Moving overseas to complete tertiary education is common among many Singaporeans. While it is one of the most life-enriching opportunities young people can experience, there are various things you should be aware of before your child jets off.
Education is not cheap
Overseas education, in theory, will help your child get a job where they can support themselves and begin a successful career.
Until they graduate, however, they likely won’t be making enough money to cover the costs of living and learning in another country.
To put things into perspective, the estimated annual cost of studying a business and living in London, UK, will set you back around SGD$46,094.
Proceeding without planning ahead may land you in financial difficulty and you may even need to pull your child out of enrolment because you are unable to support them.
There are various steps you can take, however, to help make the financial aspect of studying overseas less daunting.
For instance, if your child is still in their primary school years, or even younger, consider starting a university fund now – and keep it in a high-interest savings account.
When the time comes for them to actually begin their overseas education, sit down with them to plan the budget together – and get them to agree to it.
Setting financial parameters to ensure you don’t spend outside of your means is crucial, along with making sure your child sticks to the set budget.
Check out Investopedia’s tips on teaching your teenager how to handle money.
They should be aware of the culture
If your child is going to a country with a completely different culture, make sure they’re mindful of local laws and of what’s socially acceptable before they arrive.
A good place to start is looking at the government website of the country your child is going to. Check if there are any common practices in your country that are illegal in the place they choose to study.
A great source of information can be found on Commisceo Global, where you will find an extensive guide on every country.
Agree on ways to keep in touch
There are so many different ways to communicate in today’s world and with numerous platforms to contact someone on, you should always have one reliable method – especially in case of emergency.
Research local phone plans before your child leaves and make sure they have a secure and reliable way of keeping in touch – not just locally, but internationally too.
For face-to-face contact, use apps like Skype or FaceTime, and for quick messages, consider apps like WhatsApp or WeChat. Remember, if you use an internet-based platform and your child is without internet access for a period of time, you won’t receive an immediate response.
Ensure their accommodation is appropriate
You obviously want your child to have a safe place to live and to be as conveniently located to their new school as your budget permits. So, make sure you do your research before signing any sort of lease.
A good place to begin, is investigating whether the university provides on-site accommodation – often referred to as dorms or halls.
Most international education programs have a dedicated coordinator to help with queries like this.
If the option of on-site accommodation isn’t available, get in touch with local (and reputable) real estate agents who can assist with your property search.
Your child may want to quit and come home
If your child has expressed the will to study overseas, it highlights that they are ambitious and are open to embracing self-development. Even the most confident and self-driven people can, however, experience a wave of homesickness and feel the urge to give up.
It is important for your child to have a reliable support network who they can turn to. If you feel like your child is homesick, remind them why they chose study overseas in the first place and to embrace the experience.
Don’t pay for overseas costs through your bank
When paying for costly items overseas, or transferring money to an international bank account, a lot of people tend to use their bank to move their money.
Using your bank to make a transfer, however, is not a cost-efficient way to do this. Instead, look to use specialist money transfer providers like WorldFirst, whose sole purpose is to get your funds to the specified overseas account quickly, securely and at competitive rates.
1] Based on WorldFirst analysis of tuition fees, rent, flights and living costs in London.
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