Should I Study Abroad in High School? 12 Pros and Cons of Studying Abroad

It’s no secret that the time you spend in high school not only shapes who you are as a person but provides the basis for your professional future. Add studying abroad into the mix, and you’re in for a unique and life-changing experience! CIEE’s high school summer abroad programs offer opportunities that cater to different interests and academic goals so you can set yourself up for a bright future. 

Read on to learn the pros and cons of studying abroad in high school.

7 Pros of Studying Abroad in High School

If you’ve ever wondered, why should I study abroad? You’re not alone! Here are some of the many benefits of studying abroad in high school.

1. Become an Independent Person

As a young student deciding to study abroad, this is likely your first time away from home. Being away from loved ones pushes you to adapt to new situations and rely on your strengths, invaluable skills you need to be a successful adult.

But don’t worry, with CIEE you’re never alone. High school study abroad participants enjoy 24/7 support to help you every step of the way.

2. Gain Confidence

When you study abroad, you’re taking a giant step outside your comfort zone, which can be scary! You’ll face new places, a different culture, new foods, and so much more. Being faced with the unknown helps you build confidence as a young adult, and you’ll feel empowered to tackle any new challenge.

3. Make New Friends From Abroad and at Home

Not only will you have the opportunity to make friends with locals abroad, but your fellow American study abroad participants, too. The connections you’ll make studying abroad will reach far and wide and last a lifetime.

4. Widen Your Worldview 

When you study abroad and stay with a host family and/or make connections with members of the community, you have the unique opportunity to live like a local. Uninterrupted time in a new culture helps you learn the value of cultural sensitivity and intercultural communication. 

Why is study abroad important for your worldview? Simply put, studying abroad allows you to meet people from all different backgrounds and develop empathy and compassion, skills you’ll need to become an effective leader and collaborative team member at a future job.

5. Create Lifelong Memories 

Besides the fact that studying abroad allows you to gain invaluable academic experiences, it’s also a fun and exciting cultural adventure. The travel memories you gain abroad will stay with you forever.

6. Develop Valuable Hard Skills 

The academic accomplishments you’ll acquire abroad look fantastic on college applications and can help you stand out professionally when applying for new jobs. Whether you study a foreign language, develop your art portfolio on an art program, or collect data for a marine science project, you’ll return home with quite an impressive resume.

You can even earn college credits while studying abroad, giving you a head start on your college education, all while having fun.

7. Brighten Your Future 

Studying abroad is an excellent way to brighten your future because it demonstrates to future employers or college admissions that you’re a well-rounded and culturally competent person.

That’s because studying abroad will help you develop soft skills you can’t gain from a classroom, like:

  • Effective problem-solving and adaptability 
  • Communication and language skills 
  • Cultural competence and sensitivity 
  • Networking and leadership
  • And more!

5 Cons of Studying Abroad in High School

Although there are numerous pros for why study abroad is important, there are some essential cons to consider, too.

1. It Can Be Expensive

But it doesn’t have to be! Numerous study abroad scholarships help make study abroad more accessible to those in need. CIEE’s Global Navigator Scholarship awards grants based on academic merit only as well as academic merit and financial need. 

Students can also take part in fundraising opportunities to raise money to offset their study abroad fees. Studying abroad is an investment in your future!

2. You May Feel Homesick

Missing your friends and family, and feeling sad about missing out on life events at home is an inevitable part of studying abroad. But remember that you’ll be on an adventure of a lifetime and have the chance to make new friends and memories. Your loved ones will be waiting to welcome you home after you complete your program.

3. Safety Can Be a Concern

However, you can rest assured that you’re in good hands! Safety abroad with CIEE is of the utmost importance. High school study abroad participants receive iNext international travel insurance, 24/7 onsite program support, and consistent monitoring by CIEE’s Health, Safety, and Security Team.

4. Culture Shock Is a Challenge

Culture shock is a normal part of studying abroad and is the feeling of frustration, confusion, or sadness when living and experiencing a different culture. Overcoming culture shock can be challenging, but it will ultimately make you stronger and more resilient. 

5. There Will Be a Language Barrier 

Navigating a new place where a different language is spoken can be tricky, but it allows you to practice a new language and boost your communication skills. Additionally, plenty of study abroad programs are offered in English for those who wish to avoid a language barrier.

Bonus: You May Learn That You Love to Travel! 

Which is what happened to me! After visiting Peru on a week-long high school Spanish trip, I studied abroad in Denmark in college, taught English in South Korea after graduation, and got a master’s degree in Germany. These travel experiences have shaped me into the person and professional I am today!

Or, you may learn that travel and life abroad isn’t for you, and that’s okay too! In any case, high school study abroad will allow you to walk away with a whole new understanding of the world and, most importantly, yourself. You’ll learn your likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and realize that you’re far more capable than you may give yourself credit for! 

Learn More About How to Start Your Study Abroad Journey

Want to learn more about why study abroad is important? Schedule a call with a CIEE Enrollment Coordinator in your area to learn more about CIEE’s high school study abroad programs and get personalized help to find the best option for you.


Post written by CIEE alum Brittany Varano, an SEO copywriter and the travel writer behind the blog, where she shares helpful tips and personal experiences to help others interested in living, studying, and working abroad.