Get out of Kent, stay in the United States

Elise Franco

The National Student Exchange, which was founded in the United States in 1968, is in its fourth year at Kent State. The program was brought to the university to help students who could not afford to, or did not want to travel abroad.

Pamela Jones, National Student Exchange coordinator, said that because students can choose from more than 180 colleges throughout the United States and Canada, they have the same opportunities to be exposed to new cultures as those who study overseas.

Students can choose whether they want to participate for one semester or a full academic year. In order to be eligible for the exchange, one must have a 2.5 grade point average, be considered a full-time student, and meet with an adviser before beginning the application process. Deadline to apply for the fall 2007 semester is Friday.

Because the exchange is not extremely costly, Jones is surprised more students haven’t looked into it. She explained participants will continue to pay their tuition to Kent State. If he or she lives on campus, the cost for room and board and meal plans will be paid to the host campus.

John Barber, a former Kent State student who currently lives in Germany, chose to take part in the National Student Exchange because he wanted the chance to see how different the other side of the country really was.

“Growing up in the Midwest, it was easy for me to believe that America is really as homogenous and unsurprising as you see it on TV and in the news,” he said. “To be honest, few Americans really know what overwhelming variety exists within our borders. For those who already feel there’s still much more to learn about the world than what you get inside the university, I say start by exploring your own country; you’ll be amazed by what you find.”

Since his time in the exchange, Barber has lived in Mexico, Europe and various cities around the United States. He said his experience in the National Student Exchange was just as culturally significant and eye-opening as his other travels.

Kent State students who have been a part of the National Student Exchange have done so for various reasons, according to Jones. Some decide to participate in the exchange because they want to experience a new culture, but can’t afford to leave the country, or simply don’t want to. Other students want the chance to take courses related to their majors that aren’t offered at Kent State.

Jones said it is also a great way for older students to explore opportunities in their career field and in graduate programs, and a way for parents to feel comfortable knowing their children are in the same type of safe and secure learning environment Kent State offers.

Contact Undergraduate Studies and Honors College reporter Elise Franco at [email protected]