Exchange programs give students the option to pursue studies at schools across the nation

Rebecca Odell

Tackle your weekday class assignments while hiking and biking in the mountains of Maine on weekends.

Hit the books in Arizona while exploring the Grand Canyon.

Complete your liberal education requirements while working on your tan and surfing skills in California.

These opportunities can become realities through Kent State’s partnership with the National Student Exchange, a program that allows students to study at nearly 200 colleges and universities throughout the states, U.S. territories and Canadian provinces.

Founded in 1968, NSE aims to give students an opportunity to study away, said Pamela Jones, NSE coordinator at Kent State.

“Traveling abroad was the only option for students before the program began,” Jones said.

Students pay Kent State tuition for the classes they take at their host campus. The students pay in-state room and board fees if they decide to live on campus, and Kent State scholarships may apply toward tuition costs, Jones said.

NSE has provided exchange opportunities for more than 90,000 students, according to the organization’s Web site. Approximately 60 Kent State students have participated in the program since Kent State joined NSE nearly seven years ago, and approximately 30 students from other universities decided to study at Kent State through NSE, Jones said.

The number one benefit of NSE is the opportunity to study at another university while still earning credit toward a degree at Kent State, Jones said.

Jones said the program is also a great way to earn additional credentials or take courses not offered at Kent State.

Senior philosophy major Alex Biddle said he chose to study at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst because he was interested in the university’s graduate program in philosophy.

NSE lets students experience the many different cultures that exist within the country’s borders. Many students decide to attend another school because they would like to relocate after graduation and want to explore the area before making a permanent move, Jones said.

Students can study for up to one year at NSE exchange sites. They can attend classes at a university for one or two semesters, or they can study at two universities for one semester each.

“It is a wonderful opportunity,” Jones said. “It enriches the college experience.”

Tom Fischer, senior business management major, discovered NSE when his younger brother gave him a brochure on the program two years ago. Fischer said he decided to participate in the program because he loves to travel.

“I like to travel and move around and see different places,” Fischer said.

Fischer was accepted to the College of Charleston in South Carolina for the Spring 2007 semester. Fischer said he was able to meet a lot of people through living in student housing at the university. The College of Charleston’s NSE program coincides with the international exchange program, so he was able to meet people from all over the world.

“I was studying abroad without actually studying abroad,” Fischer said.

After returning to Kent State from a semester at College of Charleston, Fischer said he decided to apply for the program again. He studied at California State University, Northridge during Spring 2008.

Fischer said he would recommend the program to anyone who is outgoing and would like to see a different side of the country he or she lives in.

“People know the international (study abroad program) is there, but no one realizes you can stay in the same continent and just go,” Fischer said.

Full-time Kent State students with good standing who have completed at least 30 credit hours of coursework with an overall 2.5 grade point average are eligible for NSE.

The deadline to apply for the program is the first week of February. The NSE coordinators from each school meet during a national conference in March to confirm exchanges.

Jones said advisers work hard to make sure all credit hours transfer. Part of the application process includes meeting with an academic adviser and completing a transient form.

Students interested in NSE can obtain more information about the program and exchange sites at the undergraduate studies office in Olson Hall or at

Contact international affairs reporter Rebecca Odell at [email protected].