Students and parents considering participation in an international high school exchange program often have many questions. Please explore the list of questions below to see if yours are among them!
What is the difference between Academic Gap Year students and regular students on SAGE's Study Abroad Program? The biggest difference is that as a Gap Year student, you don't need to graduate. This means that you can take any classes you want - not one English class, one math class, one science class, etc. We do expect you to take a minimum course load and you are required to carry out an independent study project, but beyond that, you are free to be involved in other extra curricular and community service activities.
What GPA do I need to get into SAGE? The SAGE Program does not have a minimum GPA requirement. We look for academically strong and motivated students who demonstrate maturity, independence, and a strong desire to take part in an international program. Your recommendation letters tell us much more about you than your GPA does.
What do colleges think of the SAGE Program? Going on the SAGE Program will IMPROVE your college admission application. Showing that you have international living experience through any of our study or volunteer programs (versus just travel experience) is always an asset to college admission. This is what Susan Wennemyr, a Harvard University student recruiter told us:
"When I interview applicants to Harvard, absolutely nothing impresses me as much as international experience. I immediately assume that such students have the mental agility and political awareness that prepare her for study of complex issues. It also suggests that that student can contribute a unique perspective to her classmates, which is something we're always looking for. Put simply, SAGE prepares students to succeed in college."
Click here to see the colleges and universities SAGE Alums attend.
Isn't it difficult to go away for such a long time? Yes and no. There is always an initial period of adjustment when you go to another country or school. You may miss your family, friends, and familiar things back home. SAGE staff in each location are trained on how to help with transition into life abroad, and you will be well supported by staff and fellow volunteers. On all SAGE Programs, you will quickly make friends and at the end of the year you will wish you didn't have to leave!
Will I be living with a host family? You may choose to live with a host family on some of SAGE's Volunteer Programs. Should you choose this option, you will be living with families which have been carefully screened and have years of experience hosting young volunteers like yourself. Homestays are a wonderful and unique way to truly experience local culture.
What languages are spoken? English is the most widely spoken language, and all classes, orientations and programs are taught in English. However, you will be working alongside volunteers from around the world and with local community members who will speak a variety of languages. We hope that you take this opportunity to practice your Spanish, Hindi, etc!
Can I drink the water? It depends on the location of your project. Safe drinking water will be provided to you no mater where you are working.
Do I need a passport and visa? Yes. It is your responsibility to determine what documents you will need, depending on what country you are traveling to. We have plenty of resources and are happy to help you figure this out, but you will need to obtain the documents yourself.
How much does the SAGE program cost? Prices vary depending on which project a student chooses, if they are taking language classes, how long they are staying, etc. We can give you price estimates if you contact us and provide some basic information.
Is financial aid available? Yes. Financial aid is given to families of qualified students who demonstrate financial need. (Our aid is need-based, not merit-based.) A financial aid application must be submitted along with your application to the SAGE Program, and is available along with the application forms.
Can we come visit our child? Parents are welcome to visit your child at the project sites. Please contact us if you plan to do so, and we will discuss further details.
Who makes my child's travel arrangements - SAGE or us? It is the responsibility of the student to set up travel arrangements. If there are other students or volunteers travelling at the same time, we are happy to help you coordinate with them.
What kind of travel visa does my child need? It depends on which country the student is visiting. We will assist you by providing resources and information, but the responsibility to apply for the visa is yours.
Are there medical facilities? Students on all programs will have access to medical care facilities. We can provide information on medical facilities specific to each destination upon request. Please contact SAGE for program-specific protocols and nearby hospitals, etc.
How will I stay in touch with my child? Email is definitely the easiest way to stay in touch. Students will have occasional access to internet, and we encourage all participants to actively blog to keep family and friends informed of their adventures.
How long has the SAGE Program been in operation? The SAGE Program has been sending students abroad since 1992. We have helped several hundred students see the world on this unique program since its inception.