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Information for Parents

Information for Parents
Studying abroad allows students to develop skills and competencies that are increasingly valuable in today's globalized economy, including:
  • Critical thinking
  • Resilience
  • Problem solving
  • Initiative
  • Adaptability
  • Goal setting and attainment
  • Teamwork
  • Time management
  • Intercultural communication
  • Foreign language
  • Organization/planning
  • And more!
By studying abroad, students have a unique opportunity to develop these skills and competencies in a global setting, helping them stand out in an increasingly competitive job market.  In addition to these career-related benefits, studying abroad has also been shown to contribute to their personal development.  Students returning from abroad often cite more independence and confidence, a newly discovered interest in global affairs, personal growth and maturity, and the ability to analyze different perspectives and viewpoints (Source: Institute of International Education).

Although the benefits of study abroad are well-documented, these opportunities have only been widely offered on university campuses for the past 20-30 years.  New technologies, more connections between universities, governmental support for international education, and a growing travel industry all contributed to a recent growth in study abroad.  Since this is a relatively new part of university life, it's likely that you have questions as your Comet prepares to go abroad.  The FAQ section below is designed to answer some of these questions:
 
Although studying abroad can take many forms, it is essentially a global experience that enhances a student's academic studies at UT Dallas.  Programs can vary in terms of semester (fall, spring, or summer), length of time spent abroad (ranging from one week to an entire academic year), type of experience (classroom learning, internship, lab research, community service, independent study), and location.  UT Dallas offers a wide range of programs to meet the different interests, needs, and goals of its students, including:
  • EXCHANGE PROGRAMS - Students spend a semester at a partner institution abroad while paying UT Dallas tuition
  • FACULTY-LED PROGRAMS - A UT Dallas faculty member teaches a course (or courses) abroad to an entire group of UT Dallas students, typically over the summer
  • AFFILIATED PARTNER PROGRAMS - Students spend a semester or summer studying abroad while paying tuition to a partner university or affiliated provider
  • INTERNATIONAL INTERNSHIPS - Students gain professional experience in a global setting while earning UT Dallas credit or transcript notation
  • INDEPENDENT STUDY - Students explore an academic topic outside the traditional classroom setting while completing coursework under a UT Dallas professor's supervision
As you begin exploring the idea of study abroad, here are a few resources and tools that you and your Comet can use to learn more:
Cost is a major factor when deciding to study abroad and will vary by program.  We are working to create budget estimates for each program on the Comets Abroad portal, which will give you and your Comet an idea of the estimated total cost for participating in that program.  Keep in mind that actual costs may be higher or lower depending on your Comet's lifestyle and personal spending habits.  Location is also a key factor in determining the total program cost.  Some of the most popular study abroad destinations, including Paris, London, Dublin, Sydney, and Tokyo, are also some of the most expensive world cities to live in.  On the other hand, certain programs may be even more affordable than spending the semester in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, based on cost of attendance data.

Although there are some additional costs, like airfare, passport/visa fees, and other travel-related expenses, studying abroad does not have to be prohibitively expensive.  Most financial aid and scholarships are applicable, but students should work with their financial aid advisor to ensure their funding can be applied to the program they have chosen.  There are also additional funding options available to help make study abroad more affordable.  To see a list of these funding opportunities, visit our Scholarships & Funding webpage.  If your Comet plans to apply for study abroad scholarships, it will be important for them to start early since most applications are due months in advance and many are competitive.
The University of Texas at Dallas is committed to your Comet's safety and well-being.  All students participating in an Education Abroad program are provided with the following resources and tools:
  • Access to health, safety, and security information for their study abroad destination(s) through International SOS
  • Enrollment in a comprehensive insurance plan that includes medical, evacuation, and repatriation coverage
  • Access to a personalized pre-departure trip review compiled by security experts
  • Emergency response and on-the-ground support through a 24/7 UT-dedicated phone number for International SOS, as well as a 24/7 emergency phone number for the UT Dallas International Center
  • A comprehensive International Travel Health and Safety Handbook, filled with general safety tips and additional resources
  • In-person pre-departure orientation focused on health and safety, culture shock, money matters, mental health resources, and more 
  • An insurance card and an International SOS card to take with them on their trip
  • A template for creating a personal emergency communications plan
  • Online resources and tools to help them research their study abroad destination(s), including:
We understand that support from parents, guardians, and family members is an important part of your Comet's decision to study abroad.  Although your student will ultimately be responsible for adhering to deadlines, completing the required paperwork, attending pre-departure meetings, and reading all communications and resources shared by Education Abroad, there are several ways you can support your Comet through the entire process:
 
  • Encourage them to study abroad and let them know they have your support!
  • Have a discussion with your student about finances and help them create a study abroad budget.
  • Create a plan for handling any family emergencies that may arise while your Comet is abroad.
  • Have a discussion about health and safety, as well as making positive choices while abroad.
  • Make a plan for communicating with your Comet so you have the same expectations - How? When? How often?  Keep in mind that your student will likely be very busy immersing themselves in their study abroad experience.  Encourage them to check in, but also allow for flexibility.
  • While abroad, encourage your Comet to find ways to reflect on their experiences (blogs, journals, video diary, etc.).
  • Understand that your student will likely experience culture shock while they are abroad.  This is a common and expected reaction to a new cultural environment, and it shows that your Comet is processing their experiences.  Culture shock can take a variety of forms - ranging from excitement to irritability - but know that most of these reactions level out as your Comet learns to adjust and adapt.  If your Comet reports persistent feelings of anxiety or depression, encourage them to contact Education Abroad so we can connect them with the appropriate resources.
  • If you plan to visit, it's best to do so after the program ends so your Comet can fully immerse themselves and focus on their studies.
  • Once they return, ask your Comet about their experience and encourage them to reflect.  For some students, the returnee phase can be the most difficult part of studying abroad, and many will experience reverse culture shock.  To help them with their readjustment, remind them of ways they can get involved as a study abroad returnee.
Our website (https://utdallas.edu/ea) has information on a wide range of topics related to studying abroad.  While we encourage and welcome family support and involvement, questions from parents/guardians should be communicated to Education Abroad staff through your Comet, when possible.  Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), our staff is not permitted to discuss protected student information, including information about a student's specific study abroad program, with anyone other than the student.  Because of this, we can only share general information about different types of study abroad opportunities, University policies related to study abroad, what your Comet can expect during the application process, scholarships and funding opportunities that may be available, and more.  If you have general questions about these topics, please feel free to contact us via email at EducationAbroad@utdallas.edu or by phone at (972) 883-4715.

For more specific questions, your Comet is encouraged to contact us directly through email, phone, or in-person advising.  Students should take ownership of their study abroad experience, but they are also encouraged to share the information they receive with their parents/guardians.  Be sure to communicate with your Comet if you have specific questions or would like to know detailed information about their program. 

In addition to the information on our website, there are several resources available for parents interested in learning more: