High School Abroad in United States

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Whether you're an American looking for a high school study or volunteer program in your own country, or an international student who wants to explore the U.S., this massive nation is filled with high school abroad programs. The United States is filled with many different subcultures, as each new state has different opportunities for students.

Give back domestically while spending spring break or summer volunteering with refugees in DC, contribute to service work efforts in Hawaii or Alaska, or take part in a reconstruction project in New Orleans.

Learn more about American history, or spend a summer traveling through the west and south to learn more about Native American life. Take pre-college courses or enroll in an entrepreneur program at one of America's best universities. ESL students could even spend a few weeks in Maryland working on their English skills while living with a host family. Go, do high school abroad in the United States.

Students looking to spend time in different parts of the United States in high school could choose from:

  • Exchange programs
  • Language immersion
  • Volunteer
  • Summer programs
Exchange Programs

Live with a host family and choose whether you want to go to a private or a public school alongside other American students in a different part of the country. You'll take all of your regular courses, like English, history, math, and science, while getting to know a new state in the U.S. Students interested in music, theater, and the arts could even spend an exchange year in California to enhance their performance talents.

English Language Immersion

International students looking to focus on ESL learning can enroll in a short-term program over the summer, where they'll get to live with a host family for a few weeks while improving their English language skills.

Volunteer Programs

Spend your summer or spring break giving back to local communities. There are tons of options for volunteer work, including projects that focus on homelessness in San Francisco, reconstruction in New Orleans, or environmental sustainability in Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, or Florida. You could even focus on Native American community service through the west and south, or work with NGOs to help refugees in DC.

Summer Programs for University Credit

Prep for college while attending a short term summer academic or entrepreneurship program at some of the best universities in the country, including Stanford, UC Berkeley, UMass Amherst, Georgetown, Penn State, or CSU, to name a few.

This is also great preparation for international students who would like to eventually do their full degree in the United States.


The visa process for international students studying in the United States is pretty complicated. However, your program provider should help you apply for and receive your visa.


Students who take part in exchange and volunteer programs will be paired with a local host family in the city where their program takes place or live in a guesthouse with other students on the program. Pre-college summer programs will place students in dorms at the university where they'll be studying.


Program costs vary depending on program type, duration, and state. Direct exchange programs range from $9,000 per semester to $21,800 for the academic year.The cost of pre-college or language immersion summer programs depend on the university, but the average cost is between $2,899-$8,295. Volunteering also depends on the duration of the program, provider, and location, but programs typically cost between $2,000-$5,000.

Costs of living really varies by state and city here in the United States. An average lunch can cost you between $5-9 dollars, and dinner can cost around $25, depending on where you go. Unlike many other places around the world, tipping is a necessity here in restaurants, and most people tip between 15-20%.

Your program fees will help to cover the costs of most of your meals with host families, but students can bring some money to get meals with their friends as well. Expect to budget around $20-30 USD per day.

Packing Tips

Packing tips will depend on your program type, location, and time of year. Students embarking on service work and volunteer programs will likely be outside for the majority of their projects, so comfortable clothes are sneakers are a must. Pre-college summer courses will require modest clothing for the day-to-day campus life, but students should also bring a few fancy outfits for entrepreneur events.


According to The Travel Vaccination Companion, international students must be vaccinated for Hepatitis A and Influenza prior to entering the US.


Like any populated country around the world, students should be aware of their surroundings in big cities, and always keep their debit and credit cards in a safe place in case of pick-pocketing.

Contributed by Danielle Ortiz-Geis

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