Do I Need To Contact Our Local School If I Want To Host An Exchange Student?

Foreign exchange students come to the United States for educational and cultural exchange. They want to improve their English, make lifelong friends, get a better understanding of the world, and experience what it is like to go to an American high school and live as an American teen. 

Along with being accepted by the exchange student program, they must also get accepted into your local high school. Do you need to contact the high school if you want to host? No, you don’t. Once you’ve agreed to host a student and are approved by the program, they will contact the high school on your student’s behalf. Here is how the process works.

Most schools are open to taking an exchange student. In fact, they welcome students believing having them at the school will be a benefit to both the faculty and student body. It can be a little tricky, however, because each district has its own criteria for foreign students. Additionally, most high schools only allow a certain number of exchange students based upon their overall enrollment. 

Exchange Student Programs and Local School Districts

There have been several host families that have been disappointed when the high school will not accept their exchange student. They’ve been screened by the exchange student program and chosen a student only to have the idea shot down by the school. A foreign exchange student can only come to the states on either the J-1 or F-1 Visa if they are enrolled in school. This means acceptance in either a public or private school is a must. 

Most often, the student is not accepted because the school has never worked with that exchange student program or they are not on the preferred list. To avoid this problem, you should make sure whatever program you are working with is approved by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET).  The CSIET is a well-respected organization that monitors the educational exchange community. Programs volunteer to be on this list. To be included, they must meet certain standards and submit to a strenuous evaluation process. For this reason, schools prefer to work with exchange student programs that take part with CSIET.  

Your local high school will also be more apt to take a student from a program they’ve previously worked with. High schools want to make sure the foreign exchange students are academically prepared and well supervised during their stay in America. The relationship the program has with your local high school will greatly influence whether they accept your student into the school. That said, you should contact your local high school BEFORE talking with an exchange student program. Get a list from them of programs they’ve worked with and would be happy to work with again. 

The Foreign Exchange Student and the Local School District

Again, American high schools want to take foreign exchange students that can excel in the classroom. When considering whether to accept a student, they will look at their application, grade point average, letters of reference, and English placement scores. Typically, your school’s guidance counseling staff, administration team and possibly even the school board will decide. Don’t be afraid to ask your local coordinator which students they recommend for you based on your family and school academic requirements. They will know what to look for and expect from the school’s decision-makers. 

The High School Will Look at Your Family

Looking at your own family can be a little tough to do. But before you apply to take a student know that the school will probably take a close look at you. Do you have a student at the local high school? Are they well-known at the school? Do they get along with other students and staff? Are they strong academically? Are they active in sports or other extracurricular activities? If your answer is yes to all or most of these questions, you’ll probably have no problem getting the school to agree to your student. Your reputation and participation in parental events and school activities might also be an influence. Do you show up to parent conferences? Do you volunteer to help build floats or raise money for band camp? If so, you’re probably a shoo-in as a host parent.  Although the school district will probably never admit it, they will consider your family before saying yes to your student. 

Apply Early to be a Host Family

High schools usually reserve a certain number of slots for exchange students. Often, these slots are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. Therefore, it is important that you apply to the exchange student program as early as possible. As soon as you are approved, the program will contact your school for your student’s acceptance. This will give you a better chance of getting your student at your high school.

Where is the Foreign Exchange Student From?

If you apply a little later in the year, you must consider where your student is from. High schools want to take students from a variety of countries. If they already have two students from Brazil, they might be hesitant to take a third. Instead, consider a student from another region such as Eastern Asia or Australia. This way your school will be more open to taking the student.

Private Schools Accept Exchange Students

Foreign exchange students can attend either an accredited public or private high school. If you are hoping for your exchange student to go to a private school, this possible. Along with getting accepted, tuition fees will also be a question that the school will have to address. Some private schools charge exchange students only a portion of the tuition while others require they pay the full fee. 

Your local representative should know the policy for exchange students in your district. It is their job to submit your student’s application and advocate for their acceptance in the school. If there is a problem, they are trained to overcome objections, resolve conflicts and close the deal. Trust them to get your student in the school and only get involved if they ask you to.