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5 Questions Parents Should Ask About Study Abroad

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By CINDY LA ROSA

A study program abroad is far different from a family vacation when you were always on hand to take care of the details and ensure your child' s safety.

On the other hand, some students welcome the opportnity to be completely independent and their parents encourage it.

In assessing whether your child should study abroad, here are five questions you should ask:

1. Where is the destination and how long is the program?

By addressing location, you can begin to look at deeper issues like language and cultural difference, security issues, stability of the country, and how much it is likely to cost. If your child hasn't been away from home very often, you might consider a short winter- or sunmer- progrram. A child who goes to boarding school or to camp every summer might be able to handle a term or a year of study abroad.

2. How safe is the country where the student will study?

Determining the stability of the city and country where your child will study should be a top priority. Prgrams in less developed countries offer some amazing experiences but few guarantees of safety. The U.S. Department of State can be a great resource in your research.

3. Will your child's university or college give credit for the program you choose?

Many universities or colleges limit credit for study abroad or offer it only for their own partnership programs. Each school has its own set of criteria. These can also affect the cost of a program. Some programs will cost far more than a semester's tuition at the student's home school.

4.What goals does the student have for his time abroad?

Before a student travels abroad, he or she should have a list of goals he hopes to achieve during his stay. Learning the language, creating new adventures, and getting to know the locals are some common goals. This often will lead to reflection on some of the experiences likely to be encountered and highlight potential problems or anxieties. In any case, students still should be open to new and unexpected adventure.

5. Is the student willing to fully immerse himself in a new culture?

If the answer to this questioon is no, please don't consider a program abaroad. If your child isn't willing to become part of something new, he will have a very miserable time. Home sickness happens even under the best of conditions, so it is important that a student be willing to laccept new customs in every aspect of daily life.. Learning the language in advance is olne way to minimikze this discomfort.