Parent Resources

A parent’s role in study abroad is an important one. You are in a unique position to empower and encourage your student to embark on what may be one of the most impactful experiences of their college years. Benefits abound! Students who have studied abroad report increased self-confidence and independence and gain respect and empathy for cultural difference. They develop the ability to communicate cross-culturally, think critically, and negotiate unfamiliar environments—all skills that employers seek!

Planning and implementation of a study abroad experience can take up to a year and requires research, goal-setting, and attention to detail. Let your student know that you are there for support, but encourage them to take the lead. Owning the process from start to finish is an accomplishment. Seeing a large project, such as study abroad, through to completion is yet another marketable skill that can be promoted to future employers.

Understand that, at times, study abroad will be challenging—but to an extent the most growth can happen when students test their comfort zones. Most students experience some form of culture shock once arriving in their host country. Initial feelings of excitement can be tempered by home-sickness, stress, and frustration as the “newness” of the experience wears off. Become familiar with the stages of culture shock so you can help your student work through the hard times and re-focus on taking advantage of the opportunities at hand.

In addition to reading the student-focused pages on the Education Abroad website, we encourage you to download a free copy of A Parent Guide to Study Abroad, published by the Institute for International Education (IIE) and the American Institute of Foreign Studies (AIFS). Written by international education experts, this book can provide additional suggestions and guidance for supporting your child before, during, and after their study abroad experience.

This resource is made available through Miami's membership in the IIE Generation Study Abroad initiative.

Webinar: Education Abroad 101: Information Session for Families, Sept. 19, 2022

Study Abroad Advising: What to Expect

Study abroad advising meetings focus on student goals for their study abroad experience, and discuss the steps and considerations to ensure the program they select is the best one for them. We take a student-centered approach, but do ask that students take initiative with the program research and ownership of the program application process. Admittedly, there will be a lot of work for the student to do—but it is worth it!

We encourage students to consider

  1. Academic goals. What academic requirements do you want to fulfill while abroad? Some programs may be a better fit for specific majors or minors. Miami Plan credit, including the Global Perspectives and Intercultural requirements, capstones and thematic sequences may also be earned abroad.
  2. Career goals. A purposeful study abroad program can help students to develop professionally by providing exposure or experience in a specific field. Additionally, many soft skills employers value, such as intercultural communication skills, can be gained abroad.
  3. Personal goals, interests and needs. Do you want to be with a group of Miami students, or not? Do you want to take courses with local students, or live with a host family? Are you interested in getting to know a single location well, or visiting multiple locations for a short period of time?
  4. Financial needs. Programs can vary in cost based on location, inclusion, and the organization offering the program. Federal financial aid can apply to all credit-bearing study abroad programs, but Miami scholarships only apply in some circumstances. It is also easiest to apply aid for semester programs; off terms like summer and winter offer fewer aid opportunities.
  5. Challenge yourself! The most growth can happen when comfort zones are challenged.

FERPA in the Study Abroad Context

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records, both financial and academic. Study Abroad/Away falls under FERPA protection. Global Initiatives, MUDEC, and the Education Abroad office cannot share student-specific study abroad information with parents, guardians or others without the student’s permission as expressed by the signed FERPA release. This can include information about a student's participation in a study abroad program, the location/itinerary for the program, payment information, remaining application requirements, and academic (including credit and grades).

Complete FERPA Release

We encourage all students to have a FERPA release on file for all parents/guardians before they depart for their program.

Supporting Your Students in Study Abroad

Study Abroad is a big step for students and parents. Here are some strategies you can use to support your student in their study abroad experience.

  1. Research programs and ask that your student keep you updated with program details as they come.
  2. Read as much as you can about the location your student is going to. It will help provide some context for you as to what your student will be experiencing. The more students and parents know about their host location, the more empowered and comfortable they feel upon arrival.
  3. While abroad, be sure to lend a listening ear as your student begins to process their new surroundings and experiences. Almost all students will experience culture shock to an extent as the excitement wears off and homesickness or frustration sets in. Be prepared to listen and offer encouragement, but also be on alert for signs that your student is struggling with more than just culture shock.
  4. Understand that communication may be less frequent than when your student is in Ohio. This may be due to technology or your student may want to disconnect from home to better immerse themselves in the experience. Also note that often students will call home only when their morale is low and they need encouragement or to vent. They may call less frequently to tell you the good experiences, but they are most likely have those too.
  5. Be mindful of holidays or special occasions that your student may miss while abroad. Often, Thanksgiving or a birthday is the most difficult time to be abroad. Find ways to make your student feel included if you can.
  6. Encourage your student to be independent. While it feels overwhelming at first, students love coming home from their study abroad experience feeling empowered by the “I just have to figure it out,” attitude that they learn from studying abroad. This part of what makes the experience so transformative.