10 Ways to Convince Your Parents to Let You Go

So, you're dying to travel on a GLA program but you're worried you won't be able to get your parents on board?

We hear this story time and time again,and we get it. Traveling to a developing nation is not for the faint of heart, and it's not just you that needs to jump out of your comfort zone, but your parents as well!

Fortunately, you're in luck! We asked hundreds of GLA Alumni what they did in order to help persuade their parents to let them volunteer abroad, and we've collected their best ideas to share with you. If they can do it, you can do it!

Top Ten Ways to Convince Your Family to Let You Travel with GLA


It Will Inspire Your College Essay

We hear every year from our amazing alumni, and one trend we've seen year after year is that a GLA program is an amazing way to get inspired to write your college admissions essays. Check out these Common Application prompts from last year, and you can easily see how the experience of volunteering abroad might give you plenty of inspiration for these topics!

  • Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
  • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  • Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

You'll Meet High School and College Volunteer Requirements

Some high schools, and most colleges and universities, have a requried number of volunteer hours in order to graduate or be admitted. If you're going to be graduating from, or applying to, schools with these requirements you might as well knock out a big chunk of them while on your summer break! Whether you look to GLA as your after high school travel program, or are thinking ahead well before the summer before college, we have you covered. Look up the requirements for your first choice college, or use these examples as guidelines to share with your family:

  • In California, acceptance into the University of California (UC) system requires community service (“experiences that demonstrate unusual promise for leadership, such as significant community service”).
  • A survey of admissions officers from 32 of the top universities in the country showed that 70% said they prefer to see a student who sticks with one cause and dedicats the majority of their hours to the cause.
  • The average applicant who attends medical school devotes 48 hours during each of the 4 years prior to applying.
  • Many universities, such as Tulane (who is nationally known for its own service curriculum) award community service-specific scholarships to incoming freshmen. 

Schedule a Call with an Enrollment Advisor

If your family speaks to a GLA Enrollment Advisor they’ll undoubtedly feel much more comfortable about you traveling with GLA. Enrollment Advisors have traveled all over the world on GLA programs, and they can answer the specific, safety-related questions your family might be worried about.


Reach Out to References

GLA has a long list of references- both students and parents- who have volunteered to chat with families who are considering a GLA program for their teen. These alumni have already been through the process of traveling with GLA and they can give your parents all of the details that they want, directly from the mouth of another parent! You can also call references who are from your area, or who have gone on programs that you're interested in, to get the most specific information possible.


Fundraise, Fundraise, Fundraise

Each summer, hundreds of GLA students fundraise the entire cost of their tuition (including airfare). Not only does this alleviate your family financially, but it's also a great experience to fundraise for something you're passionate about! Here is a video to show your family of two GLA students who explain exactly how they raised all the funds they needed. If this is something that you might consider doing, you can also check out our step-by-step guide to fundraising.


Show 'Em You Want it!

Parents want to support us in achieving our dreams, but sometimes they want proof that we really want to do something before they'll help to make it happen. Many GLA alumni have created powerpoints or written essays about why they want to travel on a GLA program, and their parents have definitely responded positively! Pretend it's a business meeting and you're pitching a new idea-- only the idea is volunteering abroad with GLA. You'll be surprised how your parents respond!


Start Volunteering in your Home Community

If you don't already volunteer at home, it may be hard for your parents to justify sending your abroad to do volunteer work. Start showing your interest by arranging for volunteer experiences in your home community! When your family sees how much you enjoy it and how hard you're working, they'll be more likely to give the go-ahead on an international volunteer trip. Better yet? Invite them to volunteer alongside you so that they can see you in action!


Let's Make A Deal!

Remember when you whined about that SAT prep class that your family wanted to enroll you in, or the last time you complained about babysitting your younger brother? There are things that your parents want you to do/learn/accomplish, and what better motivation to do these things than to make a deal? Agree to a college road trip with your weird uncle, or take a couple of extra AP courses, in exchange for the summer program of your dreams!


Go With Friends!

Your parents might be worried about you traveling alone, but what about bringing a friend along? Many teens enroll on GLA programs with a friend or family member, which puts their mind at ease and allows them to have a familiar face alongside them as they work in new situations and push their own limits as volunteers.


Give Them Social Validation!

GLA has created a section of the website just for parents, where they can learn about all of the support GLA will provide your family if you travel abroad. They can also see testimonials from other parents, learn about GLA Alumni who are off doing amazing things with their lives, and connect with other GLA parents in a Facebook Group! Check it out here.