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high school student exchange programme USA - Europe


Jul 9th, 2010, 07:57 AM
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high school student exchange programme USA - Europe

My 13 years old daughter is an excellent student. She is self-dependent and this year again she passed her secondary school with distinction. We live in Europe, Austria. I´m tinkering with the idea of giving her the possibility to pass at least one high school year in the United States of America (at the age of at least 15 or 16) or Canada. This should help her to get a good university place - perhaps in the USA, too. Does anybody know about high-school-student-programmes for foreign students in the USA? Do we have to enroll somewhere? Do you have any advices?
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Jul 9th, 2010, 08:35 AM
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My high school in California participated in this program:

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Jul 9th, 2010, 09:08 AM
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AFS as mentioned above is the most common organization. She would not be allowed to just enroll at a US high school without some official organization sponsoring her - for example, even if you knew or could arrange a family for her to stay with, laws in the US are such that she would not be allowed to attend the local high school.

To attend public high school (that is a school that does not charge tuition and is paid for by taxes) one must be a resident of the community in which the school is located (there are some exceptions - too complicated to get into here). There are also private high schools (one pays tuition for these) to which one must apply. Some are day schools - the students live at home - and some are residential schools where students live in dormitories.

She could apply to any private high school and go there without any sponsoring organization, and many of these schools have international students who attend from 1-4 years. To attend a public high school she would need some sponsoring organization.

In the US, "high school" refers to a 4 year school where in general students are from ages 14-18. After this they either get a job or attend a college or university.
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Jul 9th, 2010, 09:18 AM
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I was President of our AFS (American Field Service) club in high school, though I never went abroad. It's a great organization. One of my friends spent a year in Luxembourg with another organization, called something with Veterans in the title (sorry - it was 26 years ago!) Overall I think the chance to do this is a wonderful opportunity. Good luck in your quest!
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Jul 9th, 2010, 09:31 AM
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The education system in the US is slightly different. Usually grades 1 through 5 are elementary school. Grades 6 through 8 are midle school and grades 9 through 12 are high (secondary) school. Kids in the latter are typically 13/14 through 17/18 by end of school year.

Agree that to attend public (free) school a child has to be part of a program that is sponsored by the schools in that district. (It's somewhat differnt in the US since education is NOT a function of the federal government. Laws and schedules, as well as quaity of education, vary significantly from state to statea - and often from district to district. A district is typically a small local area in which the local tax payers elect a school board which runs the school system - within guidelines of that state. Since a lot of school support coms from local property tax - in some places - opportunities and programs can vary widely).

If you want your daughter to take part in this you need to consult the programs available - and also determine what options she has for attending schools in what states/areas. You may find that programs in many american high shools are not as rigorous as those in europe - unless you pick carefully. (Some school districts have 95% of students going on to a 4 year university after graduation, while some have very few students that ever attend university - and many that don;t even gradaute.) This is something you really need to do your homework on.
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Jul 9th, 2010, 09:34 AM
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We hosted an young man from Holland in 1989 . He lived with us and attended our local high school. He was with the organization ASSE. http://www.asse.com/
Both us and he were very pleased with ASSE.They had a multi page document that we had to look over and choose from.
He came back many times after wards to visit with us and our family.

I think that it is a wonderful opportunity for a young person to do
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Jul 9th, 2010, 06:19 PM
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I was an exchange student from the US to The Netherlands during my junior year of high school (I turned 16 while in the Netherlands). The program that I went with was YFU (Youth For Understanding). Their program is quite similar to AFS or Rotary International. This is the austrian website for YFU - http://www.yfu.at/

The experience was one of the most important in my lifetime. It opened the world to me and 20 years later, I am still in close touch with my host sister and brother, whom I visit every chance I get. The independence, self-reliance and confidence I gained from this experience completely transformed my path in life.

I can't speak highly enough of this program and would strongly encourage any high school student to apply. Best of luck in your search.
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Jul 9th, 2010, 06:24 PM
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We hosted a student last year from an organization affiliated with ASSE. They take care of all of the immigration paperwork, arrange all of the travel, do background checks on the host family, and make sure local school district of the host family has space for the student (not always easy in these days of budget cuts). They also follow up during the year to make sure the situation is working out for all involved, in addition to planning outings to local attractions for the students.

I believe the minimum age for this organization is 16, but our student started the application process well before that. They have a very good support system here in the States, but I must warn you that it was very expensive for the exchange students. At our get-togethers with the other students, we learned that they paid anywhere from €14,000 - €18,000 for a school year. The host families do not receive any payment at all. Summer or half-year programs may be cheaper.

All of the exchange students we met through this program enjoyed it thoroughly, and took advantage of everything the "American High School" experience had to offer. Ours joined the tennis team, entered science fairs, participated in special art programs, attended American football games, Homecoming, Prom, etc. This is all in addition to getting very good grades in her classes. Our student was even tutoring the American kids in Physics and Chemistry.

You should probably find an organization that has affiliation in Austria and begin the process soon. We had a friend from Germany who tried to do this on her own with family friends in San Diego. Her immigration paperwork was rejected and she couldn't even get a tourist visa to come here to visit!

Viel Glück!
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Jul 9th, 2010, 07:22 PM
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After our exchange student left to go home, we volunteered several years with ASSE because we really liked that organization

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Jul 10th, 2010, 02:06 AM
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Our daughter who is from New Zealand spent a year at high school in the US, we went through an organisation called STS. We nominated the host family someone we had been e-mailing, exchanging video's etc for two years before our daughter left. She was 17 and went into the senior year. She had a wonderful experience, was in the Varsity field hockey team, in the marching band, madrigals, and jazz band. She also maintained high grades, but had finished schooling in NZ so the grades didn't really mean much.
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Jul 10th, 2010, 11:10 AM
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nelsonian's post brings up a good point. Depending on the rules of your country's educational system, your daughter may not receive any academic credit in Austria for her year spent abroad. This varied among the various students I spoke to. Our student had to take exams when she returned to Italy to be promoted to the next grade. The Spanish boy who was at our school also could take an exam to be promoted. However, for a German boy in the group, his study abroad was simply not recognized as a year of schooling. He knew this in advance, of course, but he so badly wanted to play American football, that it was well worth it for him.

Also, in the ASSE-affiliated program that we were involved with--unless pre-arranged with people you knew--the student had no say over which family, school district, or even which part of the country he/she would be placed. The host family chooses the student, not vice-versa. Our student attended an orientation elsewhere before she came to us. The kids in her orientation group then went to their host families in Kansas, North Dakota, Alabama, Virginia, etc.

You will get information about the host family well beforehand, and I suppose you could reject it, but then your student would be placed back on the list, hoping to be selected by another family. It seems very difficult to find families willing to host a student for a year (especially in these economically uncertain times). I get emails regularly asking us either to host another student, or to refer other families who may be willing to host.
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Jul 10th, 2010, 01:00 PM
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Back in 1989 when we had our exchange student from ASSE , he told us that he could pick what part of the US he wished to be placed in. He , also , told us that he really did not care. He just wanted to get here.He , in addition, knew that he would not get credit for the school year but did not care as well. This was before emails so we wrote letters back and forth getting to know each other before he get here. There was a volunteer coordinator who was there for both of us in case there was any problems 24/7

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Aug 2nd, 2010, 12:07 AM
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Thank you very much for these tips. The school, she attends now here in Austria, has an excellent reputation. What has been pointed out here (that a US - school report might not be recognized here in Austria) must be checked, before she actually goes to the US.

Primarily this would improve her her English-skills, so that the inhibition threshold to study (university) abroad, would be limited. We must deliberate abaout, wether this is at worst worth a disregarded school-year.

Anyway, you named a number of organizations for such student - programmes - thank you for this!
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Apr 20th, 2011, 06:55 PM
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My friend's son is 17.he wants to study in a high school in the US.
He is from venezuela.
Please tell us how to start.
Thanks in advance.

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Jun 29th, 2011, 06:36 AM
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Make this a memoriable Independence Day by deciding to host a talented high school AFS foreign exchange student this fall. The local team has some terrificly talented scholarship students from Italy, Thailand, Turkey and Bangledesh who need loving host families, plus others. For details go to www.afsusa.org/hostfamily or call 1-800-876-2377, ext. 141 to see which students still need families. For your chld who wishes to go, please, go to www.afsusa.org/goingabroad to get all of the details. Come back on board and join the family. All over the country AFS needs host families. Host and send with the best- AFS.
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Jun 29th, 2011, 11:22 AM
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All of the exchange students at the high school my daughter attends are through Rotary International. There are short-term summer exchanges and long-term academic exchanges.

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Jun 29th, 2011, 01:49 PM
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If its mostly about getting comfortable with English, you might want to consider shorter-term enrollment in an ESL (English as a Second Language) school. There are lots of schools that would bring your daughter to the US for, say, a month in the summer, let her stay with a host family, and attend english-language classes. Many of them have lessons aimed specifically at the TOEFEL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) that your daughter would have to pass to be admitted into a US university.

The GEOS language program (Boston and NYC), for example, is well-regarded.
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Jun 15th, 2012, 08:50 PM
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As a high school counselor, most of my experience with the U. S. exchange program has been horrible. Students are placed just wherever they can find a home and most of the time, these homes and families are not suitable. No matter what the rules say, the rules are not followed and NO ONE ever checks up on them. It doesn't seem to matter to the agency where they place the students--they just want to find a place for them. Once the students are here they are pretty much stuck. Many exchange students move from their host families but it is up to them to find someone else to live with--usually a friend. Most host families are not interested in helping the students get to and from extracurricular activities such as band, sports, clubs, etc.

If you do an internet search you will see this is prevalent. I would NEVER send my child to the U. S. as an exchange student.
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