High School Study Abroad in England

Flag of England

Studying abroad for a semester in college is popular among students, but many high school kids do not realize that they have many of the same opportunities offered to them right now. Spending a few weeks to a year in England will give pre-college pupils an experience overseas and a fantastic resume-builder. Studying abroad before applying to college is a great way for you to stand out to admissions offices and for future employers to commend your bold and adventurous nature.

The English capitol, London, is a bustling city known for its mix of modern culture and rich history. Outside of London and other major cities in England, there is a charming countryside that is much more relaxed than city life. This country boats some of the world's best universities and high schools, at which many high school study abroad programs are taught. England offers students a variety of different settings in which they can learn, ensuring that students will never be bored and will enjoy studying in this eclectic country.

A view of London and the Thames River
A view of London and the Thames River
  • Language: American students do not have to struggle with learning a new language, though there are some slang terms Americans will come across that will be foreign to them.
  • Popular Destinations: In between studies, students can tour the Royal Family's Buckingham Palace -and maybe get a glimpse of the Royal Baby- or go see the London Eye. Students can view the awe-inspiring Stonehenge or watch a football match with other Englanders. All of this while eating some of the delicious local fare, like kebab or fish and chips! England's location and transportation system allow for quick trips around England and outside the country to places such as Ireland and Scotland.
  • Cost of Living: There is so much for students to do and see in England, but for American students, the exchange rate of currency is not currently in their favor. 1 British Pound Sterling equals approximately 1.5 US Dollars, so touring will get expensive quickly (Currency Calculator). While this could be a turn off, most high school abroad programs include room and meals and some even provide a few trips in the tuition cost! By sticking to a budget, the cost of living can remain relatively low even while enjoying all the country has to offer.

There are many different types of study abroad programs for high school students and those considering this opportunity must research which would be best for them personally. Programs can range from as little as a few weeks to as long as a full year abroad. A student can choose to go to a regular British school and take a full course load there or pick a specific subject. When considering studying abroad, check with local high schools and see if relations have previously been formed with a specific school abroad or program. This could make planning much easier if someone has already paved the way. Do plenty of research with your parents or guardians to decide on a program that is right for you.

King's College Chapel of Cambridge
Maybe someday the next time you come back to London, you'll be going to Cambridge to study abroad again!
  • Summer Program: One of the most popular programs is a summer abroad program. This is appealing because students would not miss out on their courses in America and can still get the abroad experience. This type of program usually runs for two to six weeks and prices begin at $4000 excluding airfare. These programs usually only have students enrolled in one or two lecture-based courses. As there is far less time abroad than a student staying for a whole semester would have, a lot of activities are planned into the student's itinerary. Some of these engagements include seeing the tourist attractions around the country and eating at specific locations. Many of these costs are built into the program, or have reduced fees, and there are not many extra expenses.
  • Subject-Specific Program: Another type of high school study abroad program is subject-specific. Students can enroll themselves in courses such as literature, writing, business, fine arts, history or math. A program such as one of these would be heavy on the subject of the student's choosing and is great for students who are considering that area as a major in college. Depending on the length of the program, a student could take one or many classes in this subject area. Many of these subject-specific courses can also earn students college credit at their future American university. The student must check with the university they will eventually attend to see if and how those credits will transfer to their degree. There may be a fee to apply them and you may have to obtain a certain grade in order for the credit to transfer. If a student takes a basic course in a subject like literature, writing, math, history or language, it is usually simple to have the credit transfer to the college of their choice.
  • Full-Year Program: A student can also choose to do a full year abroad in a foreign-exchange program. Typically, the student resides with a host family from the foreign country. The host family will act as the guide and guardian while abroad, including feeding and housing the student. This program is especially great for students looking to really immerse themselves into a foreign culture. Students attend a British school and get involved in British school activities. Unlike many of the summer programs, the student going abroad cannot have graduated high school yet. A program lasting for a semester or year is typically more expensive, but there is grant money available to American students who choose to apply and qualify. A foreign-exchange program, because of its length and complexity, takes more time to plan than other programs, so if you are interested, make sure to give yourself, your parents and your school plenty of time to get all of your academic and personal affairs in order before the semester begins.

Many programs require students to be of a certain age and most expect a certain grade point average in order to ensure that students will do well academically while abroad. There are usually tutoring and support services offered while overseas, but students must be in good academic standing to qualify for most programs. An application process is normal and may require a teacher recommendation or transcripts from their high school.


Lengthier programs will have students staying with a host family who has been deemed suitable by the program. Students interested in home stays while abroad can find them both in cities as well in country settings. The cost is built into the program but the family provides a bedroom and meals for the student. For shorter programs, students typically reside at a university for their stay and meals are provided by the program or at low additional costs. Most of these details vary by program and length of stay abroad, but this information is easy to come by when researching.


Before studying abroad, each person must have a passport that will not expire while the student is overseas. They will also have to apply for a student visa since they will be taking classes abroad. As long as the student is not working or interning abroad, most people can get their visa by providing a few documents at customs upon arrival in the foreign country, but it is best to check with the program and the foreign country before confirming with a program.

There is a lot to do before a student studies abroad, but most study abroad companies will prepare the students and families sufficiently to make the preparation and the study abroad experience easy and enjoyable.

Stonehenge London
When studying up on your medieval literature and history, don't pass up on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to Stonehenge!
Financial Costs

Flights to England will most likely be over $1000 and booking well in advance is the best way to get the cheapest airfare, but it is important to factor in this cost when budgeting. Some programs provide assistance when booking flights and most will have a staff member at the arrival gate when the student touches down in London, England to assist with transportation to the student's residence. Renewing or getting a visa and passport are other expenses that must be taken into consideration. Depending on the length of the program and what is included, academic costs can vary drastically. There are scholarships and grants through state and national government offices, as well as through study abroad programs, that vary in award money but will assist in paying tuition. Personal items, such as souvenirs, extra meals or excursions not included in the program cost, will have to be factored into the student's budget before leaving for England.

Why study abroad in England in high school?

Studying abroad in high school makes you stand out to admissions counselors, employers, professors and classmates. Studying abroad in high school puts you a step ahead of the students who usually wait until college to go overseas. Living in a foreign culture gives a person a much wider perspective and a greater appreciation for the world around them. It also makes a student more culturally aware at a younger age.

Studying in England offers students the opportunities to do extensive traveling to other countries. Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and Germany are all quick train or plane rides away. Making connections can help a student obtain a job or a placement into schools later in life. Making international connections looks even more impressive and opens the door to more global opportunities. England offers city or country life at some of the best schools in the world.

The education and experiences you will receive here will be top-notch extremely memorable. Students can take classes that they're interested in studying later in life and possibly get college credit for them.

There are a wide array of program types and lengths for students looking to study abroad in high school. The possibilities are numerous and the benefits endless. A student studying abroad in high school, as opposed to college, will have a great topic to discuss in college entrance papers or interviews and when applying for jobs. Any student who is interested in becoming more globally aware would benefit from studying abroad.

London Skyline and Thames River at Sunset
The London skyline reflected in the Thames River at sunset

Interested students have to think about which type of program would give them the best opportunities and which appeals most to them. As this is a big decision, research has to be done before making the choice as to what is best for you. No matter what, a semester in England will provide a student with an incredible resume-builder, fantastic memories and something to talk about for the rest of their life.

Photo credit: London reflected in the Thames River at Sunset, London and Thames, Stonehenge, King's College Chapel of Cambridge

Contributed by Elizabeth Hehir

Elizabeth is a rising junior studying English and psychology at her college in New York. While she has daydreamed of going abroad her whole life, her semester in London in Fall 2013 will be her first time out of the United States. Liz enjoys hiking, writing, reading and rowing for her collegiate team back in the U.S.

Do you think there is something missing in our guide to studying abroad in England in high school? Contact us and let us know! We want to make sure our information is relevant and up to date.

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