Yes! Thousands of high school students study abroad every year, seeking out unique cultural experiences, language immersion, college credit, and everything else a study abroad program can offer. If you’re considering if a studying abroad is right for you, we have all the information you need to consider, such as finding funding for a program abroad and what you’ll need to know before you head off on the experience of a lifetime.
How Can I Study Abroad in High School?
Our program works with students from grades 9-12 that come from all sorts of diverse backgrounds. If you’d like more information about our international programs or are curious about how to apply, you can request information regarding any one of our programs here.
Paying for a summer abroad can seem daunting, but there are many different options to assist with travel expenses. For starters, we offer payment plans so you can make a deposit of $1,000 and pay as you go rather than having to pay the entire sum all at once. To further assist you with financial matters, consider these options as well:
Scholarships are the best option to help you fund your adventure abroad. There are a wide variety of outside scholarships that will apply to your cultural studies in another country, so it’s always a great idea to apply to as many opportunities as you can. Many such scholarships are based on need, merit, or leadership and often require an essay, so prepare accordingly and watch for deadlines if you are interested in applying for a scholarship to assist with your studies abroad.
When looking for a scholarship, be avid and persistent in your search; many different options appear every year, and applying to multiple opportunities increases your chances of being accepted by one. These are just a few options to help get you started:
- Essayontime: A $1,000 scholarship contest based on an essay. Applicants need to be 17 years old or older to apply, so this is an ideal option for Grade 12 students.
- Niche: A non-essay scholarship open to all high school and college students. Winners are selected via a random drawing.
- GoEnnounce: A $500 scholarship awarded monthly. It’s based on updated posts by students rather than merits or essays.
Writing a Scholarship Essay
Sitting down to write an essay can seem like an intimidating process. The required length often varies, with requisite word counts ranging from 350 to an upwards of 1,500. In order to help you get the best results when writing your application and essay, be sure to keep these tips in mind:
- Don’t wait until the last second: Scholarship deadlines differ across the year and often need to be applied for prior to the academic year they apply to. Planning ahead will give you more time to consider the best way to approach an essay topic, too.
- Target your audience with your writing: The best way to understand what organizations are looking from in their applicants is to look into essays that have previously won. While you shouldn’t adapt your writing style to be exactly the same, this can provide guidance about how you should approach the essay topic.
- Work on a strong thesis: The art of a strong introduction begins with concise writing that captures interest quickly. Try to avoid generic language and vague facts to make your introduction more personal and hard-hitting.
- Use an angle you care about: Scholarship essays rarely allow applicants to work with a topic they come up with themselves, so you should expect to work with topics that don’t always resonate with you. It’s important to find an angle within the topic that you can be passionate about so it’s reflected in your writing. In an essay about conservation, for example, you can do research about environmental issues that directly affect the community you live in.
Have a Do-It-Yourself Attitude
You can campaign for yourself and the opportunity to travel abroad. This can mean anything from starting a compelling GoFundMe campaign to collect donations for your education abroad or taking on work outside of school to earn money for travel. When you express your passion for having life-changing experiences in a completely different country, you’ll often find support to help you achieve your goals.
Planning for Travel
Once you’ve planned out how to pay for your trip abroad, there are still other considerations and concerns that undoubtedly come to mind. Getting your passport in order and finding out where you’ll be staying while abroad is just the beginning. As you prepare for travel, you should bear in mind that:
Passports Should be Accounted for Ahead of Time
Getting your U.S. passport can take 6-8 weeks once you file your paperwork, so it’s important to finish the process well before you intend to travel abroad for you education. Since the minimum age for regular passports is 16 years old, it may be your first time filing for a regular passport. If you’ve travelled out of the country before, be sure that your passport is still current, as child passports received before the age of 16 are only valid for 5 years rather than the 10 years adult passports are valid for.
If you are younger than 16 when you intend to study abroad, you’ll need extra paperwork when applying for a passport. This is because the approval of both parents is needed for a child passport, so if both parents can’t make it with you to apply for a passport with their ID’s and proof of parenthood (this is usually stated on your birth certificate), you’ll need to bring an extra form giving you permission to travel abroad. The other paperwork you should generally have for both child and adult passports is:
- Proof of your citizenship (typically a birth certificate)
- Proof of your identity (usually a driver’s licence or state-issued ID)
- A government-issued passport form (a form called DS-11)
- A color passport photo (strict requirements mean these are 2” by 2”)
- Payment for your passport
After applying, you’ll need to provide a passport copy regardless of the program you enroll in, so be sure to have your passport ready as soon as possible. If you end up needing to get a passport faster than the usual 6-8 weeks, expedited services tend to have a hefty fee attached, so the sooner you get your passport taken care of, the less you’ll have to worry about possible extra fees or delays.
You Should Prepare for Any Situation Abroad
Although SPI provides some of the safest study abroad programs available, you or your parents may have some concerns about potential emergencies. Studying abroad during high school is often the first time you’ll be quite so far away from your parents, so making preparations can offer peace of mind. Here are just a few things you can do to prepare:
Look into the best travel insurance for you: Traveller’s insurance is almost always required by travel abroad programs. While you’re out in another country, these programs will ensure that you have access to healthcare in the case of unexpected accidents or illnesses. They can also help in the case of travel disruptions or damaged personal items.
Manage your wallet: If you have access to your bank account, be sure to let your bank know that you’ll be travelling abroad. Foreign exchange rates are often best at ATMs, but it doesn’t hurt to have foreign currency already prepared so you’ll have some spare change during your trip.
Download apps before you go: If you’re interested in having guidebooks and other helpful documents on your phone, be sure to download them ahead of time. Data rates for mobile devices are often different depending on the location you visit, which is also another important tip to keep in mind when studying abroad.
Remember the little things: The voltage of phone chargers can vary according to the location you visit, so be sure to look into whether your current charger will work abroad. It’s also a good idea to bring snacks and an extra set of clothes in your carry-on when you fly internationally, just in case there are delays or luggage mix-ups.
You Should Have Some Proficiency with the Local Language
Each of our study abroad programs require that the applicant have at least one year of scholastic experience with the most relevant language to the program. For Central American programs like Costa Rica, for instance, one year of Spanish is required. Not only does this help students get the most out of the program—it will also help students communicate with locals and orient themselves in a completely different country.
High School Study Abroad Programs
Now that we’ve covered most of the basics of how you can travel abroad and what you should prepare for, you may be curious about exactly where you can go with study abroad programs. At SPI, we offer unique cultural experiences in:
- Costa Rica
If you’d like more details about how to apply for study abroad or what each individual program can offer, you can request information or schedule a call at your convenience.