How to Convince Your Parents to Let You Travel for University

By: Ali Sakr

For all of you who are now in your last year of school, it’s a scary time. Some university applications start in less than two weeks, and the fact that you might or might not be in this country at this time next year is simply surreal. And even if it’s not your last year of school, you probably know – or at least will know – a friend that will leave before you do, and that really helps set in the state of reality as well. 

What might be a slightly more prominent issue though, is whether or not you’re even allowed to travel for university. Most of the time, there isn’t a direct way through this.  There isn’t some magic argument you can make that’ll suddenly change your parents’ opinions. The best way to convince them you’re actually up for this is a bit more complicated, and it starts with actually being up for it.

You need to know exactly what you’re signing yourself up for, because 1-it’s not like the movies, and 2-it definitely won’t be easy. I’m pretty sure that most of us aren’t exactly used to cooking all our meals, doing dishes and laundry or actually functioning as responsible adults, because we’re simply not. Thing is, though, if you’re going to be traveling on your own, then you’re pretty much asking to be one early. Now, if you truly want this – if you’re truly willing to work as hard as you can to travel, because you know that it’s the best option for you at the moment, then the first step is complete.

Next up, you let it drive you. You make this whole leaving for college thing personal, because that’s the only way you’re actually going to get it done. You let this goal of yours be all the motivation you need to actually manage your time, and get good grades. To set yourself some rules and try to actually follow them, because this is probably the most important goal of your life right now, so almost nothing should take priority. If you’re actually serious about this, and your parents notice a change in your attitude – or better yet – a consistency in it if you’d already been like this before, then maybe they’ll start considering things.

Now, we move on to more direct methods. At first I was going to branch this off in two; for those who’ve never talked to their parents about this before, and those who’ve been told no, but then I realized there’s very little difference in what you should probably do. Talk about it. But before that, prepare. Don’t go into the conversation with “if’s” and “maybe’s” because that just doesn’t convey how much you desire something. It shows a lack of proper research, which only means you’re not serious enough about this. 

I’m not telling you to have 5 life plans laid out, each for a different possibility of which college you’ll end up going to, but at least have a few names of universities you want to apply to. Start looking into some basic information about each of them, like grade requirements from school, tuition fees, when applications start, and housing, then lay all this info out in a nice spreadsheet, and start sorting out all the pros and cons. Go to your parents with a small list of universities, with all their details, and explain to them exactly what you did while researching and what your current personal favourites are. We’re not all going to Harvard so keep your options realistic, and make sure you at least seem like you know what you’re talking about.

After you’ve got a small list and things are actually starting to be put into perspective, you’re going to need some real experiences to back your words. Ask friends that’ve traveled about their experiences, and ask those who haven’t about theirs as well. Discuss both types of experiences with your parents and make it very clear that going to university abroad has its fair share of problems, and that you acknowledge them, but are willing to overcome them for the sake of a better education. If you’ve got any relatives or family friends who can help in this part as well, then that’ll definitely help, especially if your parents like them.

And lastly, prove it. Prove that you’re really up for everything you’ve talked about. This might not seem like much, but try to cook for yourself more often. Keep your room tidy and everything organized. Start doing your own dishes after you’ve eaten, and generally start gradually reducing your dependence on anyone but yourself. This is for both your parents, and yourself, but rest assured, they will notice the effort you’re putting in.

So I guess that’s about it. It all sinks in again when you’re collecting certificates and writing your resume, but that’s a bridge to cross another day. 

Oh and, if you’ll really try doing anything I mentioned here, then try to start now. Not tomorrow, and not as soon as you get some time, because you won’t. Good luck, and let’s do this.

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