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Parents: What You Need To Know About Studying Abroad

Now that your kid has told you they want to study abroad, you are faced with a whole slew of emotions that you aren't quite sure how to handle. You may not just be overwhelmed by emotions, there are a ton of questions going around in your head. You may be thinking about where your child is going to study, how difficult and drawn out the process will be, whether your child will be okay living abroad and by himself or herself, and how much will it all cost you? These are all reasonable questions that all parents of study abroad students face before sending these students off to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

Isn't this a bit... strange?

It may give you some comfort to know that your child is not alone. There are thousands of students that study abroad per year, with 3.6 million students studying overseas in 2010, an 80% increase since 2000. This has happened for two reasons: it is much more accessible for students to study overseas now than it ever was and governments from around the world recognize its importance in their student body.

Why would my child want to study abroad?

There are a lot of reasons why students may want to study abroad, and they are very varied. Some popular reasons include learning a second language or going to a world renown university for the student's chosen field of study. Additionally, students find themselves:

  • Being more independent and learning how to take care of themselves
  • Networking with people who may help them find jobs or embark on a career or higher education course later on
  • Able to work in a different culture and environment
  • A widening of horizons and global awareness
  • Making friends from around the world for life

These are just some of the most common benefits of studying abroad. Study abroad is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Everyone takes something a little bit different out of it, and your child will be no exception to this. It is not just a matter of how it would benefit your child, it is also important to think of whether your child is ready. Discuss it with her to see how she feels about studying abroad and what she wants to get out of it. For instance, it may be that she wants to study for the entire duration of her degree abroad but hasn't yet lived on her own in a different country. In this case, it may ideal for everyone that she studies abroad for six months or for a shorter period of time.

How can I tell if studying abroad is right for my child?

The truth is that studying abroad is not right for every student. There are a few ways to know if your child is suited to study abroad. After all, the experience is not for everyone, and to make it as beneficial as possible, it is important to ensure that the student is happy and comfortable with his decision. Ask your child the following questions to make sure that he is prepared before studying abroad:

  • Do you like traveling abroad? Have you done it before?
  • Have you been away from home before?
  • Are you comfortable looking after yourself?
  • Do you deal well with change?

The answer to these questions will give you a great place to start, since only students that really want to study abroad should do so. After all, studying overseas can often be an expensive investment and needs to be thought through completely and carefully.

Before Your Child Studies Abroad

Making the decision to study abroad is a big and important step, but not the last one by any means. There are many other decisions to make and a lot of planning to do. It usually takes up to eighteen months to prepare for studying abroad, so make sure that you start the process with plenty of time. Do as much research as possible and remember to take your time. Ultimately, it should be up to your child to decide whether she wants to study abroad, but you are needed to be part of this dream and help make it a reality.

Make sure to check out the parents section of our site and the more complete parental guide which you can download here to make the process as smooth as possible for both of you. And remember, even though it can be a little bit scary, it should also be fun!