Study Abroad FAQs for Parents
Students can choose from a range of experiences including: academic study, international internships, student teaching abroad, research, and service-learning opportunities in numerous countries. We offer programs for all academic majors and for a variety of lengths, from short-term programs during winter or summer term to semester or academic year programs.To explore the wide variety of program options, visit our program catalog.
Study abroad does not have to be expensive. WKU offers programs for all budgets, including affordable short-term programs as well as semester programs which are comparable to the cost of attending WKU. Direct exchanges, for instance, allow students to pay the same in-state tuition they would normally pay at WKU. Our office is committed to helping students develop a financial plan which includes funding through scholarships, grants, and other opportunities that will help make these life-changing international experiences affordable. Remember that study abroad is first and foremost an investment in your student's academic and personal development that will likely result in long-lasting benefits.
A variety of scholarships are available to offset the cost of study abroad programs. A few of these include the World Topper Scholarship, the Student Government Association (SGA) Study Abroad Scholarship, the Honors Travel Abroad Grant (for honors students), and nationally competitive awards such as the Gilman Scholarship for students who receive a Federal Pell Grant. Additionally, many scholarships, grants, and other financial aid that students receive at WKU can be applied to study abroad programs.
Study abroad is not just for foreign language majors. Many study abroad programs offer courses that fulfill general education categories as well as major-specific courses taught in English. Internship experiences are appropriate for students of all majors and can allow students to engage in hands-on learning in their specific field of study. A Study Abroad Advisor can work with your student to find a program that fits his or her academic needs and goals.
Students can choose to go abroad at any point during their college career. Some students study abroad as early as winter or summer term of their freshman year; others wait until their senior year. Your student should talk with his or her Academic Advisor to determine the best time to fit in a study abroad experience. The best time to study abroad really depends upon the student's academic plan and the courses offered on the programs in which he/she is interested. Some students even study abroad multiple times!
Your student can earn credit toward his or her degree program while abroad, which means that studying abroad should not delay his/her anticipated graduate date. In fact, there is a positive correlation between study abroad and graduation rates.
Each program has a program page with information about your student's upcoming experience. Program pages can be found by clicking "Find My Program" on our homepage. Many program providers or exchange host institutions will also have a website which provides details about your student's location or program. If you cannot find the information you need, feel free to contact our office.
Exchange programs are typically semester or academic year long programs that allow WKU students to pay the same tuition to study abroad as they would in Kentucky. WKU has several exchange partner institutions around the world. Faculty-led programs are short-term opportunities that vary from year to year. WKU faculty will lead a group of students abroad while facilitating a course in a chosen discipline. Often times, students will choose a program in their major or minor in order to complete a degree requirement. Provider programs are experiences facilitated by an outside organization or company which organizes opportunities for students across the nation and world. Some examples include KIIS, CIEE, ISEP, and Semester at Sea. Students can search by country to find the best program, here.
Studying abroad can require a lot of preparation and paperwork prior to departure. Parents are a helpful resource to students as they organize, prepare, and embark on a journey that will undoubtedly be life-changing. Here are a few ways you can help:
- Assist in the process of acquiring a passport, visas, health insurance, immunizations, airfare, etc.
- Read through the requirements and details of the program with your student before they leave.
- Get to know the country or region with your student to become aware of cultural customs, current events, and expectations.
- Ask your student to share the pre-departure orientation materials with you.
- Pay attention to important due dates.
- Remind them to keep an open mind and encourage them to make the most of their experience.
Although each program and location is unique, in most cases communicating via email is the easiest, most inexpensive, and quickest method of contacting your student abroad. Software such as Skype also allows you to make calls at low rates or video-chat from computer to computer for free. Most students will receive their address and phone number (if applicable) prior to departure. Before your student leaves, make note of his/her contact information abroad, emergency contacts, and develop a communication protocol for getting in touch in case of an emergency.
Visiting your student while they are abroad can be a wonderful experience. If you are interested in visiting your student, you may want to arrange to do so during a time that will not interrupt or conflict with the student's coursework, program activities, and other various commitments. The program's designated break or after the program ends might be the best options so as to avoid interfering with the academic intensity and cultural immersion your student will likely be experiencing.
Students who study abroad can experience feelings of homesickness, isolation, and anxiety in their new environment as a result of culture shock. Parents can be a great support in these situations. Encourage your student to make friends with other students in the group, explore the city, do things he/she enjoys, and integrate into this new culture to more quickly adapt. Remind him/her that culture shock is temporary and will go away faster if they are pro-active and have a positive attitude. If you feel that your student could benefit from more support on-site, encourage him/her to reach out to the program coordinator.