What are the application requirements for the exchange?
High School Exchange Application Requirements
There are some restrictions on who can apply for the high school exchange program, and there are requirements that we ask of all applicants. Here is a breakdown of what we look for in an applicant and what might prevent you from applying for an exchange. If you are not sure if you are eligible, please contact the office and speak with one of our friendly staff.
Personality, Motivation and Maturity
An exchange student must be mature and motivated. It is important that it is you who wants to join an exchange and not your parents thinking this is something you should do. However, it is also important that you have your parents’ support for your exchange experience.
A high school exchange will challenge you greatly and you will be asked to deal with situations that you might not encounter at home. You must adapt to a new family life, follow new rules, join a new school, talk with your new support network about any issues you have, and, of course, get on a plane by yourself and travel across the world. You have to be ready to meet these challenges and embrace them. You cannot rely on other people to make your exchange a success. It falls to you to make the most of the experience and manage the challenges that occur.
You must be open to adapting to a new culture and be determined to make your program a success. You must have an open mind to the experiences that you will face. You must act almost like an adult, while living as a child in your new life on exchange, and understand that your parents will not be there to fix problems for you. You must be willing to respond to the opportunities that your host family and host school give you, to make the most of every occasion, and to respect the rules. Change is expected from you.
Since this is a high school exchange, it is important that you are a good and dedicated student. You should:
- Enjoy going to school.
- Be diligent in school lessons – and do your homework.
- Get good grades. We require a 5/C grade average. The schools in the host countries do not accept students with lower grades as they worry about your dedication to the experience – so it is important that you take your school life seriously.
We ask for references from your teachers and copies of your school reports for the past three years as part of your application.
For most destinations you must have experience with the language, but this can be through home-study or at school.
Japan does not accept home-schooled students, while other destinations can.
Why do we make such demands on you academically?
We want to be sure that you will succeed on the high school exchange program. Whether you travel to a country that has English as the first language or not, school will present challenges. It is important that you are able to cope with the new school both personally and academically.
The schools abroad expect all exchange students to be strong academically, as this gives them a certain guarantee that you can keep up with the teaching. We must, however, emphasise that good grades in themselves are not sufficient on your student exchange application, you must also show active participation in school and that you want to make an effort.
As you have English as your native language, many of our partners have different rules regarding your language proficiency. Many of our destinations ask that you have between 1 and 2 years of experience with their language. Some destinations such as Brazil, Argentina, Denmark, Finland and Norway do not require you to have learnt their language before departing on exchange. However, if you want to go to a country where English is not the first language, you must be committed to learning the language and studying as much as possible before you depart. The more you know on arrival, the easier the transition will be. It wouldn’t be acceptable for you to arrive on exchange with no knowledge of the language as you would struggle to establish yourself on the program.
You must be prepared to speak the native language at home and at school while on exchange. You cannot rely on the fact that others speak English.
Health: psychological or physical disorders
If you have a history of psychological or physical health problems, we cannot as a rule accept you on the exchange. The student exchange program uses volunteer families and schools, and so we cannot accept students who might require additional care or support. We cannot ask host families and schools to work with students who have a condition that they are not familiar with and may not be able to manage. It is not fair to the host family – and certainly not fair to you and the needs you may have.
If you have had a psychological issue in the past, whether or not we can work with you will depend on how long it has been since you were last seen by a doctor or were cleared by or consulted a psychologist, etc. It may be very difficult to find host families willing to manage a possible relapse during your stay. A high school exchange is a major character challenge, and the risk of a relapse can therefore be great. You will face challenges that you have not dealt with before which many students can struggle with. If you are not psychologically strong then the you may not succeed on the program.
Allergies and dietary restrictions
We can accept students with allergies and dietary requirements or restrictions, but it does depend on the type and severity of the allergy or diet. For a serious allergy or dietary restriction some partners will agree to work with your application, but will only accept you conditionally. This means that they would only accept you fully if they can find you a host family.
If you are a vegetarian or pescatarian, then we will be able to accept you onto the program. A vegan or coeliac student may only be accepted conditionally based on whether a host family can be found. Sadly, our Japanese partners are not able to work with students who have a dietary restriction as it makes it very hard to find a family.
We cannot accept your exchange student application if you have a serious or potentially deadly food allergy. It will be very difficult to find a family that will take on the extra responsibility of having to take your allergy into account. It would be too much to ask a host family to be responsible for your health in this way.
We cannot guarantee that we can accept you if you are allergic to furred animals. You should as a minimum be able to live with either a dog or a cat, as in many countries 80-90% of all host families have a dog or a cat. Unfortunately, our US partner will not accept any student with an allergy to a domestic pet.
Some of our exchange destinations are now requiring that applicants are vaccinated against COVID in order to apply. Other destinations will only accept students conditionally if they are not vaccinated, (this means that you could only travel if they can find a school and host family willing to host you if you are not vaccinated.) As most of our destinations require a visa for entry, it is likely that more visas will require a vaccination. Not being vaccinated will also lead to additional costs such as possible self-isolation requirements and pre departure and post arrival testing.
If you do not wish to be vaccinated against COVID-19, please speak with one of our team and we will be able to advise about where you can travel on a high school exchange.