Getting Started

Rotary Youth Exchange A to Z

The Rotary Youth Exchange program is open to high school students, or those who have just graduated, between the ages of 15 and 18½ on departure. It does not matter whether your parents are members of a Rotary Club - the program is open to children of Rotarians and non-Rotarians alike.

Exchange student candidates must be outgoing, self-confident, friendly, adaptable, and adventurous, willing to learn a foreign language, with above average grades in school. The application form will require you to tell about yourself and your family, and provide references from school teachers and administrators.

Participants attend high school, and may or may not get credit back home for courses taken (but colleges often recognize the value of exchange programs, with credit for language ability and greater acceptance rates!). Each student will have up to four (or more) host families through the year, to broaden the experience and see the variations that exist in all cultures.

Qualities Sought in Youth Exchange Participants

Through many years experience, which has made the Rotary Youth Exchange Program the largest in the world, we have found the following general qualifications useful:

  • Above average academic qualifications. (This does not mean the top of your class, but the upper third.)
  • Applicants should be good ambassadors for their town, for Rotary, and for the United States. During their year abroad, they may be called upon to address many groups. They must, therefore, possess a good personality and have the ability to communicate with other people and to express themselves clearly.
  • Applicants should possess well-rounded personalities with an ability to think through their problems and stresses of living in a foreign environment.
  • Applicants should have an inquiring mind and be actively interested in their own environment, and in the world in general and in world problems.
  • Applicants should be students who are active in their community through sports, hobbies, youth activities or church affairs. The successful students are invariably those who lead busy, active lives in their community.
  • Applicants should be well adjusted, particularly in their family relationships. The student who cannot adjust to his/her own family may well find it impossible to adjust to more difficult family situations in a foreign environment. The best students invariably come from happy, united homes where the Parents are 100% in support of the student’s participation in the Program.
  • Not older than 18 years when leaving the USA in July-August. This is not a Rotary rule, but a requirement of certain host countries. Many countries even require younger ages. Seniors may apply, participate in the program, and defer college one year while they complete the exchange year, but country choices become more limited for older students.


Living Abroad

Students who are sent abroad under the Rotary Youth Exchange Program are required to accept the following obligations:

  • Students are expected to obey the laws of the host country at all times and accept the discipline of the host school and the host parents.
  • The student is required to enroll at a high school nominated by the host club and attend classes regularly and participate fully in all school activities.
  • Students may be required to address Rotary Clubs, other service organizations, youth groups and community groups during their stay in the host country and will, on their return to the United States, be expected to address similar groups on their experiences as an exchange student.
  • During their stay abroad, the students are expected to attend the annual Rotary Conference in their districts as well as other official Rotary and Youth Exchange Program functions as directed by their host clubs.
  • The student is an ambassador for the United States and must at all times behave in a manner which will reflect credit on his/her family, community or country.
  • Students must return directly to the United States upon completion of their exchange period. Students will not be allowed to stay in the host country after the termination of the exchange period.
  • Students are not allowed to drive any motor vehicle while under the supervision of the Rotary Youth Exchange Program.
  • Students are not allowed to drink alcohol.
  • Students are not allowed to use illegal drugs.
  • Romantic involvement is not allowed.
  • Most countries will send the student home for breaking these obligations.


Download Application

If you're ready to take the plunge, you can download your application here. Submit it to the address on the front of the application. We will forward it on to the appropriate club. The application process starts in September.


We hope this information is useful to you as you consider this opportunity. If you have any questions, feel free to contact one of the outbound committee members.