Though you might not have any doubts about the decision to study abroad, there's a chance your parents aren't quite as easily persuaded. Whether they're concerned about your safety or just reluctant to spend the extra money, many parents need a bit of convincing that studying abroad is the right choice for their son or daughter. Here are a few ways to help you ease your parents' worries and assure them of all the glorious benefits of studying abroad.
1. Save money
Even if your parents are the ones to foot the bill, it’s important to show them that 1. you are responsible enough to hold down a job and save some money, and 2. that you will be able to financially contribute. Helping to mitigate the costs of studying abroad can ease a lot of the stress and anxiety that they are probably experiencing.
On the other hand, if your parents are absolutely dead set against you studying abroad, then paying for the program yourself is really the only way to still go without their consent. Look into different study abroad grants and loans, get a second job over the summer holidays to maximize your savings, and carefully plan out a financial budget for when you go abroad. Obviously it's still not ideal to study abroad without your parents' blessing. However, if you're able to take the financial weight off their shoulders, then you should have an easier time persuading them of the many merits of studying abroad with some of the other tips included on this list.
Again, this is an easy way to prove to your parents that you're responsible and trustworthy. Work hard on getting stellar grades so that they will be less likely to worry about you losing focus during your time abroad.
3. Give them a specific reason for wanting to study abroad
This is a big one. Give your parents a very tangible and specific reason for wanting to study abroad. Whether it be because you want to learn a language, study renaissance art in Italy,gain international experience as a Global Studies major, or any number of other reasons, be sure you're able to clearly explain to them why it is so important for you to study abroad.
4. Organize dinner and a movie
People worry about things they don't understand and parents are no different. If they don't know anything about the country you're hoping to study in, then chances are they'll be feeling pretty uneasy about letting you move there on your own. Help ease their concerns by cooking them a themed dinner and then showing a film set in that country.
5. Show them the stats
Are your parents convinced that Europe is 1000% more dangerous than anywhere in the US? Prove them otherwise! Check for any travel warnings on the State Department's website and look up statistics comparing rates of crime. If the crime rates actually are higher in the place where you want to study abroad, then perhaps have a conversation with your parents about what that means and whether a different city would be a better fit. Likewise, if your parents are unpersuaded of the academic merits of studying abroad, give them the stats on how it can help you get hired in the future. Whatever case you're trying to make, utilize numbers to help argue your point and once again show them how serious you are about making this all happen.
6. Let them be involved
Even if you're parents really want you to study abroad, they'll probably be pretty sad to see you go. Make the experience a bit easier by letting them be involved in the lead up to your departure. Ask your mom if she would like to help you pick out the perfect travel backpack or invite your dad to go see a film about the city where you'll be living. If your parents are thinking of coming to visit you while abroad, help them start planning their trip as a reminder of how soon they will see you again. Each of these little things will hopefully make them feel excited about your big adventure, rather than overwhelmed and sad.
7. Take advantage of resources from your university
At the end of the day, study abroad programs can only operate if they're able to make a great sales pitch and persuade both students and parents of the benefits of studying abroad. Most will host a parents' night so that mom and dad can ask all their burning questions and learn more about the program. Additionally, all programs will have brochures and other promotional material available, which will highlight the many merits of studying with them. Take advantage of these opportunities as they can really help your case!
Even just 10 years ago, it was much more difficult to keep in touch on a regular basis when living abroad. However, with smart phones, social media, and loads of useful communication apps, it's almost too easy to stay in contact with friends and family who are far away.
9. Propose a shorter study abroad program
If you’re not making much progress with convincing them to let you study abroad for a semester, then try proposing a short term study abroad program instead. Many colleges offer great summer programs that are 3-6 weeks and therefore much less expensive and overwhelming for parents who are worried about sending their child abroad for several months. Some schools even offer "J-Term” programs, which allow you to study abroad for just the month of January.
If your parents are really hung up on the safety risks of studying abroad, then suggest coming to certain predetermined agreements to help ease their worries. Perhaps promise to always forward your parents your flight details and hostel reservations when going away for a weekend. Make sure they have your university's address and a contact phone number in case of emergencies. Check in with them regularly so they don't need to worry about why they haven't heard from you for several days. Whatever agreement you come to, be sure to honor it while away. It might be a bit frustrating at times, but remember that they're only concerned because they love and miss you!
Do you have any tips for people struggling to persuade their parents to allow them to study abroad? How did you manage to convince your folks?