« I want to study abroad in America»

« I would like to be part of a study program abroad in the USA. » An inspiring and engaging project for you, but what comes next? You are a student from the UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, or Australia and you dream of doing an exchange program in America? Find in this article some insights to define your study abroad project and find the most suitable exchange program opportunities! If you are currently aged 14 to 17 years old and live in the UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, or Australia, you may wish to broaden your horizons and experience a high school exchange program in a foreign country.

Studying in another country at the high school level will allow you to :

• learn a new language,
• discover a new culture,
• make friends in another country or even international friends,
• expand your academic opportunities,
• boost your intercultural skills
• and help you to become more open-minded.

We have elaborated for you a comprehensive guide to becoming an exchange student abroad:

STEP 1 : Read some guidelines to better prepare yourself for a school year abroad.
STEP 2 : Collect information on opportunities offered to students from English-speaking countries
STEP 3 : Follow our advice for a smooth application to a high school exchange program abroad.

STEP 1 : How to prepare yourself for a high school exchange program abroad?

a. Define your study abroad project

To better define your study abroad project, we advise future exchange students to get inspired by former or current exchange students :

  • Read testimonials from former participants on the exchange organization’s websites
  • Watch some of the numerous videos made by exchange students all over the world, speaking about their daily life as an exchange student, the pros and contras of the experience
  • Get in touch with foreign exchange students currently at your school who can tell you about the whole experience
  • Speak with your teachers about your project and listen to their advice
  • Speak with your relatives to collect ideas and recommendations

Now that you have collected feedback, ideas, advice, and recommendations, do your research!

b. Understand the reason why you would like to do an exchange in America

Before starting to collect information on study abroad opportunities offered in America to students from the UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, or Australia, ask yourself about the interest you have in America. Do you think about studying abroad in a high school in America because of :

  • The language? If you are a native English speaker, you would not learn a new language in America.
  • The culture? How did you get influenced by American culture? Through movies, series, books? The USA is a very diverse country, with many different cultures, and not just one.
  • Education? Do you already know about the American school system?
  • Cost? Do you have a correct idea of how much it would cost to study abroad in the USA?
  • Living in an American host family or rather at a US Boarding school? The experience will be extremely different so think about what best suits you.

Answers are unique to you. You are the one who can tell why you would like to study abroad in the USA. Thinking about this further, you may discover that you could be interested in other countries and cultures and that the USA is maybe not the only destination you could be interested in!

STEP 2: Collect information on opportunities offered to students from English-speaking countries

a. Collect information on study abroad opportunities at the high school level

It is now time to collect information about the programs offered. Browse on the Internet with keywords « high school exchange in the USA », « exchange programs in the USA » or « school year in the USA ». This research may be a bit narrow-minded. Do not only look at information about high school exchange programs in the USA. Open your mind to other attractive destinations :

If you only speak your mother tongue, English, or if you feel that your skills in a foreign language are too limited to study abroad, consider a program in an English-speaking country or an English-speaking program in a non-English-speaking country :

If you have studied a foreign language at school for about 2 years or if you have been studying a foreign language on your own for a year at least, do not overlook the opportunities you may have in other countries such as :

b. Plan a budget and a timeline for your exchange program abroad

Now that you have defined the countries and languages you are interested in, move forward and work on more practical questions for your high school study abroad :

  • What is your budget? Discuss with your parents about the budget that can be allocated to this project. There are programs for almost every budget, depending on length and destination. In the USA you will likely attend a private school and tuition fees vary from school to school.
  • How long would you like to study abroad? This may also depend on your budget: a few weeks, a term (3 months approx.), a semester, or a complete school year. You can study in the USA for a semester but usually rather for a full year. There are no short-term study programs offered.
  • When would you be able to go? For a few weeks during the summer months only, as a summer experience? For a fall or a spring semester? This coming school year or rather the year after? US High School usually welcomes students in Grades 9, 10, or 11.

To answer these very practical questions, talk with your parents and your school counselor. They will be able to help you determine the time and money you can dedicate to your high school exchange abroad.

STEP 3: Follow our advice for a smooth application to a high school exchange program abroad.

a. Contact an exchange program organization to start your journey as an exchange student abroad

To apply to a high school study abroad program you must contact an exchange program organization that will help you during the whole journey as a foreign student abroad. They are experts in school year abroad and can advise you and your parents. They will accompany you at each step of the process and are experienced as worldwide travelers. Look for the most reputable organizations facilitating student exchanges.

Having better defined your motivations, expectations, and interests, as well as your allocated budget and time will help your Education Advisor to present you with the whole range of study abroad opportunities.

Check eligibility criteria, application process, and deadlines: make sure you have all the information you need!

Even if you feel that you would like to become an exchange student in America, you may discover that the most suitable choice for you may be a different one. Remain open!

b. Start your application as early as possible

We advise you to start your application process as early as possible. Do not wait until the last minute before the application deadline. You may lose opportunities! If you are ready to apply, do it. The journey will still be long until you start your school year abroad. For a school year starting in August in the USA, applications are usually due as early as March, sometimes even earlier!

Applying early may also allow you to benefit from Early Bird Discounts on your exchange program abroad. Inquire!

c. Care about the quality of your exchange program application

The quality of your application is the first step to a successful exchange program abroad. The care you dedicate to this task will show your motivation for the program. Giving the right impression of yourself will help your future host family or school to better know you and support you during your exchange program. Be honest and sincere at all times.

Anticipate as much as possible: you will need to collect grade reports, recommendation letters, and medical certificates. It takes some time to work on these required application documents.

Have a look at Nacel guidelines to prepare your study abroad application :

Go out of your comfort zone and grow as a person!

Being an exchange student abroad provides numerous benefits: personal growth, open-mindedness, language acquisition, and academic improvement, among others. Even if you are thinking of becoming an exchange student in the USA, open your mind to other English-speaking destinations or even countries teaching in a foreign language.

It is usually very positive to go out of your comfort zone: you will learn much more if you explore a new language and a different culture than yours. Explore high school exchange programs offered by Nacel Educational Travel to get inspired!

Provide your contact information for further assistance and advice!

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