4 Ways Studying Abroad in High School Can Impact Getting Into College

A group photo in front of the Sacre Coeur in Paris, France.

At Greenheart Travel, we’re huge fans of studying abroad as a teen. Studying abroad in high school has enormous benefits for your confidence, language skills and personal growth.

But the truth is, high school study abroad isn’t only about emotional and personal growth. It also positively impacts your college applications, including how you explain why you’re choosing your major, applying for specialized scholarships, and proving you’re the right candidate for the school.

Students snorkeling in Ningaloo Marine Park, near Coral Bay in Australia.

Snorkeling in Ningaloo Marine Park, Australia.

I know what you’re thinking: but what about the gaps on my transcript, or if I don’t get credit for the classes I take abroad?! (pro-tip: read this blog post if you’re worried about transferring credits!) Well I’ve got news for you! It’s okay. And those gaps are easily explained in essays and open-ended questions on the application.

Here are the top 4 ways studying abroad in high school positively impacts your college application.

1. You’ll Make Your College Application Stand Out

When I spoke to Kyle, an admissions officer at the University of Chicago, he said, “Anything that makes your application stand out is a good thing.”

Student triumphantly riding a wave in Australia.

Student surfing the Australian coast.

Study abroad in high school takes guts – and that’s a good thing. We’re not afraid to tell you it’s going to be hard sometimes, especially when it comes to facing language barriers, making new friends, and navigating a whole new culture and host family. But what do struggles mean? Growth.

When life gets hard and we learn to solve problems and overcome challenges, we reap the benefits across the board, but we also have a great story to tell – a story that is sure to help you write a heartfelt, powerful admissions essay.

Student on a bridge in Malmo, Sweden on a sunny day.

Student on a bridge in Malmo, Sweden.

Plus, your high school study abroad shows you have the maturity, independence and adaptability to hit the ground running when you get to college, and there’s nothing that pleases an admissions officer more than feeling confident you’ll make their school shine.

“A lot of schools are looking for a diverse perspective, and international experiences lend themselves to that,” Kyle said.

2. Scholarship Applications and Interviews Will be A Breeze

After studying abroad, you’ll have some specialized and specific knowledge – and probably language skills – that will allow you to find specific scholarships for what you’re looking to study.

Two study abroad students hugging each other in Salzburg, Austria with mountains in the background.

Two students in Salzburg, Austria.

For example, Sierra Winters, a current full-ride Robertson Scholar at Duke University, found her passion for food systems and refugees while studying abroad with Greenheart Travel in Austria, and came back to the U.S. to fundraise for the Syrian Refugee Crisis efforts. “It was a challenging experience, and  it was one that I was passionate about, and it lent me the genuineness for which colleges and scholarship programs are looking,” she says.

Plus, after you’ve spent a semester studying abroad in a high school where you don’t know the language and have had to make presentations in front of tons of students…. Speaking about your experience to an interviewer will be a breeze!

A student has dinner with her homestay parents in Spain.

Student with homestay parents in Spain.

3. You’ll Know What You Want to Study

Studying abroad in high school opens you to a world of possibilities that you’ve probably never thought of. Seeing what’s out there will help you hone in your skills and passions before you start college. The average college student changes their major several times before graduation and, while we love exploration, it’s better for your pocket and time to already have a clear sense of what you want to study.

Students posing in front of the snowcapped mountains in Argentina.

Students in the mountains in Argentina.

Greenheart Travel High School Abroad in Argentina alum Erin Clark went to Argentina in 2013 thinking she wanted to study business. Once she got to Argentina, she realized she was far more interested in the travel industry. She decided she wanted to study hospitality and tourism, and “that changed what universities I was looking at, and that’s how I found Niagara University,” she explains.

Imagine how different her life would be now if she hadn’t studied abroad!

4. You’ll Have the Confidence to Say Yes to New Opportunities

You might have already heard the phrase “travel bug.” It means that once you get a taste, you want to eat the whole cake! All of us at Greenheart Travel have the travel bug, and we see that as a good thing.

A latern festival lining the street in Japan at night.

Latern festival on a street in Japan.

Once  you see the life-changing experience of studying abroad in high school, you’ll be inspired to seek out more new and different experiences, like volunteer trips, internships, discovering new places and meeting new people.

Two students climbing the waterfalls in New Zealand.

Climbing the waterfalls in New Zealand.

“[Study Abroad] put my foot in the door for any job I want – I’m always the first to apply for jobs and I’m very driven, and I go out and get things done,” says Clark.

That’s an attitude that will positively affect every aspect of your life!

So, are you ready to change your life and WOW your admissions officer?

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5 thoughts on "4 Ways Studying Abroad in High School Can Impact Getting Into College"

  1. Sky says:

    I’m a Sophomore in high school right now and I want to do the Rotary Youth Rxchange. I talked to my counselor and even though she knows nothing about the program, she says it could be bad for my future in college due to credits not transferring once I return from being abroad. I really want to go and it’s bitting at me. I had the idea of doing a few classes online so the credits won’t be problem. I’m just concerned. Should I risk my Junior year and go abroad, or should I give up a once in a lifetime opportunity?

    1. Shannon Pedersen says:

      Hi Sky,
      As every American/Canadian school is different, we always recommend talking to your guidance counselor first to discuss the possibility of credits being transferred (or not). Unfortunately we can’t make any recommendations for you, but always make sure that you have the support of your school and parents/guardians before applying!

    2. Lisa Mercer says:

      Hi Sky,
      My daughter is a sophomore as well and has been chosen to do the Rotary Youth Exchange. It is an incredible opportunity and in speaking with other students who have had a successful exchange, you will not only have an amazing time and growth experience but it will boost your ability to get into a good college or university. We have done a lot of research and attended many meetings with rotarians and rotex about the program. There are plenty of ways to get online credits if you’re needed. Your counselor may have had the best intentions but not having any experience with rotary, she is misinformed about it being “bad for your future in college”. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you should definitely go for it. You won’t be disappointed and have everything to gain from an international experience. Best of luck!

  2. Aigbe eloghosa gift says:

    Is there any technical school that the feel is low

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