Studying abroad during high school offers many benefits and opportunities and can be a transformative experience. While many colleges and universities offer study abroad programs, it is not uncommon for private schools, particularly boarding schools, to offer various travel and study abroad programs for high school students.
Studying abroad during high school can range from academic faculty-led trips overseas during spring break, or spending a summer, semester, or even an entire year in another country.
In this article, we will cover why students study abroad, the benefits and advantages of studying overseas, as well as how to explore various travel and study abroad programs. Last but not least, we will provide you with a few real-life stories and testimonials from students who have studied abroad.
Why Study Abroad?
- Expand Your Horizons – Beyond academic benefits, you may be asking why people study abroad? Well, first and foremost, it allows you to gain firsthand experiences so you get outside your comfort zone. Global awareness is key in today’s world. By studying abroad, you can gain a whole new perspective that reinforces internationally focused clubs and activities at your current high school campus (e.g. Model United Nations).
- Immerse Yourself – Cultural immersion presents opportunities to improve foreign language skills and learn about customs, traditions, history, the arts, and much more. Building global connections through new friendships with locals or others can set a great foundation of important global contacts for later in life. If you decide to attend a university abroad or wish to work abroad someday, having a social foundation in a country you are interested in can be extremely beneficial.
- Gateway to Preparing for College – There is probably no better way to prepare for college than being away from your parents and learning to face new challenges and life adventures. Studying abroad offers a chance to begin the process of becoming independent and resilient. Global awareness is essential to a well-rounded secondary and higher education experience.
- Professional Employment Opportunities – While you might not think about your career while attending high school, study abroad programs provide a competitive edge in many professions. Whether you develop a simple grasp of a foreign language or become fluent, exposure to world languages opens doors to opportunities, and relationships you might never even know about otherwise.
Key Benefits of Studying Abroad
- Academic Enrichment – Academically, the key benefits of studying abroad include: learning a second language, exploring your specific interests (e.g. history, culture, government, science, visual and performing arts).
- Diverse Educational Approaches – When you study abroad, you may travel with faculty from your high school, go overseas with an educational tour company like EF Tours, or you could experience living with a family in a student exchange program.
- Global Networking – By interacting with people from other countries, you may find lifelong friends who could be helpful in college and throughout your life and career.
- Career Opportunities – Studying abroad can expose you to areas of interest and career opportunities. In research conducted by the QS Global Employer Survey Report, it was found that “employers around the world give extra credit for job applicants with study abroad on their resumes, and more than 80% said they actively seek graduates with overseas study experiences.”
Personal Advantages of Studying Abroad
- Develop Independence – Get ready for college and life ahead.
- Increase Resilience – Step up to new challenges and meet new people.
- Improve Second Language Skills – Hone your skills in a second language
- Gain International Competence – Become a global citizen through travel and exposure to different ways of life.
Exploring Study Abroad Opportunities
Finding the right study abroad program is an important part of the research process. To get you started, you will find both a sampling of boarding schools with trips overseas, as well other study abroad and foreign exchange programs below.
Boarding School Trips Abroad
- Army & Navy Academy – Located in California on a beachfront campus, this boarding school (all-boys, grades 7-12), offers spring trips abroad through EF Tours to destinations such as: China, Japan, France, Italy, Spain, and the Galapagos Islands.
- EF Academy – With three locations, this co-educational boarding school has schools in Pasadena, New York and England (Oxford and Torbay).
- Webb School – Webb in Claremont, California, “offers several opportunities for travel abroad each year, organized by faculty both within and beyond the Department of World Languages.”
- Storm King School – Storm King School in New York has been on a number of trips in recent years, including: Italy, Costa Rica, Peru, Fiji, Cuba, and the Galapagos Islands.
- Blair Academy – In recent years, this boarding school in New Jersey, has taken students and teachers to various places, including: Eastern and Western Europe, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
Study Abroad and Student Foreign Exchange Programs
- Youth for Understanding (YFS) – YFU offers hosted stays with families). “YFU has remained a trusted leader of intercultural exchange programs since 1951 because of its commitment to safety, reputation for quality, and exceptional support services.”
- Intercultural Exchange Programs (AFS). “AFS is a leading student exchange and study abroad program for secondary school students, supported and facilitated by trained staff and volunteers. Since 1947, AFS has prepared young people with practical skills, knowledge and more needed to thrive in a global world.”
- Lumiere Education – This is “an organization founded by Harvard and Oxford PhDs with the aim to provide high school students around the world access to research opportunities with top global scholars.” Lumiere has a credit partnership with the University of California, San Diego Extended Studies.
- Maximo Nivel’s Spanish Immersion Program – Located in Costa Rica, students can spend a semester or an entire year at a private high school. Classes are actually taught in English, while students study Spanish as a second language.
Study Abroad Financial Aid and Scholarships
- Free Study Abroad Programs – If you’re concerned about costs, check out the following: U.S. Department of State, Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program, Security Language Initiative for Youth, Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange, and Study, American Foreign Service Association, and Youth Ambassadors.
- Financial Aid and Scholarships – Study abroad financial aid and scholarships include: American Foreign Service Association Scholarship, U.S. Department of State, and Rotary Youth Exchange Scholarship, amongst others.
Study Abroad Tips and Considerations
- Research – Do your research and create a plan to include: countries of choice, programs, and a timeline to complete any application steps.
- Apply Early – Consider applying to multiple study abroad programs if they are highly competitive and apply early or by the set deadlines.
- Communicate – Speak with students who have participated in boarding school trips, student exchange and other study abroad programs. Also, communicate closely with the school or organization in charge of the program to get a picture of what lies ahead while living and studying in another country.
Real-Life Stories: Benefits of Studying Abroad
Student Experiences and Testimonials
“I think sending students abroad is an easy way to set up our generation to be a more globally-minded society.” – Studied in England
“Studying abroad was an incredibly important semester for me. Being away for that long from your comfort zone forces you to analyze yourself, which can be really difficult, but you come out a better person.” – Studied in France
“Get out there and leave your comfort zone to experience the freedom and independence that will make you realize how much beauty there really is in this world.” – Studied in the Netherlands
“The adventures you experience abroad, in a new environment, are reason enough to expand your studies overseas. – Studied South Africa
Note: Testimonials above are from StudyAbroad.com
How Study Abroad Shapes Professional Paths
Studying abroad can be an asset for a broad spectrum of careers but AFS has found particular benefit for these eight careers: corporate business analyst, political advisor, virtual translator, educational professional, human resources representative, nonprofit marketing associate, online tutor, and study abroad office associate.
Additional careers to consider may include professions in the government, military, aviation, technology, business, finances, construction, engineering, agricultural sciences, hospitality, humanitarian aid and other career paths.
In summing up the life changing impact of studying abroad, you can easily see there are many benefits and opportunities. The personal advantages can have a life-long impact on your college readiness, career options, and your personal life. For more information about study abroad benefits in college, check out this article by U.S. News.
As you move ahead, the next steps in planning your study abroad journey entail careful research, determining choices best-suited for you, applying to multiple schools or study abroad programs, and speaking with other students who have studied abroad.
Still have Questions about Studying Abroad or U.S. Boarding Schools? Feel free to reach out to us. As an internationally known California boarding school for grades 7-12, we offer a number of opportunities to travel in the U.S. and abroad. Army and Navy Academy students hail from all over the U.S. and from around the world. ANA offers ESL and ESOL classes for international students. Contact us now.
References: U.S. News articles, QS Global Employer Survey Report, YFU, AFS, EF Tours, Maximo Nivel, Lumiere Education, and various boarding school websites.