Secondary School Exchange Scholarship

Secondary School Exchange is one of the ESU’s oldest education programs. Founded in 1928, thousands of British and American students have enjoyed ESU fellowship and study abroad.

A “Gap Year” Abroad

The ESU Secondary School Exchange Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship providing tuition, room and board for scholars to spend a year between high school and college at a British boarding school.

During this “extra” year of high school, these young scholars have new academic and social experiences in another country and culture. Through this year abroad, the SSE scholars gain independence, a global outlook, and increased maturity that benefit them at college and in their future careers.

ESU SSE Scholars describe their experience abroad as a most formative time in their lives, and many go on to become active alumni of their host schools and members of the English-Speaking Union.

The ESU SSE Scholarship is open to high school seniors for the year immediately following graduation. SSE candidates must be U.S. Citizens and demonstrate strong scholastic achievement, extra-curricular participation, leadership, and personal character. If offered an ESU SSE Scholarship to a UK boading school, the student must accept the place.

Secondary School Exchange Scholarship

SSE students Della McDougal, Ted Atwood and Edmundo Ortiz enjoying a cruise around Manhattan, passing by such landmarks as the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Brooklyn Bridge during their SSE orientation.

How to Apply

Calendar for SSE Scholarship Application & Notification for a 2024/25 Gap Year in the UK

August/September 2023: SSE Applications open!

ESU sends participating schools Invitation to Apply.
SSE Applications & information posted on ESU website.
Submit the SSE Application.
Please note: by submitting an SSE application, the student confirms if offered a SSE Scholarship to a UK boading school, they will accept the place for the 2024-25 academic year and defer their college acceptance for one year.

November 2023: ESU sends interview materials to the SSE Committee Regional Chairs.

January 2024: SSE Applications Due Fri, January 5

Students submit completed SSE applications as 1 PDF by January 5 to their school SSE Coordinator or via email to Alice Uhl at

January 2024:  ESU Regional Chairs conduct interviews (in person or via Zoom).

January 20, 2024: ESU SSE Committee selects finalists and sends SSE applications to the ESU UK for placement.

February/March  2024: Notifies SSE applicants of their status and schedules UK School interviews via Zoom.

April/May  2024: Complete UK school forms and apply for UK Student Visa (visa expeditor service recommended)

Summer 2024: Pre-departure orientation

September 2024: Students depart for UK

July 2025: Students return to the US

Edmundo Ortiz ’18 named English-Speaking Union Scholar – Rabun Gap, Georgia – April 26, 2018

Edmundo Ortiz ’18 is headed across the pond for a once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunity as an English-Speaking Union Secondary School Exchange Scholar. The appointment grants Ortiz a full scholarship to spend a year between high school and college at a British boarding school. Next year, he will study at Eastbourne College in East Sussex, England. He has already been accepted to Bowdoin College, a top liberal arts college located in Brunswick, Maine, for the 2019-2020 academic year and plans to study English, philosophy, and politics. Read Full Story

Thanksgiving 2018 at Dartmouth House, London – December 1, 2017

Every year, ESU Secondary School Exchange Scholars from the United States studying in the United Kingdom travel from across the UK to gather at the English-Speaking Union in London for a Thanksgiving Celebration at Dartmouth House.  The scholars have been in the UK since early September studying at nine schools in England, Scotland, and Wales as a part of the SSE program.  SSE Scholar Anna Brummeler is keeping a photo blog this year – check it out hereRead Full Story

SSE Scholar Arrives to Emma Willard School – Jan 5, 2017

SSE Scholar recently arrived from the UK to Emma Willard School in Troy, New York for a two-term exchange, pictured here with Jamie Hicks-Furgang, Head of Enrollment Management and Kent Jones, Director of College Counseling. Read Full Story

SSE Scholars Thanksgiving Gathering — November 28, 2016

Each year the ESU London branch generously hosts a Thanksgiving dinner for the SSE Scholars studying abroad in the UK.  Arielle Paré shared some photos of the event.  Arielle is also keeping a blog of her experience in the UK this year – check it outRead Full Story

Thanks to our Secondary School Exchange Donors – November 27, 2016

The ESU gratefully acknowledges the generosity of the following donors whose support helps make the Secondary School Exchange program possible. Read Full Story

SSE Scholars 2016-17 – November 24, 2016

The ESU congratulates the current SSE Scholars who are studying abroad in the UK and Argentina for the 2016-17 academic year. Read Full Story

Program Contact

Alice Uhl

Education Programs Director

(212) 818-1200, ext. 212




“I will never forget my SSE year, the friends I made, and its profound effect on my development.”

— Eliot Macy, Westminster School