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When Should I Apply If I Want To Go To …

Posted by Jen King on 6/5/24 12:08 PM


Have your eye on a specific country you want to volunteer in during your semester abroad with International Language Programs?

Does volunteering in Europe while spending your vacation days in places like Paris, Rome, and Madrid sound like your dream? Or would you rather be volunteering in Central America and get the chance for some high adventure zip lining and volcano boarding? Or maybe you have your heart set on spending weekends on safari. 

Whatever you're dreaming up, the first step is to start your application to be an ILP volunteer! 

Not an ILP volunteer yet? 
Here's how to apply

Follow these tips to help snag a spot and live out your dream of volunteering abroad!

Tips For Picking Your Top Countries 

There are several countries to choose from when you're an ILP volunteer, and narrowing down which ones you'd like to volunteer in can be a bit daunting!

First, I'd take a peek at all the country options, found on the ILP website. No matter where you go, you'll get all the classics of an ILP semester, but each location has unique features too.

You might have your eye on Thailand because of the beautiful pictures of the Thai islands, but if you're excited about living near the water, a country like the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, or Nicaragua would be better for that (in Thailand you're actually not living anywhere near the ocean). Or maybe you're interested in Costa Rica because you're excited about living somewhere Spanish speaking, but after finding out that Nicaragua is actually a much cheaper place to live in, you decided that's the better fit (and you still get to live somewhere Spanish speaking!).

I highly recommend chatting with one of the ILP reps — they work in the office and are here to answer your questions! They're informed on all ILP countries and are happy to talk to you about the type of experience you're looking for to help you understand which countries would be the best pick for you.

Bigger or smaller group sizes, vacation options, the kind of service you are doing, etc. are all factors of choosing the right country for you. I'd recommend this post that might help you with that decision.

Another handy resource is the @ilptakeovers account where volunteers in-country feature what a typical day is like for them, in each of our locations. Seeing where volunteers live, what the food is like, etc can also be a big help in deciding. 

Once you've picked a few countries you're most interested in, follow the steps below: 

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How Early Should I Apply?

Know When Applications Open 

There aren't deadlines, so you can apply when you're ready. But really, no matter where you’re looking to make a difference, we recommend applying early because we're limited on how many volunteers we can send each semester.

But how early? We accept applications up to 18 months in advance.

You can sign up here to get an email to be notified when we open up applications for the semester you're interested in.

Then, Complete Your Application 

To start your application to volunteer with ILP, just head here.


Do I Get To Choose Which Country I Go To? 

Yes — with some longer explanations attached to that answer.

Signing Up For Your Country

When you apply, you'll complete an online Orientation where you'll let us know more about which countries you want to go to.

We'll ask what your top-picked country is. Then we'll also ask about what other countries you're interested in, just in case your top pick isn't available when you're applying. You can also let us know if there are any countries that you don't want to be assigned to.

If Your Countries Don't Have An Available Spot

If none of the countries that you've listed as being open to have an available spot when you're applying, you'll be added to a "lottery" for each country you want to go to. Spots do open up for various reasons, so this is a way that you can still get a spot during that semester. If a spot opens up, we'll do a random drawing for that country from the lottery and that person will be assigned there. This system lets us be as fair as possible while helping everyone get the chance to go to a country they're excited about.

Essentially the more countries you're open to going to, the more likely we'll be able to get you an assignment in the semester you want to go. And like we mentioned above, the earlier you apply, the more options you have!

How The Numbers Work

In all of our countries, we accept a certain number of volunteers each semester based on factors like housing and how many volunteers are needed for the number of children that are in that program. For example, in some countries, we only have 4 volunteers because it's a program at a smaller school. In other countries, there can be multiple groups of 20+ volunteers because it's a location where we're overflowing with kids who want to attend. It depends on the country, the semester, and the needs of the schools.


ILP Adventure

Ready to start the application process? 

We're here to help you through the whole thing. We can speak from first-hand experience—this will be a life-changing and unforgettable opportunity no matter where you end up serving and traveling! Click the button below to get started:  

Start My Application!


Topics: All About ILP + Volunteering, For The Parents

Hey friends!

We are ILP, a Utah-based non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We love travel so we're sharing all our tips for making the most of your time living abroad + seeing the world, and how to do it all on the tiniest budget.

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