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MAR 11, 2020 • 7 min read
All of us, no matter how young or old we are, can remember a time when we felt nervous about approaching our parents with an idea we know they are not expecting.
Sometimes, even when the idea is a great one - such as your desire to study overseas - it can be hard to know where to start, what to say, how to justify what you’re thinking.
The first thing to remember is that your parents love you and want the best for you, so describing the path you want to take to further your education is not a negative, merely an adjustment to what may have been the pre-prescribed plan.
I know what you’re thinking - easier said than done, right? So for those of you who may be feeling a little anxious about telling your parents that you’d like to pursue an education overseas, here are a few tips as to how you might approach them and the common objections students encounter from their parents. Of course, every family has their own dynamic, and in the end how you broach the subject is completely up to you, but hopefully the following will help you plan your part of the conversation before you speak to your mum and your dad.
There is no point in beating around the bush. Talking around the subject may result in your parents thinking you’re not serious about wanting to study overseas. Respect the fact that they want the best for you and go on to explain why you think overseas study is the right path for you and if you can, link it to a bigger goal. Top universities are renowned for helping you access the world’s best opportunities so give your decision some context in terms of what you think it’ll help you achieve. One Crimson student told her parents she aims to work for the World Bank which looked a lot more realistic for her to be a student at Stanford rather than studying in Australia.
Many parents will baulk at the idea of overseas study simply because they know very little about what it involves. Investing time in researching the universities you are considering - their courses and extracurriculars, their location, reputation, notable professors and alumni - will not only consolidate your own desire to go to a US or UK university, but it will outline to your parents both how invested you are and WHY you are interested in this option. Good places to start are university websites where many will have dedicated parent pages or Crimson Education’s YouTube channel Crimson’s YouTube channel.
When mentioning overseas study, many parents (and others) will be quick to question you “but aren’t the local universities pretty good?” Ranking systems such as QS, Times Education or US News clearly outline the strong presence US and UK universities in the Top 30 of the world’s best universities. Simply put, if you want the best education the world has to offer, it is in the US or UK. Explain how these lists are compiled (reputation, student faculty ratio, research excellence, post-degree salaries etc) and why this quality of education means so much to you. You’ll also want to point out that the personal growth you’ll have as a result of living and studying overseas is completely different to that of local universities.
Universities like Harvard and Oxford take on an almost mythical status in the minds of many and well-meaning parents may doubt your ability to gain admission and advocate an easier path so you can “just focus on school”. If you’ve done your research, it’s likely you’ll have a fairly good understanding of whether you are meeting the academic benchmarks for your dream university and you’ll know that you have what it takes to compete against the world’s top students. Assure them you are realistic about your chances and that you’re willing to work towards this goal.
For many parents the prospect of having to negotiate another education system - on top of the one at home - is incredibly daunting. Remember, they know how busy you already are and the idea of introducing something else into your life may scare them a little, once again because they care about you. Reassure them that help is available, not just for you but for them as well! Perhaps introduce them to the Crimson Education website and show them how assistance in all areas of the application process means organisation, time efficiency and support along the way.
Confused on the application process? Send your parents Crimson's parent eBook, parts 1 and 2, providing them with all the necessary information needed to understand the wonderful opportunities a US or UK education can provide your family!
Your safety is incredibly important to your parents and it is understandable that their first reaction to your goal to study overseas may be that ‘distance = a lack of safety’. In fact, in many cases the contrary is true. Student safety and parent communication are hugely important for top US and UK universities. Start searching the universities that interest you with an eye for their on-campus police forces, safety procedures and parental inclusion - this will go a long way to reassuring your parents that you will be safe and they will still be a valued member of the university’s community.
Crimson Education often holds information talks and presentations that outline the US and UK application process and ‘why’ studying overseas is a terrific option for local students. Find out when the next presentation is scheduled and ask them to come with you. Remember, education is key and the more they know the more they may feel comfortable - and more likely - excited about your desire to study with the world’s best students.
Most parents love the reassurance of speaking with other parents who have gone through a similar experience. In many cases, your parents probably won’t know any families who have had a child study overseas. Once again, Crimson can put your parents in touch with other parents who had this very same discussion with their child a year or two ago. This form of reassurance is a wonderful way to help your parents understand all the ins and outs of you studying overseas.
Many people assume studying at a world top university is expensive, but the great majority of top universities (particularly in the US) make financial aid available for international students who may otherwise not have been able to study at their university. In most cases, this financial aid is not a ‘loan’ but a ‘gift’ and does not have to be repaid. You can research more about this by searching for ‘Net Price Calculators’ on Google. Some past Crimson students have also taken their parents through the average graduate salaries showing a long-term return on investment against studying at local universities.
Remember your parents are your greatest champions. Before approaching them think about all they have done for you - the sacrifices they have made, the quality of education they have provided you, the unconditional support they have given you in good times and in bad. Explain to them how lucky you feel, sit back and listen to the questions they have for you and answer each one knowing all they want for you is a future filled with happiness and opportunity.