Ah, summer — a time to relax and bask in the sunlight and homework free days. Right? Well…
While summer is a great time for high school students to recharge their batteries, it’s also an important time of year to engage in activities that will impress future colleges. After all, admissions offices want to see that you did more with your free time than just hang out poolside.
Summer jobs, internships, and volunteer work are all common (and great) options for high schoolers, but have you ever considered spending the summer abroad?
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to wait until college to study abroad. Tons of students just like you take advantage of unique summer abroad programs each year. Not only is this a great way to stand out on your college applications, but it will also help you develop your independence while gaining a larger perspective on our world. Not too mention you get to spend the summer in a beautiful foreign destination and make new, potentially life-long friends.
If this sounds like something you’d like to do, keep reading. There are actually four different types of high school summer abroad programs. Here’s what you need to know about each one to find the one that’s right for you.
1. High School Summer Exchange Programs
This is the typical program that you might think of when you hear about high school summer abroad programs. It involves going to a high school in another country – and staying in another family’s home — for anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months.
This is perfect if you’re interested in taking some summer classes and earning some extra credits. Just make sure the class you take abroad will be accepted by your high school and will count toward the credits you need to graduate.
Some popular options for this type of high school summer abroad program include SPI Study Abroad, which will take you to Spain for the summer and Abbey Road High School, which allows you to study in France.
2. Language Immersion Programs
If you’re set on learning another language in high school – and you want to at least approach fluency – a language immersion program is the perfect summer abroad option. There’s no better way to really learn a language than actually living in the country of origin.
Plus, it’s a lot more fun when you’re using your language skills to order a chocolate croissant in Paris than when you’re sitting in class memorizing vocab lists.
If you’re hoping to learn Spanish, there are lots of Spanish language immersion programs for you to choose from and because the language is so widely spoken, you’ll have your pick of destinations from Mexico and Spain to Costa Rica and Argentina.
Just be aware that the Spanish you encounter in each of these destinations will vary, so make sure you choose a program where you’ll be learning the type of Spanish you’re most interested in.
If Spanish isn’t your thing, there are also plenty of great options for learners of any language including French, Italian, German and even Mandarin.
3. Volunteer Abroad Programs
Not all high school summer abroad programs require you to sit in a classroom like you would in the US. Some are more focused on allowing you to do volunteer work in another country. These options could include building houses in Mexico or helping to save endangered species in Brazil, to name just a few examples.
These are ideal if you’re all caught up on your high school coursework and want to spend your summer not just in another country, but also helping others. Not to mention, listing volunteer work on your resume and college applications is always a good idea!
4. Adventure Abroad Programs
Some high school summer abroad programs are more focused on ensuring you have a truly engaging experience in another country, usually by exploring the land with a guide and several other visiting students.
For example, you might go on a hike through a famous mountain one day and tour a well-known museum the next day. What better way to learn about another country than by making memories at all the local landmarks and getting your questions answered by a native tour guide?
So now the only question is, which of these high school summer abroad programs are you going to sign up for?