As parents of a prospective or participating study abroad student, the GW Office for Study Abroad welcomes you to the world of international education! We understand that parents want their students to get the most out of their higher education experience, to set them up for success and improve their job prospects and opportunities. Studying abroad is one of the best ways for your child to prepare themselves for the global marketplace and develop the skills necessary to succeed. It is also important to consider the financial implications of this experience. At GW, studying abroad costs roughly the same amount as a semester on-campus including students’ regular financial aid and scholarships. Gaining invaluable life skills and experiences does not have to be a financial burden, and our office is here to assist with that! Maybe you are new to study abroad, or maybe you are very familiar with the experience and have studied abroad yourself. Either way, we hope you can use this page as a resource to understand the value and challenges of study abroad and how the process works at GW!
The Value of Study Abroad
Top Five Benefits of Studying Abroad
Living or studying internationally has proven to lead to better job prospects and higher salaries. Students who study abroad gain a competitive edge in the global marketplace and boost their resume for any job field. Still today, only 10% of U.S. students nationwide study abroad. Therefore, this experience truly sets students apart. The Office for Study Abroad has programming available to returnee students to help with resume development and interview preparedness to transform their experience into career opportunities.
Improves Grade Point Average
Studies have shown that students who study abroad improve their GPAs at a higher rate than similar students who stay on-campus, even with external variables controlled. Some believe study abroad students find their academic niche while abroad and feel more invigorated academically upon their return.
Enhances Graduation and Retention Rates
There exists a proven correlation between study abroad participation and graduation and retention. It is also important to note that with proper planning, study abroad helps progress students towards degree completion and does not require any additional time to graduate.
Builds Career Skills
Similar to improved employability, study abroad also helps students develop skills necessary for career success in the 21st century. This includes but is not limited to communication, confidence, adaptability, intercultural competencies, foreign language, problem solving, and self-awareness. These are great skills that will not only help students get hired, but also help with employment retention and promotions.
Sparks Personal Growth
Studying abroad is a unique and transformative experience. Of course, it is necessary to highlight students’ improved job skills and concrete outcomes and avenues for success. However, it is impossible to overlook that students also experience immense personal growth as well. Students have had their eyes opened to new perspectives and often obtain a new outlook on the world around them and their place in it. They develop a global mindset that helps them tackle new challenges and increase their sense of personal responsibility.
The Challenge of Study Abroad
Study Abroad will not always be easy, but it will always be worth it.
Certain stages of the study abroad process can seem overwhelming for students, even as early as the application stage and picking a program. However, the entire experience, from initial interest to returning, is all part of the learning process. It is designed to help students exercise the independent problem-solving skills that they will need to succeed abroad and beyond. There will be times where students feel challenged during pre-departure, uncomfortable or homesick while abroad, or isolated and confused upon returning. It is important to know that this is normal and our office and you, as a parent, are here to help the students in a way that still allows them to tackle the situation independently and experience personal growth and develop new skills. Culture shock is an inevitable part of the study abroad experience.
How You Can Support Your Student
Act as a sounding board while your student works through their applications and program options. Ask them about their goals and let them talk through why they want to study abroad and what they want to get out of the experience in order to find the best program for them. Be available to talk through questions and provide them with insights and guidance, but let them seek out their own answers. Help them make the experience their own at an early stage, encourage them to seek advice from peers and the appropriate offices and staff at GW.
Help them get organized by understanding their pre-departure checklist and supporting them in completing next steps while still allowing them to take the lead. Reassure them if they are starting to get cold feet and remind them of why they wanted to participate in this experience and all the adventures they are going to have. Develop a plan with them to stay in touch.
Stay in touch with phone calls, but remember to continue to listen more than talk. It is important not to overwhelm them with stories from home that might make them homesick. Keep them updated, but let the conversation focus on them sharing their highlights and struggles. Continue to reassure and encourage them to get out of their comfort zone and meet new people and take on new experiences like language learning or volunteering. Try to let the check-ins become less frequent to allow them to really immerse themselves in their new environment and let them be the ones to reach out. Remind your student of the “study” in study abroad and make sure they remember the educational aspect of the experience and aren’t trying to turn the experience into a travel vacation.
Where to Go for Questions
|Common Question Topics||Who Can Help|
|Policies for Students Studying Abroad|
|Health & Safety||
|Your Student’s eBill for their semester abroad/cost of study abroad||Office for Study Abroad ([email protected])|
|Insurance charges on your Student’s eBill||Colonial Health Center ([email protected])|
|Study Abroad Scholarships on your Student’s eBill||Office for Study Abroad ([email protected])|
|Financial Aid||Office for Student Financial Assistance ([email protected])|
|Paying your Student’s eBill/Payment Plans and payment options||Student Accounts Office ([email protected])|
|Housing on your Student’s Abroad Program||
|Canceling GW Housing for Study Abroad or Applying for GW Housing for next semester||Campus Living and Residential Education ([email protected])|
|Transfer Credit from Study Abroad||Office for Study Abroad ([email protected])|
|Transfer Credit applied to Students’ DegreeMap/graduation progress||Academic Advising Office for your Student’s School|