From small town New Hampshire, they headed off to Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, New Orleans and even the Virgin Islands, where study opportunities, new friends and culture shocks awaited. Twenty undergraduates participated in the National Student Exchange program this academic year, making Plymouth’s first year as a member of the National Student Exchange (NSE) a success.
The NSE program allows students to spend one semester or an entire year at one of 177 participating campuses in the United States and Canada. Ruth DeCotis, associate director of PSU’s Bagley Center, was surprised and delighted by the interest Plymouth students expressed in the program. Feedback from students studying at other campuses was “100 percent positive.”
Andre Pattantyus, a meteorology major, studied at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He praised the nearby beach, the friendly campus and the opportunity to do an internship at the National Weather Service station in town. Heidi Fraser, who studied at Sonoma State University in California, wrote, “I am so overjoyed with my decision to participate in the National Student Exchange. I am even considering staying the full year!”
The application process for the exchange program begins in September, when students complete an application form, obtain letters of reference and list their top eight choices for exchange schools. Students must have a GPA of 2.5 or above and at least 12 credits completed at Plymouth. In March, exchange directors from each of the campuses meet at an NSE conference where they place each of the applicants at one of their chosen schools. Most students receive their first-, second- or third-choice school.
In addition to experiencing another part of the country, students can explore and appreciate new cultures, enroll in honors programs, take classes that aren’t offered at Plymouth and participate in special internships and academic programs. The exchange is also a great way to check out graduate programs at different universities.
While on exchange, students pay tuition to Plymouth State. Room and board fees are paid to the host campus based on the host school’s rates. Financial aid awards are transferable while the students are on exchange. And once they return to Plymouth, students don’t need to worry about getting credit for their exchange classes—all transfer credits are pre-approved.
NSE exchange students come back to New Hampshire with memories of academic, social and personal experiences they’ll never forget. As Pattantyus wrote from North Carolina, “It’s going to be hard to leave here, but Plymouth is easy to go back to.”—Kristin Proulx Jarvis
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