National Student Exchange offers opportunities


Max Van Wie

Sara Kinerson

The National Student Exchange (NSE) is a program at Johnson State College allowing undergraduate students to study for a semester or a year at another NSE-member college or university.

Other NSE colleges and universities go beyond the continental United States, allowing students to study in some the Canadian provinces, and U.S. territories. There are more than 200 hundred schools throughout these areas to choose from, including institutions in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Canada, and 48 states including Hawaii and Alaska.

With more than 3,000 students participating nationwide each year, participants have varied reasons for taking advantage of this program. At JSC, these reasons include broadening horizons both personal and educational, taking courses that aren’t accessible at JSC, living in a different state and/or region, looking at future job opportunities, or exploring and experiencing different cultures. “Having to leave made me gain independence,” said JSC student Melissa Mattei, who not only attended school in New Orleans, but also held a job at a café.

There’s a cultural aspect linked to the NSE experience that most students might not think about. Trista Roussin attended a college in the Virgin Islands, which is about 500 miles southeast of Puerto Rico.

Culturally there were huge differences including a racial gap, Roussin says. “I was the only white person in all of my classes.”

Besides that, the Virgin Islands were very rural and had small cities with buildings that never exceeded two stories.
Amelia De Nagy attended a university in Montana; her decision to participate in the NSE program went back to when she was applying in high school.

De Nagy applied to this same institution and was accepted, but the tuition was too expensive. The NSE program gave De Nagy a way to visit her dream school, while also staying within a reasonable budget.

Beyond the academic experience achieved by participating in the NSE program, there is a personal experience that goes along with it.

Whether it’s snorkeling in Hawaii, tailgating in Montana, hiking in the Virgin Islands, or experiencing a hurricane hands-on in New Orleans; every experience is different. These are things a catalogue cannot prepare student for. Every university has something unique to offer and vary in size, although most colleges might seem big compared to Johnson State College.

Taryn Colby, a JSC junior, attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa during her fall 2013 semester. The University of Hawaii at Manoa is an enormous Division 1 institution and the scale was daunting. “The Classes were 15-20 minutes away, and there was a shuttle that took you from the dorms to the campus,” said Colby.

Like most students, Colby chose a school that reflected her academic needs. The University of Hawaii at Manoa has a large dance program offering a PhD. in dance, not to mention three dance studios, which is a dancer’s dream. Like Roussin, Colby also experienced a culturally different experience.

To be a part of NSE certain requirements need to be met: Students must be studying full-time at JSC a semester before participation in NSE, must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better, and must be on good terms with academics and financial aid.
There’s also a cost factor that goes along with NSE; most often students will only end up paying the same JSC tuition as they do now with the addition of the host school’s room and board fees. Sometimes students will also need to pay additional fees required by the host campus.

This payment plan is referred to as “Plan B,” and is the plan JSC participates in. The other payment plan is referred to as “Plan A.” Students who choose this will pay the host school’s in-state tuition and any addition fees to the host campus.

“Plan A” requires prior clearance from JSC to participate.

As for the cost of transportation to and from the host schools, this is the student’s responsibility along with any personal expenses. “It cost about $800 there and back,” Colby said, referring to her travel to Hawaii.

This was basically the only cost, besides paying Hawaii’s in-state tuition.

To participate in NSE students must fill out a seven-page application.

To be able to participate in NSE during the fall 2015 semester or the spring 2016 semester, students must fill out and hand in their application by Feb.11, 2015.

Applications can be picked up and returned to Director of Advising Sara Kinerson in Dewey Hall, 164 in the Advising and CareerCenter. “It is better to apply sooner rather than later,” said Kinerson.

The application requires basic information such as name, gender, and date of birth; as well as a student’s major, payment plan type A or B, languages spoken, and any uncompleted or missing grades. The NSE application also asks for a student’s “Program of Study Statement,” which is a series of somewhat personal questions about a student’s expectations, developmental goals, and any possible host campus choices.

Applicants must have three references, which should come from a JSC staff/faculty member, a student’s academic advisor, or someone close to the applicant.

There is a $175 application fee, which is more like a placement fee. “You can apply without paying the $175 fee and be screened, but you will not be placed without paying,” said Kinerson.