Tired of trying to imagine high school in the United States through clichéd Hollywood flicks? Don’t want to only live vicariously through all of your cool friends who gloat about their American study abroad experience? Then it’s time to do some research, pack your bags, and embark on your own USA adventure by studying high school here!
The great thing about studying high school abroad in the United States is that it’s a huge country with a whole lot of diverse cultures and climates to choose from. Want to experience the ultimate city life? New York City awaits you. Looking for some sick slopes and calm lakes away from the urban dwellers? Time to hit up Colorado. Don’t like the cold? California is always a fail proof choice.
This hodgepodge of a county has a perfect destination for every student’s wants and needs, along with some top-notch education, and -- for non-native English speakers -- the chance to immerse yourself in the most in demand language in the world.
School years usually start in September and end in May or June with the year usually split into semesters or three quarters. There is a huge variety on study abroad programs for high school in the US. First you need to consider if you want to do a homestay program and attend a public school or perhaps do an exchange at a private boarding school.
There are also special summer programs if you can’t commit an entire semester or year to studying abroad:
- Quest hosts a program for international students to experience the quintessential American high school experience. Program duration ranges from 1 month to a year and the program fee takes care of everything from tuition to accommodation. You will attend a public or private high school and live with a host family. This is a good route for someone looking for a one step, hassle free experience.
- Another possibility is to do a pre-college program at an American university, like through ASA Summerfuel These programs not only give students a glimpse into the American university system if you are considering applying after high school, they also include activities and excursions that help students involve themselves in the community and explore surroundings. Stanford offers a leadership development program for high schoolers in the summer and international students are welcome to apply as well.
Studying abroad in an American high school means all your classes will be in English. However, not being fluent in English should not be a reason to avoid studying here since most schools and programs offer ESL classes for non-native speakers.
Also, be mindful of cultural differences and laws in United States. Unlike many European countries where students are allowed to consume beer at age 16, the US enforces a strict drinking age of 21 -- and we mean strict.
Discuss requirements with specific programs you choose to travel through. If you are trying to study abroad without a program and establish direct contact with the school, check for minimum requirements with admissions.
Public schools require that students have a physical address within the school district so it is extremely important to coordinate with your homestay family or alternative accommodation to determine your eligibility for specific schools. For pre-college programs at universities, an application is usually required and you must be accepted to attend.
Private boarding schools have dorms for students to live in and university pre-college programs also have student housing for visiting students. Attending a public school usually means staying with a host family so you are allowed to attend the high school in district. Specific programs might arrange alternative housing options as well.
High schools require certain vaccination according to state and federal laws so always make sure to contact the school and check with your doctor to see what vaccinations you are missing. An F-1 student visa is required to study abroad in the US and an interview is required if you are 14 or older. The application fee is $160 and visas are issued for up to 120 days. If studying through a high school abroad program, coordinators will usually assist you in applying for a student visa. Check United State Government's page on student visas for detailed requirements.
Tuition for private schools in the US range from free to $50,000 and upwards. Public schools are free granted your host family resides in the school district boundaries. Studying in the US through an organized program will sometimes cost more but provide additional support and a simplified process for the student -- which, surely, will make your parents happy!
Top Reasons to Study Abroad in the United States
For the Culture: And by culture, we mean diversity. The US is such a mixing pot of different cultural and ethnic groups that it is truly possible to experience so much in one country. Studying in the US is a celebration of the diversity that makes up “American culture” and it is truly unique in the world.
For the Food: Much of the culture mentioned above is reflected through the delicious food. You can indulge in French food in France, grab a beer in a pub in England, or try the tapas in Spain. But in America, you can do all three (at once). The major cities all have some form of Chinatown with dim sum that rivals the restaurants in Asia. Mexican food in the US is basically it’s own food group so be sure not to miss trying out a California Burrito if you’re on the west coast!
For the Education: With all of these alluring reasons to study abroad in the US, don’t forget the reason you’re choosing to study not just travel abroad to the US. High school education in the US places an emphasis on producing well-rounded students. This means you can take that drama or woodshop class in addition to learning about the Declaration of Independence and cross multiplication.
Why Study High School in the United States?
Study abroad in the US if you want to have an American high school experience and develop hobbies without compromising education quality. The teachers and students at your new high school will inspire you to develop your personal interests as well as learn about the United States.