If you’re living in Singapore and your child is about to graduate, chances are that they’ll be going to university abroad. Tertiary education is a big step, and enrolling abroad makes it even more challenging. But it’s more than worth it, according to recently graduated expat kid Eline Jeanne. Here, she provides some tips for high-school students who are thinking about applying overseas, and she also asks Expat Living’s own editor-in-chief for some advice for their parents.
Tips From A Fellow Expat Student
Go to fairs and do the research
University or college fairs can be daunting, whether they’re housing hundreds of college representatives or just one, but don’t be scared off. Attending these fairs can arm you with a lot of useful information, making the application process a whole lot easier. To make it a more manageable task, make a list of the institutions you’re interested in before attending the fair. That way, you can visit these booths first, before getting side-tracked by others.
Chat to potential, current and former students online
A lot of universities offer communication platforms for potential students, and I suggest you use them. Look for someone to chat with who has studied the course you’re interested in, and talk to some current students about general university life there. The best advice comes from fellow students, not brochures!
Don’t stress about your “stuff” – you’ll be able to get what you need over there
There are a lot of “what to pack for college” lists floating around on the internet, but as an international student, I suggest you pay no attention to them. It’s not the best idea to stock up on instant noodles and shampoo months before you head off, because you’ll have to fit it all in a suitcase. Remember, you won’t be the only new student starting university, and businesses are fully aware of this and will act on it. You’ll be able to find pretty much everything once you get to university, and you’ll usually get a good deal!
Spend time with your family, even amid all the exam stress
There’s no denying that applying to colleges and simultaneously preparing for exams can get stressful, but remember to always take time for yourself and your family. As much as they may get on your nerves sometimes, I can guarantee that you’ll miss them once you’re at university. So do some fun things and make memories to hold on to when you’re feeling a bit homesick in a few months’ time.
Do your research well in advance, and if possible plan a fact-finding trip
Visiting overseas campuses can mean paying for expensive flights. If you’re looking to go to university somewhere close to where you’re originally from, then start doing your research well in advance. That way, if you go back to visit family over summer, you can visit potential universities at a much lower cost. However, if you don’t have the option of a personal visit, don’t worry; if you do enough research – and the right kind of research – you’ll get a good feel for the place without seeing it in person.
Remember to be excited!
It’s undeniable that applying to university and moving away from home can be hard, but remember to also be excited. You’re starting the next chapter of your life, and that comes with so many joys – something to keep in mind while you’re staying up late for yet another night, scrolling through university websites!
Tips From A Parent
Rebecca Bisset has had two daughters at university. Here are some of her tips for parents about going through the process.
Every child is unique
I had to make sure to differentiate between what my daughter wants to do versus what I think she’d be good at. It’s easy to see what you think they would be good at, but they might want to do something completely different.
Don’t let them do it all on their own
I honestly think it’s too big a decision to let a child make on their own. And that’s the difficulty, because if you are trying to guide them, you don’t want to be blamed afterwards if they don’t enjoy the course. You can be blamed for their failure, but on the other hand it’s a huge decision for a 17- or 18-year-old to be making.
Be prepared for the hardships, because they’ll come
She was better at the emotional aspects than me. It took a while for the separation to click. When I left my daughter at university that first morning, that was awful, and you can’t cry because they will get upset. Only when I was leaving her did it really sink in.
Do your own research
Do your own research and come up with lots of different options for them. You can use this research to try and guide them, but without telling them what to do.
Be there for them emotionally
With all the changes on the horizon, parents tend to bear the brunt of the rollercoaster of emotions and mood swings. My advice is to just listen, don’t judge, and try not to boss them about too much.
This article first appeared in the February 2016 issue of Expat Living. Subscribe here.
Eline Jeanne and Rebecca Bisset