How are Exchange Students Screened?

For many teens around the world, the dream of studying abroad in the United States marks the beginning of a life-changing adventure. But what lies behind the scenes of this process? How are exchange students screened and selected to promote a fun and enriching experience for both the students and their host families? Let's take a peek behind the scenes to see how these amazing students make their way to your doorstep.


Applying to Study Abroad

It all starts long before students even think about packing their bags. Students work with agencies in their home country to learn about the program and begin the application process. Once a student has completed the detailed application, the agency sends it to the U.S., where the ICES admissions team goes through it with a fine-tooth comb. 


Their application is like a window into their world – their interests, their family life, and what they hope to gain from the experience. It's our chance to get to know them beyond just their name on paper.


Student applying to study abroad.



Family Composition

Students provide a snapshot of their entire family tree, complete with parents' jobs, sibling names, ages, and even tidbits about their furry friends.


They share their religious preferences and practices, job experiences, and languages they’ve studied or spoken.  This thorough rundown isn’t just for show; it’s a treasure map that’s used to find a host family that will be a good match.


Femail student pointing to family tree.



Student Letter

But the real magic happens when they write a letter to potential host families. It's their chance to shine, to show off who they are and why they'd be an awesome addition to your home. They spill all the beans – their hobbies, their friends back home, and what makes them tick.


Famial student writing letter to host parents.


Parent Letter

To give you the real scoop, their parents also chip in with a letter of their own. It's like getting a sneak peek into their upbringing and home life and what makes them who they are.


Natural parents writing letter to host parents.


Photos & Video

But wait, there's more! They also send over photos* and maybe even a video*, giving you a glimpse into their life back home. It's like flipping through a photo album before you've even met.


Collage of student and family photos.

* Prospective host families must undergo initial vetting in order to view student photos/video.


English Skills

When they arrive in the U.S., they’ll be doing life all in English, so having a strong foundation is a must.  ICES reviews how many years they’ve studied English and looks at how well they speak, read, and write it.  While flawless English is not required, it is important that students be able to converse with the host family and participate in school.


Three international students speaking English..


School Transcripts

Speaking of school, we want to make sure they'll be able to keep up with the schoolwork here in the States. So, we check out their transcripts to see if they've got what it takes. Every student also submits a recommendation from a teacher who knows them and can shed insight into their study habits, English skills, maturity, and peer interactions.


Femail student receives teacher recommendation.


Health Info

To make sure they're ready for the adventure ahead, students undergo a thorough medical exam.  The physician provides details about their current and past health, plus a complete rundown of their immunizations.  Any allergies, dietary restrictions, or other conditions, past or present, are noted here.


Student demonstrates health and fitness.


Student Interview

Each student—along with their parents—pays a visit to the agency** in their country to have a face-to-face chat that allows the agency to meet the student and chat about their motivation and goals for studying abroad, and to get a feel for the student’s personality and English skills. 


This is also when the agent answers questions and makes sure everyone is on the same page before moving forward.


Student and parents participate in interview.

** If an in-person visit is not possible, a video interview may be substituted.


Rules & Regs

To make sure they understand what they’re signing up for, every student, along with their parents, sign off on a thorough list of ICES program rules and policies.


Parents and student agree to rules and regulations.



After clearing all those hurdles, the application is given a stamp of approval and released to our field staff so they may begin the hunt for a wonderful host family.  That’s where you come in!  After completing an application of your own—to become a host family—the match is made, and the real adventure begins!


Logo - ICES Transparent (large)-1

Apply to Become a Host Family!

Ready to spice up your home with some international flair? It's time to roll out the welcome mat and consider becoming a host family. Imagine the adventures, the laughs, and the Instagram-worthy moments awaiting you!

Don't miss out on the chance to be a part of this global adventure.  Contact us today to apply or to learn more.

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Tags: Exchange Student, Youth Exchange, Student Screening

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