Supporting Your Student
We encourage you to support your student by empowering them to be actively responsible for preparing for their study abroad experience.
Study abroad can benefit your student's personal growth, professional development, and academic goals. Therefore, it is never too early to start planning. The study abroad process has multiple, important phases. Each student is unique and no two will navigate these phases in the same way. The five major phases of the process are outlined below.
1. When they express interest in studying abroad…
There are several ways for students to explore opportunities and find a program that fits their goals.
- First Steps Workshops and Illinois Abroad Ambassadors: Have your student attend a First Steps Workshop to learn what it means to study abroad and learn about the factors to consider when selecting a program. Your student can also contact an Illinois Abroad Ambassador, who are current Illinois students who have studied abroad, to learn about the process and ask questions about their time abroad.
- Advising and Resource Center and Academic Advisors: Students with general questions about the study abroad process can stop by the Advising and Resource Center during walk-in hours to speak with one of our student employees, called Program Assistants. We also encourage students to meet with their academic advisor to discuss how studying abroad will fit within their plan of study. Both of these resources can help your student identify their goals for study abroad.
- Program Search: The University uses an online platform called “My Study Abroad” to house program brochure pages and process applications. Encourage your student to narrow their search by experimenting with the search parameters and finding programs that align with their personal, academic, and professional goals.
- Education Abroad Coordinators or college study abroad offices: Once your student has a few programs of interest, encourage them to scheduling an appointment with the Education Abroad Coordinator who advises for those programs to answer their specific questions about each program. If your student is interested in programs administered by the academic colleges, direct them to visit their office, as they will be able to answer questions about their programs. Go to the College Study Abroad Offices page for more information.
- Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships: Encourage your student to understand their finances by meeting with the Office of Student Financial Aid and exploring scholarship opportunities. Students can visit the Office of Student Financial Aid to understand how their financial aid package applies to study abroad. Additionally, Illinois scholarships and national scholarships are available to many students and can help offset program costs.
2. When they apply…
Application requirements will vary depending on the program. The standard requirements will be responses to short answer questions, an Illinois transcript, a photocopy of your student's passport (or proof that they have applied for one), and a disciplinary action questionnaire.
Important note: Encourage your student to make sure that their passport is valid six months beyond their return date.
Throughout the application process, information will be sent to your student from a variety of sources, including our staff, other Illinois faculty and staff, and the institution where they are enrolling. Please encourage your student to review any and all correspondence carefully and meet all deadlines.
3. When they are traveling to their host country…
As your student prepares to depart, ensure that you have a copy of their itinerary. Airline websites often offer tools to track the flights. Upon arrival, students may not be able to call or email home immediately as they may be greeted by the program representatives, on their way to their accommodations, or may not have access to internet or a phone. Most students are able to stay in close contact throughout the program, however, certain locations may make this more challenging. We encourage you and your student to research the most affordable and reliable ways stay in contact with each other and create a plan as to when and how often they will communicate with you.
Important note: Due to FERPA regulations, we will not be able to provide parents with flight information.
4. When they are abroad…
Being abroad will be an adjustment for most students as they will be experiencing a new location, new culture, and perhaps a new language. All students are susceptible to varying levels of culture shock, regardless of maturity level, personality type, previous travel experience abroad, or knowledge of their host country. This feeling of culture shock is a normal part of the study abroad process.
It is more likely that a student will call or email family or friends during a moment of low morale rather than when things are going well. Support your student through these stages by encouraging them to utilize the online Illinois resources as seen on the Families and Friends Resources page.
5. When they return…
Returning to their home country can often be as challenging as departing from it. It may take your student time to re-adjust and they may experience "reverse culture shock" as they re-acquaint themselves with their home. Providing a space that allows your student to talk about their experiences, asking questions, and encouraging them to incorporate their cross-cultural skillset into their interests is a great way to show support.