High School Programs in Central America

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A Guide to High School Programs in Central America

Nestled between the Pacific and the Atlantic and encompassing one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, Central America is the perfect destination for high school students who want to break free of routine and have an educational adventure in a Spanish speaking country. Embarking on a high school program in Central America is your ticket to exploring an environmentally beautiful and culturally rich region of the world that many will never get to experience. What are you waiting for!


Central America is a small region in the western hemisphere that encompasses seven countries in the heart of the Americas. It is bordered by Mexico to the north, Colombia to the south, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Central America is home to a total population of just over 42 million people.

The seven countries where you can embark on a high school program in Central America are, from north to south, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and El Salvador. All of these are Spanish speaking countries except for Belize, where English is the national language.

Guatemala is by far the largest nation in Central America, with over 14 million citizens. It is also home to Central America’s largest city, Guatemala City. The rest of the Central American countries each have populations of several million, again Belize being the exception with only 300,000 citizens.

While you can choose any of these destinations for a high school program in Central America, recognize that each country has its own distinct political, economic, and cultural heritage. Spend some time researching all your different options to land on which country seems of the interest to you!

High School in Central America

There are several types of high school programs in Central America that you can enroll in. Language immersion programs, for example, are very popular. High school students who are learning Spanish can benefit greatly from taking classes on a daily basis while further developing their Spanish comprehension in everyday scenarios. Language courses can also be taken as part of a traditional study abroad high school program in Central America, where you can also earn academic credit in a variety of other subjects.

Adventure travel and cultural exploration programs in Central America are also very popular among high school students. Because it is such an environmentally and culturally diverse region, many students choose not to settle for one location, and instead embark on a program that will explore many destinations in Central America. Trekking, scuba diving, kayaking, and a bevy of culturally immersive activities are usually on the agenda for these types of programs.

Last but not least, many high school students choose to embark on volunteer service programs in Central America. As a developing region of the world, many Central Americans struggle from a shortage of necessary social services such as education and healthcare. High school students can make a positive impact in local development by helping out in these areas and more.

Scholarships & Costs

Central America is a very affordable region of the world for most international travellers, but the cost of a high school program in Central American can still be quite expensive because of tuition, transportation, housing, meals, and other such services provided. You can check out our Scholarship Directory for an idea of the different types of financial aid that can help make your dream trip a reality in Central America. Fundraising can also be helpful for high school students.

Accommodation & Visas

Homestays are usually the most popular form of accommodation for high school programs in Central America. This can be a great opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the local language, culture, and family life. Other accommodations such as dormitories or hostels may also be available for some high school programs in Central America. Whatever your living situation, remember that Central America is a developing region, so some luxuries such as AC, hot water, and internet connection may not always be accounted for.

The Central American countries differ in their visa policies for international visitors. In many cases you will only need to apply for a visa if you plan on staying your host country for longer than 90 days. You can check out our for more information.

Benefits & Challenges

Spanish Immersion. Students who are learning Spanish as a second language will be amazed at how much their comprehension soars after returning from a high school program in Central America.

Biodiversity. Central America is infamous for being one of the most biodiverse regions of the world (it is home to 7% of the planet’s biodiversity while only encompassing 0.1% of its land area). Adventurers and nature lovers will be enraptured by the scenery.

Cultural Shift. If you have never travelled to a Latin American country then you will likely experience a degree of culture shock while on a high school program in Central America. Soon enough though you will come to fall in love with the hospitality and kindness you encounter all across the region.

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A Guide To
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High School Programs with Projects Abroad

Experience Central America and gain knowledge at the same time through Projects Abroad international academic studies program for high school students. A wide range of activities are available in Costa Rica, including intensive Spanish language courses, community service, and outdoor cultural exploration. This program is offered to worldwide participants age 16 to 19 years old.


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Sol Abroad

Enjoy learning in Central America with Sol Abroad Spanish language and high school study program. The program places students either in the quaint traditional community of Atenas or the bustling Costa Rican city of Heredia, where they have the chance to learn more the country's language, culture, and history.


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AFS Intercultural Programs: Study Abroad in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of the most popular destinations for AFS-USA Exchange Students, and with good reason. The country is home to proud, friendly, and peaceful citizens known as ticos (men) and ticas (women). They are usually conservative but they enjoy sharing their life and social activities with new people. The people of Costa Rica are known as Ticos. Most Costa Ricans have a European heritage ...


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Maximo Nivel

Indulge in the culture of Central America by joining one of Maximo Nivel's High School programs in Guatemala or Costa Rica. Programs include Intensive Spanish Language Immersion, International volunteer service projects, and Adventure/Cultural activities. Programs are available all year round with for three months to a year.


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Westcoast Connection | Costa Rica Summer 2018

Bienvenidos a Costa Rica! Westcoast Connection offers a variety of different programs in La Pura Vida. You can help communities in need on a Community Service program, from building greenhouses with Urbarium to running an eco-camp for the children of La Carpio. Maybe you prefer improving your Spanish while interacting with the locals on a Costa Rica Language Immersion program. Whatever prog...


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ISA (International Studies Abroad)

Join other high school students on an intensive Spanish language and culture program at the Universidad Latina in Central America with ISA. The program, based in Heredia, Costa Rica, offers Spanish classes Monday through Thursday for two to four weeks. Participants may have the opportunity to travel on weekends to nearby cities and other places of interest.


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Study abroad in Costa Rica with GVI. For two to four weeks, high school students ages 15 to 17 can participate in volunteer projects, immerse in Tico culture, and experience true local community collaboration. Students of all nationalities are welcome to participate.


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Summer & Gap Year Programs with API High School and Gap Year

Academic Programs International (API) High School offers various Summer programs for high school students, and API Gap Year offers programs for recent high school graduates. These consist of study, adventure, volunteer, and immersion offerings in Europe Latin America, and Asia. All of our gap year programs (and some of our summer programs) are offered for college credit, and all provide an eye-...


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GoBeyond Costa Rica - Pura Vida Experience

Travel to Costa Rica with GoBeyond to help improve the harsh conditions of the local community and its people. GoBeyond students participate in variety of humanitarian projects led by Gail Nystrom, head of the Costa Rica Humanitarian Foundation. As an ex-Peace Corps worker, Gail has established herself and her organization in communities all around Costa Rica. Through her partnership, GoBeyond ...


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High School Exchange in Costa Rica – Environmental Volunteer

Join our High School Exchange Program in Costa Rica, live with a loving host family and enjoy the opportunity of joining our Environmental Volunteer program! What we offer: - A Private High School program located in San Jose, Costa Rica - The school has its own InBio Park and all modern facilities offering you a one of a kind learning experience - Students will stay with welcoming Ho...


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Spanish Immersion Gap Year with Cross-Cultural Solutions

Soak up the Latin American culture and learn the Spanish language. Our Spanish Immersion Gap Year is specifically designed for a full language experience, all while making a real impact. Each country promises to astound you with it's ecological diversity, off-the-beaten-path destinations, rugged coastlines, bustling markets, and delicious food! For two decades, CCS volunteers have traveled aro...


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Central America Immersion - Carpe Diem Education Gap Year

Learn sustainable development and catch waves in the small coastal community of El Paredon. Practice Spanish with welcoming host families in rural Nicaragua. Get SCUBA certified in the sparkling turquoise waters of the Caribbean island of Roatan. Explore the diverse traditions of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Roatan in the tropical haven of Central America. Note: This is a 3-mont...