Frequently Asked Questions for Parents and Family Members

Study Abroad is a unique opportunity for students to travel while earning college credits. They may learn a new language or practice one they’ve already been studying, experience a new culture, build global friendships and connections, and grow personally by becoming more confident and independent and improving communication skills. Furthermore, Study Abroad is valuable to employers and will help students after they graduate.
OIP staff work individually with each student to address specific needs and concerns before, during, and after their experience abroad. This includes advising, pre-departure orientations, and re-entry programming. If you or your student have questions, please feel free to contact us.
Students participating in Valpo-sponsored programs are charged Valpo tuition and general fee just as if they are here. Their normal financial aid transfers, making the academic cost largely the same. Study Centers have a center fee used to support group excursions and activities, and housing will vary, with some paying housing to Valpo at a flat rate and others paying the program directly. Consult program pages, Study Abroad staff, and the Financial Aid office for specific program cost and financial aid information. Additional scholarships are also available and a great way for students to make Study Abroad possible for them.
With careful planning, students who study abroad do graduate on time — in fact, according to national statistics, students who study abroad are actually more likely to graduate in four years. It is important that students start planning early and consult with both their academic advisor and International Programs – Study Abroad.
It is no more possible to guarantee a student’s safety abroad than it is to do so here on our campus in Valparaiso. Prior to their participation in a Study Abroad program, all participants go through pre-departure orientations, which emphasize the behaviors and precautions they can take to reduce their risk. Many problems can be avoided by using common sense and good judgement. For your part, you can research the destinations on your loved one’s itinerary. Rest assured, we in International Programs – Study Abroad are doing the same (and then some), and we will not send students to a dangerous area. Additionally, all of our programs have 24/7 on-site/local staff who are able to assist our students, faculty, and staff. International Programs – Study Abroad maintains an on-call response team and has emergency response protocols in place to support our programs and students whatever the problem may be.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of students’ educational records. Educational records include financial information, health information, academic or nonacademic misconduct matters, and Study Abroad program and application information. This law prevents Valpo, including International Programs – Study Abroad, from releasing information considered confidential under this law without the student’s prior written consent. Students may choose to complete a FERPA Release form (available to students once accepted to their program) which will allow International Programs – Study Abroad to release information to anyone of their choice during or in connection with their Study Abroad.
Your student will probably experience some degree of homesickness while they are gone. This is totally normal. Being supportive and positive, in addition to encouraging them to make friends and try new things, will help them adjust. Please be aware that students are far more likely to call home in times of frustration. Please try to frame their frustrations in a positive light because they are part of the Study Abroad experience and contribute to their growth. It is always important to encourage your student to stay positive and to work things out on his or her own. Please try to avoid getting overly involved. Just listening to and supporting your student is often more helpful than trying to resolve the problem from overseas. Encourage them to reach out to their on-site staff and/or International Programs – Study Abroad if they need assistance.
It is important to discuss plans for communication with your student before he or she leaves the country. It is also important to have a system in place for getting in touch in case of an emergency. What is the best way for you to get in touch with your student and vice versa? There are many ways to stay in touch, like email. International calling may be expensive. Skype is a great alternative that allows you to call phones and chat via voice and even webcam. Please keep in mind that the more time students spend communicating with family and friends back home, the less time they spend immersing themselves in their host culture, one of the most important aspects of the Study Abroad experience. If your student is engaged in the host culture and Study Abroad experience, he or she will likely contact you with less frequency. Though you will miss your student, we encourage you to view the fact that he or she is engaged abroad as a positive thing. We recommend encouraging your student to communicate when he or she can and to tell you about all of the things he or she is learning and experiencing. This will help your student to make the most of the experience while still including you.
Just like your student will probably experience some degree of culture shock when they are abroad, it is completely normal and very likely that they may experience some reverse culture shock while they readjust to home. They, and certainly their perspective, will have changed. It is important to be supportive and understanding as they readjust. Encourage your student to take advantage of re-entry programming at Valpo, reach out to other students who have recently returned, and of course, reach out to International Programs – Study Abroad for additional support.
Study Abroad is a great addition to a résumé! International study has been shown to have an impact on graduation rates, hiring rates for recent graduates, and graduate school acceptance rates. In addition, your student may find that they are now interested in more globally focused careers. Students are strongly encouraged to share their education abroad experiences in the classroom when they are back on campus as well as with future employers. These perspectives are highly valued and can be applied for personal, academic, or career-related development.
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