Study abroad programs for high school students are surprisingly plentiful, creating opportunities for teens to explore the world and experience different cultures. Often, one of the most challenging parts of choosing a program is sorting through all of the options.
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Many of the study abroad programs for high schoolers are worth considering, but they each have their own benefits and drawbacks. If you and your student are curious about study abroad programs for high school students, the best study abroad opportunities and locations, and why studying abroad is worthwhile, here’s what you need to know.
WHY SHOULD HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS STUDY ABROAD?
Studying and living abroad is beneficial for high school students for many reasons. Often, spending time in a different country is an eye-opening experience. It’s a chance to immerse themselves in different cultures and often creates a sense of oneness with the global community and international relations that aren’t captured without this kind of travel.
Additionally, study abroad programs create unique learning opportunities that traditional classrooms can’t offer. It’s a chance to see new perspectives and learn a language through immersion, making students more natural speakers. Plus, they’ll be able to explore historical sites up close instead of through a book or video.
Many study abroad programs for high school students are also highly service-oriented. Students support the local community through volunteerism, which is incredibly rewarding and can boost their college applications and scholarship resumes. The study abroad experience may also make students eligible for more scholarship awards, as volunteer hours are a requirement for some scholarships and grants.
Studying abroad also lets high school students learn about themselves. It’s a chance to have an experience outside of their traditional environment, and that’s often very enlightening. As a result, your student may return a more self-assured person, which can benefit them enormously, moving their personal growth and forward.
WHAT ARE THE BEST PLACES TO STUDY ABROAD FOR ENGLISH SPEAKERS?
England is easily one of the best countries to study abroad for English speakers and one of the most popular destinations abroad. Along with English being the primary language, England’s proximity to mainland Europe creates countless benefits and ample opportunities for additional exploration if the university or program allows it.
Australia is likewise one of the best English-speaking countries to study abroad this academic school year. The country’s culture is intriguing, and there are chances to experience environments and see wildlife that doesn’t exist in other areas of the world. Plus, students can potentially spend some time in New Zealand, which is also an English-speaking nation.
However, students don’t have to limit themselves to English-speaking countries. For example, if you’re looking for the best country to study abroad, Germany is a foreign country worth considering. English speakers are pretty common, making it easier for students who don’t know German.
Similarly, The Netherlands has plenty of English speakers, and most won’t mind if your student doesn’t know any Dutch. In The Netherlands, one of the best cities to study abroad is The Hague (Den Haag), as it’s the seat of government, has a breathtaking coastline, and is brimming with historical architecture.
In many cases, high school students shouldn’t focus on finding the cheapest places to study abroad. Instead, students should focus on their academic goals and finding affordable programs that head to destinations that interest them, preferably those with scholarship opportunities that can reduce the cost even further.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR STUDYING ABROAD AS A HIGH SCHOOLER
Studying abroad isn’t something that happens on a whim. Instead, students need to prepare for the experience.
Along with finding a suitable program or internship abroad, students need to take steps like getting a valid passport, and (if needed) a visa. Many study abroad programs can assist with the required applications, but students will have to handle much of the work.
Additionally, students need to consider when is the best time to head overseas. Choosing a summer study abroad program won’t interfere with their high school experience at home, which has its benefits. However, some students prefer the idea of spending a semester or year abroad. With that, students need to research the program to assess the academic quality and courses they’d take, ensuring it aligns with their academic major and their graduation plan.
Further, the timing of a trip impacts packing needs. Weather conditions vary considerably around the world, so students need to make sure they can dress appropriately. It’s also critical to review any packing restrictions to avoid trying to bring items that aren’t allowed.
In many cases, students should also learn about local laws in the destination country that differ from the United States. Some countries have rules that catch visitors off-guard. As a precaution, review materials provided by the program and do additional research to make sure that students won’t accidentally break the law.
5 BEST STUDY ABROAD PROGRAMS FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
1. INTERNATIONAL CULTURAL EXCHANGE SERVICES
International Cultural Exchange Services (ICES) is one of the best high school study abroad programs around. This nonprofit organization is an official J-1 sponsor through the US Department of State and is certified by a wide variety of other organizations.
Through ICES, high school students can explore a range of programs. Plus, the organization handles nearly all of a student’s needs, including arranging accommodations, school placements, flights, medical insurance, emergency support, and more.
2. THE COUNCIL ON INTERNATIONAL EDUCATIONAL EXCHANGE
Another one of the best study abroad programs for high school students is offered by The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). The organization has been operating for more than seven decades, and it provides a variety of options for international internships, including summers abroad, semesters abroad, and gap years abroad.
Throughout the available programs, students can potentially visit one of about 50 countries, giving them more options than they may find elsewhere. There are also programs focused on language learning, allowing high school students to fully immerse themselves and speed up their understanding of different languages.
3. ROTARY YOUTH EXCHANGE
Offered by Rotary Clubs, the Rotary Youth Exchange gives high school students a chance to explore different cultures and learn languages, turning them into global citizens. Rotary Clubs exist in over 100 countries, which may give students more options than other programs.
Through this program, there are long-term exchanges that last full academic years and short-term options that can range from a few days to up to three months. Room and board are always handled, though students will need to save money to cover the cost of airfare, travel documents, travel insurance, and general spending money.
4. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC STUDENT EXPEDITIONS
National Geographic Student Expeditions focuses on exploration and international education, allowing students to spend the summer and join the National Geographic Society and Explorers in the field. During the journey, students are assigned to a project, giving them focus during the experience.
The areas studied can include cultures, geology, technology, tropical biology, and more, allowing students to focus on programs that spark their interest. Plus, many of the trips also focus on photography, giving students a chance to hone those skills and capture images that will help them remember their adventure.
5. MEI INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY
MEI International Academy focuses on study abroad programs for high school students. Along with providing access to resources in a wide array of countries, there are semester abroad study programs that offer exceptional academic experiences. MEI carefully plans the journey to optimizing learning through immersive approaches, allowing students to connect with different cultures.
In many cases, students get the chance to visit multiple countries during the study abroad journey. That makes MEI International Academy a standout option for students who want to travel abroad to explore more of the world.