Thursday, December 1, 2011

National Student Exchange

Whether you are a high school or college student, an educator, or a parent, I recommend you check out NSE...

The National Student Exchange is a not-for-profit education consortium, tuition-reciprocal exchange program that provides affordable and practical opportunities for students enrolled at member campuses to study and live in a new location. With participating campuses in the United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, NSE students have found their exchanges culturally enriching, academically rewarding, and one of the most significant experiences of their undergraduate education (http://www.nse.org/).

During my junior and senior years of high school, I spent a lot of time researching potential colleges and universities.  This was WAY before Facebook and Twitter.  I had to do my research the old fashion way. I sent away for information, made phone calls, and read all that I could about these schools. I had a few set criteria, but didn't want to go too big. I wanted to keep it simple. I did not want to attend a party school, and I did not want to be just a number. I wanted to play volleyball , and I already knew I wanted to be an English teacher. Going away sounded awesome, but when my mom and I checked out schools out of state, I got a little nervous. After all the research, I decided to stay close to home.

I was accepted to California State University, San Bernardino, and tried out for the volleyball team. I made it as a walk on, moved into the dorms, and started school. As a college athlete, I learned how to juggle school commitments and athletic obligations. School was rewarding. Learning was happening. But, I was restless.

By the end of my first year in college, I was getting the urge to travel, and to explore a bit. Then, one day, two girls moved into our dorm from the University of Alabama. Alabama?! How did they end up at CSUSB? They were there through a program called National Student Exchange. The idea of transferring, or summer abroad, or somehow being able to travel while not stopping school was what I was looking for. Then, these two students walked into the picture, and I was intrigued.

I loved CSUSB, and I was getting a great education. I figured the only options for restless students like me were to a.) suck it up or b.) transfer. I really did not want to risk having my classes not transfer, did not want to pay out of state tuition fees, and still did not want to move too far away from my family and friends, for too long, so I started to do a little research.

National Student Exchange http://www.nse.org/ is a program that allows you to attend another campus without switching schools permanently.  I decided it was time for an adventure. I walked into the weight room one day and said, I am going on an exchange...does anyone want to go with me? My friend Kim said she would go. We needed a school that was on the quarter system like us, so that we could stay eligible for volleyball, and be back in time for spring practices.  There are nearly 200 member universities. 

We chose the University of Georgia for Winter quarter.  This meant we spent three months in Athens, Georgia living in on campus housing while paying CSUSB tuition.  It was such an amazing experience, and something that I highly recommend for students and parents. That quarter, I got a taste of a big out of state school in the South, and made the Dean's List. I came back less restless, and ready to finish college at CSUSB.

If and where to attend college are personal decisions. Having a program like NSE allows students to explore, step out of their comfort zones, and experience new things while still staying focused on progressing through school, and without having to jump through extra hoops.

Check out NSE on Youtube: http://www.nse.org/exchange/youtube.asp