Before you talk to your parents
Talking to your parents about study abroad is not about “tricking” them into letting you travel. It’s about presenting in the right way why this experience matters to you and how you will benefit. Read the following suggestions to help you with the process.
First, come up with a list of the reasons you want to go abroad. Make sure ‘vacation’ IS NOT one of them. Study abroad, while fun, is very different from a travel tour or trip. It is challenging in many different ways, although the benefit will be immense.
Now, make a list of reasons why your parents might say no initially. Is it due to:
High School Requirements
You are their ‘baby’
It seems like a vacation
You haven’t thought this through
You will have to quit important extra-curricular activities
It’s not ‘safe’
There is a way to talk about each one of these issues, and show how you plan to address them.
To address cost:
-Do a price comparison online and show your parents how competitive our costs are. They are spending their money wisely here.
-Show them what is included in those costs (they are not just paying for your accommodations).
-Show them the money they will SAVE (yes, save!) by sending you abroad: They won’t pay car insurance, food, activity fees at school, trips to the movies, etc. The average cost spent by a middle-class family on a teenager is $13, 480 (Department of Agriculture). Your trip comes nowhere near that!
-This is an investment in your future, and a worthwhile one. You are more likely to get scholarships to college if you have something important and life-changing to write about in your essays, you will have better language skills which means you can score higher on exams, and you will be more likely to graduate high school and college on time if you are more independent, responsible, and willing to face a challenge (sound like study abroad?). You are also increasing your job skills by learning how to interact with other cultures, become bilingual (or trilingual), and gain leadership qualities. Mention that an experience abroad will differentiate you from other college applicants.
-Make sure your parents know you are not expected to pay your program fees all at once and if needed, a payment plan can be designed to spread out payments (to be paid in full before you travel).
-If this experience means so much to you, show them how you will also make the investment, by contributing part of the money (See fundraising ideas in this blog) or get a summer job and estimate how much you can contribute.
How to address safety:
Your parents WILL ask this question. They want you to be safe. So don’t be caught by surprise. Study up on all the ways iE-USA can ensure your safety and supervision. We provide medical and travel insurance, constant supervision in the host country, a 24-hour emergency phone number for both you abroad and your parents at home, and we do not send students to countries that are considered “politically unstable”. We also doublecheck that host families are screened and undergo an approval process. Research the country you want to go to and learn a little more about the government and history so you can inform your parents as well.
Brainstorm some other ways to address their concerns, and also find examples and stories from our returnees at the Student Experience tab. Make sure you find a good time to speak with your parents (when you can sit down together without interruptions), and have the iE-USA catalogue ready to show them, as well as the website. You can even get creative, make a powerpoint or Prezi, and they will see how much you have thought this through!
If they want to contact the Outbound Director with more questions, make sure you have the office number ready.