"How to Convince Your Parents You Want to Study Abroad" by Brooke Bustos

Every year, millions of students leave the comfort and familiarity of their native country to study abroad. Getting to experience a new culture, different people, and a completely different way of living is an opportunity of a lifetime. Unfortunately, some parents won’t have as positive an outlook on your plans to live in another country as you do.

The concerns parents have over their children studying abroad are partially understandable. Being thousands of miles away in a land that you’re unfamiliar with and don’t have any relatives to watch over you is a lot to handle. However, you can overcome the objections and convince your parents that studying abroad is a great decision, and here’s how.

It will help your resume

Every parent wants their son or daughter to be able to establish a great career after college. And make no mistake about it; parents and non-parents alike are well aware of how competitive the job market is. Let your parents know that being able to say that you took a year to study abroad will help you stand out in the sea of resumes recruiters will be looking at.

Studying abroad will also give you the chance to network internationally which is becoming extremely important. Companies are doing more and more business in other countries and they need employees who are well versed and open to other cultures.

Parents often stress the notion of diversifying yourself by joining clubs and other extracurricular activities, and nothing says diverse like living in a completely different country. Plus, the better your resume is, the quicker you’ll be able to get a job and move out of their house!

Ease the financial worries

Studying abroad isn’t cheap. That’s one of the first objections you will likely hear when you pitch the idea. Luckily, you can overcome this by looking for exchange programs that offer some type of scholarship or even a stipend. Scholarships for exchange students are becoming increasingly popular and there’s no reason you shouldn’t take advantage of them. If you have financial aid, see if it can be applied to your semester(s) abroad.

Also, offer to help cover the costs by getting a job when you return home or even by saving up before you leave. Just like finances should never stop you from attending college, they also shouldn’t stop you from getting the experience of studying abroad.

Explain the social benefits

Your trip abroad is about more than just studying in another country. Your parents might not know about all of the positive impact studying abroad has on your personality and your social skills. A study conducted by Franz Neyer and Julia Zimmermann on the effects of studying abroad showed that students who studied abroad exhibited higher levels of extraversion, open-mindedness and conscientiousness than those who did not.

Living in another country forces you to reach out to people to ask for directions, get recommendations on places to eat, and to learn how to communicate with people who are completely different from you. This encourages you to come out of your shell and develop the social skills necessary to thrive in the “real world”.

Even better, explore options beyond those similar to your country of origin and consider places that speak a completely different language than yours. You’ll be surprised how many of these countries offer study abroad programs in English, no matter what their national language is. Take Israel for instance, Israel is one of the most educated countries in the world with schools ranked in the list of Top 100 best universities. In addition to taking courses in English, you can learn a new language!

Let them know you will be safe

Parents are naturally protective of their children. So when you let your mom and dad know that you’re going to a completely different country, the first thing that will pop up in their heads is the possibility of something dangerous happening.

There will always be some level or risk when traveling abroad, so inform your parents that you will be traveling in groups during your stay and won’t be roaming the streets alone. Make sure they have the phone numbers of any of the people you will be staying with. Also, stress the fact that your program will have residence directors and other chaperones in the event that an emergency occurs.

Studying abroad is a great opportunity, and with a little convincing, your parents will be on board. Prepare a great pitch mentioning the topics above and your parents will be much more open to the idea.

© 2013 by Brooke Bustos. All rights reserved. Do not reprint without permission.

Author Byline

Brooke Bustos is Rothberg International School's official blogger and biggest supporter. Brooke is an education enthusiast and a world traveler with more than 30 stamps on her passport. Follow her on Twitter. 

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