For Families

Sending your student on an overseas program is a big decision. For many students, this will be the first time they spend a significant length of time away from their parents, let alone travel overseas. However, for those parents and students willing to take on the challenge of a study abroad program, the rewards are immense.

Our office works with students to examine their study abroad options while focusing on their academic, financial and personal needs. Once students select a program and are accepted, we work to prepare them for the academic and intercultural experiences they may encounter abroad. Our orientation program includes information about travel, health, safety and culture abroad. In addition, we pay careful attention to world events to help ensure the safety and security of students abroad.

Study abroad offers the ideal vehicle for parents to support their students in learning more about themselves. It offers the student a unique opportunity to learn in another culture, within the security of a carefully chosen host family and host institution. Students studying a foreign language will perfect the accent and greatly expand their vocabulary—a skill retained for life. Students taking science and engineering courses abroad will experience unique insight into how such courses impact that country. Past Harvey Mudd students echo that studying abroad has helped them to:

  • Make new friends from across the globe
  • Become more independent
  • Take courses not offered at their home university
  • Become more literate in global issues
  • Acquire essential life skills

The Harvey Mudd Office of Study Abroad recognizes the important role that parents and family play in a student’s study abroad experience. Our goal is to provide resources to help families learn how to best support and encourage their student before, during and after the international experience. If you have questions about this experience, we encourage you to talk with your student and review the following resources. If you still have questions, we invite you to contact us at or 909.607.3993.

Preparing to Study Abroad: Tips for Parents

Once your student has been accepted to study abroad, we encourage you to work with them on the forms that must be completed and arrangements that must be made. This includes travel arrangements, visas, health and safety issues, payments for the program and accommodations. Talk with your student and encourage him or her to obtain as much information as possible about all requirements.

Understanding Policies and Costs

Make sure your student understands the application process, costs and program dates, as well as what is covered in the program fee and all policies regarding credit transfer. Get proper documentation: Check that your student has a valid passport and leaves a copy of that and other important documents—such as flight itinerary and credit card information—with you at home. It is also a good idea for you to have a passport in case of emergency and to be designated as an emergency contact so others can contact you quickly if the need arises.

Finding Out About the Destination Country

Encourage your student to learn as much as possible about the destination abroad and read the Harvey Mudd College pre-departure handbook. The Culture Grams (located in our office) and State Department consular information sheets provided to your student at the orientation are excellent resources for information about culture and safety concerns in each country.


Plan ahead for ways to regularly contact your student, such as international calling cards, inexpensive phone plans, Skype (computer calling), email or instant messaging.

Be familiar with the program sponsor’s plan in case of emergency. Your student should also have his or her own emergency plan and should—at all times—carry emergency information cards (which include contact phone numbers and alternative methods of contact in case of an emergency). Emergency cards with local in-country information are typically provided by the program provider; however, Harvey Mudd students are also given personal emergency cards to complete. Students are instructed to provide a copy of this card to their immediate family and to our office.

Have the contact information for the OSA handy. We are here to help! In case of an after hours emergency, students and families may call the Harvey Mudd dean on call at 909.717.7157 or Campus Safety at 909.607.2000. Parents can find the aforementioned numbers, along with several others, on the Contact Information Sheet provided by your students.

Health and Safety

The health and safety of students is the top priority of the College. While we acknowledge that studying abroad is not without risk, rest assured that we take safety very seriously.

Harvey Mudd requires that each student undergo a physical examination no more than six months before departure, plus get any required immunizations (a dental exam is also suggested). Students should also review the Centers for Disease Control website.

The College requires each student to have comprehensive health insurance. In some instances, the program sponsor will provide this insurance—however, it’s not guaranteed. Make sure that your student is adequately covered prior to traveling abroad by completing our health insurance form.

We carefully monitor the U.S. Department of State consular information. As a general rule, the College does not send students to countries for which a travel warning has been issued. There are, however, some exceptions requiring additional waivers signed by students and parents. Harvey Mudd also reserves the right to rescind approval in cases of political instability in a particular country. We invite you to monitor this information at

Some additional steps we take to ensure student safety:

  • We consult with faculty experts and contacts in Washington, D.C.
  • We stay in touch with our affiliates and program sponsors.
  • Our affiliates are in close contact with their staff abroad, who receive frequent safety updates.
  • Staff abroad are in contact with local embassy personnel, local police and faculty experts.
  • Students abroad are encouraged to register their passports with the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate and to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) through the U.S. Department of State.

Harvey Mudd requires the iNext health insurance card be issued to all students. Program sponsors generally issue these cards; or, students may request one through Harvey Mudd.

The Office of Study Abroad also offers links to several helpful outside resources.[link to resources page]

Students receive a Harvey Mudd College Study Abroad Pre-departure Orientation Handbook. The guide includes a useful section entitled “Taking Responsibility for Your Safety.”

If an emergency occurs in which families or students wish to contact Harvey Mudd College after business hours, you are welcome to call the dean on-call at 909.717.7157.

Family Resources

What’s Up With Culture?: An interactive program to support and enhance a study abroad student’s ability to make successful cultural adjustments both before going overseas and upon returning home.

Study Abroad Handbook: Advice for Parents (Courtesy of Center for Global Education)

CIEE Study Abroad

“Advice for Parents: Frequently Asked Questions” – Article by William Hoffa. Published in SAFETI On-Line Newsletter, Vol. 2, No. 1. Winter 2000–Summer 2001

“Before They Go Abroad” – Article by James McCommons. Published in Better Homes & Gardens, August 2006 (Courtesy of Rice University)

“Surviving Re-entry: A Readjustment Manual for Parents” – Article by Leonore Cavallero (Courtesy of SIT Study Abroad)

“Re-entry Culture Shock” (Courtesy of Institute for Study Abroad)

Returning to HMC [link to returning home page]