Studying Abroad Tips: How to Prepare Your Child for a Semester Overseas?

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These important studying abroad tips cover what  you must know before sending your child away for a college semester. Not only will it help them prepare for study overseas, but it will also give you peace of mind. Find out the details below.

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CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn all about preparing to send your college student abroad, including:

Preparing to Send Your College Student Abroad: What You Should Know

Most parents dread the moment when it’s time to let their kids move on in life. While some students are able to stay at home during their post secondary schooling, many others end up leaving for the college experience.

It’s one thing to have your child be a few hours away, or even possibly attending school across the country. Though most college students attend schools within the country they currently reside in, others choose to study abroad–if only for a semester.

If your college student decides to travel abroad, you’ll want to know about unique factors that come along with preparing to send them on their way. This is especially important if you’ve been homeschooling your child.

As they spread their wings, they may or may not want you to get involved in their planning. After all, they are experiencing a new independence, and that is a beautiful thing!

However, you should know these things to help prepare your college student for study abroad. With any luck, they’ll be seeking your input.

Do Research With Them

The best way you can approach your child’s decision to study abroad is by doing research on your own and with them as much as they will allow. 

Though you may already have thoughts and worries regarding the idea, don’t make any concrete decisions without exploring the possibilities first. 

If your student is enrolled in college and is considering studying a semester abroad, find out what schools their semester abroad programs offer. Before your child applies to study abroad, thoroughly research the schools, countries, and cities on offer. 

In addition to the information your student’s college provides, you’ll also likely find online tours, college ambassadors, and past student’s reviews.

Explore all these resources so that you and your child can have a deeper understanding of what education abroad could potentially look like. 

When you’ve narrowed down the choices, you might want to help them through the application process–provided they let you. If not, suggest they contact their career counselor for a meeting.

 Often schools have career counselors but not enough students or parents access this valuable resource. They can be instrumental in offering guidance and helping you and your student make a final decision. They can also advise on how to best apply for educational opportunities abroad. 

Doing thorough research on college education abroad will make you and your child more comfortable about the entire situation.

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Why Study Abroad: Benefits 

Though having your child study far from home is a scary situation, they will gain significant benefits from the experience. In fact, studying abroad will have multiple positive outcomes. 

The first outcome is the opportunity to learn a new language. Though developing fluency in a new language takes time, your college student can still learn the basics. 

Along with expanding their communication abilities, your child will get to interact with a new cultural environment. Learning about a new culture and growing to appreciate it is a valuable asset. Being immersed in a new culture will increase their understanding of the world and provide greater opportunities for their personal growth.

Another benefit of your college student going abroad is the chance to meet new people. By attending a school abroad, your college student gets to make friendships with all types of individuals. Expanding their social circle on an international level is a wonderful outcome that your child will evolve from their educational experience. 

Explore All the Program Options

Either through the lead of a career counselor or member of the college, check out the programs available to your child. Depending on what career path he or she wants to follow, suitable programs will differ. 

If a school doesn’t offer the key features your child needs to be successful and satisfied, then move on to other options. Credits, duration, time of year, and cost all play a role in choosing the program that’s best for your college student. 

Get a list of programs through the college and the career counselor. Then, explore all options with your student and weigh out pros, cons with them. Be realistic about how much of this decision is yours, and how much is your child’s decision to make. Then, ensure that the program you decide on together is well rounded and as suitable as possible. 

Ways of Funding Study Abroad

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It should come as no surprise that funding your college student’s education abroad is one of the trickiest parts. Without extra support, many students end up in a sea of student loans. Affording any post secondary education is a struggle most people face. 

That said, millions of dollars of scholarship money are unclaimed yearly. So gently encourage your child to apply for scholarships. The more they apply by putting a solid effort into their entire application, the better chance they will have at earning them. 

If scholarships aren’t working out in your favor, check out other ways to help fund their college education abroad. Some colleges and universities give students with low income tuition reimbursements, meaning that part of the costs will be covered–even if it’s study abroad. You may even find specific education loans for study abroad.

If your student has a job, employment benefits may include tuition reimbursement. Or, your student may be able to work a side-job, like teaching English or nannying, while away. 

However, part of the attraction of studying abroad is immersion in a culture, so make sure your expectations are set properly. Working too many hours and attending classes may water down the whole experience.

Even with scholarships, working, and reimbursements, your college student may still need to take out a student loan whether at home or studying abroad. Research student loan types to see what works best, reviewing both private and federal student loans. Or, you may consider taking out a Parent PLUS Loan. 

If you have the out-of-pocket resources to fund a semester abroad, you might consider providing your student with a personal loan with an agreement that he or she will pay you back for the cost of the study abroad after graduation.

In addition to the cost of college studies and housing, you will also want to budget for:

  • Food and beverages
  • Living expenses, like personal care items
  • Travel expenses, like rail tickets and attraction fees
  • International phone plans
  • Souvenirs

If there is no efficient way to reduce the costs or find a means of affording your child’s education abroad, it may not be a possibility. In this case, help your child find a program closer to home that can still get them to their career path and desired end goal.

Safety Considerations You Should Know

Being far away from your child means you can’t be there to help them if they are in danger. To establish precautions, prepare safety measures before your child leaves for a new country. 

  • For instance, create or access their medical file and update any necessary information. 
  • Make copies of their medical file so that they can take one with them. 
  • Contact your doctor and let them become aware that your college student will be far away from home. 

Healthcare differs from country to country. This is why it is vital to get medical insurance for your child months in advance. This will cover any unplanned medical visits, prescriptions, and other medical attention during their education experience. 

Along with planning healthcare access, make regular communication between you and your child a priority. Determine how often you want to contact them and check up on how they are doing. It’s also a good idea to bring an old back-up phone that you can activate, should their primary phone get stolen.

Take photos of their passport, credit cards, and other ID so they have a copy in case they get lost or stolen, and make they know what to do if they do. 

Preventing accidents or worst case scenarios is challenging, but you can still establish certain levels of safety when your child is studying abroad.

Final Thoughts on Studying Abroad Tips to Help Your Child Prepare

It takes lots of work for you and your student when it comes to preparing to study abroad. And still, neither of you will be fully prepared for the experience. But it will be life-changing. The time spent on preparation is worth it and will help your college student have a positive experience.

Wondering what to do now that you’ll be empty-nesting? Here is a guide to finding purpose after your kids move out.

Writer Madeline Miller works at Do My Assignment. Madeline is passionate about educating her audience about rights and provides them with representation.