Here's what a few American high school college counselors have to say about School Year Abroad:
"I think it takes a pretty confident kid to choose to leave home for a year so far away, but in every case, the student who returns is a completely different than the one that left. Better able and certainly more willing to articulate their thoughts about themselves and their world, SYA kids return to SFS fully enriched by their experience. I love the sense of perspective SYA kids bring back to the school. Time and again, I hear them warning their peers of the bubble of Washington and regaling them with stories of the world viewed from other angles."
Director of College Counseling, Sidwell Friends School (DC)
"SYA builds independence, maturity, and appreciation for diversity, qualities that are well received as students apply to college. Without a doubt, SYA experiences often result in crackerjack essays. Further, I think SYA alums apply smartly to colleges and seem to have a better understanding of what suits them. I cannot recall any student expressing regret after returning home. Rather, SYA alums typically tell me that it was a positive, life-changing event, and they usually seek colleges that have study abroad programs."
Director of College Counseling, St. John's School (TX)
"I see no real issues that should be of concern regarding the college process for SYA students. There will always be some worries, I guess, by some students/families that somehow think they are "missing important things" being away in the junior year. Our experience is that this is not the case; in fact, the SYA experience itself helps focus students more clearly as they pursue college options in their senior year."
Former Director of College Counseling, Lakeside School (WA)
"We find that our students who have gone on SYA do really well overall in the college application process and that SYA is a definite factor in their success. They are simply outstanding in the language in which they have been immersed. They make A's in the AP level of the language, and they score very well on AP and SAT II tests. Their horizons are broadened in so many ways, and they are much more independent upon their return. They understand our world's multifaceted parts so much more than their peers and are much more open-minded. They usually come back and have grades that are better than they had before they left. They catch fire intellectually.
I cannot say enough positive things about SYA. I am tremendously thankful that our students have this opportunity ."
College Counselor and Teacher of AP U.S. History, The Westminster Schools (GA)
"In my experience, SYA is an ideal cultural exchange. Without losing their footing in a normal American curriculum or scrambling to take the SAT in a far-off city, an SYA student learns another language and culture in depth. All the SYA students I have worked with have returned from the year away more sophisticated and more able to reflect on the choices they have made. I think this has had only a positive effect on their college prospects."
Director of College Counseling, San Francisco University High School (CA)
"The SYA experience gives students what colleges call texture, a distinctiveness that can serve them well, not only because the colleges see a student who is eager and willing to do something a bit out of the ordinary but also because students return from the experience with a deeper, broader sense of themselves. As a result, their college essays have maturity, self-awareness, a real voice; and their college choices have a thoughtfulness and a logic. SYA students tend to know themselves well, and their management of the college process reflects that knowledge. Finally, because SYA students have just spent a year away from home, the prospect of college and separation from family and school does not produce the same anxiety for them as it does for their home-bound classmates."
Director of College Counseling, Milton Academy (MA)