Maybe you've heard about it at school, maybe one or more of your friends have done it, but however you found out about a study abroad program, and then decided it's what you want to do, there is one more hurdle to jump over. And it can be a big one: Your parents. To them, it means you're traveling across the globe alone to live with a family they've never met, no matter how good and responsible a student (and child) you are. For any parent, it's a terrifying proposition. Here are some ways to calm their fears, build your case and get to "yes."
Do your homework. Before you approach your parents, learn everything there is to know about your program, how long it has been around, how many students and host families it has served, and other facts. Know the process, and outline the resources you'll have in your host country should any need arise.
Investigate scholarships. Youth For Understanding offers 200 full and partial merit-based scholarships and needs-based financial aid to students each year. Find out the eligibility requirements and go into the discussion with your parents armed with those financial facts. Other options exist, too, like GoFundMe campaigns. You can turn fundraising for your study abroad into a powerful learning experience.
Outline your reasons for wanting to study abroad. Guaranteed, the first question they'll ask you is, "Why?" Have your reasons down cold. Is it about learning the language? Cultural immersion? A need to strike out on your own? All of the above? Make sure you can articulate, in clear parent-ish language, why you want to do it. Practice your "why" speech in front of a mirror just like you'd practice for speech class.
One word: Skype. Video chat platforms like Skype, FaceTime and Facebook Messenger can put you in touch with your parents in ways a weekly phone call can't. Let them know you'll report in on a regular basis. You can set a time for a weekly video call, Sunday nights, say, and also leave the door open for spur-of-the-moment calls as well.
It's resume gold. An international education will look very impressive on your resume when the time comes to get a job. It shows skills like independence and self-reliance, and also shows things like maturity and global awareness. Your resume will stand out from the pack, and if your parents are in the corporate world, that will really mean something to them.
Tell them the personal benefits for you. Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that won't come around when you are out of school. Yes, you can always travel, but you're not going to be able to live for a year with a host family while immersing yourself in another culture. It's something you can only get as a student, and it is life-changing. Living in another country will broaden your horizons and allow you see the world from a new perspective. The personal growth trajectory is through the roof. You won't come back the same kid as you were when you left. Also, you'll make friends, including your host family, that you'll keep all of your life.
Lastly, if they have any questions, have them contact us. We're here to help.