To a lot of parents, a study abroad program often seems like a lot of money for little in the way of concrete returns. However, if there is an affordable opportunity, getting into a study abroad program can be a valuable way to help your children learn more skills and promote the kinds of awareness and abilities that will help them later in life. Regardless of what some people might think, allowing your children to explore the world beyond their home country can lead to some very positive results. Here are some good reasons to encourage your kids to take a trip beyond the border at some point in their academic lives.
Being out of the country leads to a fuller sense of personal
independence. This is important for young people; when they are forced
to make independent decisions and provide for their own immediate needs,
they develop lifelong skills they can use later in their careers.
2. Cultural Appreciation
It may sound like a kind of social cliché, but cultural appreciation
is more than just fawning over foreign food (which you can do while on
U.S. soil) or liking a kind of music. It means getting thoroughly
involved in a society that is not your own, to more fully understand the
nature of the global community. This kind of experience can serve your
kids well no matter where they end up later in their lives.
3. Language Skills
Being in a foreign country is one of the best ways to learn a foreign
language. Chances are, your child will be able to use these front
language skills later, whether it's in translations or interpreting or
some other more informal role. If nothing else, the foreign language
skills can help with future coursework or a generally well-rounded
Kids involved in study abroad programs often come into contact with
future friends and associates during their travels. Again, this can be
an informal way to broaden horizons, or, in some cases, the precedent
for future networking that can allow your kids to take advantage of
other international opportunities down the road.
5. The "Soft Value" of a Study Abroad Program
In the end, some parents encourage their kids to study abroad for the same reason that universities and colleges promote a liberal arts education: there is a good foundation for the view that the general "liberal arts" or "B.A." education prepares students for a range of careers including administration, sales, creative roles or entrepreneurship. The study abroad goal fits neatly into this equation for the reasons listed above, because people simply grow more when they are temporarily removed from their regular routine and exposed to a greater set of environments.
Think about all of the above when you're contemplating a study abroad opportunity for your children.