Parents & Supporters
Our office is committed to being a responsible partner in your student's study abroad process, and we are here to help your student as they navigate the various steps moving forward. There are many steps involved with studying abroad and your student will be responsible for working through and completing all of them. The preparation efforts needed to study abroad begin a year before your student goes abroad and are nearly equally as important to personal growth as the actual experience of studying abroad.
Parents and supporters often play a key role in the success of students abroad. At the University of Denver, the OIE wants to be a responsible partner in working with you to ensure your student’s study abroad experience is a success. To that end, it is important to remember that at the OIE, we focus on making study abroad a student-centered experience and therefore we strongly encourage families to communicate with your student first and foremost before contacting our office with questions. Furthermore, we strongly believe that a student must take full responsibility for making all arrangements and details in preparation for their time abroad. Their involvement, from the start, will ensure that they are informed about their program and will help with their preparation in their new environment.
DU’s Office of International Education works hard to create a safe and academically sound experience for your student; that said, we guarantee that there will be times that your student will be uncomfortable and will struggle. Allow your student to grow outside of their comfort zone. Feeling unsettled is normal, and it is usually temporary. Listen and give space for them to work through difficult and challenging situations. That is part of the process of growth, one that you have been building toward for many years.
Steps to Study Abroad & DU Abroad Policies
There are several requirements and steps involved to apply and participate in a study abroad experience. Students must complete two applications; one DU application to review DU eligibility requirements and a secondary application for their program directly.
To gain an understanding of the steps in your student’s study abroad process, visit our website here to learn more about what needs to be completed in order to study abroad.
Additionally, we encourage you to review our DU Abroad Policies to learn about what to expect throughout the study abroad process.
Health and Safety
DU's Commitment to Health & Safety
We are pleased that you or your student are studying abroad with DU. Our students' health, safety, and security is our highest priority, and we take numerous steps to help ensure student safety abroad. Our philosophy is that by proactively providing students with information and resources regarding potential risks, we can educate and prepare students to make good decisions regarding their own well-being while abroad. Because we cannot mitigate all associated risks with international travel though, we have extensive protocols in place to respond to student emergencies or crises.
Our office encourages and manages safety by:
- Consulting with DU's full-time International Travel Risk Analyst, who monitors world events along with OIE staff and reaches out to students, when appropriate, to either share information or check-in with students.
- Evaluating on-site support and program options available to students.
- Partnering with International SOS (ISOS) a medical and travel assistance provider, who facilitates pre-departure travel consultations, sends email alerts regarding in-country issues, delivers 24/7 emergency response assistance, and provides evacuation and repatriation coverage for all students.
- Requiring preparatory measures including a Study Abroad First Step Session, appointments with OIE advisors, and several orientation sessions while providing online information and resources in DU Passport and information on our website including general and country-specific handbooks.
- Registering students with ISOS, which allows DU staff to track students' travels. (Students must update side travel for weekend or mid-term break trips).
- Creating crisis management protocols in conjugation with the International Travel Risk Analyst and the International Travel Committee, a committee designed to assist with international travel guidelines, procedures, and crisis response efforts.
- Asking students to visit a health care provider prior to departure to discuss health and mental health concerns; DU's Health & Counseling Center (HCC) can provide these services.
- Requiring students to enroll in the U.S. Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important information from the local embassy about safety conditions in the host country.
- Collecting emergency contact information should we need to communicate information about an affected student to family and friends.
FERPA Release for Study Abroad
We understand that as a parent or family member of a University of Denver student, you would like to be involved in your student's study abroad experience. We encourage you to support your student throughout the process. Considering this, the DU Office of International Education staff and overall University of Denver staff abide by state and federal laws regulating student privacy and access to education records and information.
Unless otherwise stated in official paperwork by the student, academic records are confidential and therefore we cannot disclose specific information about your student's study abroad status. We abide by these laws out of respect for the student's rights, and ask that you please respect our limitations when discussing your student’s case. If your student would like to allow you access to their educational records, they may fill out a FERPA form found on the DU Registrar's website.
What is FERPA?
Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a student's educational records are considered confidential. A FERPA release is required for DU staff or faculty to discuss a student’s educational records with anyone other than the student. The University is bound by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regarding the release of student education records and, in the event of conflict with the University Policy, FERPA will govern. The full text of the University's policy with regard to FERPA can be found at the Registrar's FERPA page.
Why is it a good idea to sign a release before going abroad?
We recommend that all students going abroad complete a FERPA release for a parent or family member, as it can sometimes be difficult to contact DU directly while in another country. Having a FERPA release on file will allow the individual(s) designated in your FERPA release to obtain and discuss information on your behalf (such as billing issues, account holds, etc.). This can also be helpful in the case of an emergency.
Where can I sign a release?
Complete a FERPA release here.
Supporting Your Student Before and During Their Experience
Studying abroad is a transformative experience and students often find it is one of the most memorable experiences from their college experience. Living and learning in another country is an exciting and challenging experience - one that will encourage your student to solve problems, be independent, and be self motivated throughout the entire experience. Throughout the study abroad advising and application process, it is imperative that your student completes the necessary steps required by DU, and by their program, independently so they are prepared to navigate the complexities and opportunities they will encounter while abroad.
Parents and guardians can be supportive for students preparing to study abroad, but parents and supporters cannot be the one doing the work for the student. Your student must apply for their passport, They must apply for their visa. They should book their flight. The Office of International Education and their program are here to provide instructions and information on how to do these processes, but it is important that your student is doing this work themselves.
Your student is likely to experience culture shock, no matter how different or similar their host country is.
The OIE receives the most amount of calls during the "shock" stage", and you will too!
MIT offers helpful information on the stages of culture shock that will be helpful to better understand the stages and experiences your student will be having during their time abroad. Check their website here.
Supporting Your Student Upon Return
You may find that your student struggles upon returning from abroad. Sometimes this struggle may be immediate, other times, it may come after being home for a while, once the excitement of the return home to all things familiar has worn off. Seeing your student out of sorts in their own home and in their own routine can be surprising; however, reverse cultural adjustment is very much a part of the cultural adjustment cycle, and can be even more difficult for some students than the cultural adjustment experienced while abroad. It's important that you provide your student space to reflect on and process (not to mention be nostalgic about!) their time abroad, as well as the opportunity to share their experiences with you (though you may find they don't expect you to be able to fully relate to what they've experienced). It may also be helpful for you to encourage your student to take advantage of the resources available at DU through the OIE and other units on campus, including the Health and Counseling Center. And review the resources for Returnees and Alumni here.
Expectations for Study Abroad
DU is proud to send so many students around the world on study abroad programs and students, and parents, often say it is one of their top reasons for choosing to attend DU.
While study abroad is an exciting and transformative experience - it is also a lot of work. There will be times when your student feels inconvenienced by completing necessary tasks There will be times they feel overwhelmed by the administrative work involved. There may be times while they are abroad when it isn't as comfortable as life in Denver. These are all normal parts of the experience. Below are some considerations to understand and to help your student as they navigate through their study abroad journey.
Students should not compare housing with peers. Unless they are in a dormitory, their classmate's homestay or apartment might not be identical. No living situation is perfect.
- Housing abroad will likely be very different from Denver
- Commute time to class varies widely and in bigger cities it could be 30-45 minutes on public transit
- Students may not find out about your specific housing assignment until shortly before program start
- Housing in some countries is in buildings older than the U.S.!
- Students may not have a dishwasher or clothes dryer – this is normal
- If living with a host family, their style of communication may be very different than
- Energy costs abroad can be significantly higher than what we are used to in the U.S. This may impact expectations of energy use in your student's apartment or with their host family (ie: It may be unacceptable to leave fan running all night).
- If your student is having problems with housing they need to contact their program directly. It takes more time to bring the problem to the OIE than it does to address it with the program staff in country. Students should not make any big decisions about housing within the first week of the program when they are still adjusting.
- Many programs have a different academic structure, expectations, and teaching style than what students are used to at DU.
Cherrington Global Scholars
The University of Denver supports the Cherrington Global Scholars (CGS) initiative, which financially supports the round-trip international airfare and student visa application fees. Details about eligibility and the benefit can be found here.
Students receive a reimbursement for their student visa costs. This reimbursement is posted to their DU account once the OIE processes their receipts. DU works with Student Universe to coordinate flight vouchers for eligible students and we provide instructions to eligible students on how to book their flights.
Passports & Visas
Student's passport must be valid for at least six months after their study abroad program ends. If they do not have a passport or need to renew do so NOW and pay for expedited service
Applying for a visa is the student's responsibility. In addition, students should be prepared for the following:
- Visa requirements vary by host country, citizenship, and consulate location
- Visit consulate website for information; university/provider may offer some guidance
- We are not able to consult on student visa requirements, nor do we have any sway with immigration or consulates
- May require your bank statements (potentially notarized)
- Summer/winter travel may conflict with visa appointment or processing