When most parents and teens think of studying abroad, thoughts of college students attending overseas college programs often come to mind. However, high school students may be interested in attending a study abroad program while they are still in high school and use the experience as preparation for college. How to do this successfully is explained by the following guest post from Justine Harrington, SPI Study Abroad.
Studying abroad as a high school student is a wonderful personal experience – there’s nothing like learning all about another culture and language in an exciting foreign country. But, did you know that study abroad can also be a great way to prepare for college? There are just a few questions to address when choosing a program, in order to fully maximize the college prep potential of a study abroad experience:
Does your program include the opportunity to attain college credit? Some high school study abroad programs offer the chance to take classes in exchange for college credit — this is definitely an aspect worth placing near the top of your list when choosing between programs. Attaining college credit during a high school abroad experience indicates a deep level of maturity in a student’s academic career, and looks wonderful on a resume or application.
One important note: in order to make sure that your future university will definitely grant credit, it’s best to check with that specific university before going abroad – every school is different! It’s also a good idea to chat with your study abroad advisor about how often credit is granted – inquire as to whether more than 90% of students receive college credit for the program.
Is there a global leadership or student ambassador component to your program? Most high school study abroad programs include some kind of global leader or mentor role that students are encouraged to apply for – this is a fantastic way to gain great cross-cultural leadership skills, which will not only help you stand out during the admissions process, but will also aid you during your time in college. In today’s world, global leadership skills (such as the ability to communicate across cultures and understand cultural nuances, and be informed about the world) are a must.
Is your program an immersion-based program, or more of a travel-based program? Both types of programs certainly have their appeal, but in terms of college prep, an immersion-based study abroad program (in which students are completely enmeshed in the culture and way of life of another country) is much more likely to help students in acquiring a second language. So, why is this important? Because, in our globalizing society, demonstrated proficiency in a second language is rapidly becoming the norm among college students. Getting a jumpstart on the language learning process (in high school!) will help you become more fluent in a faster amount of time – and there’s no better way to do this than by engaging in true language and cultural immersion.
About the Author: Justine Harrington is an Admissions Advisor for SPI Study Abroad, a provider of language immersion and global leadership programs exclusively for high school students. Justine is also the main contributor to the SPI blog, and is looking forward to spending her summer assisting with SPI’s French immersion program in Biarritz, France.