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09/08/2019

This whole exchange thing presents an untimely dilemma…?

QUESTION
This whole exchange thing presents an untimely dilemma…?
So, i really want to go to Harvard and i have been working my butt off. I take as many AP classes as my school allows and I have followed all of the basic entry requirements. Recently, I was presented with the chance to study abroad next year (my SENIOR year). I will not only miss prom and graduation, but I will not be able to graduate with my class because none of the credits that I will get from India will transfer to my American high school. I still believe that staying an entire year in India (perhaps becoming fluent in Hindi as well) will impress the admission officers. So the question arises: Go to India and do more than impress but not graduate with my class or should I not go to India? Help!! (please?)

ANSWER
Why don’t you call up the Harvard admissions office and ask them how they feel about students who study abroad in high school? Over all, I think you will find that it could be a major asset to your application. Like anything else though, it’s up to you to market this as a fantastic experience. You’ll need to be able to articulate your goals for studying abroad and what you learned from the experience in your college application essays and interviews in order to really stand out.

Here’s what AYUSA Study Abroad, a high school student exchange program, councils:

In an applicant pool already inundated with impressive SAT scores, perfect grades, an abundance of AP classes, and stellar extracurricular activities, students with advanced foreign language skills and international cross-cultural experience definitely stand out in the college admissions process. Participation on a foreign exchange program signals to colleges and universities that you have already taken positive risks and stepped outside your comfort zone in order to push yourself academically and personally, and are likely to continue to do so throughout your undergraduate career; as this is something that admissions committees look for when evaluating your application, colleges and universities therefore look at students who have studied abroad very favorably. Furthermore, studying abroad would enable you to personally witness and experience other cultures, languages, and mindsets, giving you a toolkit with which to define and inform your professional and personal goals. This means that studying abroad will not only help you get into the college of your choice, it will also make you better informed when selecting your major and career path.