Yes, traveling and studying abroad offer priceless opportunities for self-discovery, exploration, and growth. But affordability can be a real roadblock for turning students’ international travel dreams into a reality. Aspect alumna, Olivia, breaks down how to pay for a study abroad program using more manageable monetary milestones.
High school study abroad is an investment. By spending money now, not only will you get an opportunity of a lifetime, but the benefits will continue to pay off for years to come. Studying abroad in high school shows that you have a sense of independence and are a worldly individual. I credit studying abroad to Aspect Foundation for helping me get into my dream college. I was accepted into a special program at my school to accelerate my degree. I asked the person in charge of the program why I was accepted and he told me that while my grades and application were good, the thing that pushed my application to the top of the pile was that I studied abroad in high school. I was also able to get this internship with Aspect and a previous internship with a different high school study abroad company because I had experienced international exchange myself in high school.
Not only can it help you in the future, but you are able to learn more about yourself in the process! I learned that I did not like living in a small town, for example. I learned instead that living in a town with ample public transportation and more than 300,000 people fit my personality better. This was valuable information to know as I only ended up applying to colleges in larger cities, like American University in Washington D.C. where I currently attend. I also learned how to live with strangers (also good practice before college) along with balancing school and friends.
Unfortunately, the cost factor can prevent many people from this great opportunity. So here are some great ways to earn money that can help facilitate this international experience.
1. Plan Ahead
Upon entering high school, I had already made the decision to study abroad. I didn’t end up actually going until four years later as a senior. That means I was able to plan ahead and start saving money from the time I was a freshman. The earlier you decide this is what you want to do, the easier it will be to save money and to convince your parents and school that going abroad is an actual possibility. Once your parents are on board, speaking with your guidance counselor is suggested to ensure that you’ll stay on track with graduation requirements while abroad. Giving yourself enough time and preparation can ease the financial burden by putting aside money little by little.
2. Set Small Goals
Studying abroad can be really obtainable! Calculate the cost of the program and how much you think you will need while living there. Then think of applying for grants or scholarships that will help cut the amount of money you need to raise. Aspect also has a list of fundraising ideas that can be a great resource – make sure to ask when you inquire to study abroad. Make a plan to earn a certain amount of money every month. Think ahead about ways you can earn money during different times of the year.
I fundraised money in several ways. I consider myself an artsy person so I made and sold crafts. My father and I made and sold “bird gourd houses”. My mother and I made display dishes by gluing plates on top of candlesticks and champagne glasses. We sold these things at craft shows and in our house. It’s hard to fundraise all your money this way but it is a great way to get out there and let people know that you want to study abroad and that you’re willing to lend a helping hand to earn some extra cash.
Part-time or summer jobs are also good ways to save up! If you are too young or aren’t able to get a job, working as a babysitter is also an option. I was able to pet sit for a lot of people in my neighborhood and earn money that way. Seasonal jobs are also great. There’s plenty of money to be made shoveling snow, helping wrap presents, and cleaning homes before and after holiday parties. You can make money in super creative ways. If you need more ideas just go on the internet and look up “study abroad fundraising ideas” and there will be tons of ways to go about it.
3. Ask For Help
It can be tempting to think that you can raise all this money yourself. However, it may not be realistic. If you tell your friends and family about your plans, many will want to help you! Sometimes even strangers will be generous enough to pitch in. You can start campaigns online on sites like https://www.fundmytravel.com/ and then share the link on social media for people to donate! When I first traveled abroad I went to five countries. I asked some of my aunts, uncles, family friends, and grandparents if they would like to donate $10 or $20. In return, I brought them back small presents (postcards or candy) from the countries I went to! It’s a great way to show your gratitude.
Aspect Foundation also offers a $500 discount to students whose families host an international exchange student themselves! Hosting an exchange student is not only a wonderful opportunity to experience international relations first hand, but could be a great overview of the country that you’re hoping to study in! For example, hosting a Spanish student will give you an inside look at the customs and culture of Spain before you even board the plane.
High school study abroad is worth it! The money you’ll spend upfront will re-pay itself through the knowledge, opportunities, great friends, and everlasting memories you’ll gain along the way.
*Disclaimer* I would like to say that my parents paid for half of my fee, a fourth came from money that was saved for college, and I paid for the other fourth by myself.