StudentsStudy Abroad

National Student Exchange: The Basics

College is an excellent time to seek out a plethora of student involvement options and experiences that will help build upon the education received within the classroom, and help prepare you for life after college.girlcomputer

Studying abroad is one opportunity that many students today find beneficial in terms of personal development and building real-world skills and experience. However, studying abroad certainly isn’t for everyone.

There are many reasons some students don’t spend an extended period of time in another county – finances, discomfort with foreign travel, and not wanting to be so far away from family are just a few. But you don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to gain a similar experience as an undergraduate student! If studying abroad isn’t for you, you may want to consider enrolling in a National Student Exchange program. Here’s a brief look at what a National Student Exchange program is, and why it might be worth looking further into.

What is National Student Exchange?

National Student Exchange (NSE) is a program, in which just about 200 campuses are currently participating, that allows students to study at another college or university for a semester, quarter, or academic year in the United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico, or U.S. Virgin Islands.

The great part about NSE is that in most cases students pay in-state tuition (either to their home campus or host campus, depending on the program plan), while having the chance to study at a college in a completely different region. This sort of program might appeal to students who originally wanted to go to college somewhere else, but for whatever reason ended up staying close to home.

While participating in an NSE program at a U.S. college, financial aid you already qualified for through FAFSA will cover your tuition and education costs. For American students who wish to study at a college in Canada (or vice versa), the Killam Fellowships Program is a chance to earn a cash reward of up to $10,000 USD (or $5,000 USD per semester) to study at a college in the other country.

Benefits of National Student Exchange

The article “How to Highlight Your Study Abroad Experience in a Job Interview,” highlights some skills students typically develop while studying abroad. Depending on where your host campus is located, these skills—foreign language, adaptability, independence, and cross-cultural communication—may apply to studying in an NSE program.

At the very least, studying in a different area of the country will certainly challenge you to adapt to new situations and environments, and develop an even greater level of independence and self-reliance, skills that many potential employers will view positively.

More specifically, participating in an NSE program will provide you with the chance to broaden your networking skills and gain career opportunities within the field you hope to move into following graduation.

Before deciding on a NSE program to apply to, consider doing an online search for jobs in your desired career field or major in order to determine where some of the biggest cities are for opportunities that fit your interests. Try searches like “Top cities for graphic designers” on Google, for example. Having this knowledge will help you narrow-down the NSE universities that might open up doors for you career-wise.

Once you’ve decided on a few potential colleges to study at in your NSE program, reach out to the department chair of your program or your potential host campus’s career center to inquire about potential internship or work-study opportunities that would be relevant to your skill-set or desired career path. This will give you a better idea of which campus may be the best fit for you in terms of getting the most out of your NSE experience.

Completing an internship while studying at a different campus, could lead to the development of professional relationships and connections that will likely benefit you when it comes time to search for a job. Even once you move back to your home campus, the contacts you made in a different part of the country could know people in your home city (or elsewhere, if you hope to move after graduation!).

The final word

National Student Exchange is a great opportunity that more students should consider. While studying abroad can also be wonderful, you don’t necessarily have to travel out of the country to have the chance to study in a different location and immerse yourself in a new environment and culture. If you have any questions or advice about National Student Exchange, we encourage you to post in the comment section below!

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The Author

Dave Harriman

Dave Harriman

Dave Harriman, SHRM-CP, has a background in human resources, anthropology, and international education. His experience teaching English abroad during a gap year as an undergraduate student in Spain ignited his passion and advocacy for student travel. As a human resources professional, Dave is interested in helping students prepare for future career growth, and for helping facilitate social & cultural inclusion in the workplace.