How old do you have to be to study abroad?

14 years-old is a good place to start! This is despite the fact that studying abroad is an experience most people - especially those who grew up in the United States - feel is reserved for their time in college. But as a high school student, you should know it’s just as easy to have an incredible experience in another country years before you first step foot on your future college campus. Here are three reasons teens can jump beyond their comfort zone into something… err… someplace brand new!

1. Study abroad for high school students doesn’t have to be all about studying

Most teens that hear the term ‘study abroad’ assume it implies an entire semester spent in a classroom in another country. But what if being abroad didn’t mean studying the entire time? High school students can do a lot of things abroad: volunteer abroad, vacation abroad, even backpack abroad. In recent years, volunteering in another country as a teenager has become incredibly popular, especially during summer breaks. Building a greenhouse in Peru or tutoring schoolchildren in Ghana can be just as rewarding - and educational - as a college study experience in London or Paris.

2. Teens are well-equipped for the challenges of another country

Some parents and teachers are quick to challenge a teenager who wants to go to another country that they need the maturity of being in their college years to succeed. But you know what? There are plenty of college-aged students who are immature and unready for the depth of being someplace foreign to them. For the right high school students - especially those who already take the initiative and succeed both inside and outside the classroom - going to another country can be rewarding and an opportunity for growth, not to mention it looks great on a college application.

3. Speaking of those college apps…

Getting into a good university has become so competitive in certain places that it takes a lot more to stand out than just acing your SATs or knowing how to play the violin. Having a formal abroad experience as a teenager can be that extra something that sets you apart in the application pool, and it definitely helps out when it comes to finding a topic for that college essay.

Curious about what the GLA difference may mean to you?