How to Choose the Right Exchange Student for Your Family

Hosting an exchange student can be an enriching experience for both the student and the host family. It's a chance to open your home to someone from another part of the world, share experiences, and build lifelong connections. But how exactly are exchange students matched to their host families?

Let's take a look at the process, and then download our free quiz to help you find the best exchange student for your family!

Student Selection

In most cases, the host family has the opportunity to select the exchange student they wish to host. This involves browsing through student profiles, reading letters from the students and their parents, and getting a sense of who they are and what they hope to gain from the experience.

Completing a preliminary host family application will provide access to additional student information, such as photos of the student, their home, and their family. 


"She has been family since day one! Candela is very easy to Love. She is very easy going and came ready to experience different things."

-the Hebert family, hosting Candela from Spain


It's essential to note that there may be restrictions imposed by schools regarding the admission of exchange students. These restrictions must be taken into account during the selection process to ensure compliance.

Host families may have various reasons for selecting a particular exchange student. Below are some factors that often come into play.


Shared Interests

Families may gravitate towards students who share similar interests or hobbies. For instance, the Johnson family, who are avid hikers, might be drawn to Lucas, a student from Switzerland who loves outdoor activities and regularly goes hiking with his family.

The artistic Smith family was delighted to discover Maria's profile, where she shares her passion for art and her experience painting and sculpting.  Intrigued by her enthusiasm, the Smiths feel she would be a perfect fit for their family.

Host family with their two female exchange students.

"My 2 exchange students were perfectly matched for my family due to having the same morals and respect for each other. My girls’ favorite saying is 'We are finally living the American dream.'" 

-The Fonetnot family with Daria from Russia and Hannah from Germany


Interest in Home Country/Culture

Is there a particular country or culture that fascinates you?  Hosting an exchange student is an ideal way to learn from a pro—your exchange student!  And should you decide to visit their country in the future, you'll have an expert guide to show you the ropes.

Red pin in map of Argentina.


Compatibility with Family Dynamics

The age and gender of the host family's children can influence their choice of an exchange student. They may prefer a student who aligns well with their family dynamics and can easily integrate into their daily routines.

"I think our placement is a good match because our interests and personalities are similar. We all enjoy doing a lot of the same activities. We also all seem to have the same perspective of flexibility and willingness to try new things to understand each other better."

-The McClish family hosting Daniel from Czech Republic


Family Heritage

Some families find hosting to be an excellent way to connect with or learn more about their heritage by hosting a student who shares their cultural or ethnic background.  On a similar note, some families who have adopted internationally choose to host as a way of helping their adopted child learn about their biological heritage.

Flamenco dancer in Barcelona, Spain.


Health Considerations

Practical considerations such as pet allergies or dietary restrictions may also play a role in the selection process. Families with pets or specific dietary requirements may prioritize students who are compatible with their household circumstances.

Student with allergies and dog.


Pace of Family Life

Another crucial consideration in matching exchange students with host families is the pace of family life. Every family has its rhythm, whether it's bustling with activities and outings or more laid-back and relaxed. Matching a student's temperament and preferences with the pace of family life can contribute significantly to their overall experience.

For instance, a highly active student who thrives on constant engagement and exploration might find a perfect fit with the energetic Robinson family, who are always on the go, participating in community events and outdoor adventures.

Conversely, a student who values quiet evenings at home and prefers a more tranquil pace may feel more at home with the Carlson family, who enjoy cozy movie nights and leisurely dinners. By considering the pace of family life alongside other factors, such as interests and cultural compatibility, host families can ensure a harmonious match that caters to the diverse needs and preferences of both the student and the family.

Host mom with her Korean exchange student.

"Boo and I were perfectly matched because we both had similar personalities. We were both homebodies mostly during the week, who also enjoyed exploring places and seeing things on the weekend. We also both liked to talk and had fun together."

-Host mom, Mari, with Boo from South Korea


Cultural Implications

In addition to personal preferences, cultural considerations may be taken into account when matching exchange students with host families. This is where the expertise of the Local Coordinator becomes invaluable. They can provide guidance and insights into cultural nuances, helping families make informed decisions that promote cultural exchange and understanding.

For example, when the Martinez family expresses interest in hosting a student from Japan, their Local Coordinator advises them on cultural norms, dietary preferences, and communication styles prevalent in Japanese culture. Armed with this knowledge, the Martinez family can make a more informed choice and ensure a smoother cultural integration for their exchange student.


Matching exchange students to host families involves a thoughtful and considerate process. It's about creating connections that transcend geographical boundaries and fostering mutual understanding and respect.

Careful consideration in the selection process will help ensure a good match between the student and the host family.  Usually, this helps the student more quickly and easily integrate into the host family and generally results in a more enjoyable experience for everyone.  Happy hosting!

Find the right exchange student for your family! TAKE THE QUIZ



Tags: Host Families, Exchange Student, Youth Exchange

Subscribe to Our Blog Today!