You just like many of your classmates, housemates, friends, and maybe even siblings would like to do a high school study abroad program. Perhaps the fantasy has gotten to the point of near tangibility. You know where you want to go and what you want to study. But there is one more critical step required before you can start packing your bags. Mom and dad's blessing, approval, money, or other vital endorsement is not happening. Here are a few arguments you can put on index cards and keep up your sleeve for that ever-important meeting. Armed with these persuasive points, you're sure to secure some support, in whatever form it's needed.
1. It Will Get You Hired.
It will help you get a great job… some day. Your parents send you to college and offer financial support in the hopes that you will someday become employed, self sufficient, move your stuff out of their basement, and generally become a useful member of society. Study abroad looks incredible on your resume. Employers love international experiences, well rounded individuals, self-starters, and the globally minded. Today's job market is competitive and an international education will make your resume stand out amongst the rest.
2. Classes Will Offer Academic Support.
Study abroad often provides academic advantages to studying at the home university. A Marine Studies student in the Midwest may want a semester in Australia to complete their hands-on academics and where better to study English Literature than Britain? A semester of business studies in Shanghai might provide the critical coursework needed to land that international business job (see reason #1). Present this point to the parents as a demonstration of your dedication to your field of study and the rest of the argument should be a piece of cake.
3. It's a Life-Changing Event... in a Good Way.
Most study abroad alumni say that their study abroad experience was life-changing. Their horizons were broadened, they made friendships that will last a lifetime, and see the world from a different perspective. Parents love positive life altering experiences and there are few as dramatic as international education.
4. It's Affordable!
One of the biggest anxieties for the folks is the price tag. Look into financial aid, federal aid will generally go with you if your program is approved and accredited. Many students use loans or supplemental student loans. Check out GoAbroad.com's scholarship section. Or if you really want to blow their minds, you can create a FundMyTravel.com campaign and raise money yourself. They will admire the initiative. Most importantly however, create a budget and demonstrate how affordable study abroad can be in comparison to a similar term at home.
5. A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity.
Sure there will be plenty more chances to travel abroad but studying abroad is unique and this experience at this point in your life will not come again. Denying you this opportunity could be a heavy burden for them to carry. Don't underestimate the power of a little guilt trip.
6. Assure Them It's Safe.
Research your destination before they do. Copy the study abroad program's emergency contingency plan, make sure you know what vaccinations are needed, and the location of the US Consulate. Study abroad can be safe just make sure you have done your homework and you know WHY your program is safe.
7. It's Not Party Abroad.
Many parents have been impacted by horror stories like Amanda Knox and are afraid the study abroad experience is a never ending party. You need to explain to them why your program is different and why you are different. Most importantly why partying around the world is not your goal. You are not those people, and want to make the most of the experience.
8. Tell Them Your Reasons for Studying Abroad.
You should be studying abroad with goals like cultural immersion, studying, and language acquisition. Know why you are going for yourself and for your persuasive argument.
9. Provide an Informational Packet.
Your parent may remember when you forgot your homework everyday or the time you wrote your term paper an hour before it was due. Show them you are serious about study abroad by creating an info packet, a brochure, a powerpoint presentation, or some slick delivery of information. This will demonstrate to them that you are serious, prepared, and have thought this through.
10. Say, “I Love You.”
You should do this anyways, because if you have to talk to your parents about studying abroad you probably have parents who support your education, respect your decisions, are involved in your life, and love you back! So put yourself in their shoes for a second and imagine what it would feel like to send someone you love more than anything far, far away.
These ten steps may not close the deal but they will help you present a solid argument on why it's important to you and your life. These steps will also help you understand the goals and benefits of studying abroad. Good luck, fingers crossed, an oh yeah, you might want to get your haircut and clean your room before doing this.