You want to travel but you’re still in high school. Looking for ways to rise to the top of the admissions essay pile at your dream university? Investigate your options through high school student exchange programs.

Get out of the bubble of AP classes, pep rallies, and mundane locker room banter and begin learning about life and yourself in the real world. It’s time to look into what a high school exchange program can do for you.

First and foremost, where do you wish to study abroad? Do you want to study in a developed or a developing country? Do you want to go to schools where English is the primary language, or are you more daring? How long do you intend to spend studying abroad? Is it two weeks, a semester, or (gasp!) an entire year? Do you want to earn transferable credit while abroad?

The best student exchange programs:

1. Study Spanish language and Mexican culture with Arcos Journeys Abroad

Why not learn Spanish in Mexico with Arcos Journeys Abroad? This country is still a popular choice for college-bound teenagers looking for an exchange student experience without the hassle of traveling a long distance. Use your weekends after classes at the University of Oaxaca to explore the countryside, city hotspots, or beautiful beaches. Summer programs range in length from 15 to 29 days. Arcos also offers small group sizes of 20 students or less!

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2. Study abroad in France with AFS Intercultural Programs

Attend high school in France through AFS Intercultural Programs, but think beyond Paris. From the Alps to the Mediterranean, France has a wealth of places to visit, including sprawling cities, small towns, and picturesque villages. Stay with a host family to discover what makes the French tick. Students must have completed at least one year of French before enrolling in year-long or semester programs.

3. Do a remote internship abroad with Absolute Internship

Are you struggling with college applications and don’t know what to put on your resume? Not sure what you want to study? Absolute Internship is here to help! You can complete a remote internship with this provider in one of the following career fields: business, technology, non-profit, or creative. Throughout your program, you will be given real responsibilities and will be expected to produce tangible results that will help you narrow down your career goals and gain professional experience. It’s the ideal solution for those who can’t afford to travel abroad or are restricted by Covid.

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4. Do a high school exchange and volunteer in Costa Rica with Nacel International

Nacel International provides students with the opportunity to live with a host family while also helping the environment. Learn at a private high school with its very own INBio (Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad) park! Work in the butterfly farm, plant trees, and collect and prepare seeds. This program is only open to high school students (13 to 17 years old) who have completed at least two years of Spanish language classes.

5. Spend a semester in the Andes and the Amazon with Where There Be Dragons

With Where There Be Dragons, you can combine travel, living rough with the locals, and education in two of the most fascinating countries on the South American continent: Bolivia and Peru. Spend three months in the mountains and the jungle soaking up español, developing leadership skills, and learning about real-life issues like environmental activism and social justice. Warning: this program will change your life forever.

6. Do a Youth for Understanding High School Exchange in Ghana

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Sign up for an exchange student program in Ghana with A Youth for Understanding USA (YFU). Programs include year-long and semester academic programs with weekly community service programs with local organizations. Scholarship opportunities are also available. Programs can last from as little as five weeks to one year.

7. Learn Chinese in China with Go Abroad China

Do you struggle with Mandarin? Travel Abroad Immersion language classes in China include conversation with native speakers. Eat authentic Chinese cuisine (think beyond kung pao chicken) with a host family and hire a tutor for extra language assistance. For beginners or more advanced students, you can choose from one-on-one or small group programs. GAC also provides round-the-clock support, allowing you to relax.

8. Travel the World with Think Global High School

Think Global School is a traveling high school where students can live and study in a different country each semester. Imagine getting schooled in four countries over one year! This is the perfect opportunity to study and apply what you’ve learned in the field. Locations include Argentina, Australia, Bhutan, China, Ecuador, India, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Tanzania, and the US.

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