How high school students can get accepted into study abroad programs
How practical are international opportunities in high school?
Once upon a time, study abroad programs were mysterious and difficult to research. The internet, of course, makes it possible for high school students to learn about overseas programs in virtually every type of geographic and socio-economic setting.
Students around the globe are finding international opportunities during their high school and college years. In countries with limited career options, high school students are even more eager to leave home to explore global opportunities.
But it’s not as easy as point-click-travel.
Consider Latin America. According to Forbes Mexico, 16,700 Mexican students pursued a degree in a foreign country in 2017. Mexico ranks tenth in the number of young people studying abroad.
Latin American students pursue overseas study programs to increase their chances of finding viable and rewarding work. Rocío is one of the thousands of Mexican high school seniors competing for selective overseas programs.
“Securing an international job is hard work, because there are so many of us in Latin America chasing a small number of opportunities in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. For the work I’m interested in, I need a college degree. I’m in the college application process right now, and I can see why it intimidates a lot of students. There are some big challenges faced by Latin American high school students who want to study overseas.”Rocio | High school senior, Mexico
How can more students secure international opportunities?
Rocio’s not alone. Demand among high schoolers is high, but there are some serious obstacles.
Teens from every country are competing for a small number of opportunities. Here are four major barriers students face when pursuing study abroad programs and aid:
- Scholarships require international experience,
- English proficiency lags,
- Networking isn’t taught, and
- Relocating is expensive.
We’ll describe these four challenges and then let Rocio share the solutions in her own words.
Challenge #1: Programs require international experience
The best programs overseas are highly competitive, so extracurricular activities and outstanding experience are required to draw the attention of admissions officers.
How can a young person demonstrate international experience when they haven’t yet been accepted to an overseas program? Teens from wealthy or connected families have an advantage here, but how can the rest of the youth stand out?
Challenge #2: Programs require English proficiency
Many Latin American students would like to study in anglophone countries like the United States but are not fluent in English. In the 2020 English Proficiency Index conducted by Education First, eight Latin American countries are listed as “low level,” three as “very low level,” and only one as “high level.”
Challenge #3: Networking isn’t taught in school
Networking is the key to success in today’s professional work, so it has become one of the most powerful abilities to learn before applying to college or for a job. But networking isn’t taught at high schools, and only those who are privileged enough to go to the best private universities in Mexico are making strong connections.
Challenge #4: Relocating is expensive
Moving out from your home country is expensive. The estimated living cost for students studying in the U.S. is between $1,000 and $1,500 per month.
According to the World Bank, a middle class family makes between $1,036 and $12,535 per month. That leaves 12.3 million families in Mexico that don’t have enough resources to spend on higher education.
Overcoming barriers and finding paths to success
There are major challenges, but high school students can get accepted into competitive study abroad programs.
In the video below, Rocío shares why she’s so excited about her future. Her advice applies to any high school student pursuing international scholarships, internships, and education.