Is Studying Abroad in High School Right for Me?

by Rebecca Murphy

Yes, yes. A THOUSAND TIMES, YES! Studying abroad is one of the most challenging, eye-opening experiences a student can participate in, and the younger you push yourself outside of your comfort zone, the better. Many high schoolers are hesitant to study abroad because they think they are too young or they have the “I’ll just study abroad in college” mindset, both of which shouldn’t prohibit you from going abroad now!

If you’re still not convinced and find yourself in any of the below categories, it probably means that you should definitely study abroad in high school.

Dartmouth college campus clock tower with a green quad and blue skies
If you have lofty academic dreams, studying abroad looks great on applications.

Do you need to prep for college?

Living on your own for the first time is, quite frankly, scary. For the majority of college freshmen, this is the first time they have had basically no adult supervision and can make all their own decisions, leading to many a freshman going absolutely CRAY. It might be fun at first to do whatever you want, whenever you want, but soon enough all that ice cream you’ve been eating for breakfast and cereal you’ve been bingeing at midnight is going to catch up to you.

If you feel like you might be one of these people who isn’t prepared to make good decisions on your own, studying abroad will change that instantly. Being thrust outside of your comfort zone on an international level will get all of the fear, anxiety, and nonsense out of your system, enabling you to go to college afterward and actually know how to take care of yourself (while also knowing how to have some real fun in a safe way). Not to mention, your reputation around the dorm will be “the guy/gal who spent a year on the beach in Brazil”, so that really can’t hurt you, right?

Do you not know who you are or what you want to do?

A huge amount of students graduate high school with no clue as to what they want to do with their lives. It takes them a few years of studying in college or working to define who they are and develop real goals.

Studying abroad helps high schoolers answer BIG questions before they potentially waste precious, precious years studying something they don’t really want to pursue. How do you know you want to be pre-med in college if you’ve never helped someone in need? How could you possibly predict that teaching isn’t for you if you’ve never gotten up in front of a class and totally bombed? These experiences are needed in order to shape what you want to be when you grow up, and getting some real experience abroad is a great way to filter options out.

Do you want to spark a new interest?

Maybe you’re totally set in what you want to be when you grow up and you have a defined five year plan (go, you!), but you’re kind of bored in school and want to try something new just to try it. All we have to say is #YOLO. Go study abroad!

Did you grow up watching Shakira shake it and you want to learn how to salsa, samba, and swing, too? Head to Nicaragua and take a dance class! Or perhaps you’ve always had a need for speed and learning to snowboard would be a dream come true for you? Check out study abroad programs in Switzerland! There’s no need to limit yourself just because you don’t have the most “practical” reason for wanting to study abroad.

Young man with backpack facing busy city street
Catch the travel bug early and keep traveling! 

Are you uninformed and wanting to learn more?

If you find yourself getting all of your news updates from Facebook and are embarrassed that you’re unable to name any current president except your own, your best solution is to study abroad. Becoming immersed in another culture will make you part of their society, forcing various types of news and opinions onto your immediate horizons, and ultimately making you think differently and approach situations with a new perspective. Becoming an international student instantly makes you a global citizen, and in today’s rapidly changing world, who doesn’t want that?

Do you want to open doors to lots of travel opportunities?

Travel is awesome; there’s no doubt about that. Regardless of how young or inexperienced with travel you are, you have to admit that a life of adventuring in exotic places sounds totally badass, right? It is proven that students who study abroad have a significantly higher chance of continuing to travel meaningfully throughout their lives, so why not get this travel bug jump-started as early as possible?

Many high schoolers who study abroad end up going on service learning/volunteer trips, studying abroad in college, interning abroad during the summer, or teaching abroad after college. Even if college isn’t your next step after high school, you can participate in most of these experiences abroad as a member of the working world. There are unlimited ways to get involved in something internationally and continue traveling throughout your life, so there’s really no reason to wait!

Are your college applications or resume looking a bit thin?

Maybe you didn’t use your summers in high school as well as you should’ve, or perhaps you only joined one club in high school instead of the four or five that you needed to. Whatever your situation, students always regret not doing just a little something more when they get that “We’re sorry to inform you…” letter or email.

Instead of leaving it up to chance, solidify your college application by adding study abroad experience to it, and it won’t hurt to add study abroad to your resume either. Travel experience speaks volumes about a young student, as it is something that so few students take advantage of. Having global experiences truly sets you apart from the pack, making your college acceptance or job offer almost a no-brainer.

Are you none of the above?

That’s ok, because high school study abroad is for everyone! Even if you are one of those rare high schoolers who has your life together and is as informed and globally-thinking as possible (yeah, right…), you can STILL benefit from studying abroad in high school. There’s no such thing as experiencing too much of the world or being too prepared for college, so get out there and keep learning!

What’s the worst that could happen? You impress too many admissions officers or get too many job offers? Sounds like a good problem to us!

You might be the best candidate for a job after high school or thinking there’s no way you could be denied by that college, but why not seal the deal by adding some international experience to your applications? Even if you’re already qualified for whatever your next step may be, adding some global exposure can only benefit you from here on out. Plus, being that kid who can make the best Nutella crepes because you studied abroad in France never hurt someone’s social stature!

Ready to find the perfect program for you? Use MyGoAbroad to save your favorites and compare program options today!