Frequently Asked Questions About Studying Abroad
Below you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions about studying abroad on a high school exchange program. Have a question that’s not listed? No problem! Just get in touch with us today for more information.
Why should I study abroad?
ISE’s Travel & Study Abroad Program will take your academic, career, and life opportunities to new levels! College admissions and employers love compelling personal growth stories, and Travel & Study Abroad will supply you with those stories.
Some of the many benefits of participating in our programs include:
Academic & Career Benefits
- Stand out during the college admissions process
- Develop new language skills in an immersive environment
- Develop problem-solving skills
- Identify interests to better select academic & career paths
- Establish cross-cultural skills
- Improve academic scores
- Improve personal organization and time management skills
- Develop a sense of adaptability, independence, and self-reliance
- Boost self-confidence
- Learn about new lifestyles
- Experience new cuisines
- Make lifelong friends
- Gain life experience
Why study abroad with International Student Exchange?
Since 1982, our nonprofit organization has remained committed to educating future leaders and making a positive, long-lasting impact in communities.
To make cross-cultural experiences accessible to more people, we offer the best pricing available to our participants...and we do so without compromising the quality of the experience or level of support offered.
We assign each participant a personal Program Manager, so you’ll receive assistance throughout your entire program experience by someone you know by name. We also provide 24/7 support from our dedicated Student Services Team.
Lastly, the trusted international organizations we partner with have been trained and certified over the course of many years working to provide study abroad programs
Does studying abroad in high school help with college admissions?
“The summer abroad experience does lend itself to some very important essays that students write.” Deputy director of admissions for the University of Texas
“A lot of schools, including ours, are looking for a diverse perspective, and international experiences lend themselves to that.” - Admissions Advisor, University of California
“Anything that makes your application stand out is a good thing.” - Admissions officer, University of Chicago
“Not only does studying outside the United States help build necessary language fluency for all college-bound students, it shows those headed to elite institutions will go outside their comfort zone and expand to meet the challenge. Nothing speaks to the ethics of those institutions quite like a commitment to that kind of excellence and personal achievement.” - Admissions Advisor, New York University
What makes someone a good exchange student?
First and foremost, program candidates should be mature, open-minded, and adaptable. Wondering if our Travel & Study Abroad Program is right for you? Check out our article Should You Study Abroad? 8 Signs You’d Make a Great Exchange Student to find out!
When can I study abroad?
During the Academic Year (Visit Our High School Programs Page for Specific Dates)
- Short Term Option (1-2 months)
- Trimester and Semester Options
- Full Year Options
During the Summer (Visit Our Summer Program Page for Specific Dates)
- Program options from 1-8 weeks
Post-High School Gap Year (Visit Our Gap Year Page for Specific Dates)
- 12-month program option
Where will I live when studying abroad?
For the majority of our programs, you’ll be living with a host family.
A few of our programs offer boarding schools. In those cases, you will be living with other students in a dormitory.
Can I choose my host family?
We offer placements in big cities, medium-sized suburbs, and small towns. For select programs, you can choose the specific location you’d like to stay in for an added fee.
Is airfare included in the program price?
We don’t include airfare in our pricing because we know that allowing people to shop around for the most competitive rates and convenient airport locations is best. Not to mention you might have frequent flyer miles that you could use towards the purchase of a ticket, why take that opportunity away?
You may see other programs that include flights, but it should be noted that often these flights will cost more than what participants could find on their own and/or depart from less convenient locations.
Will someone meet me at the airport?
Yes, pick up and drop-off at the airport is included in all of our programs.
Is insurance included in the program price?
Yes, a travel medical insurance policy is included in the program price for all participants.
Am I required to speak another language?
To attend a high school you must be sufficiently proficient in the native language of the country you would like to visit, but you don’t have to be fluent. Your language skills will improve quickly once you are culturally immersed!
Don’t speak another language? Don’t worry - we offer several programs in English-speaking countries.
How do I apply to study abroad?
We try to make the application process as simple as possible. Here are the steps you should follow if you’d like to apply:
- Explore our programs, options, and countries to find your best match.
- Complete our interest form and, if applicable, let us know who referred you to us.
- Schedule a meeting with one of our Travel & Study Abroad experts.
- Submit your application and a $200 application fee. This non-refundable fee will be applied to your overall program costs.
- Upon acceptance, you will be required to pay a deposit of 50% of the total program cost, up to $1500. The final payment is due several weeks before your departure.
Are there any payment plans available?
All program fees must be received before departure, usually 6-8 weeks before. The usual payment schedule is: $200 student application fee, $1500 deposit before your application is forwarded to our partner in the country of choice and a remainder 6-8 weeks before departure. Personalized installment plans are also available, where a minimum payment is set at $500. We understand that financing a study abroad program might be challenging for some, therefore we want you to know that we are here to help as much as we can. Please visit our Scholarship and Fundraising pages for additional financing hints.
Can I travel alone or with friends when I have free time?
Minors are not permitted to travel alone or with other minors. You may travel with your host family, local representative, or with a school. Students above 18 years old, must coordinate with their host family and local representative before making any travel plans.
How can I make purchases with my spending money abroad?
Making the best decision on how to prepare for a trip to another country where different currency is used takes a bit of planning. Besides US dollar banknotes, that you can exchange anywhere in the world, most debit and credit cards are also accepted worldwide. Before leaving the US you should speak to your bank to make sure that you won’t be charged exorbitant international fees. Many banks in the US offer cards with no international or ATM fees. Also, consider inquiring about prepaid cards. Another option might be traveler’s checks that are an alternative to cash and cards. It is not very common that you will be able to open a local bank account to which you could transfer money to. However, since we live in an ever-changing world, you should never disregard this option; we encourage you to inquire about it upon your arrival. Our local representative will always be happy to assist you. Remember, never keep all of your cards and cash in one place.
How can my child's mental health impact their program?
Moving away from your support network and into a new and unfamiliar environment can be difficult even for the most well-adjusted students. Students with pre-existing mental health conditions may find this adjustment particularly challenging, which could worsen any issues they were previously facing.
We conduct a thorough screening of all applicants to ensure they are in the right mindset to participate. While the majority of students are eligible to participate, we may not be able to accept students who have recently struggled with mental illness and/or are reliant on medication to treat mental illness in order to protect the student’s well-being.
Pre-existing mental health conditions include, but are not limited to:
- Severe anxiety
- Eating Disorders
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Will studying abroad help my child mature?
For students prepared to take on the challenge, absolutely. It is, however, important to consider a student’s level of maturity prior to the program because it directly impacts their success.
Ideally, our programs will push students beyond their comfort zone and into what is referred to as their stretch zone. It’s in the stretch zone that learning, growth, and development - along with challenges and risk - occur.
If a student is not ready and/or willing to move beyond their comfort zone, plunging into a new and unfamiliar environment could actually have an adverse effect and place them in what is referred to as the panic zone. Parents should make an honest assessment of their child’s maturity level and understand that study abroad will not fundamentally change their child’s personality or behavior when considering the program.
What kind of support will my child receive while studying abroad?
While abroad, your child will be fully supported. First, they will receive a personal Program Manager to assist with everything from the initial request to your child’s departure. Then, they will be supported abroad by a dedicated Local Coordinator who will frequently check in on the student and provide monthly progress reports. Your child will have the contact information of their Local Coordinator and can contact them at any time. There is also a 24/7 emergency line managed out of ISE headquarters.
Can our child come home to visit during their program? Can we visit them?
No. Visits of any kind are not allowed during our programs. If you plan to visit your child, you should plan to do so after the program has ended.
Why participate in the high school program?
There are many benefits to attending high school abroad, including but not limited to:
- Developing new language skills
- Developing problem-solving skills
- Identifying interests to better select your college major
- Inspiring insightful college admissions essays
- Improving academic scores upon your return home
- Developing cross-cultural collaboration skills
If I must take a required class, can you guarantee I can take it abroad?
We can’t offer any guarantees that certain classes will be offered at your host school. We can provide you with general curriculum information, but often students are not able to sign up for specific classes until after they arrive in the host country. In certain instances, virtual high school options for required classes might be a useful option.
Can I take the SATs while abroad?
You will not be able to take the SATs while abroad. We highly recommend that you take the SATs prior to or after the program.
Will I receive a transcript? Will my credits from studying abroad transfer back home?
Upon successful completion of the program, everyone is guaranteed a Certificate of Attendance. Transcripts (i.e. grades) have to be earned. To earn the grades, you will have to excel in your classes abroad, in the language of your destination country. All of our high schools abroad are accredited institutions, therefore their grades are transferable to the United States. Please visit Scholaro for more information on translating and evaluating grades from abroad. As part of the preparation process, you have to check with your guidance counselor which classes/credits you will need to graduate or to advance to your next year of high school. Some classes, such as US History might not be offered abroad, and therefore you will have to find a way to earn those credits either before your study abroad year or after. One option to consider is a virtual high school.
If I already graduated, can I still study abroad?
Yes! We offer a post-high school Gap Year Program. Visit our Gap Year Program page for more details.
Are there additional costs I should budget for?
Yes. Additional expenses to consider include (estimates):
- Stationary and school supplies: $100
- School excursions and trips: $50
- Cell phone service: $20-$50/month
- Personal expenses (shopping, movies, nights out, etc.): $300/month
- Bus pass/transportation: $10-$20/week
Why study abroad during the summer?
For students who are unable to travel during the academic year, ISE offers short-term summer programs in select countries. Visit our Summer Program page for more details.
What will my day look like?
Participants in our summer program options will experience a mix of language classes, cultural immersion, and local excursions.
How long is the summer study abroad program?
Our summer program options run from 1-8 weeks. See our Summer Program page for specific dates.
Are there additional costs I should budget for?
Yes. It’s important to budget for things like cell phone service, excursions, eating out, personal shopping, etc. A fair estimate would be between $300-$400 per month, but it’s a good idea to research where you’d like to go/what you’d like to buy prior to your departure.
Why participate in a Gap Year Program after high school graduation?
Post-high school programs are gaining popularity for a multitude of reasons. First, there is a lot of research that points to a Gap Year program as a great source of academic growth, language learning, and cross-cultural work experience. Also, it contributes greatly to personal growth and development. A Gap Year allows students to re-examine their goals, gain new perspectives, make friends from diverse backgrounds, and learn more about themselves. Visit our Gap Year program page for more details.
What will my day look like?
Participants in our Gap Year program may participate in several different roles and activities, including but not limited to:
- Teacher’s Assistant
- Volunteering/Community Development
- Farming & Sustainability