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Delve into Different Cultures Through National Student Exchange

Updated on April 29, 2013
Catherine Stolfi profile image

Catherine is an independent research consultant at NASA Langley with degrees in English, Biology, and Environmental Science (M.S.).


For a different and newly exhilarating experience in a school semester try immersing yourself in the National Student Exchange (NSE), offered through colleges throughout the country. As a student you can be exchanged to any of the over 200 colleges and universities that take part in NSE. The most exciting part of the program is the freedom and possibilities you have in colleges, programs and choices. Unlike colleges Study Abroad program, you can take part in any class or program available at the participating institutions, as long as there is availability.

The National Student Exchange is not new; it’s been swapping students all over the U.S. and Canada for over 39 years. Many of the colleges may be familiar to you while other colleges may intrigue you with their locations, such as eight universities to choose from in Puerto Rico, two in the U.S. Virgin Islands, three in Alaska, two in Hawaii and eight in Canada.

There are a few requirements, policies and considerations to take into account when making your decision. There is a different length–of–stay requirement for each school. Most require at least one semester, while others require an entire academic year, which are fall, winter and spring semesters. There are a few don’t offer summer semester exchange. It’s important to do your research on each school and its length requirements before choosing. To be eligible for the program you must be a full time student.

If you want to attend a school in Puerto Rico bear in my mind all classes are instructed in Spanish including readings and lectures and language proficiency must be demonstrated. Also, some programs, as you are open to all at each institution, may be highly competitive. Before you go it is imperative you check with an academic advisor at your home college to make sure the classes you choose to take will assist you in your goals, whether for graduation or others.

Financial aid is available for the program but requirements are dubious. You must check with your visiting college about payment plans and keep in mind that host campus fees will be required to be paid. The State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) may be applied to such exchange programs and are also eligible for federal student loans and Pell grants.


You also have to consider that you will be a visitor to this region and extra expenses will be a factor: such as transportation, food and living expenses. Many campuses have housing availability but, again, it depends on the institution. For specifics about each participating college, listings of all undergraduate majors that are offered and general info on the NSE program visit

If you are interested in doing something to make your college career a little more exciting and adventurous, NSE may be for you. It can be an opportunity to delve into different cultures and geographic regions, gives access to classes not normally available, looks good on future graduate or job applications and can assist the participant in acquiring life skills that may not be available to you otherwise.



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      4 years ago

      I really wish there were more artlcies like this on the web.


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