Moving internationally can be daunting as well as richly rewarding. Families must acclimate to a new culture, a new language, and where children are involved, a new school system. For families with children of all ages, the educational component requires heavily weighted decisions that will lay out the frame work for the next several years of the child’s educational path as well as have important implications for years to come.
This is a time that offers a unique opportunity to the parents to reassess their child’s academic future in the context of an international move. For families with older children who will either soon graduate from high school or are recent high school graduates, the decision of the parents to move abroad could force an early separation from their older children that some families are not ready to face.
Many families opt to stay intact by seeking out postsecondary options in the country they plan to move to for their soon-to-be graduate or recent high-school graduate. In addition to remaining geographically close, families who consider postsecondary options abroad say that they hope to experience the deeper bond that moving to a new country can bring. Parents also cite the desire for their university-age children to have the opportunity to participate in the intrinsic educational experience that defines living in a new country.
Understandably, most families do not want to forfeit several years of their child’s education and are eager to understand the post secondary options that exist. What families learn along the way is that educational systems vary greatly from country to country and are dependent upon the educational considerations of the student. As a starting point, families must consider the following:
- Does the student speak the language of the country that he or she will move to? If not, what English-language universities or post-secondary schools exist?
- What area of study does the student wish to undertake? Do any of these areas of study exist in the country you will move to? If not, is there something nearby, perhaps in a neighboring country that the family is willing to consider?
- How long do you as a family plan to live abroad? Will the student be able to complete the studies within the proper time frame or will it be necessary to transfer the credits to the home country at some point?
- Will the credentials of the degree program be accepted in the country the student will return to? What accreditation may be necessary upon returning to the home country?
- Is there an American university in the region? What advantages and disadvantages might there be to considering an American university?
- Is an online program an option that is compatible with the student’s desired path of study as well as academic and study habits?
- Various financial implications exist for all of options. How much of a consideration is the financial component? If it is indeed a major component, this will be a very critical component in assessing the options that will be feasible.
Moving abroad with university-age children can be wonderfully rewarding and offers the possibility of a rich experience for the entire family to share together, but it is fundamental to move forward intentionally with a well defined plan and to remember that many countries have a vastly different post-secondary education system in place. Many families have already gone through the process of moving abroad with university-age children and have had an excellent experience and created memories together that they will enjoy for years to come.