Leaving home and becoming immersed in a foreign culture can be a profound and life-changing experience for a young person. This is why thousands of high school, college, and graduate students study abroad each year. If you are an adventurous spirit who wants to travel and see the world, it is likely something you have considered. While it's easy to fantasize about embarking on a grand adventure to a foreign land, there are several steps you need to take if you are serious about studying abroad, and one of the trickiest parts is how to convince your parents to let you go.
However, by understanding exactly what a study abroad program is and what it entails, and also understanding why your parents will have concerns, you can concoct a plan for how to convince your parents that studying abroad is right for you, and turn your dream into a reality.
What Are Study Abroad Programs?
Study abroad programs are opportunities for students to spend a portion of their high school, college, or graduate school education at a school in a foreign country. These programs are facilitated by a variety of organizations, such as School Year Abroad,
CIEE, and AFS. Individual programs can vary — some are language-immersive, while others may have classes taught in English.
Many programs place students with a host family while they are abroad. Before even trying to convince your parents to allow you to study abroad, research what programs are available and of interest to you. Guidance counselors can be a good resource for learning more about opportunities to study abroad. If you have a friend or family member who has studied abroad, you can also ask them about their experience and see what you need to do to prepare. For figuring out how to convince your parents, these sources of first-hand experience could be priceless.
Is Studying Abroad Right for Me?
Studying abroad is not for everyone. What do you hope to get out of an experience abroad? Are you okay with being away from your family and friends for an extended period? These are questions you should ask yourself before studying abroad. Having nervousness and doubt about studying abroad is perfectly natural, but it shouldn't discourage you from pursuing this experience. Also, researching study abroad options can be overwhelming, but it's a key step that you need to take, and once you have a program in mind, it's time to come up with a plan for how to convince your parents!
Why Might Your Parents Need Convincing?
Leaving home and studying abroad may be a new and different experience for you, but it presents a big change for your parents as well. Except for maybe summer camp and the occasional sleepover, you have probably spent your entire life living under your parent's roof, and leaving to study abroad completely upends that status quo. While it's great if your parents are supportive right away, that isn't always the case. This is why it is important to be prepared and know how to convince your parents.
Put Yourself In Their Shoes
In most cases, your parents' concerns about you studying abroad are well-intentioned, even if they may seem frustrating to you. Putting yourself in their shoes is a great way to approach their concerns. Don't let your plans to study abroad turn into an argument — you and your parents are on the same team, and if you understand why your parents need convincing in the first place, you have a much better chance of assuaging their fears and convincing them. With this mindset, let's look at the two most likely reasons the idea of you studying abroad may concern them.
Reason 1: Money
Money is one of the main concerns parents have about their children studying abroad, and rightly so. The cost of an international round-trip flight is not cheap, and there will be many other costs, like housing and food, that you will have to worry about once you arrive at your destination. Are you planning on asking your parents to assist you financially? If so, this alone will take some convincing. Understanding the outsize role of money in studying abroad is key to understanding how to convince your parents.
Reason 2: Safety
Studying abroad means living thousands of miles away from your home in an unfamiliar place and around unfamiliar people. If your parents are the type that worry about your safety when you're not back at the house by 11 PM, imagine how they feel about you leaving the country! Even at home, your parents care a lot about your safety --- and there is a lot more that can go wrong if you're living abroad instead of at home.
How to Convince Your Parents to Let You Study Abroad
So, you've done some research, and you've thought about things from your parents' point of view, but how do you go about convincing them? It might take more than a single conversation. Here are a few tips for ways you can talk to your parents about studying abroad and show to them you are ready for this grown-up experience. Incorporate these strategies into your own unique plan for how to convince your parents and you'll have a good chance of success!
Show You Can Be Responsible
Studying abroad requires a high degree of independence and responsibility. If you can show that you possess these qualities by getting good grades and staying out of trouble, your parents are more likely to believe you are ready to study abroad. It will be much easier to convince your parents if they can see you are doing well on your own — even small things like cleaning up your room and doing your laundry without being asked will subtly drive this point home.
Think About Money
One question that will surely come up when convincing your parents to let you study abroad is "how will you pay for this?" and one of the best things you can do is prepare a financial plan to address this question. Explore options like scholarships and fundraisers and incorporate them into your plan. Having a well-thought-out financial plan not only shows that you are serious about studying abroad but also that you are not just taking money for granted.
Focus On the Positive
When discussing studying abroad, focus on the positive aspects, like how your language skills will improve and how it will be a culturally enriching experience. Let them know you want to study abroad to learn and grow as a person and not just for partying in a new place. Many study abroad programs have testimonials from students who have returned, and you can show these to your parents as well — hearing positive things about studying abroad from a neutral third party may be just the thing they need to hear.
Talk About Communication
With Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, and countless other communication platforms, it's easier than ever communicate with people from other countries. However, your parents might be less focused on this than the fact you will be thousands of miles away. They see you every day, and it might be a long time until they see you in person again. Remind them you will still be able to communicate frequently and follow through on this once you're there!
Safety is likely a huge concern for your parents. Sensational stories about bad things befalling tourists and travelers do not help this situation and being able to explain the safety precautions your study abroad program of choice offers will be key in convincing your parents to let you go. When talking to your parents, let them know you are thinking about safety and that the program you are interested in has measures in place to keep you safe. While it's good to focus on the positive, talking about safety is unavoidable.
Hopefully, you now have an idea of how to convince your parents to let you study abroad after reading this article. Remember that it may not happen instantly and that you are much more likely to convince them if you can show you are independent and responsible in your everyday life and that you are mature enough to appreciate the unique experience that studying in a foreign country will offer. Studying abroad is a great opportunity, and the work it takes to convince your parents is small compared to the reward you will get out of such a unique experience.
Last, it's important to remember that you may not convince your parents to let you study abroad, no matter how hard you try, and if this happens, it's not the end of the world. You'll have many other opportunities to go abroad and remaining focused on this goal is key to making it happen, even if your parents aren't convinced by your efforts to study abroad while you're in school. So, prepare for the worst and hope for the best, and good luck on convincing your parents!