student chooses study, it can cost more, the same, or even less than what you’re paying each semester for the college or university that you attend now. But, it's really hard to put a price tag on this kind of experience, so do your research and find a college or university abroad that fit you and your student’s budget.
3. Studying abroad is a resume booster.
Parents let students join sororities and fraternities, play sports or be active in clubs and organizations, and intern to boost their resume and make connections, so why not let your student study abroad to do the same? Studying abroad is one of the greatest ways to load up on connections for both school and the post-grad area. Grad schools, future employers, and many other important people and places will value a study abroad experience and give it a thumbs up when they see it on a resume. It shows that your student can adapt to new challenges and situations well and that they are well rounded.
4. It changes the way students see the world, for the better.
Studying abroad is a very eye-opening experience that can shed light on a lot of poverty, lack of education, and other heartbreaking realities that there are in the world. But it can also make students take a step back and reevaluate how good we have it, regardless of what “first world problems” we may have. It also can motivate students to take action in a way that they can create change, or even at the small end of the spectrum, make changes in their daily lives and routines that help better themselves, others, the community, and the environment. Studying abroad teaches students to have a bigger “go get ‘em” attitude and to work hard to get what they want out of their education, jobs, and lives.
5. The friends they make will be forever friends.
Parents love when their student has a good group of friends, not only for the simple benefit of having fun and having people they can trust, but also because good friends have good influences on their student. So what better group of friends than one that spreads across the world to influence your student? Not only will your student make friends with other students all across the United States that are also studying abroad, but they will meet students from other countries that are studying in the same country, too. Becoming friends with people their own age from other countries immediately teaches them about different cultures, and also teaches them to share their own. The things that they will pick up, from habits to recipes to slang will stick with them a lot longer than the semester abroad lasts.
6. Study abroad students become overall better people.
When your student has an experience like studying abroad, they learn even more how to time manage, how to plan their finances, how to communicate with people from all over the world, how to travel and find their way around without technology, and how to embrace people, places, and food that are unfamiliar. If studying abroad wasn’t such a rewarding experience for both the student going abroad and that students’ parents, then there wouldn’t be nearly 300,000 students that do it every year.
7. Parents can visit!
If none of the other selling points have worked, how about the idea of visiting your student in a foreign country?? Taking a vacation and getting to see a country from the expert visitor, your very own student, is an experience you will never forget. I can’t say from a parent perspective, but being able to show my parents around and give them the best free tour in town was such an awesome thing for me to be able to do. Visiting your student mid-semester also will help keep them emotionally balanced, as being away from home for such an extended time, especially in a different country, can be much easier with familiar faces of parents.
With the right information (and a lot of it!), you should be able to ease parents into the idea of studying abroad. It isn’t an easy journey getting to be able to study abroad, but if you really earn it and get all the things you need, it will undoubtedly be one of the greatest times of your life. Do your research early, stay on top of things, be prepared for everything unexpected, and most of all, learn to trust yourself and your gut with everything. But what can be the biggest and most helpful step in studying abroad is having parents or guardians in your corner, so get to convincing!