High School Exchanges
High School Exchanges

In the United States, "high school" is the term used to denote the three or four years of education that precede college or university study. High school is equivalent to secondary school in many countries.

Exchange programs for high school students range in length from a few weeks to a semester or an academic year. Many include a "home stay" in which the student lives with a host family for the duration of the program. Students who participate in these exchanges are generally self-funded, and scholarships are rare. However, there are a few well-established international organizations, such as Rotary International, the American Field Service (AFS), and the Lions Club, that offer exchange programs that are partially or fully funded. If these organizations have a presence in your home country, contact them directly to see what programs are available.

Another option is to arrange for your own attendance at a U.S. high school. If you would like to do this, a good starting point is to contact the department of education for the state where you wish to study and request information on schools within that state or in a particular section of the state. EducationUSA information and advising centers are likely to have contact information for all the state departments of education. Information on private schools in the United States can also be found at EducationUSA centers or by doing Internet searches.

Note that unless you plan to live with relatives or to be part of an organized program, you will be responsible for arranging your own accommodations in the United States. In addition, while public high schools are free to U.S. taxpayers, you will be required to pay tuition. Under current visa regulations, if you make your own arrangements to attend a U.S. high school, you must enter the United States on an F-1 visa, not a tourist visa. If you are attending a U.S. public high school, you must show proof of having paid the unsubsidized cost of your educational expenses before an F-1 visa will be issued. The maximum length of time that you can attend a U.S. public high school is one year. If you attend a private high school in the United States, however, there is no time limitation and no prepayment requirement.

English language proficiency is usually a requirement for any U.S. high school exchange program. You may be asked to present a letter of support or evaluation of your English language ability from a teacher or other qualified individual, or to go through an interview in English with a local representative of the exchange program.

The EducationUSA center near you may have a list or directory of high school exchange programs between your country and the United States. In addition, some useful organizations in the United States to contact are:

American Institute for Foreign Study Foundation (AIFS)
River Plaza
9 West Broad Street
Stamford, CT 06902-3788, USA
Telephone: or ; Fax: 203-399-5588
Web site: http://www.aifs.com

AYUSA International
455 Market Street, 17th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
Telephone: ; Fax:
Web site: http://www.ayusa.org/

EF Foundation for Foreign Study
EF Center Boston
One Education Street
Cambridge, MA 02141, USA
Telephone: ; Fax:
Web site: http://www.effoundation.org/

The Center for Cultural Interchange (CCI)
17 North Second Avenue
St. Charles, IL 60174, USA
Telephone: ; Fax:
Web site: http://www.cci-exchange.com/

It is also a good idea to explore the World Wide Web, using various search engines, for the latest information on these and other high school exchange programs.