Student Life

What to Consider When Your Student Wants to Study Abroad

By University Parent

The value of a college education extends far beyond mere book learning. One of the biggest benefits of college life is learning about and connecting with people from all walks of life. Students who attended high schools where everyone looked alike and dressed alike are suddenly confronted by a wide variety of cultures – and cultural norms – from around the world. This can be a big adjustment – but it is also a powerful learning opportunity.

Studying abroad can be an even bigger opportunity for growth – and a great way to enhance a college education. Many colleges offer programs for students to study abroad for a semester or more, and they can be excellent opportunities for any student. Students who study abroad can experience a number of important benefits – from learning a new language to gaining a deeper appreciation of the world and its many cultures.

Study Abroad Opportunities – Considerations for Parents

Studying abroad will be a big change, both in terms of culture and in terms of academic expectations. That is why it is important for parents to think about this decision carefully and make sure the student is prepared for the additional stresses of living and studying in an unfamiliar location.

Parents can contact the study abroad office at the college to discuss the specifics of each program, including what is expected of the student and what is needed before they can sign up. While studying abroad can be a great opportunity, it is not right for every student. It is important for parents to assess everything from the maturity level of the student to his or her academic performance when making this important decision.

When speaking with the study abroad office, it is important to ask a number of questions about the program. While many colleges offer students the chance to live and study in another country, the specifics of each program can vary widely. Parents need to have the answers to these questions when discussing these opportunities with their student.

  1. What kinds of health immunizations are required? Different countries have different requirements, and it is important for students to get any required and recommended shots well in advance of the journey.
  2. What travel documents are needed? Student will need to obtain a passport if they do not already have one. In addition, some countries will require a visa or special permit for students studying abroad. The study abroad office should be able to help the student obtain the necessary travel documentation.
  3. How will I communicate with my overseas student? Parents should discuss communications options, from cell phones to email and texting, before the trip.
  4. Who is responsible for the cost of travel and the expenses of living abroad? It is important for parents to determine who will be responsible for the cost of the plane tickets, travel documents and other travel expenses, as well as the ongoing costs of living abroad. Are these costs included in the standard tuition, or are there additional charges for the study abroad program? Study abroad programs are not necessarily more expensive than a semester on campus.  

Studying abroad can create a more accomplished, more experienced and more well-rounded student, but parents need to be prepared for the extra challenges of having their student living and studying in a foreign country. Asking these questions and talking with the student are the best ways to make the international study experience a great one.

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