Global Engagement (Study Abroad and Study USA) is an enriching opportunity for your student to develop intercultural humility, agency, resourcefulness, and understanding of global systems. A student’s parents and family are a critical element to their success. Below are ways you can best support your student as they work through the entire process, from exploration to their return.
During the ‘Explore’ stage, families should engage with their students to help identify the best program for them as a family. Elon offers a tremendous variety of programs of varying lengths, costs and requirements. Some considerations include:
- What are my student’s goals after graduation?
- What can we as a family afford?
- What is included in the various programs?
- What credits can my student earn on this program?
- For how long are we as a family comfortable with the student being away?
- Does my student have a background in a second language?
- What health and safety concerns or needs do we have?
- What additional funding is available to me?
A student who is prepared to discuss these considerations will have a much more productive experience with the Global Education Center. At this stage we also encourage families to check the validity of their student’s passport. If your student does not currently have a passport that will be valid at least six months after their planned return from abroad, encourage them to go ahead and apply for a new one.
The GEC website contains information on the individual programs, and each stage of the study away process for students. If your student has questions, encourage them to set up an appointment with an advisor. Appointments can be made by calling 336-278-6700.
Once a student’s direction begins to take shape, a student can begin to plan for the experience. Some questions to consider during this time are:
- When is the best time for the student to be away from campus?
- What are the implications of study away on my housing and meal plan when I return?
- Do I need to alter my graduation plan to incorporate my study away plans?
- When is the best time to apply for my program?
- Are there deadlines for scholarships I need to be mindful of?
Planning is crucial to the study away process, as poor planning will create headaches for students and families. For instance, many families of students who are away for a semester have to pay rent on a leased apartment while the student is away. Good planning and communication between students and families can help avoid such a situation.
The GEC offers a tremendous variety of different program types, and application requirements are different for each type. Generally speaking, students may only apply for one program at a time for any one specific term. Once the application is complete, GEC staff will evaluate the application and assign a status.
Several statuses, conditionally accepted or conditionally approved, may require the student to fulfill additional requirements. A checklist with required elements and deadlines will be added to each individual’s application homepage. It is important that students take full responsibility for their applications, deadlines and any required elements.
Please review the application instructions page for more details.
Once accepted into a program, students will participate in a variety of preparatory activities. Students participating in Semester or Summer term programs will be provided with the dates of general and program specific orientations. Attendance at all program orientations is mandatory. Winter term students will have a pre-requisite Fall Preparatory Seminar. The dates and class meeting times for the Fall Preparatory Seminars are listed on the individual program pages.
Some questions families should consider during the ‘Prepare’ phase include:
- What will communication look like while the student is abroad?
- What is our family’s budget for independent travel and spending money?
- Where is this money coming from?
- Do we know as much about the host country(ies) as we would like to?
The GEC offers many resources for families on our Preparing for Departure pages. The time just before departure is stressful for both students and parents. During this time, students may be excited, frazzled or jittery to start their program. You may have to calm your students and reassure them that study away, though challenging, is not impossible to do.
Remind your student to pack only what they will need for their time away. They are responsible for carrying their own luggage from the airport to their accommodations, and they should make sure that they are able to pick up and move their luggage by themselves. Ask your student for a copy of their flight itinerary and their passport.
While your student is away, it’s important that you support your student. They will experience a number of highs and lows as they adjust to their new environment (even within the borders of the United States). The roller coaster ride of this adjustment is known as culture shock.
Culture shock encompasses the range of good and bad days/experiences that can be bewildering for both the student and observers. How long and how strongly a student experiences culture shock varies from individual to individual. When a student experiences a bad day during culture shock, encourage your student to go out and explore the local area, or to try something they’ve never done before.
Journaling is a great way for students to track their emotions and feelings. If your student does journal, tell them to write down both the good and the bad while abroad. Remind your student that they are abroad to study, but should take advantages of the opportunities present in another country.
It is not uncommon for students to experience bumps in the road aside from their experiences with culture shock. Just as when students come to college for the first time, there may be adjustments or challenges related to things like housing and courses. It’s easy for students and families to get frustrated during this time. Please encourage your student to make sure they are using the resources available to them on site, namely the staff, and to remain patient with the process.
Once your student returns from their term away, they will go through a readjustment period. During this period, your student may experience reverse culture shock.
Reverse culture shock may cause students to compare everything to the location they stayed in during their term away. Students may experience mood swings and be bored at home. The length of the reverse culture shock period depends on the individual, how long they were abroad and how frequently they were in communication with people at home. Your student will gradually adjust to being home and should use their experience and skills gained abroad to get involved at Elon, or explore other international opportunities. Encourage your student to market their experience abroad to gain an internship or job.
As a parent, it is important to realize that the student you send away will probably not be the same when they return. No matter the length of the program or the location, Elon global engagement provides students the opportunity to expand their perceptions and knowledge. Celebrate the change in your student and encourage them to continue growing intellectually and emotionally.
Below are links to important student pages: