High School Programs in Costa Rica

Back to Programs

A Guide to High School Programs Abroad in Costa Rica

From the clear turquoise seas on either coast to the rolling inland coffee farms, Costa Rica is an attractive destination for high school students in search of both chilling and thrilling experiences. Students can exchange their high school classrooms for a learning experience that comes complete with a passport, awesome photos (selfies with sea turtles!), diverse new friends, and improved Spanish skills. Students who attend high school programs in Costa Rica will go home with a number of Spanish credits under their belt and a tan that’ll make everyone jealous. 

Locations

The “Rich Coast” is likewise rich in options for high school programs abroad. Whether you choose to adopt the slightly more busy city life or a laid back beachside lifestyle, one truth remains: with the right amount of dedication to speaking Spanish and openness to new experiences, your high school program in Costa Rica will be exciting and productive. The most popular destinations for high school programs in Costa Rica include:

San José. The capital and largest city, known locally as Chepe, is a bit of a concrete eyesore. Even so, students who take the time to get to know the city through a high school program will be treated to a playground of historic neighborhoods and colorful street art. During high school programs in San José students will be able to witness firsthand the interweavings of the Tico’s indigenous heritage and colonial past.

Heredia. This university town is small and easily managed by first time visitors to Costa Rica. Its adorable town square will keep you busy after class, and its accessibility to nearby mountain towns and villages means opportunities for adventure (the culturally immersive type!) are abundant. Don’t forget to take a dip in the nearby waterfalls or swimming holes!

Other student-friendly highland cities include San Joaquín de Flores and Monteverde, and for those that want to study on the coast, Samara, Manuel Antonio, and Playa Flamingo (Yes, FLAMINGO!) all host high school program opportunities.

Keep in mind that participating in high school programs in Costa Rica operating outside of the capital means you will be less likely to have tourists and expats around, which may increase your need to utilize your Spanish language skills to get by. This should look less as an opportunity for defeat and more as an opportunity to rise above the challenge though!

Students should generally expect to have easy communication with family and friends back home regardless of where their high school program in Costa Rica is based. Costa Rica has a largely developed infrastructure in terms of internet and phone communications, that almost all students will be able to enjoy, especially when missing the comforts of home.

High School Programs in Costa Rica

Most high school study programs in Costa Rica run during a regular summer break. This is awesome, as you will thus be able to continue kicking butt in your fall and spring semesters, playing on your sports teams, and keeping up your club commitments. You won’t have to miss any dances either (insert groan from the men, glee from the ladies)!

The majority of high school programs in Costa Rica run for two weeks to eight weeks. When it comes to high school study abroad programs, classes are typically completed and finished in the morning hours, leaving the afternoons and evenings open for other (slightly more obvious) fun. During all high school programs in Costa Rica, you can expect your days to balance a combination of adventure, volunteering or service projects, general time to just “be,” and of course, time to finish your homework!

Some high school programs in Costa Rica will require students to have previous Spanish language classes, so be sure to check in with your desired program provider to see if your qualifications surpass their minimum requirements to participate. If all else fails, you can always choose a language immersion program!

Almost all high school programs in Costa Rica will provide housing, 24/7 support, and cultural excursions for participants. Although, nearly any program is designed to optimize interactions with the locals, giving you ample opportunity to better understand the Tico culture from their perspective; there are even programs specifically focused on cultural exploration.

In the end, choose a program with excursions and activities that most excite and challenge you. Have a fear of depth? Now’s a great time to push yourself to complete a SCUBA course (or try your luck at snorkeling). Are you afraid of using your Spanish? Consider doing a homestay, where you will have time to practice in a loving environment.

Accommodation & Visas

Many high school programs in Costa Rica organize homestays for students. An increased level of security, in addition to increased opportunities to better comprehend the local culture, are cornerstones of homestay accommodations. Thanks to the help of your new set of parents and your adorable hermano y hermana, you will be speaking fluent Spanish in no time. Many returnee students identify the relationships with their homestay families as the most positive takeaway from their high school program in Costa Rica!

Students will not likely need a visa to participate in high school programs in Costa Rica, especially if their program is less than 90 days in length. However, students should apply for a tourist visa upon arrival in Costa Rica. Even though you will not need to apply for a visa beforehand, you must have a current valid passport and a return ticket to exit Costa Rica upon arrival.

Acquiring your visa will be number one on your to do list after your plane lands. You will “follow the herd” as arrivals shuffle toward immigration lines. Keep a pen handy on the plane so you can fill out your paperwork in advance, then get ready to smile for the camera and answer a few basic questions from the security officer (before you’re rewarded with a beautiful stamp!). 

Benefits & Challenges

Choose your own adventure! The only major challenge that will face high school students in Costa RIca is the inevitable day when it is time to go home and they won’t want to! Costa Rica is magical: all trails lead to waterfalls, to jungles, to beaches, and to a better sense of self.

Adopt the pure life (pura vida) as you get to know this country and the locals (self-dubbed Ticos).

Read More

written by:

A Guide To
High School Programs Abroad in Costa Rica

READ ARTICLE

 Explore Teen Travel Programs in Costa Rica

Save

This listing has been saved 31 times

Great High School Programs — Costa Rica

Maximo Nivel is an educational travel organization founded in 2003. We offer well-organized, safe, and affordable programs for individuals and groups. Programs include: Spanish Camp, Spanish immersion, Service Learning (volunteer), and High School Abroad. Our high-quality, academically-rigorous programs are designed to be fun and challenging adventures for teens!

Maximo Nivel participants in the classroom
Save

This listing has been saved 3 times

Travel to Costa Rica and Marvel at its Beauty!

Partake in an incomparable program provided by Travel for Teens. High school students have the chance to explore Costa Rica while rendering community service in two local schools, partaking in rewarding projects, and lending a hand in cleaning a beach. In addition, they get to visit fascinating ecosystems, engage in various enthralling activities, and learn the local culture.

Travel for Teens students in Costa Rica
Save

This listing has been saved 5 times

High School Study Abroad with ISA-HS in Costa Rica

Indulge in the Tico culture together with other high school students through ISA's programs in Heredia. The programs have a typical duration of two to four weeks and are designed for participants who are 14 to 18 years old. Students will live in a homestay, have intensive language and culture classes at the Universidad Latina, volunteer and enjoy organized weekend activities. These activities, ...

ISA students smiling for the camera
Save

This listing has been saved 29 times

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-...

High School students measuring the size of a baby turtle
Save

This listing has been saved 5 times

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...

High school student in Costa Rica
Save

This listing has been saved 1 time

High School Programs with Projects Abroad

Costa Rica is a country of environmental wonders and is renowned for its biodiversity and fascinating wildlife. This year, experience the tropical paradise with Projects Abroad through its international high school program. Enroll in a full-time education in one of the Costa Rican high school institutes and engage in volunteer projects and cultural explorations to have a better understanding of...

Save

This listing has been saved 15 times

GVI

Global Vision International offers volunteer programs for high school students in Costa Rica. Students can participate in projects that aim to address environmental issues and humanitarian needs.

Save

This listing has been saved 5 times

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...

Save

This listing has been saved 6 times

Spanish Summer Camp for Teenagers

OFFERED FOR AGES 13 - 17 Are you up to fun Spanish classes, your first volunteer job in a tropical country, tons of typical Costa Rican activities and tours, and living with a local family? Then this could be the summer of your life with Intercultura's Teen Camp! Teens will study in our Vibrant Heredia campus their first week where they stay with one of our trusted, loving homestay famili...

Save

This listing has been saved 1 time

Teen Spanish Immersion Summer Camp

The Teen Spanish Immersion Summer Camp runs for three weeks and combines intensive Spanish classes, daily cultural activities, and weekend excursions. It’s an all-inclusive program that offers teens everything they’ll need to learn, immerse, and walk away with the adventure of a lifetime. The camp emphasises studying and acquiring Spanish through cultural immersion. Students will not only wa...

Save

This listing has been saved 1 time

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...

Save

This listing has been saved 2 times

Biodiversity, Ecology, and Sustainability in Costa Rica

Hike, paddle, and zip-line through Costa Rica’s diverse regions and ecosystems on a high school summer abroad program with The Experiment in International Living. Work alongside local residents on a community service project. Practice your Spanish language skills and participate in outdoor activities including hiking, horseback riding, and tubing.