FAQs for parents

FAQs for parents

We know you’ll have questions about your son or daughter’s accommodation – and overall experience – while they are abroad, so we’ve covered in this document several topics frequently subject to questions from parents.

How to communicate with us

We know it can be both unsettling and exciting when your son or daughter leaves to study abroad. As parents, it’s natural to worry, especially when students are not responding to phone calls or e-mails as quickly as they might have done at home. We always respect that our student guests are responsible adults and are sensitive to respecting their privacy; however, we appreciate that some situations can be distressing for parents. We therefore encourage parents to contact the on-site team by phone or e-mail if you have any concerns regarding your son or daughter. A member of our on-site student service team will pop over to their room to give a friendly knock on the door to check that everything’s okay. If there’s any reason why we aren’t able to support your concern, we will always try to direct you to the appropriate department at the study abroad program or university/college.

How do you assign students to rooms and pick roommates?

We take booking preferences very seriously and take great pride in being able to accommodate these in most cases. There is a preference box on the booking form, which allows the student to note any preferences they might have, for example: friends they wish to live with, or location of accommodation within the city. If for any reason we can’t fulfill a student’s preferences, we will always notify the student.

Paying rent

On making a booking with COH, we will ask our students to pay a non-refundable booking fee. This secures the booking of their room and ensures it is held for the student. Once the tenancy begins, this booking fee becomes a refundable deposit. This will be refunded to the student in full at the end of their stay if there are no outstanding fees or damages to their room and/or communal areas.

COH City Community

We not only are experienced in providing fantastic Student Services teams, but also take time to ensure that we know what students want. We work with universities, colleges, study abroad programs and other student accommodation providers to ensure that our service offering is the best for our students. While our sites are authentic city center apartments, we offer so much more than just housing. We know that students are abroad to not only have a great time, but also come out with the best experience possible. The majority of our cities offer COH Cards that give our students discounted and/or free access to great local services, including gyms, game rooms and movie theaters, cafes, restaurants and more. We also hold community events and competitions for students who want to get involved.


Feeling safe and secure is paramount anywhere, but is especially important when your son or daughter moves away. We take great care in ensuring that all our students have access to the best service. We offer a 24-hour contact number for students to be able to call should they have concerns regarding safety & security at any time. In addition, we run a comprehensive housing orientation that covers health and safety in detail, in each individual apartment.

Getting Mail: Letter and Packages

We communicate the postal process to our students when they move in, and we make every effort to ensure that your daughter/son gets their mail safely. We always ask students to inform the COH staff if they are expecting a registered or special delivery so the site team can ensure that someone is available to receive it. We also always ask for the student to bring some ID when they come to collect the parcel.

When something is broken or doesn't work, how can my son/daughter report the problem?

In the event that something is broken or doesn’t work in any part of the apartment, the student needs to report the issues to us via the maintenance report link on our website. Our full service maintenance team works during office hours and is quick and effective, fixing blown fuses, blocked showers, clogged sinks and… yes, internet issues. We also work with local contractors for isolated issues. Your son/daughter will always be given at least 24 hours’ notice if a maintenance operative or contractor needs to access their room.

What should my son or daughter do before they leave the U.S.?

With the excitement of your son or daughter’s upcoming experience abroad, it can be hard to remember everything that must be done! This list will help you help them get ready to go. Print out our list of pre-departure “To Do’s” and see how quickly you can check off all of the requirements:

1. Obtain a Passport
If the student is not currently a passport holder, submit the application immediately! If they already have a passport, verify that it remains valid a minimum of six months beyond the program’s end date.

2. Submit the Visa Application and/or Collect Necessary Immigration Paperwork
The acceptance packet from COH details the documents that the student must present to Customs officials upon arrival in the host country. Please make sure that the student promptly submits the visa application to the appropriate consulate (when applicable) or has all immigration paperwork ready and in their carry-on bag.

3. Complete all COH Forms and Pay any Remaining Balance on the Account
Students who are missing information will be contacted frequently by their Program Managers, so please make sure to check e-mail daily!

4. Complete all Necessary Requirements for Study Abroad Approval with the Student’s Home University

The home university is likely to have a very specific approval and study abroad registration process. Be sure that the student has completed all home university requirements before departing.

5. Make Arrangements for Spending Money On-Site
COH Orientation Packets include recommendations on how much money to anticipate having based on how much past participants have spent while abroad, but you should work with your son/daughter to create a personalized budget to prepare for the experience. Make sure the student has enough funds until the end of the program. Most students bring a combination of credit cards, ATM cards, traveler’s checks and cash.

6. Schedule a Plan of Communication with Friends and Loved Ones
Students often forget just how expensive international calling can be, even with widespread cell phone usage. Students should set up international calling plans at home.

7. Pack Wisely
Students are often overwhelmed by just how much they want to pack in two suitcases. For suggestions on smart packing, read COH’s orientation materials carefully. Don’t forget to place a copy of the COH instructions regarding where to meet the COH group and what to do in case of a delayed flight in the carry-on bag!

8. Be Prepared for a New Culture and Living Environment
Students choose to go overseas to be challenged, to grow personally and academically, and to explore new ideas and lifestyles. Confronting a new environment can be exhilarating and tiring at the same time. Students should read as much as possible about the host country to know what to expect before arrival.

Expectations for parent/guardian involvement and collaboration:

  • Discuss with your son or daughter their goals and expectations for this program pre-departure and at a variety of points during the session abroad.
  • Seek to understand how the program works and how it will impact your son/daughters’ academics upon return to their U.S. campus.
  • Assist with financing and budgeting concerns. Doing so can mean diving into the complicated world of financial aid!
  • Engage your son/daughter in a thorough discussion of safety and behavioral issues, as well as the COH and Host School Code of Conduct. In particular, parents should speak frankly about the use of illegal drugs and alcohol while abroad, as the use thereof is the number one factor in on-site emergencies and personal crises abroad.
  • Establish a communication plan with your son/daughter. When and how often do you want to be in contact while they are abroad? It is particularly worth discussing the importance of a first call home upon arrival!
  • Encourage your son/daughter to utilize their cell phone or see that they get a cell phone as soon as possible once in the host country. Students will be asked to provide in-country contact information to their respective COH office in case of an emergency.
  • Respond quickly to any requests from the COH and/or Host School/Program office.
  • Encourage your son/daughter to bring up issues and concerns directly to COH on-site staff, (roommate concerns, academic issues, cultural adjustment problems, etc.). Strive to balance the concerns of your son/daughter with the advice and expertise shared by COH Student Service Director.
  • Understand how FERPA laws affect what information universities, programs and COH can and cannot share with parents and guardians (in other words, certain legal protections regarding the release of personal information for adult participants affect what COH is able to share).
  • Give your son/daughter both “roots and wings.” Encourage them to take the lead in the planning and execution of this time abroad, but provide support when they face inevitable challenges adjusting to a new environment.
  • Coordinate with your son/daughter if planning to visit the host country so as to not conflict with travel dates for excursions and special events included in the academic program.
  • Discuss any travel plans and activities not included in the program. Ensure that your son/daughter provides you with contact information for fellow travelers, as well as lodging information.

*We thank our colleagues at NAFSA, API, Arcadia and CISAbroad for their work outlining expectations for parents and guardians, and for inspiring COH to articulate the information and recommendations above.