Student exchange programs in the USA

Make it your own with program options

A student exchange program to The USA introduces you to the amazing land of liberty and opportunity

Get the ultimate high school experience as an exchange student in the United States. It’s the most popular destination for students wishing for cultural immersion, and the extracurricular fun American high schools are famous for.

In the USA, you can pick classes in genuinely fascinating subjects. Take advanced and college-level courses, too. Before and after school, it’s all about cool activities. Throw yourself into sports, theater, music, science, and social clubs. And experience the thrill of cheering at homecoming and dancing at prom.

Regardless if you head to the rolling hills of Montana, the windy city of Chicago, the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles, or the sunny coastline of Florida, there is so much diversity within the vast land that makes up the USA that it’s no wonder it’s become such a popular destination for a student exchange program.

America is a goal-oriented, ‘can-do’ society that strives to give opportunity to all its citizens to reach their full potential of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ There is an overall cultural norm of hardworking and very open-minded people, with a wonderfully unique brand of hospitality. Exchange students are welcomed with expressive open arms and will love the unbelievable school pride they will experience in their new classroom.

Quick facts

Age of students: 14–17 years

Departure: July, August, September, or January (subject to your placement location)

Visa: Yes

Area request: Yes

Soft Landing Camp: Yes, in New York

School day: Normally 7:30 to 14:30

Subjects: Compulsory and electives

Programs: Several options

Views from the USA

Check out our Student Exchange Programs

The USA offers three main exchange program types: Classic, Academic Exchange, and Select. With our Classic Programs, students will live with a local host family and go to a local school, while Select gives the additional option to choose the exact school region they go to. The Academic Exchange program offers an option to choose a sport, or stay in a warm climate, without being able to choose your school or location. Learn about our exchange programs in the USA and find the right one for you.

Our USA Exchange programs

Tell us where you want to study

Some programs allow you to decide where to spend your exchange program. Select High School students can pick the high school they will attend. Classic High School program students may be placed anywhere, unless they include an optional choice in their preferred city, state, or region. We’ll match your preferences where possible. Tell us where you want to go in the USA. 

Classic High School USA + Area request

The experience of a lifetime

Travelling on an exchange program is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that shapes your future. Check out this short guide to planning your exchange in the USA. Then contact us to make that plan a reality. 

High school culture in the USA

The American high school experience is an enriching academic and cultural immersion. But you’re probably wondering, will it be like in the movies? Choose a Select program to find a school in a location that will give you this experience. There’s a possibility you will be joining clubs, voting for a homecoming queen, and cheering for classmates on the field, on the stage, and on report card day.

Exchange students will be enrolled in one of the four years of American high school. It depends on your age, grades, and the exchange policies of the destination institution. Most Southern Cross Cultural Exchange students go into the third year of high school (junior year) or the fourth year (senior year).

Enquire now

Academic subjects and schedules

Studying as an exchange student in the USA opens the door to new areas of study.

You’ll have required classes in subjects like maths and English, plus electives. These are classes in subjects that you may be able to choose. If so, we recommend choosing electives that lay the foundations for future study and advanced courses that enhance your academic record.

Your school counsellor will help you build a timetable that includes mandatory classes and electives that excite you.

The length of classes varies, but typically they last for one hour. Expect short breaks between sessions, with lunch scheduled at midday. There is usually a cafeteria at the school, and most allow you to eat off-site, too. Throughout the day, you will study alongside different classmates and this helps you appreciate working with people who share your interest in each subject.

Enquire now

Activities and clubs in the USA

How you spend your free time on exchange depends on where you study. If you’re by the beach or in the mountains, you’ll have very different options than students in cosmopolitan cities and bustling towns. Of course, all exchange students get the chance to enjoy extracurricular activities.

We recommend trying something new and indulging in something you love.

There will be opportunities for drama, sports, music, event committees, and student politics. Look for activities that might not be available at your school, like Speech and Debate, Yearbook Club, a school newspaper, or cheerleading. No matter how you choose to spend your time, these activities will introduce you to new friends and make you a part of the school community.

Don’t forget about your host family! Joining their activities after school and on weekends will deepen the immersion and sense of belonging in your new home.

Enquire now

Your host family

You will stay with a host family during your exchange. Living in the home of an American family lets you observe everyday life in another culture. You will pick up the rhythms and words of native speakers, adding nuance to your English. And when you need support, they will be there.

Staying with a host family means you will live the complete American high schooler experience.

Hosting international students has a long tradition in the US. Families do it because they are interested in you and where you come from. And because they can give you a safe and happy launchpad for the academic growth and personal discovery that comes with studying abroad.

American holidays

Holidays like Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Memorial Day are important events for American families. You’ll experience them as no ordinary visitor can, especially when you stay in the USA for Christmas. Americans mark this holiday in their own special way. Expect brightly lit houses and lawns, festive parties, joyful carol singing, and piles of seasonal treats. You will also meet your host family’s relatives and friends, immersing you further in American life and culture.

Learn about host families

High school culture in the USA

The American high school experience is an enriching academic and cultural immersion. But you’re probably wondering, will it be like in the movies? Choose a Select program to find a school in a location that will give you this experience. There’s a possibility you will be joining clubs, voting for a homecoming queen, and cheering for classmates on the field, on the stage, and on report card day.

Exchange students will be enrolled in one of the four years of American high school. It depends on your age, grades, and the exchange policies of the destination institution. Most Southern Cross Cultural Exchange students go into the third year of high school (junior year) or the fourth year (senior year).

Enquire now
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Academic subjects and schedules

Studying as an exchange student in the USA opens the door to new areas of study.

You’ll have required classes in subjects like maths and English, plus electives. These are classes in subjects that you may be able to choose. If so, we recommend choosing electives that lay the foundations for future study and advanced courses that enhance your academic record.

Your school counsellor will help you build a timetable that includes mandatory classes and electives that excite you.

The length of classes varies, but typically they last for one hour. Expect short breaks between sessions, with lunch scheduled at midday. There is usually a cafeteria at the school, and most allow you to eat off-site, too. Throughout the day, you will study alongside different classmates and this helps you appreciate working with people who share your interest in each subject.

Enquire now
banner-img

Activities and clubs in the USA

How you spend your free time on exchange depends on where you study. If you’re by the beach or in the mountains, you’ll have very different options than students in cosmopolitan cities and bustling towns. Of course, all exchange students get the chance to enjoy extracurricular activities.

We recommend trying something new and indulging in something you love.

There will be opportunities for drama, sports, music, event committees, and student politics. Look for activities that might not be available at your school, like Speech and Debate, Yearbook Club, a school newspaper, or cheerleading. No matter how you choose to spend your time, these activities will introduce you to new friends and make you a part of the school community.

Don’t forget about your host family! Joining their activities after school and on weekends will deepen the immersion and sense of belonging in your new home.

Enquire now
banner-img

Your host family

You will stay with a host family during your exchange. Living in the home of an American family lets you observe everyday life in another culture. You will pick up the rhythms and words of native speakers, adding nuance to your English. And when you need support, they will be there.

Staying with a host family means you will live the complete American high schooler experience.

Hosting international students has a long tradition in the US. Families do it because they are interested in you and where you come from. And because they can give you a safe and happy launchpad for the academic growth and personal discovery that comes with studying abroad.

American holidays

Holidays like Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Memorial Day are important events for American families. You’ll experience them as no ordinary visitor can, especially when you stay in the USA for Christmas. Americans mark this holiday in their own special way. Expect brightly lit houses and lawns, festive parties, joyful carol singing, and piles of seasonal treats. You will also meet your host family’s relatives and friends, immersing you further in American life and culture.

Learn about host families
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Soft Landing Camp in New York City

Start your exchange by joining Soft Landing Camp in New York City. You never know how you’ll feel leaving home on your own for such a big adventure.  Expect a warm welcome and a few fantastic days discovering one of the world’s most iconic cities!  

Soft Landing Camp is only available for students who start in the August semester and is at an additional fee of AU$1,995/ NZ$1095.

SEE MORE OF THE USA

Get even more out of your exchange program by seeing more of the USA! Southern Cross Cultural Exchange students can join all-inclusive adventures in captivating cities and landscapes across the USA. Walk into history on the east coast, or experience the glamour of the west’s most iconic cities. There is no shortage of memorable destinations! These are subject to availability for students once they are overseas on the program.

Learn more

Hear from our former exchange students in USA

Maddy

“Take every opportunity you get! Try everything you possible can and never give up.”

– Maddy in Texas

JEMMA

“Take every chance and opportunity you get as you will not regret it and it will make the most of your exchange.”

– Jemma in USA

Enquire now

The best way to prepare for your exchange program is to join an Information Session Webinar.
Please click here to register and then complete your details below and we will be in touch to answer your questions.

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