Sending your child to study abroad in a foreign country can be a scary thing for most parents. It’s understandable – you won’t be there to monitor them, console them, or even remind them to brush their teeth. But allowing your children to gain independence and confidence through study abroad is one of the best gifts you could bestow on them. Letting your teenage chicks fly the coop (remember, it’s only temporary!) will provide them with some awesome skills and college clout. There are lots of reasons why your child should study abroad in high school – here are three key reasons, from the perspective of a professional working in the study abroad field:
1) Becoming immersed in another language and culture will undoubtedly give your kid a better perspective on the world and life as he or she knows it. Gaining a more well-rounded and mature global perspective is one of the best byproducts of study abroad. Being part of another culture, eating different food, speaking a whole new language, witnessing how a whole new group of people live their lives: this is the kind of stuff that positive growth is made of. The earlier this happens in a child’s developmental period, the better. Get ready to watch your high school-aged child become a more conscious, tolerant citizen of the world when you send him or her abroad.
2) Study abroad in high school develops leadership skills and thus is an excellent resume booster and a great asset for college applications. Listing ‘Participated in Costa Rica study abroad and volunteer service trip’ is certainly cool. But listing ‘Gained valuable global leadership skills and attained Spanish language proficiency through Costa Rica study abroad and volunteer service trip’ — now, we’re talking! College admissions boards and future employers love to see that kind of experience on applications and resumes. As our society continues to globalize, it becomes more and more important that students are proficient in at least one foreign language and have an in-depth knowledge of cultures other than their own.
3) By studying abroad in high school, your child will get to enjoy a truly rich and comprehensive education. Studying and learning in a foreign country provides your student with a whole new kind of education that a normal classroom atmosphere isn’t able to provide. Your child won’t just be reading and regurgitating facts about the Roman Empire – they’ll be walking among the ruins and the Forum, and drinking in history where it actually happened. This helps students to gain a better sense of time, place, and history, and is ultimately a wonderfully rich educational source. If your child wants to learn a foreign language, there’s simply no other way to do so than by living in a place where that language is spoken. Moreover, learning another language will more than likely imbue a strong sense of confidence within your teenager, which is the kind of education that you simply can’t put a price on.
About the Author: Justine Harrington is a study abroad advisor with SPI Study Abroad, which provides high school language immersion and global leadership programs for college credit. She is a passionate advocate for study abroad and global learning. Justine is the main contributor to the SPI blog.