Information for Parents
Welcome! We are so glad that your student has decided to embark on this academic adventure.
Studies show that studying abroad helps students gain confidence and maturity as well as influence their subsequent educational experiences. Whether you are a seasoned international traveler, have never flown or fall somewhere in between, you are probably feeling both excited and anxious for your study abroad student. From the start, you and your student need to understand that studying abroad requires a lot of paperwork and follow up at different levels: SUNY, the host institution, and maybe the host country’s government. Studying abroad is not a trip for which you “sign up and go.” It is a learning experience that should help your son or daughter better understand and appreciate other cultures while gaining the intercultural skills that will help them thrive in their personal and professional life. Having this exposure will give your student important hands-on experience that is necessary in a world that is becoming more globalized each day. This experience will also help them with their personal development by becoming more independent, adaptable and better problem solvers. We find that many study abroad parents end up gaining a new global perspective too without ever leaving home!
Preparation Is Key: Cost, Health and Safety, Program Logistics
You can avoid a lot of confusion and anxiety, and will feel better about your student leaving the U.S., if you take the time to research program logistics, costs, and who is responsible for what ahead of time and not at the last minute. Every program is different, and every country is different. You should not assume that things there will be like they are here, or that the role of the Global Education Office is to make the host institution run and operate the same services as in the United States. To help with your planning, we recommend considering the following factors:
- Cost: Each program will vary in cost. All of our program pages have a budget estimate located at the top of the page. The budget sheet is broken up into two sections, costs your student will be billed for by SUNY Plattsburgh and non-billable costs such as the roundtrip flight, passport, etc. We also recommend that you take a look at the scholarships and financial aid page to read about the available scholarships that your son or daughter can apply for, as well as how financial aid can be applied to a study abroad program.
- Health and Safety: Your son or daughter’s health and safety is of utmost importance to our office. Every student is enrolled in GeoBlue Health Insurance. You can read more about the plan and what it covers. Under our Health and Safety tab on the homepage, you can also read about the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, what to do when a passport is lost or stolen, and how to handle assault and sexual harassment while abroad.
- Program Logistics: Every program will vary in regards to housing options, on-site support services, academic course offerings, etc. It is important that you read the details laid out on each program page to see what will be available for your student when they go abroad.
- Academic Credit: While studying abroad is a cultural experience, it is foremost an academic one. Your student will receive academic credit for the classes they take abroad and that credit transfer back to Plattsburgh as long as the student fills out the necessary forms. Studying abroad provides a wonderful opportunity for your son or daughter to take classes that are not offered Plattsburgh, and many of these courses discuss the culture of the host country and encourage cultural understanding.
Help Prepare, But Don’t Take Over
You should also be careful not “to take over” your student’s program. Learning on study abroad programs results from the student initiating the process, following through with instructions, arriving in the host country, and returning home with stories to tell. While as a mature adult, you probably are more capable of understanding the information and consequences of not meeting deadlines than a young adult, you should push your student if necessary. However, you also want to make sure that your student is being responsible for her or his decision to study abroad. If your student is half-heartedly approaching the program and waiting for someone else to take care of the necessary pre-departure steps, then maybe your student is not ready to travel alone to a foreign country. There are students who do go abroad personally unprepared for the challenges they will face. They arrive looking for the fun places their friends who went there last semester talked about, but are confronted by a more normal life consumed mostly by schoolwork and then become homesick.
Communicating Student Information with Parents
When a student applies to a program, all correspondence is sent directly to the student. U.S. federal law mandates a release of information to be signed in order for us to discuss information students submit to us to third parties, including parents. We do have a standard form that we send all students asking them for the contact information for anyone to whom we can release information. If you want us to be able to discuss your student’s file with you, please make sure that your student signs this form and we will be glad to forward you copies of acceptance letters, information and instructions. Not every student has parents who are involved in their lives financially and emotionally. We understand the necessity for you to have access to information if you are the one paying, but we also have to take certain measures according to the law for the security of peoples’ privacy.
We also encourage you to take a look at A Parent Guide to Study Abroad, published by IIE (Institute of International Education) and AIFS (American Institute for Foreign Study). This book discusses how your can help prepare and support your student for a successful and impactful time abroad.
Travel.state.gov is also a valuable resource to help you learn about your student’s destination and general information in regards to study abroad.