Convincing Your Parents to Allow you to Study Abroad
If your parents are opposing the idea of you studying abroad, don’t lose hope! The good news is that there are ways for you to convince them to change their stance.
After graduating from high school, you will be on to the the next phase of your life, university... and back in that vulnerable position of starting anew and making decisions. Among the many decisions you will be faced with, one shared by you and your fellow graduates will be, deciding between studying in your home country or going abroad.
After weighing your options, if you decide that you want to study abroad and set your heart on this goal, even going to the extent of searching for universities, you may be in for a rude awakening when you encounter an unexpected roadblock, your parents!
Even though it will be you that will be embarking on this experience. The decision will not be entirely yours to make. Your parents will quite likely have a big say in this decision. And in some cases, they may deny you the chance to study abroad. Not out of spite however, but because they will worry about you moving to a new country, living on your own... and therefore believe it would be better for you to get an education close to home.
If you are in the position where they are opposing the idea of you going abroad, don’t lose hope. The good news is that there are ways for you to convince them to change their stance. After all, don’t forget you are going to need their help, so it would be best to try to convince them rather than upsetting them.
I was not allowed to study abroad, but my two older brothers studied in the US. The reason that I ‘wasn’t allowed’ was because I am the youngest in the family and my parents are overprotective of me – even more than my other siblings. To put it simply, they felt that I would not be able to take care of myself like my older brothers had. In hindsight, I feel, a tip that would’ve helped me was to show some enthusiasm. I gave up too quickly when they said no, and I didn’t give them a lot of details about what I wanted to study. So I think they got the sense that I just wanted to travel abroad to have fun.
Drawing from my personal experience as well as on what I have witnessed work for my brothers and friends, I will give you a few tips on how you can convince your parents to allow you to study abroad.
Seeing is Believing: This is a tip for those who are known in their family as being the lazy and irresponsible one (oops, I accidentally raised my hand). Before you try using any of the other tips, you should first try implementing this strategy. Banish your parents’ fears about you not being able to take care of yourself by helping out around the house, and actively showing your parents how you can be responsible and take care of yourself, so that when the time comes and you sit them down and surprise them with your decision to go live in a different country, all by yourself, they can’t use the argument that you are not mature enough to do that now.
Share Success Stories: Equip yourself with examples that you can share with your parents about how many people are going abroad to study. You can find many success stories of people moving to study abroad (I’m sure even in your own circle). Explain to you parents how an international education gave these people a better chance at finding a job and in turn making a better life for themselves.
Make an Effort to Chip In: Your parents are going to be important in supporting you emotionally and financially. But don’t take this for granted. Try to lessen their financial burden by planning to get a job while you are studying. Even if it only means something as small as getting a job on campus (which is what you will be limited to in some countries) and earning enough to support your everyday expenses.
Reassure Them About Your New Social Circle: Parents worry that you will mix with the wrong crowd who might change you for the worse. Find out how many students from your country are already studying in the place you want to go to, so that you can tell your parents that you will have the support of these people to help you acclimate.
Show Them What the Place has to Offer: Show your parent’s pictures of the place you want to go to. Illustrate to them how beautiful it is, how diverse the community is, and how nice a place it would be to live in. Everyone I know that studied abroad had their parents visit them at some point. So tell your parents that they can take a vacation to visit you and see the place for themselves.
Show Conviction and Enthusiasm: Show them how serious you are about studying abroad. Give them details of how this experience will change you for the better. Tell them about the degree you are thinking of getting, how great the university is, and how getting a degree from this university will help you get a great job.
Be Diplomatic: Do not upset them! Show them that the decision is in their hands. Tactfully counter their arguments by showing them that you understand their concerns and fears. ‘I see your point, but…’ By not upsetting them, you will make them stay calm and think about your argument better; and improve your chance of getting them to agree with you. Never give them the ultimatum that you will go to study abroad with or without them!
Play the Sympathy Card: I kept this tip till the end because this actually worked for me. Sometime after I started university in my own country, I was talking to my parents about my high school friends (whom they know) and telling them what they were studying in Canada and the United States, and how much they were enjoying living abroad. To my surprise, my mom said, ‘do you want to join them?’ I was surprised that she was actually serious; she felt bad that I wasn’t with my friends. But I had already settled into a university in my own country, so unfortunately for me, it was a little too late.
All the tips mentioned here can prove to be valuable in convincing your parents to allow you to study abroad. The two most important tips however are to be enthusiastic both about the degree you are pursuing and university you want to go to. And be diplomatic. You need your parents to fully support this decision.
Check out our blog for a lot more helpful and interesting information related to studying abroad.