For students who may not be ready or are unable to afford studying abroad, the National Student Exchange is a new opportunity to study at another university in the United States.
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point partnered with NSE this year, being added to the list of 200 schools in the continental U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Canada that can both send and accept students from other universities.
“Students pay UWSP tuition to study at another university,” said Mark Koepke, the international programs associate director. “A student could be going to an expensive state, but because you are a part of this exchange, you don’t have to pay expensive tuition. If you choose California, the cost of living is definitely more than it is here, but it’s not as high, as, say, Australia.”
This program sticks fairly close to home, so Koepke is helpful students will be excited and open to it.
“There is not the issue of work permits and visas and students can easily get home for the holidays,” Koepke said.
Benefits of participating in this program include dramatically enhancing students’ majors if there is not a large department at UWSP.
“If a student is studying anthropology, art history, or a variety of fields that we have here but don’t’ have large departments for in those fields, they can find a university with a larger department,” Koepke said.
One should not take choosing a university lightly. Just as choosing to attend UWSP is a weighted decision choosing an NSE partnered school is just as big. Koepke advises students to choose schools based on academics, not geography.
“The NSE website has a list of schools to choose if they don’t know which school is right for them,” Koepke said. “I am more than happy to walk through this with students to make sure they are choosing the best school, academically, for them.”
However, paying home tuition at a host school does not make this program a cheap way to attend more expensive universities.
“The max number of times you can participate in this program is two. It can be consistent. You can do a full year, for example, or do a semester, come back to UWSP, and then do another semester. It can be at the same school or another school if you choose,” Koepke said. “It’s a really good deal and the people who set this up were just trying to foster the exchange of students throughout the country.”
Applications for the NSE program will become available next fall, but there are several requirements students must meet before applying.
“Students are required to have a 2.5 grade point average minimum, have no outstanding debt at UWSP, no probational status—a clean record. There are not a lot of requirements for these programs, but they are still a bit strict,” Koepke said.
Students have to pick five universities to apply to, but over 80 percent of students are given their first choice.
“Of all the schools that participate, some will take anyone who is qualified and some only take a select few,” Koepke said. “Some host schools require specific questions or requirements for students to answer and meet.”
Students also receive a catalog of courses, just as they would here, and are required to choose 10. Students must also have full-time status at the host university as they would here.
“You are not going to take all 10, but we will find the UWSP equivalent. There are always special cases of class overlap or if classes fill up or get cancelled, but exchange students receive priority over students at the home school,” Koepke said.
The NSE program is also beneficial to students looking at graduate schools or who want to experience a diversity not found in Wisconsin.
“There is a lot of diversity in this country that we don’t know about in Wisconsin and not everyone has that opportunity to study abroad, but there are parts of this country that would still be a contrast to here for our students,” Koepke said.
Junior Hayley Schaut also thinks the NSE program will open new doors to students.
“I think it’s great that UWSP is offering more programs to get students to try new things,” Schaut said. “It’s always beneficial to explore other options when deciding your future career.”
Questions regarding the NSE program should be directed to the International Programs office in Collins Classroom Center 108. Walk-in advising takes place every Wednesday without appointment, or students can make an appointment with Mark Koepke via the sign up sheet in the office.