4 tips for a successful application to an exchange year program during high school

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

Organizing an application and managing it successfully is possible


Have you ever heard the phrase that "honesty is the first chapter to the book of wisdom"? Honesty is a quality that you should rather show in your application than talk about. Let me try to explain this through an example:

Jake is an avid historian; he is the President of the History Club at school and has placed a total of three times as a champion of a Regional History Trivia Tournament. 

Well, this is quite impressive, right? But look what else Jake does:

Jake decides to add some misleading facts to his biography; he claims to have also won the National Geography Olympiad, while he has only qualified for the final round, but has not even reached the top three positions).

In this case, a couple of scenarios might take place: either the committee will require a proof about Jake's accomplishment, or, later in his application, he might provide a contradicting information (for example, that his dream will be to win the Olympiad one day, although he has clearly stated that he has already achieved this goal).

Remember the widely popular but perfectly true cliché - all people are unique. But what does this have to do with Jake's story? The committee will appreciate your 100% real story, but not a made-up one. The goal of the committee team is to find outstanding applicants, which is not necessarily a synonym of being a nationally ranked sportsman, a phenomenal mathematician with hundreds of awards, or potentially the new Leonardo da Vinci of the 21st century. One key component of a successful application would rather be a student who HONESTLY proves to be consistent and determined doing their own thing.



I cannot tell a single person who has turned every single paperwork or a school project a week before deadline! This has several times issued the following question in my mind: is procrastination a normal and inseparable phenomenon of human nature?

Personally speaking, managing our own schedule has always been a challenge since the very beginning of high school. It was a time when I realized the need of taking up activities such as history club, drama club, Student Council, etc. This long list forced me to become more flexible and responsible; furthermore, time eventually turned into a treasure. Good organizational skill are crucial for taking the best out of what you have devoted to in order to include it in your application.

Trust me - it is sufficiently difficult in the beginning, but a simple and practical method that I use might do a favor to you too:

1. Have some good exercise or yoga that will make your morning routine energizing and bright! If you drink coffee, help yourself with a cup.
2. Don't force yourself with mental exercise early - your brain needs about 2 hours to "wake up" completely!
3. Schedule diligently your activities! What I prefer to do is to balance academics, arts, and sports, i.e. after a heavy reading for your biology test don't rush to do the long math homework. Rather, begin to draw the portrait of your favorite movie star for the upcoming Arts contest or go for a half-an-hour jogging! (this will not only help you cross out your future tasks, but will also create habits and make you more efficient when committing to a goal).

Believe me - these simple three steps will make a difference in your performance.



Do you remember the first point of this article? That's right - honesty! Viewing your performance in the classroom through somebody else's eyes provides a great opportunity for the committee to explore your personality objectively.

#thankful: Here is the moment, when I have to give a credit to all my awesome teacher, who have been so nice and thoughtful to write a recommendation letter for me! THANK YOU ALL!

Can you imagine how incredible it is for a high school teacher to have their student grasping the opportunity of their life? Teachers would love to write about your success in class and to give a complete description of the challenges that you have overcome in your academic career so far.

But they also need some time! Thinking about your strengths, how you stood up among other students, probably how you made a difference in the classroom, what you need to work on... Well, you got my point! Email your teachers in advance; set a clear deadline, so in this period they will focus completely on your request.

#myexperience: I guess that the majority of my visitors here do not live in an anglophone country; therefore, it is possible that your teachers may not speak English at all or at beginners level. For that reason, keep in my that you will have to go to a professional translator and to get your recommendations legally translated



Alright, so when I was a Sophomore in high school, I applied to ASSIST Program and YES Program. And an interview was included for both! Wait a minute - how can we even prepare for an interview, if we have no clue what type of questions they might ask?

Alright, so when I was a Sophomore in high school, I applied to ASSIST Program and YES Program. And an interview was included for both! Wait a minute - how can we even prepare for an interview, if we have no clue what type of questions they might ask?

This is not exactly the case! Programs usually want to immerse as deep in your story as possible in order to be sure that YOU ARE READY TO FACE THE CHALLENGE OF AN EXCHANGE YEAR! (that was an important point) But along with that, they would love to see if you know the details around the program well and more importantly - whether you have a clear vision of your self for the coming year.

#takenotes: set high goals; even higher than those you are capable of! The committee expects to hear about your well-structured and ambitious plan for the next year!

Moreover, interviews require good communication skills. Having a good command of a particular language consists of reading, writing, and speaking. And each of these three needs some practice. My sister is keen on TikTok and from time to time she shows me some videos with motivational speakers or lectors - well, put yourself in their shoes. Follow their body language, their eye contact, and the passion they have about it! Passion!


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