We see it all the time – the student wants to study abroad, the student knows the perfect location for them, and the student has everything planned out…except for one major detail – the parents are not all for it.
So how can you get your parents to be on your side with your decision? Here’s some tips:
-Talk to your parents!
This is the most important one. If your parents are not involved with your decision-making process, application, planning, etc. they will feel very distant and possibly against the idea of sending you abroad. They do not need to walk you through every step as you should be the one doing the work, but having them by your side is very important. Show them the choices of programs you have, explain the logistics, show them pricing when they ask, and tell them your application deadline. It’s best to walk them through your thoughts of choosing a certain program instead of just telling them which one you chose.
-Discuss your class choices
Make sure to explain that the classes you will take will go towards your degree. Show them your four-year plan and explain how your chosen courses taken abroad will fit in with your schedule. Show your excitement when discussing your course choices and possibly their descriptions or syllabi. Are field trips included? Will substantive research be done in a state-of-the-art building? Is there a class not offered at ISU that you could take abroad (i.e. Marine Biology)? Your parents will want to see small class sizes, cooperative learning in and outside the classroom, and interesting course options. Remember that you are applying for a STUDY abroad program, so make sure that discussing your courses are at the top of your list.
-Explain what you will learn (not just in your classes)
Not everything you will learn will be academically based. You will learn to be more independent, more confident, flexible, able to speak up…the list goes on and is different for everyone. We suggest doing some research to prove to your parents that studying abroad is such a challenging, yet rewarding, experience. You will be able to get out of your comfort zone and change your world perspective, but it is your job to find out how.
-Decide on a time to study abroad
Some parents may not want their student to be gone for too long – or maybe you are afraid that you will be homesick while away! It is perfectly normal to feel homesick while abroad, but it should not stop you from wanting to study abroad for a full semester (or academic year). Summer programs are perfect for those who do not want to be away for too long! Read this post about the details of a summer study abroad program. Remember that most summer programs are 4 weeks or less! Also keep in mind that fall semesters abroad are typically shorter than spring semesters. So a fall semester means a longer summer at home!
-Talk to a student who has been there
We can help get you connected with a student who has studied abroad through the same program as you. Ask this student how they influenced their parents to allow them to study abroad! Maybe your parents are nervous about one small detail (let’s say public transportation in a large city for example). This student will be able to give you tips on how to get around the city, how to avoid pickpockets, or the overall feel of being in the city. Safety is often the main concern of parents, but some students report than their host city felt safer than the being in the US! Hearing this from a former study abroad student can drastically change a parent’s thoughts.
-Be career oriented
Studying abroad goes hand-in-hand with your degree, your career path, and your future. It allows you to be a step above others who haven’t studied abroad or received a global education. Explain to your parents how your study abroad experience will pave a new path for your future – how will it benefit you? Will it give you more experience in the healthcare industry? Will you come home fluent in a different language? Will you be able to complete research with international professors? These are just a few of the things that our students have been able to accomplish while abroad. Read this article from NAFSA: Association of International Educators about the other benefits of an education abroad. No matter what major you are or what career you are desiring, study abroad can open more doors and positively impact your future.
-Put in the work
Don’t expect your parents to change their perspective within a day. Give them some time and ease them into your idea of going abroad. If your parents are allowing you to study abroad, but still have some concerns, bring them to our Pre-Departure Orientation which allows everyone to ask questions and learn more about preparing for an adventure of a lifetime.
Want some more advice? Check out this article published by one of our affiliates, ISEP!