How to Prepare Yourself for College Abroad While in High School

by | Jan 3, 2023 | Admissions

The best time to prepare yourself for college abroad is while you’re still in high school. By starting early, you’ll save yourself from the last-minute rush and stress of researching and comparing colleges and preparing and sending applications.

You’ll also be ahead of many others in selecting the right high school subjects to prepare yourself for college majors you’re interested in. For instance, if would like to pursue a career in electrical engineering, you’ll benefit from looking up the subjects required for admission.

Don’t wait till after your high school graduation to start exploring your options. You don’t even have to wait till your high school senior year either – you can start planning for college as early as in your high school freshman year.

Let’s take a look at some of the things you should be doing as a high school student to prepare yourself for college abroad.

Look for Mentors and Identify Recommenders

As early as your freshman year in college, start identifying and building relationships with mentors and potential recommenders.

Teachers of key subjects, coaches, and counsellors can help you navigate your high school career and prepare for the next step. Don’t forget to also start building relationships with mentors outside school – such as other adults in your life who have pursued their degrees abroad.

Be proactive in building great relationships. Ask questions and be receptive to guidance. Great mentors can help you avoid pitfalls that make the study abroad journey stressful for most students. For instance, they can guide you on:

  • Subjects to take in high school
  • Summer programs to apply for to prepare yourself for college abroad
  • Extracurricular activities to choose
  • Skills to build
  • College majors to consider
  • Study destinations
  • Colleges and universities to consider

Take the Right Classes in High School

The classes you take in high school matter. Whether or not you plan to study abroad, consult your high school counselor to discuss your future career plans. Ask them if the classes you’re taking are aligned with the majors you’d like to pursue in college.

Make sure that you’re taking the right classes. Your goal is to get the best grades in all subjects – which will increase your college options.

It’s also advisable to take advanced classes such as Advanced Placement (AP) classes or honors classes. These classes are not only excellent in preparing you for college-level coursework but they also show college admissions officers that you’re an ambitious student who’s willing to take up a challenge.

Additionally, advanced classes can increase your chances of winning scholarships to help fund your studies abroad. Furthermore, some schools will give you college credits for passing advanced courses – which puts you ahead of schedule for college graduation and saves you money.

Choose Your Extracurricular Activities Wisely

While your grades in high school come first, don’t ignore extracurricular activities. Colleges and universities abroad include extracurricular activities in their criteria for selecting students for admission.

Make sure to select your extracurricular activities wisely while in high school. You might be wondering, “Which extracurricular activities are the best for college applications abroad?”

Well, there’s no perfect combination of extracurricular activities to give you an advantage when applying for colleges and universities abroad. College admission boards are looking for activities that demonstrate leadership, passion, commitment, and willingness to be actively involved in your community.

That said, some of the best extracurricular activities to prepare yourself for college abroad include:

  • Sports
  • Student clubs and organizations
  • Community service
  • Student leadership
  • Internships
  • Summer programs

Remember to choose extracurricular activities that you’re truly interested in. You’ll need 2 to 4 activities for well-rounded college applications.

Take Standardized Tests for College Abroad

Most colleges and universities abroad require international students to take standardized tests. These tests give college admissions boards an objective metric to compare students from different backgrounds.

While in high school, research the universities you’re interested in and their standardized test requirements. Which standardized test should you take for your preferred major? What score ranges should you aim for?

The two main standardized tests for undergraduate college admission abroad are:

Almost all colleges and universities accept both of these tests. However, some schools may prefer one over the other.

In your earlier high school years, start taking practice tests. Doing so will acquaint you with the general format and style of these tests and prepare you to get excellent scores.

Start Volunteering 

On top of your regular extracurricular activities, make time to volunteer. It will not only help when it comes to preparing yourself for college abroad, but it also equips you with skills and aids you in building valuable networks.

Volunteering your time demonstrates your commitment to serving your community – which might help you gain college admission.

While in high school, think of organizations where you can volunteer. Don’t know where to start? Ask your school counselor for recommendations. The local library, community center, or church are great places to look for volunteer opportunities. When you land a volunteer opportunity, give it your best.

Get an Internship

While you’re probably too young to be legally allowed to work, you can start building your professionals skills. During your time in high school, look for internship opportunities that can help you start building relevant skills and experience in your desired field.

Is there an organization that you’re interested in? Call and ask if they have internship opportunities for high school students. Even batter, ask adults in your network to help you get internship opportunities in their places of work.

Mention your internship experience in your college applications. Having internship experience gives you a competitive edge over applicants who don’t have comparable professional experience. It shows that you’re a student who’s willing to go the extra mile to achieve success.

Apply to Summer Programs

School holidays aren’t just for fun. For ambitious students aspiring to study abroad, it’s great time to explore summer programs to prepare for college admissions and future careers.

Research programs that align with your interests and goals and send in your application. Ask your school counselor and other mentors if they’re aware of any programs that can benefit you.

Get Your Passport Early

You’ll need various documents to actualize your dream of studying abroad. One of the most crucial documents you need to travel abroad is a passport. Make sure to apply for your passport as early as possible to avoid inconveniences that come with document-processing delays.

Most passports have 10-year validity – so you don’t have to worry about your passport expiring before you need to use it. However, make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months after the program’s end date.

Final Word on Preparing Yourself for College Abroad

While in high school, it might seem like college is in your distant future. By the time you graduate from high school, however, it’s prudent to have college plans in place.

To have an easier time, prepare yourself for college abroad while still in high school. This is the best time to identify recommenders, make sure that you’re taking the right classes and extracurricular activities, take standardized tests, and start building your professional skills.  

Also read: U.S College Application Timeline for International Students


Are you looking for scholarships or student loans to finance your education abroad? Find a scholarship through our extensive scholarship database and compare different loans on the 8B student loan marketplace.

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