On a high school exchange program you can see and experience new cultures, make new friends and attend a local senior school while under the supervision and guidance of local people in a safe environment.
What is a high school exchange?
A high school exchange program allows you to live with a host family in a foreign country of your choice. While on exchange you will immerse yourself in the life of the family, attend a local high school and become a part of the local community.
An exchange is different to a holiday because you will transport your life from the UK and settle into life in your new home. You will not just be a tourist in a new city, you will be a member of the town and community.
To go on exchange you must meet the following criteria to be accepted on the program:
Must be between 15 and 18 years of age
Must have a C/5 average grade for past three years of schooling
Must be in good health and have no mental or physical issues
At least one year of experience with the local language is required for most destinations
Open minded, flexible and mature
If you are not sure you meet these requirements, please contact the office and speak with a staff member as different destinations have different rules.
When can I go?
You can join a student exchange between the age of 15 and 18. Most importantly, you should choose to take an exchange when you feel ready. No matter when you travel on a high school exchange, you will develop many new skills and attributes that will support you personally and professionally.
Departures for most destinations are in August/September or January. We offer a variety of program lengths to suit your needs. You can complete a full 10-month school year or just venture away for a few months. You choose what you want and also what suits your British schooling. If you can’t miss school then you can always look at our Summer Language Travel programs.
How does it affect schooling in the UK?
Unfortunately some of our destinations will not accept students who will turn 19 during the high school exchange program or students who have completed school in their home country. Different destinations have different rules so you should speak with a staff member if you want to go on a GAP year or see our GAP year programs page.
Students from the UK who go on a high school exchange cannot use their work overseas to count towards their British schooling. You would go on exchange and return to school in the UK with the year group below you. If you are in the A-Level system, it is best to try and travel between Year 11 and 12 so that there is less disruption to your exams. However students have travelled at all points of their academic career, so don’t think you have missed your opportunity if you are already in Sixth Form. For students in Scotland, the academic system is more flexible and can allow you to travel when you want to between 15 and 18 years of age. You can decide when to go.
Wherever in the UK you live, it is important to talk with your school early on in the decision making process. We have found that schools do support students to join our high school exchange program, but you need their approval before you go too far with the application process.
This is a mind changing experience and you’ll end up seeing things in a totally different way than you’re used to. So, if you’re thinking about taking an exchange year just remember: an exchange year isn’t a year in a life, it’s a life in a year.