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Guide to High School Abroad

You’re ready to try experiential learning. Maybe your academic advisor shared how much more attention your college app will get with an international experience listed. Now high school abroad is on your radar and you’re ready to see what the world has to offer before settling into a four-year college degree program.

Whether it has been your dream to put your three years of Spanish class to the test in Spanish-speaking countries, or you’ve been itching to see the ruins you learned about in history class, there is so much you can experience abroad! You can study or volunteer abroad on a high school program too.

We also have articles and resources for you parents considering whether to let your student go overseas.

What and When

The What: Similar to gap year and volunteer abroad trips commonly taken by college students, high school abroad programs support the idea that going overseas before entering college can help young graduates better adjust to new environments, newfound independence, and adult responsibilities.

The most common high school abroad experience is studying overseas — usually as an exchange student. But did you know there are way more travel opportunities available to high schoolers than study abroad?

You can sign up for cultural immersion programs, language learning, service projects, volunteer assignments, or even get started on finding your career passions early with an internship.

The When: You don’t have to wait until college to consider traveling overseas. High school abroad programs are available year-round — you can get started exploring, growing, and learning before you even get to college!

There are three timeframes that would best fit a trip overseas: during the academic year (study abroad is most common during this time), over holiday or spring breaks, or during the summer.

Costs & Scholarships

Costs: Like many study abroad, volunteer abroad, and gap year opportunities, the cost of a high school abroad program can vary greatly. While shorter timeframes may lower fees, the necessity for programs with a reputable record of chaperoning underage students can carry a hefty price tag.

You can expect most high school abroad programs to average $2,000-$10,000 (USD) for trips over school breaks and even more for the entire school year. It may be pricier, but it also offers more inclusive packages.

These programs usually cover:

  • Housing
  • Meals
  • Tours
  • Onsite advisory
  • Assist with visas, passport, and flight logistics

Scholarships: If you’ve noticed the abundance of scholarships and grants available for undergraduate students (yet scarcity of high school program aid) don’t give up hope! Finding scholarships for your high school abroad program will require time and research, but it is available!

Start your financial aid search early by reaching out to your program provider; they may offer need-based or merit aid, or be able to recommend scholarships that students have won in the past.

Don’t stop there, though, the web has a plethora of listings dedicated to high school abroad scholarships that can help you afford the adventure of your dreams.


The world is your oyster when it comes to going abroad in high school, so where should you go first?

When deciding on a destination to visit overseas, remember that this is the first of many international travel opportunities to come. you don’t have to rush and squeeze every bucket list country in the itinerary. If you ask us, we strongly recommend against it.

The more land you try to cover the less immersive the experience will be; you don’t want the adventure to become a big blur of packing and being in transit. Search popular countries to explore using our dropdown menu, above, and review high school abroad program options that fit your interests, schedule, and budget.

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