6 Questions to Ask About Studying Abroad

College students and parents have considerations for a semester away.

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Instant messaging and video chats can help parents and students stay connected during study abroad trips.

The opportunity to study abroad may come up on the college tours a prospective student takes. The appeal is obvious; it's a chance to experience even more freedom than the average college student and to see a bit of the world at the same time.

[See the colleges where the most students study abroad.]

But is studying abroad a good fit for you or your child? These questions will help you find out.

JULIE:

Studying abroad while in college has become a very popular and common thing to do. Sometimes, it seems it’s almost become a rite of passage. As Lindsey considers whether or not to study abroad, here are some of the things we’re discussing as a family. 

1. What are the costs? This will vary greatly from school to school and even from program to program within the school. Some colleges have overseas campuses where students live and study, while others have arrangements that are more individualized. Lindsey is gathering as much information as she can in order to weigh her options.

[Get three savings tips for parents with students abroad.]

2. What will be gained by going? Other than a (hopefully) great life experience, is there something concrete to be gained, such as an internship, a paid job, or credit hours earned?

3. What are the safety issues? It can be scary to let your child travel abroad alone, probably for the first time.  And some locations are more anxiety-provoking than others.

What has your student found in his or her research about the safety of the country, the city, and the neighborhoods where the living, studying, and working will be taking place? What are the living arrangements as far as roommates are concerned? If the answers don’t satisfy you as a parent, do some research of your own.

LINDSEY:

When giving campus tours for the University of Kansas, I always touch on our study abroad program and some of the great opportunities it offers. Friends of mine have been to Costa Rica, Spain, England, and Argentina, but there are hundreds of other programs to choose from as well.

[Find out what students should know about studying abroad.]

I find that most students have an interest in studying abroad at some point in their college careers but don’t know how to go about doing so. Here are some questions students should ask their study abroad representatives before booking a flight.

1. How long should I be abroad? Though there is no right answer to that question, speaking with someone from your school’s study abroad office can help you work out whether you want to stay for a week, a month, or an entire semester.

2. Which credits should I use studying abroad to satisfy? Some study abroad opportunities will simply fulfill elective requirements. Others satisfy western civilization, history, political science, or even requirements within your major.

Depending on how far along you are in your college career, you may want to examine which of these types of programs would be best for you.

3. What requirements do I need to fulfill? Some study abroad programs require that you finish certain requirements before you participate, which may be foreign language-related. Make sure you’re aware of exactly what you need to accomplish before studying abroad to ensure your study abroad plans become a reality.