Monday, July 12, 2010

Experiences of parents whose children have gone abroad for higher studies - In which way is your child different after going abroad?

Giving a child an education abroad is giving him the freedom to be by himself, to be independent, to understand the pangs of loneliness and value his home. It is also a time for him or her to prepare for the future – a future where as parents, we may not be there. Children, who go abroad, learn to appreciate two different cultures, countries, opportunities, friends, but no one can separate a child from his family.

The student who studies abroad, will return home, better educated and maybe equipped to live an independent life, but with the same affection for the parents. Thus, parents who send children abroad are teaching them to stand on their own feet, fight their own battles. By setting them free, parents are showing these students that they trust their children and they know that they can fight lives battles. This is in fact an invaluable lesson in keeping the family together in the right way.

The internet, webcam, online chat and emails have virtually shrunk the world and communication is almost instantaneous. When a student goes to college, even in the same country, he or she is away from home for several hours attending classes. This can be followed by some social, sports or extracurricular activities all of which when added means that as parents, you see your child in the mornings and again in the evenings or nights. During the time the student is at home, he or she will be busy with her own activities – talking to friends, studying or just relaxing. Hence it is not that, by sending your ward abroad you are going to be denied time with your child. Even if they are in the same country, staying with you, the quality time you get to spend with them becomes extremely limited as they grow up. However, if they are studying abroad, the closeness actually increases as long as you are supportive and non-judgmental. By discussing your child’s issues and giving some non-judgemental feedback the distance is shortened and your relationship strengthens.

At the end of the academic year, as parents you get to experience the joy of knowing that your ward has been successful in a program in a global environment and is ready to embark on a career which is the best suited option available.

How should one choose a country for higher education?

A person who suffers from asthma cannot live in Alaska and someone with acute skin allergies should think twice before choosing a country which has too much sunlight. Having said that, the choice is purely personal and is dependent on the individual’s choice, options and background.
We suggest that the choice should only be based on one factor, i.e., which is the course the student wants to study and in which university is this offered. If there are multiple universities offering the same course, the second line of choice should be based on optional courses, i.e, which university offers the optional courses that the student likes to study.

Once this decision, is made, there needs to be an alignment between the student’s academic background and the selection processes of the short listed universities. If this is on par, the student should evaluate the course material as well as the university’s facilities and campus to see how comfortable he or she will feel there.

Another way to choose could be based on the presence of friends or relatives as (a) these people
could do some preliminary research on the university and (b) help the student to settle down. Also these people will be a point of contact for the student. This can be a comfort factor for parents who are worried that their child abroad has no one to contact in case of an emergency.

Once the course and the universities are decided, the budget factor will now play a role to ensure that the student’s budget matches the universities fees. If this is also okayed, then the student can begin the actual process of seeking admission.

Thus, the parameter for choosing a university should be purely on the strength of the education system and the course offered.


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