By GreatSchools Staff
Is your teenager looking to polish his foreign language skills this summer? Or does she want to put her environmental passions to work to help rural villagers in Latin America?
Here's how to find a program that will be safe and enriching:
1. Ask for references from past participants and contact them. If a program won't give you names of people to contact, look elsewhere, says John Hishmeh, executive director of the Council on Standards of International Educational Travel, a nonprofit organization that accredits international programs.
2. Find out how health emergencies - small and large - are handled. What would happen if your child gets a cold, breaks a leg or has to be medically evacuated?
3. Make sure your teenager will get the academic credit she expects. She'll need to work with her school counselor -- before she leaves -- to ensure that class credits are transferable.
4. Find out exactly what the program's fee covers and what "extras" you're expected to pay. Some programs include airfare, room and board, transportation around the host community and even some recreational trips. Others cover just some of these costs.
5. Read the fine print. Don't sign a contract or send a deposit without finding out how far in advance you'll know the details of where your child will be staying. The CSIET's Hishmeh says the most frequent complaint he hears from parents is that they get the details of their teenager's living arrangements at the last minute.
6. Ask how group leaders and host families are recruited and screened. Are leaders given background checks? How experienced are they? Is your child likely to stay with a host family that the program has used before? How are any problems between students and host families handled?
7. Ask for a contact person that you and your teenager can call while she is abroad. A good program is responsive, says CSIET's Hishmeh. Both parents and participating students should have direct access to a program representative who can quickly address their questions and help resolve problems.
8. Find out the specific responsibilities of the host family or organization. Is someone in the family going to drive your student to language class or will she need to learn to take public transportation? Is the host family responsible for providing all meals?
9. Ask about your teenager's responsibilities. Will he be expected to obey a curfew and do chores? Will he be able to bring friends to the house? Asking questions like these will not only help you choose a program but make it clear to your teenager that he'll have certain obligations, too.
10. Find out what kind of orientation participants get to the program and to their host communities. Your teenager will need practical knowledge to stay safe and healthy in an unfamiliar place, and an orientation into the new culture. Learning how her host family's customs and expectations will differ from yours will help avert misunderstandings.
Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you more
insights to help you help your child succeed.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.