Undergraduates can explore new colleges through National Student Exchange program

Katie Wiles

Katie Wiles

The National Student Exchange program offers a unique opportunity for SDSU students to study at nearly 200 colleges and universities across the United States and Canada.

Through the program, undergraduate students with a 2.5 GPA can attend the NSE university of their choice for up to one calendar year, not necessarily consecutive terms. Students choose five schools and are placed at one of their choices. In the program, students have the option to pay in-state or resident tuition to their host campus or pay SDSU (home campus) tuition fees.

According to Executive Director of Multicultural Affairs C.D. Douglas, an average of 20 SDSU students participate each year, while one to three students from NSE campuses come to State annually.

Students participate in the program for many reasons, but the most common reason is South Dakota-raised students are seeking a financially available way to live in a new state, said Douglas.

Junior early childhood education major Laura Salonen did just that and is currently on exchange at California State University (CSU) in Northridge.

“I wanted to see what it was like attending a college in a different state and town than I grew up in,” Salonen said.

The program also offers students the opportunity to explore majors that SDSU does not offer and see schools to possibly transfer to, Douglas said.

“I wanted to take courses that SDSU didn’t offer and saw a perfect fit in California,” CSU-Chico transfer student Aidan Bunkers said. “The courses worked out well, so I transferred.”

Although the program is only open to undergraduate students, NSE offers students the chance to see possible graduate schools to attend in the future, Douglas said.

The exchange offers an opportunity of a lifetime, Salonen said.

“I think I’ve gained a better perspective on diversity by attending a college outside of South Dakota,” Salonen said.

The only major problem that can arise from the program is the translation of credit hours from one system, which could be in quarters, to the other and fitting them into the home degree program (semester credits). However, students who plan on exchanging to campuses that are on a different academic calendar or credit system are advised to plan to exchange for a full academic year.

SDSU has participated in the NSE program for 35 years. To date, over 90,000 students have participated during the program’s 39 years.

Placement is determined based on the space available at the host campus, which is confirmed at the NSE Annual Conference. Some campuses take students from the campuses where they are trying to place students.

For more information, talk to Douglas in the Multicultural Affairs Office in the basement of the Student Union.