High School Exchange in the USA- Classic
A land of opportunity
The United States of America is a country which many people, both young and old, dream of exploring, to achieve new goals and fulfil their dreams. It is a country that excites visitors due to the nature of its people and its vastness and variety. It conveys images that have previously only been seen in film. With so much to do, a year on a high school exchange in the USA won’t disappoint you.
The USA is a country of such variation that a placement in one state could be a completely different experience to a placement in another. With placements across the 50 states, you will truly participate in life in the USA. There are many opportunities to try different sports and pastimes. Maybe you are a star American football player in the making, or you might become a keen debater in the school club. Whatever you choose to involve yourself in, you will meet a wonderful, warm people who wish to welcome you warmly and involve you in their lives.
Life as an exchange student in the USA
Wherever you are placed in the USA, you will receive a hearty welcome and become a member of your new family. You should expect to be placed in a rural or suburban location. If you dream of living in a specific city then the options below describe what choices you can make, whether it is a regional request or enrolling in the Private Preferred Program. There are many options for you on a high school exchange in the USA.
Americans are friendly and kind so you will soon feel part of the community. American families come in all shapes and sizes so it is important to have an open mind about the nature of your host family. Family life is similar to the one you know in the UK, with mealtimes varying across the week, and the weekend being a time to spend together as well as with friends and at clubs. Warmth and kindness will be a common theme for you wherever you are in the USA.
The American school system
As an exchange student in the USA, you will be enrolled into a local High School which holds Grades 9-12. Your school will decide which year you should enrol into: freshman, sophomore, junior or senior year. It is not possible to graduate from school in the USA on the classic exchange program. If you wish to do so, you must consider our Public or Private Preferred program.
The school year varies from state to state, but the majority start in August and end in June. Departures for the USA are usually around mid to late August. Some schools ask that students are there for the first day, while others prefer that they arrive a week or two later. Whenever you arrive you will be warmly welcomed and soon become part of the school community. The school day typically runs from 8am to 3pm, Monday to Friday. The school year is divided into semesters. It is usual that topics are studied for one week or so, and students are then tested before moving on to the next topic. The end of semester tests (or mid-terms) are based on work that has been done in the semester. You then move on to new subjects and topics in the following semester.
Host families will provide students with a packed lunch on school days or you can choose to get a hot meal at the school canteen. You will also have a locker at the school to store your books. Often students take the iconic yellow bus to and from school. It is unusual for families to drive students to school so you must use public transport or cycle or walk.
To attend school in the USA it is necessary that you have sufficient vaccinations. We are unable to accept any student who has not had or is not prepared to have the required vaccinations, which are far more wide-ranging than those standard in the UK and include a TB test. Our staff will confirm the requirements. At the time of application it is not necessary that all required vaccinations have been administered, but you should schedule clinical appointments for the outstanding ones as early as possible.
You will arrive in the USA at your host family’s local airport. Here you will be met by your family or your Area Representative and you will head to your new home. You will receive a local orientation with your Area Rep soon after arrival so that you can learn more about life in the USA on exchange and get to know your support network. Or you can choose to join the New York camp …
On arrival in the USA, you can opt to join the New York 4-day orientation camp, which takes place on set dates from late July into August. There you will join other arriving students for a few days of fun and a lot of sightseeing. Enjoy the orientation and then see all the sights including, amongst others, the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. Have a blast in NYC!
Our US partner offers fully organised and chaperoned trips for students to join. You can spend a week in Hawaii, visit New York, or explore Las Vegas or Los Angeles and see all the sights. The cost of the trip includes all activities and meals, and trips are exclusive to our exchange students. Flights to the destinations are not included.
What choices can I make?
Some students are lucky enough to have friends who live in the USA who might be able to host them. Direct placements with non-relatives are supported and can be arranged. Your host family would undergo our usual checks. The only difficulty might be whether the local school will accept you as a student. But our partner will manage this process for you.
If you would like to be placed in a specific state, our partner will endeavour to meet your request. You choose 3 states and they will work to place you in one of them. Please note that state requests fill up early, so if you apply near the deadline some will no longer be available. Placement in the chosen states is not guaranteed but you will only be charged the fee if our partner places you where requested.
NB. If you opt for Hawaii placement, you must budget additional $250 for school bus and recommended monthly spending money required is $350 a month due to higher costs of living in Hawaii.