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Highschool study abroad- junior year?

honestlyfreakedhonestlyfreaked Registered User Posts: 198 Junior Member
edited July 2013 in Study Abroad
Hi, I'm going into my junior year this school year (in the US) and have been wanting to do a semester abroad for years... I've done some research and looked into some different programs, but wanted to get the opinion of some people who have personal experience with these programs... So, do you know of any programs that you like/enjoy? Should I even do it during my junior year because I know it is the most important for college admissions?
Post edited by honestlyfreaked on

Replies to: Highschool study abroad- junior year?

  • orion12orion12 Registered User Posts: 158 Junior Member
    From my experience, although I am 3 years past the college application season, I don't think colleges place hardly any weight on study abroad experiences in high school. College study abroad programs is a completely different story but from what I have seen, high school study abroad programs (usually for 2 or 3 weeks at schools around me) are basically watered down vacations with a homestay thrown in. Very touristy and not really studying much.

    The only thing that I can imagine a college caring about is if you did an exchange program that was of a significant length, i.e. more than a month, and if this program really immersed you in a language.

    So I don't think you should study abroad in high school just to be a better applicant for college.
  • honestlyfreakedhonestlyfreaked Registered User Posts: 198 Junior Member
    Sorry for the misunderstanding, but what I meant was that should I not do it my junior year because those are the grades colleges look at the most. Also, I am looking at programs that last a full semester or year. Thanks
  • LadyofShalottLadyofShalott Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    hi honestlyfreaked! I'm studying abroad for the next year in Iceland, and I honestly think that the study abroad experience, even in your junior year, will not entirely slander your college applications :) I'm studying abroad my senior year this year, and so I'm currently trying to plan ahead for college apps. If I had thought of doing this junior year I probably would have, but alas, I didn't, so I'm going this year instead. I've heard stories from others who have inquired from colleges whether their study abroad experience would hinder their transcript, and there were apparently a few schools like NYU who did not think studying abroad in high school was a good idea. However, in my experience, the colleges I've come in contact (via e-mail, interviews, etc.) have been encouraging of my year abroad, regardless of whether I would have to take easier classes, etc. (For the record, I've been in contact with URochester, Bryn Mawr College, and Reed college). I say go for it! but then again, I'm of course, very biased. I've chosen to study abroad with AFS because they have a really strong record in helping high-schoolers study abroad, this is basically what they do, and there are also a lot of benefits you can't get from other study abroad programs like secondary health insurance. there's a forum website like this for study abroaders called cultures-shocked (.org) that can give you a lot more info and advice, as well as a community of other student exchangers. I wish you the best of luck!
  • learnandtravellearnandtravel Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    Speaking from personal experience, you probably shouldn't take a semester off but study during the summer. You could go somewhere, like Guatemala, and do three months worth language study. Depending on whether the college in question accepts the credits, you can circumvent your language requirement entirely or test out of most of the language series through AP or language proficiency tests. In the case of Guatemala, you can go through an excellent language program for ~$13-$20 per day inclusive of room and board. You could probably take some fine arts classes as well. Being able to cut out 4+ classes gives you a good amount of breathing room with respect to scheduling.

    Alternatively, you can try volunteering abroad during the summer instead. Those opportunities could be useful in that you would be demonstrating personal initiative and civic responsibility. They can be surprisingly affordable and give you new perspective. If you select this route, you should be aware that many programs operate on a for-profit model and are basically canned experiences.

    Based on your personal circumstance, I would strongly advise doing a summer school program first and then do a volunteer opportunity the summer before going to college. Although the volunteer work would not help with college applications, it would greatly help with summer internship applications during subsequent summers.

    If you want to try volunteering over one summer, I would suggest checking out Omprakash (What is Omprakash? - YouTube). Although you would have to pay for things like room & board, there are no administrative/program fees. If you are ambitious, you can apply for a travel grant and go through their EdGE training program. EdGE is being accepted for college credit at several different universities. More importantly, being able to shave off $1500-$3000 worth of travel expenses is very important.

    Just remember that these decisions ought to be based on both financial, enrollment, and job application considerations. The bottom line is that you want to be competitive for college, control costs, and be able to enter the workforce as a competitive candidate as quickly as possible.
  • honestlyfreakedhonestlyfreaked Registered User Posts: 198 Junior Member
    I love you all, thank you so much for all the help, but any suggestions pertaining on Europe, I just got back from a month in The UK with my family and I'm itching to go back... If there is any summer opportunities that any of you guys know about there I would be so great full!!!
  • bluecollarbluecollar Registered User Posts: 66 Junior Member
    I would highly recommend you look into Rotary Youth Exchange. It's run completely by volunteers so it's cheap (all I had to pay for was my visa and airfare) and you know they really care about you. Plus another great benefit about going through Rotary is that you go to a certain Rotary district and there will be other Rotary Exchange students from all over the world in that same district as you (not necessarily the same city). You also get a chance to participate in Rotary International events. If you don't know about Rotary, it's basically a world-wide service organization that does some pretty cool things in helping out with youth and the poor. Not to mention their campaign to eradicate polio. I was a Rotary Youth Exchange student to Brasil. It was such a great experience, I learned so much and really grew as a person and made so many friends from all the corners of the globe. And of course, I met my girlfriend!

    To go through Rotary you have to contact a local Rotary club and convince them to sponsor you. Rotary.org: Club Locator
  • honestlyfreakedhonestlyfreaked Registered User Posts: 198 Junior Member
    Bluecollar: thank you, I'm familiar with them because I participate in my school's interact club... Do you think this will help me win their favor? Also how am I supposed to "convince" them... Speech, PowerPoint, interpretive dance, a combination?
  • bluecollarbluecollar Registered User Posts: 66 Junior Member
    Being involved in Interact is a great start! By convincing them, I mean meeting with someone and just letting them know you want to participate, explain why you want to do the exchange, why you feel you'd be a great candidate, demonstrate your leadership, etc.

    At your Interact meetings, is their usually a local Rotarian who will come and watch/listen? Because he/she would be a great person to start off with. Someone who knows you and has seen you being involved.
  • learnandtravellearnandtravel Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    I agree with bluecollar that Rotary Club is an excellent place to start, particularly from a networking perspective. It is a high profile organization of affluent, well-connected people with global reach. A number of my friends were able to pursue interesting opportunities (Turkey) during in high school and were subsequently able to more constructive post-college work. One even got a Fulbright Scholarship.

    I am going to take off my employee hat and speak from personal experience. Although the United Kingdom is an excellent place to visit, I would not say that it is the most productive use of time or money. Unless you go through a very high quality program, the perception is that you went of vacation. Culturally, it is does not provide especially "new" opportunities.

    From a cost standpoint, I feel that it is prohibitively expensive. Looking here (US Dollars to Pounds (USD/GBP) and Pounds to US Dollars Currency Converter.) you can see that the pound fluctuates between $1.45-1.65, which means you need to raise a lot more money to do anything. Looking at the Euro (Exchange Rate Average (Euro, US Dollar) - X-Rates) you can see that it's much "cheaper" as far as currencies are concerned. If you look at how much things actually cost, I expect that you'll find that continental Europe is much more affordable after adjusting for exchange rates. Moreover, you can do programs in Germany, France, and Spain--they're all pleasant and have large English speaking populations (particularly Germany).

    Going continental is what I would do if your heart is set on Europe but I would look into Argentina. It's basically a Spanish speaking Italy that has very a very cheap currency, amazing meat/leather products, and a modern feel. The official exchange rate is favorable already ($1: 5.5 Pesos) but you can trade your dollars on the street for double that. You can also take classes through well-regarded public universities cheaply and a good portion of the population also speaks English.

    My two cents.
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