Many students usually entertain the idea of studying overseas for a brief time, and most typically find the experience rewarding. Not many young people often pursue being a foreign exchange student, but those who took the leap have witnessed fruitful changes in their lives.
Thousands of people often come to the United States every year to either seek permanent residency with an American family or to further their education and career. In such situations, they learn about the American way of life and culture and tell their friends about it. Here, you get to immerse yourself with a host family, make new acquaintances, travel, participate in local school events, and a whole lot more. Being an exchange student permits these possibilities and allows you to experience what it’s like to live in the United States.
That being said, here is a simple guide for things to keep in mind if you’re planning to pursue being an exchange student in America.
How to Become an Exchange Student
1. Allocate a budget
Before you apply to become an exchange student in the US, you have to make sure that you have enough finances since being a US exchange student doesn’t come for free. In most cases, the prices depend on the program you choose alongside how long you plan on staying and the country and where you’re planning to go. If you opt to study for an entire academic year, you will typically expect a payment of around $10,000. Moreover, you should also consider the necessary miscellaneous expenses and pocket money for spending on souvenirs and other essential activities. For this, you can also look into exchange student scholarships or student loans for financial assistance in your foreign studies.
2. Prepare the necessary paperwork
Another important thing you should never forget before becoming a US exchange student is your US citizenship requirements. The required paperwork generally involves having a visa or a passport as well. While it’s true that foreign exchange programs will aid you in obtaining such documents, it can be quite a lengthy process. This is why it’s better to start the process yourself by becoming knowledgeable and familiar with the specific requirements before applying to an exchange program. You won’t want to delay the entire process or miss out on what is important because you still have to wait for your passport. Additionally, similar to marrying a British citizen, if you happen to get married to a US spouse during your stay, you can apply for US citizenship in three years compared to the typical five years.
For further assistance, you can also consult the help of an advisor for US immigration since they can help walk you through the legalities and paperwork before application. With this, you’ll be more assured and well-informed about what to expect in your venture.
3. Choose and Apply for a Program
Once you’ve gone through the initial steps and finally decided that being an exchange student is the best way to go, you’re now ready to apply to a program.
Exchange student programs are usually offered in various colleges and universities. Here, certain universities make agreements with foreign schools such that that the university will send students to US universities for a chance to study abroad. Government-sponsored exchange programs also exist and provide funding for students who wish to study in the United States.
In this case, you should discover if your university participates in certain exchange programs with any US schools and if you qualify under its terms. The program will then help direct you to a specific US university and college and aid you throughout the process of enrolment as an exchange student. You will need to apply four months before when you intend to begin, and most programs usually have deadlines that are earlier than that. If you’re looking to be an exchange student in a usual school year, it’s best if you can research programs that are either beginning no later than January and then apply consequently in March or April.
Most exchange student programs will only accept students that have good academic standing. If you’re already struggling in a familiar environment, then it might be harder to prove and obtain academic success in a new and more rigorous environment. It will be best to get your grades up approximately a year before you apply to exchange student programs, especially if you’re presently finding it challenging to keep up with your school’s demands and more.
If you get accepted, your chosen program will then place you with a host American school and family where you’ll be staying, and they can help you with the process of your paperwork, flights, adjusting to your culture, alongside everything you possibly need. They may also recommend you obtain liability insurance in case of medical emergency occurrences during your stay.