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Compare the USA J-1 (Classic) vs F-1 (SELECT) High School Programs

Many families want to understand the differences between the J-1 (Classic) and an F-1 (SELECT) High School Programs, and which program is better for their child. Both programs are wonderful, life-changing experiences for exchange students, but there are some significant differences.

The first difference is the price. The J-1 Classic high school program is the most cost effective high school program in the USA. The F-1 Select program gives students and parents more control over their experience and has fewer restrictions. If families can afford it, they may prefer the F-1 program, as it gives them more options to customise the experience the student’s experience.

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Classic (J-1) is great for

  • Exchange students (and parents) who are flexible and have no expectations over where the student lives and attends high school. Placements are likely to be in less known places, in smaller communities and schools. Once they arrive at a high school, they can enjoy classes and sports available (according to any state restrictions).  
  • Exchange students with goals to live abroad, experience a different culture, develop communications skills, and expand their horizons. 
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SELECT (F-1) is great for

  • Exchange students who have special requests and want (or need) to have the most control over where and what they study. You can review the portfolio of schools in advance and apply for your favourite school/school district. Or, you can tell us what you are looking for and we will provide you with some suggestions.  
  • While J-1 programs offer the possibility to be placed with an Area Request, only the SELECT program lets you choose an exact school that offers a STEM program, a championship basketball team, an acting and film program or Model UN. 
  • It’s perfect for students who want to be at a high school where they can take a particular sport, language, or subject; want to be in a specific city; want to choose a school based on its academic reputation or program (IB, STEM etc); study for more than 1 year; and/or want to be sure they have an opportunity to earn a US High School Diploma in grade 12.   
  • The F-1 SELECT high school program lets students chose their exact schools in advance by reviewing a portfolio of schools. You can use our high school search tool to find the USA school you have been dreaming of! 
Learn more
Classic (J-1) High School Program SELECT (F-1) High School Program 
At a GlanceA cultural experience for an academic year – one size fits all! A bespoke academic and cultural experience – you customize the program in advance to get the exact school and experience you want.
Which location will I be in? Our J-1 partner chooses. Could be anywhere across the USA.Choose exactly where you want to be – a big city like Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco; near the beach in Florida or California, in the mountains – you choose!
Quality Assurance Partners listed by CSIET for J-1 High School Programs.CSIET for F-1 Public and Private High School Programs, and certified by ISO 9001 for all programs.
Types of School PublicPublic, Private Day or Boarding.
AccommodationHost FamilyHost Family (Public or Private Day Schools).
When do I get my host family placement? Our partners try to place the student with 2-3 months of high school start. There is no set date for host family placements. We try to place the student within 2-3 months of high school start. Latest date is 4 weeks before school start.  
Placements are guaranteed (if we accept the student, we will find them a host family).
Choose exact school/district? No Yes – Search our USA Schools and tell us which match your dreams! Or ask for our advice.
Can I change my school after acceptance if I don’t like it? NoWe’ll help you choose the school in advance that is the best for you. 
Ability to earn a Diploma in grade 12?NoYes. Student can choose a school/district that offers Diploma Year.
Used as preparation for university in the USA? NoChoose a school based on academic programs, university acceptances and college preparation.
Duration of study possible Semester or Academic Year. 
After 1 year, students can enroll in an F-1 program. 
Semester, Academic Year or Multiple Years, Academic Adventure (2-8 weeks), Short Term (10-12 weeks).
Can I play sports? Students can join whichever sports teams are available at the school, as long as there are no state restrictions. Students can choose an exact school based on its sports program.
Self-Placement (living with relatives or friends) if host family not needed?Cannot live with relatives.Can live with family friends or relatives.
Parents Communicating with or visiting child? Limited communication. Parents only allowed to visit in the last 2 weeks of the program.Communication unlimited unless student has trouble adjusting to new family. We advise parents to not visit for first 30 days. The students has the opportunity to travel to their home country for Christmas and other holidays. 
 Age requirements? 15-18 years upon program start.Generally 14-18 years.
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