We live in a global village, where other countries often feel as if they are a short bus ride away. For students, this is a great thing. Thirty years ago, studying abroad was not an option for many kids, but today, there are plenty of options for kids from every background, so if your teenager has a desire to study abroad, the world is his oyster.
However, it is not that easy and not all teenagers are ready for such an experience. To help you counsel your teen, here are some discussion points and a few tips to help you get the ball rolling.
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How Mature is Your Teenager?
Some teenagers are more mature than others are. Studying abroad requires a certain level of maturity. Students will have a tremendous amount of support when they move to a foreign university or college, but they will still have to be independent. If your teen can’t even make a sandwich without your assistance, it doesn’t bode well for him. That said, studying abroad is the making of many kids and although living and studying in a foreign country is a steep learning curve, it gives them the independence they need to become adults.
Talk to Your Teen
Ultimately, whether (or not) a teenager should study abroad is their decision. As a parent, it is understandable that you want to push your teen forward into their adult life, but don’t make the mistake of encouraging a teenager to study abroad if he or she is not mature enough to cope with the experience. It is also unwise to try to talk a teenager out of going, just because you can’t bear to cut the umbilical cord. Listen to what your teenager has to say and let them come to their own decision.
It is useful to look ahead and encourage your teen to think about what their future career aspirations are. For example, if they want to study business, look for programs that offer kids the opportunity to study in a vibrant centre for business, for example London or Hong Kong. Alternatively, if your teenager is more interested in art, look for study programs in Paris or Florence.
Finding the Right Study Program
There are many study abroad options, including the Erasmus scheme and Athletes USA programs. Think about where your teenager’s aspirations lie and see what programs are out there. Some will be more suitable than others are, so once you have a short list of schemes, chat to the organizers and find out more.
Whatever study program your teenager decides to apply for, it is essential that you both make sufficient preparations for the period they are planning to spend abroad. They will need a support system in place, both via the college and from their family. Look at transport and research the cost of travelling to see them while they study abroad. This will give them the extra confidence they need to spread their wings and fly.