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Talking to your Parents about Study Abroad

An off-campus experience can be an incredible opportunity for you to learn, grow, and become more independent. However, before you do so, it’s important to talk to your family about your plans and get their support. Below, we have included some suggestions to help you prepare for the conversation.

First and foremost, prepare yourself to answer questions about your program. Look into how the credits are awarded, who you will live with, what support your program will provide you on-site, and how the costs will work. Showing your parents that you have done research on your own, and asked questions of others like your faculty advisor, Global Ambassadors, or our office staff, will help demonstrate that you are ready for this experience and the responsibility that comes with OCS.

Your parents are likely to be concerned about your safety and well-being. They should know that Denison carefully selects pre-approved programs that have a strong record for health and safety, and that have program staff on-site in case you ever need them. We require all students to attend a pre-departure orientation, and our programs provide additional support and orientation on-site. All Denison students studying off campus will have access to the AlertTraveler app on their phone, which will provide real-time health and safety updates and alerts. Health and safety also depends on the choices you make, so assure them that you are prepared and have researched any regular medicines or treatments you need, safety information in your host community, and anything else that helps you stay well. If your host country isn’t one your family is likely to know much about, consider how you will talk to them about it and what might reassure them.

Another major concern for families is the cost of OCS programs. Denison is committed to making off-campus study affordable for all of our students. Check with the Office of Financial Aid as your aid will transfer to programs during the fall or spring semester, meaning that these programs aren’t as expensive as you might expect. Many off-campus programs require students to manage a budget and to pay out-of-pocket for costs like the program deposit, excursions or personal travel,  and visa costs. Communicate early about these expenses and think about how you will access money while you are abroad. Consider sharing the link to our full financial policy for off-campus study with your family. 

Last, but not least, share with your parents how you expect to benefit from the experience: Study abroad programs can offer courses in new areas of interest, internships for credit, directed research, language acquisition, connections with host families abroad, and so much more! All of this can boost your resume and improve your chances of getting a great job or getting into the perfect graduate program, but you’ll need to get comfortable with talking about the details first, and your family is a great audience. Make a plan for how you will keep in touch while you are away and help them download any apps they need to facilitate communication.

Denison's Parent Guide to Off-Campus Study
How to Talk to your Parents about Study Abroad During COVID-19 (from USAC)
How to Convince your Parents to Let you Study Abroad (Go Overseas)
Family Guide to Study Abroad from IES Abroad (in Spanish)