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International College Education: Is It Right for Your Teen?


If your high-schooler seems to be hinting about going to college abroad, chances are they’re actually serious about it. As a parent who’s never been away from your child, this can be shocking, and your initial response will likely be a “no.”

However, a decent number of parents are actually willing to send off their kids for college abroad. According to a survey by HSBC, 42% of parents would consider sending their children to a university overseas. Asian parents are particularly enthusiastic about it, compared to British, French, and Australian parents, who are less keen on the idea of their kids leaving their home country for college.

The U.S., unsurprisingly, topped the survey as the most desirable country for college education, followed by Australia and the UK.

So if your teen finally expresses their desire to move abroad for college, how should you address the situation?

The Benefits and the Costs

As per the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 4.3 million students from all over the globe are pursuing higher education outside their home countries, and over half of these international students are Asian.

Daniel Obst, deputy vice president of International Partnerships in Higher Education for the Institute of International Education (IIE) in the U.S., stated that students who want to be successful in the global economy should consider an overseas education, because employers are seeking graduates who can work on multinational teams, converse in different languages, adjust easily with changing time zones, and have the flexibility and adaptability acquired from living abroad.

work/learning essentials

Considering that, success on a global scale is what your teen is most likely after, hence their desire to study abroad. This big ambition can stir pride in us as their parent because it shows that they value the education we provide for them. However, global success comes with costs, other than your kids being away from you.

If a major university in the U.S. in your teen’s top pick, expect to shell out around $33,000 every year. If you factor in four years of college, plus living expenses, your yearly outlay would be an average of $180,000.

And since foreign students usually pay their tuition in full in American colleges, you should have this much money first before enrolling your child.

Preparing Your Teen

Discouraging your teen to achieve their dream of graduating from college abroad won’t just be heartbreaking for them, but it can also ruin their chances of achieving their full potential. Hence, if you’re more than financially capable of sending them overseas, you should definitely grant them their wish, and let them thrive.

Prepare your teen by enrolling them in a reputable International Baccalaureate programme offered by prestigious international schools. It is a two-year educational program for 16- to 19-year old students that will make them qualified for higher education institutions worldwide. It’ll teach them more than just academics, as the program includes personal and social-emotional skills development.

And because they’ll be living on their own abroad, they should be taught how to be self-sufficient, too. They need to master at least seven life skills, which are work skills, transportation skills, goal setting, emotion regulation, dealing with emergencies, basic household management, and financial skills. It may take time to get your kid accustomed to self-sufficiency, especially if they’ve been sheltered, but if they’re earnest on achieving their college goal, they should manage to be adept in those skills within a short time.

Again, it can be a shock to hear that your kid longs to be independent, but instead of feeling hurt by it, take it as a compliment. Their desire to study abroad doesn’t mean that they don’t want to be taken care of anymore, but rather, they just want to spread their wings, and make you prouder of them than you already are.

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