What You Need to Know When Your Child Decides to Study in the US

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What You Need to Know When Your Child Decides to Study in the US

It is not uncommon for parents of international students to worry about their children when they study abroad. Though studying abroad comes with many positive benefits, it also comes with unique challenges. While these are likely challenges that your child can address themselves, it is understandable if you find yourself stressing about their safety and comfort while they are away from home. When you think about the financial aspect in combination with the other possible issues, you may find yourself wondering if allowing your student to study abroad is actually a good idea.     Do not deny your child the opportunity to study abroad simply because you have a few unaddressed concerns. To provide you with peace of mind, we have address some common concerns that parents and offer viable solutions to each.

  • Why Study Abroad ss So Important

    Thanks to advances in transportation and the wonders of technology, the world is connected in a way that it never could be before. As a result, learning new languages, understanding different cultures and developing transferable skills is not only “nice,” it’s necessary. According to the BBC, the number of study abroad students grows by nearly 12% each year. In 1975, only about 800,000 students took courses in countries other than their own. By 2009, that number had quadrupled to 3.7 million. There is a reason for the sharp increase: studying abroad is important. If you experience some anxiety about letting your child spread their wings and go abroad, just remember the benefits. Those include: Real-world Experience: The classroom is a great place for learning about a topic in-depth, but it does not provide for hands-on experience. Additionally, the classroom cannot provide students with the cultural awareness that employers look for. Those who study abroad are at a greater advantage when they enter the workforce as they possess cultural diversity, foreign language skills and possibly international job experience that others do not.Improved Language Proficiency: Most pathway programs require students to possess a certain level of understanding of a foreign language, and to have mastered said foreign language upon graduation from the program. As a result, most international students are proficient in not just the spoken language of their host countries, but also in written communications, mannerisms and facial expressions. Many pathway program participants also pick up local expressions that they would not have had access to in a classroom in their home country. Stronger Networks: Networking is key to success these days. Studying abroad is an enriching experience, one in which people from around the globe develop friendships with others from foreign places. Most of those friendships are lifelong. While some friendships will remain just that, some may turn into lucrative career opportunities thanks to the connections a foreign friend may have.Greater Independence: If your child can adapt to culture shock, learn to enjoy new foods, develop friendships with host nationals and learn the intricacies of their host country, then they have the confidence to do so much more. The very concerns you have for your child may be the ones that turn them into strong and capable adults.

  • Keeping in Touch with Your Teen

    One major concern that most parents have about their children studying abroad is their ability to keep in touch with their young adults while they are away. Despite advanced technology, most phone plans do not allow for international communications –at least, not for an affordable price – and though Skype and other online hangouts may work, they do not allow for the same in-person contact most parents crave with their children. Though you cannot overcome the physical barrier, you can keep in touch with your child and even talk to them on a daily basis with help from the following: International Cell Phone Plan: Though roaming is convenient, it is not a financially sound option. There are international cell phone plans that allow students to stay in touch with their families without breaking the bank. If you want to avoid exorbitant roaming fees while still being able to communicate with your student on a daily basis, purchase an international phone plan through your regular provider. Not only will your child get to keep their phone number, but also, you can avoid costly phone bills. Purchase an International SIM Card: Some students purchase SIM cards which they can swap in and out with their regular SIM cards to make calls while abroad. These cards are typically pay-as-you-go, so your child can use it on an as-needed basis. However, this is only possible with unlocked phones. Many phone companies lock their devices and do not allow SIM cards from providers other than their own.  Prepaid Phones: Your child can find a prepaid phone almost anywhere. This may be the most cost-effective way for your student to connect with you and other friends and family members. However, because the minutes on prepaid phones drain fast, they may not be the best option if you plan on conducting hour-long conversations. Skype: Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp and other communication apps allow individuals to communicate with one another in a “face-to-face” setting via Wi-Fi. If your student has Wi-Fi in their dorm or in other areas on campus, and if you have Wi-Fi at home, this may be the best and most affordable option for staying in touch with each other. It is important to keep in mind that your child will not have a ton of free time to talk. More than that, however, it is essential that you allow them a certain level of freedom while away. After all, establishing independence is a prime goal of study abroad programs. Find the balance between staying in touch and not coming off as overbearing by establishing a communication schedule with your child. Keep calls limited to once or twice a week, preferably on weekends when they do no have class. Also, keep your concerns to yourself. Do not pass your concerns off to your child, as they likely already have concerns of their own. Instead, contact your student’s host university and address your concerns with the international student services office if necessary.

  • Ensuring Your Child’s Security

    With everything going on around the world right now, it is understandable that you have concerns about your child's safety while abroad. However, you cannot let your fears and concerns keep your child from pursuing their goals and advancing their education. If your concerns continue to plague you, there are a few things you can teach your child to help them adequately address safety issues and give you peace of mind: Teach your child to be smart with money and valuables: Pickpocketing is a huge concern in most major cities. Teach your child to be extra cautious with their money and credit cards while abroad, especially while in crowded areas. If you want to be extra cautious, encourage your child to wear a money belt that tucks into the waistband of their pants.  Invest in proper healthcare for your child: From ensuring that your child has all of the necessary vaccines to verifying that their healthcare policy is valid overseas, there are a number of things you can do before your child even leaves to guarantee their health and safety. Research possible outbreaks in your child’s host school’s area and, at the very least, make sure they are vaccinated against those particular diseases. Learn about the host country: The best thing you can do for your peace of mind and your child’s safety is to learn all there is to know about the host country. Become familiar with the laws, customs, embassy locations and more. Additionally, research country-specific health information, travel advice, safety tips and current warnings. Create an emergency contact list: Finally, create an emergency contact list for both your child and yourself. Encourage your child to carry this list at all times, just in case. Keep your contact list on your refrigerator or somewhere that is easily accessible, just in case you need to report an emergency. If you are nervous about your child going abroad, you are not alone. However, know that your child is also not alone. Millions of students study abroad each year, and though incidences do happen, they are rare. With all the measures in place to protect international students and students in general, your child will likely enjoy greater security and comforts than the average citizen. Additionally, thanks to modern technology, it is easier than ever to stay in touch with your child no matter where in the world they are. Study abroad programs provide students with the opportunity to broaden their horizons, explore new cultures and develop skills they would not have the opportunity to develop in the classroom. Do not let your child miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime because of your insecurities. Take the above advice to heart and rest easy knowing that your child is in good hands. For more information on what you can do to help your student prepare for a semester or year away, reach out to SchoolApply today.

Levels Explained

  • Bachelor's

    A bachelor's degree (also called a first degree or undergraduate degree) is attained after receiving a post-secondary (high school) education and generally spans four years. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as bachelor or undergraduate students. A bachelor's degree is usually offered at an institution of higher education, such as a university.

  • Master's

    A master’s degree (or postgraduate or graduate education) involves learning and studying for academic or professional degrees. This degree is preceded by a bachelor’s degree and generally takes two years to complete. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as master's, or grad students.

  • Pathway

    Bachelor’s and master’s pathway programs are designed for international students who need additional English language and academic preparation before continuing to a degree program at a university. The purpose of these programs are to give students the confidence and skills needed to succeed in college.