The National Student Exchange fosters the sharing of college and university resources within a higher education community which is seeking ways to provide diverse, multicultural, and meaningful educational experiences for their students. While most institutions cite priorities for globalization and internationalization, many students find that cost, insufficient language skills, lack of program compatibility, and fear of the unknown are reasons for not taking advantage of the diversity of international opportunities offered. In some disciplines, it is far easier to match program goals domestically than with international institutions.
Instead of crossing oceans, then, NSE students cross state, regional, provincial, and cultural borders to take courses not available on their home campuses, expand their academic program options, reside in a different region, be exposed to diverse cultural settings, seek out graduate and professional schools, and explore career options. The changes seen in student attitudes, understanding of other people in other settings, maturity, risk-taking, and decision-making are similar to the experiences of students who study internationally.
Benefits for the Campus
Each campus has its own perceptions of how NSE fits into its mission and meets its needs. Many of the campuses view NSE as having nearly 200 branch campuses with all the program resources those campuses provide. Our member universities essentially share resources for a modest membership fee. It means adding courses not offered on your campus or offering the courses you have but with different perspectives. It means internships and field experiences where they are significantly meaningful to the students.
Many universities are faced with budgetary constraints causing them to cut courses and programs. NSE offers students almost unlimited course access through exchange. Increasing numbers of students are being encouraged by faculty and advisors to go on exchange, to seek out graduate and professional schools, actively look for employment, or try living in a particular area of the country to experience new people, places, communities, and culture.
Enrichment of the Academic Program
- Supplementing and Complimenting Academic Courses and Programs
NSE helps bridge the gap between regional and international exchange options offered by most campuses by making available to students the academic resources of a wide variety of institutions across the United States and Canada. Through its NSE membership, a college or university is able to expand the scope and variety of educational offerings available to its students at minimal additional cost to both the institution and the student. Campuses are able to help their students take advantage of courses, concentrations, programs, fields of study, or other academic options not offered by their home institution.
- Joint Academic Programming
One of the real strengths of the National Student Exchange is the potential for developing joint programs between two institutions. Campuses can combine departmental strengths to develop a program which allows students to expand the depth and breadth of their education by taking courses at two different institutions. NSE's tuition reciprocity and common operating procedures facilitate and encourage this kind of activity where it is not practical to add courses or programs to current institutional offerings. Programming of this nature may be accomplished through formal written agreements or verbal cooperative understandings as best meet the needs of the institution and the program.
Colleges and universities are encouraged and sometimes mandated to find ways to introduce their students to diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural situations and learning. The changing diversity in cultural and racial characteristics across the United States, its territories, and Canada presents numerous challenges and opportunities for tomorrow's citizens and leaders. Recognizing this, the National Student Exchange has developed a membership composed of diverse colleges and universities, many of which offer distinct cultural experiences. For example, students may exchange to campuses that have high percentages of African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic-American, Native-American and First Nation populations. There are also majority campuses with significant enrollment of one or more minority groups.
By exchanging to institutions different than their own, students have an opportunity to gain insight into the historical and cultural makeup of different regions, to improve communications skills with individuals from diverse backgrounds, and to eliminate racial and ethnic stereotypes. It is an opportunity for students to make the most of their education and prepare themselves to live and work in a more culturally diverse society.
Enhancement of Recruitment and Retention Efforts
Colleges and universities are finding that the National Student Exchange may give them a competitive edge in recruiting as well as strengthen the retention efforts of their institutions. Regionally-bound students who are not able to afford the cost of attending a college far from home are now able to do so for up to one year with the National Student Exchange with educational costs similar to staying at home. It is a recruiting advantage that has an appeal to both students and their parents. Often students who might normally transfer or just stop out of college will participate in the National Student Exchange satisfying their interest in going elsewhere. These students usually return to the home campus and subsequently fulfill their graduation requirements.
Special Exchange Options
Alternative to International Programs
- Study Abroad Programs
While NSE was implemented to encourage students to experience the diversity of educational options within our own country, the network also provides access to our university partners in Canada as well as study abroad programs in nearly 40 countries which are administered by NSE member campuses. Such access helps member campuses expand international options to their students at a cost far less than to develop and maintain their own study abroad programs.
- Field Experience and Internships
Many NSE member campuses make their field experience, off-campus study, and internship options available to incoming exchange students. This kind of sharing of institutional resources provides options to students where they are most meaningful.
- Honors Access
Many of NSE's member colleges and universities encourage and facilitate exchange of honors students. This is another way of offering more courses, options, and challenges to our highest achievers.
- Resident Assistant Exchange
Some of the universities in the National Student Exchange facilitate opportunities for students who are resident assistants at their home campus to serve in a similar position at another campus. Such exchanges provide new options for student development as well as a sharing of residential life and student activities information among institutions involved in the exchange.
For many students, opportunities for study in international settings may be limited by lack of language proficiency, financial resources, maturity and self-confidence, or the availability of comparable academic programs. Campuses that cannot accommodate these students in study abroad options often have no alternative to offer. The National Student Exchange provides another option -- one that offers cultural, geographic, and academic diversity; costs little more than the cost of attending the home campus; has few language barriers; and offers courses that can complement or supplement options at the home campus.
Benefits for Students
Why Students Participate
NSE offers options for students to study in other educational settings at minimal additional cost. Students participate in the exchange program in order to:
- Broaden personal and educational perspectives
- Explore and appreciate new cultures
- Widen university boundaries
- Take courses not offered on the home campus
- Learn from different professors
- Access courses with different perspectives
- Explore new areas of study
- Experience personal growth
- Live in a different geographic area
- Investigate graduate or professional schools
- Look for future employment opportunities
- Become more independent and resourceful
- Acquire life skills
- Experience life from a different point of view
NSE is an opportunity for students to study in a different learning environment for an extended period of time taking advantage of educational opportunities that may not be available on their home campuses. New faculty, specialized courses, and new or especially strong subfields within a chosen major can reinforce and foster a deeper commitment to original goals and objectives. They can also provide a different perspective that could assist the student in determining his/her professional directions. Experiencing differences in educational philosophies, academic program offerings, and educational format helps to develop new approaches and attitudes toward higher education.
Students view the exchange as an opportunity to live and study in a different area thereby allowing them to become better acquainted with a new region, its people, and customs while remaining in their degree program. A major impact of the program is the increased awareness and appreciation of both the vast and subtle differences in ideas and value systems that result from the geographic location or the ethnic dominance in a new area. Students begin to understand that from varied geographic settings come vastly differing life styles. Exposure to distinctive ethnic or cultural communities in a new campus or city introduces the student to new learning experiences which help to widen personal and academic horizons.
Personal Growth and Development
Participation in the National Student Exchange is often the student's first time away from direct daily parental guidance and decision-making. The initial separation from the support of home-town and college friends provides the opportunity for students to discover their own capabilities in making and living with their decisions. At the host campus, students must assume responsibility for their own development. This results in a sense of personal assurance and pride that comes only from coping with new challenges and new associations. Of necessity, the student learns the benefits and the burdens of increased independence and responsibility. Students frequently return from exchange with more self-confidence and independence, greater decision-making skills, better able to take risks, and to more clearly define academic, career, and personal goals.
Travel and Exploration
There is a sense of adventure about travel that appeals to students. While moving to a new campus for up to one year necessitates travel, students usually take advantage of being in a new area of their choice to see and do different things. Beyond travel is the chance to explore career opportunities while on exchange. This seems to be one reason for the participation of many seniors. They may also use the time in a new area to better acquaint themselves with graduate and professional schools of interest. Exchange is a relatively risk-free way to determine if a different region of the country would be a viable possibility for future living.
"Participating in the National Student Exchange has proven to be of invaluable benefit to me academically. The exchange afforded me access to classes and programs that were unavailable at my home campus, and it has provided me with a different and unique approach to my course of study."
William D. Shelnutt, III
SUNY College at Buffalo to Louisiana State University
"The National Student Exchange has taught me to celebrate the diversity of our country. Through this program, I have gained a new appreciation for the diversity and cultural traditions that could not have been taught from any textbook."
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire to the University of Memphis
"I exchanged to do an intense study in choral conducting and met two wonderful world-class conductors who taught me how and why to be a conductor. They gave me opportunities that I never would have had without the NSE program."
Ball State University to San Jose State University