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The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
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Why Study Abroad?

At some point in their college careers, many students look forward to studying abroad, be it in Europe, Central America, Asia, or some other exotic locale. While this is a well-known option for a more diverse education, a program called the National Student Exchange also serves a similar purpose.

“NSE is a program for undergraduate exchange within the United States,” UMass Boston NSE coordinator Len Konarski said. “The program offers a UMass Boston student the opportunity to study for one or two semesters at a host college or university. It opens the door to exciting adventures in personal growth, new geographic regions, additional course offerings and cultural diversity.”

Students can choose from one of nearly 200 colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Students pay in-state tuition either to their home or host campus, and many colleges allow either option. Financial aid is available under either option.

The experience of living in a dormitory is another benefit for participating UMass Boston students, though the cost will be added to their tuition rate.

“For incoming students, we rely heavily on our Housing Office,” he said. “Students [from UMass Boston attending another university] must pay for any housing costs that are necessary during the exchange.”

Some of the requirements for students to participate are that they are full-time and matriculated, with a grade point average at or above 2.5 and at least 30 credits earned at UMass Boston.

As well, students wishing to apply cannot have incomplete grades from previous terms, no outstanding financial obligations to the university, no current or pending probationary or disciplinary action for code of conduct violations and must not be on probation, parole or have any pending legal judgments. There is a fact sheet on the Career Services’ web site that has details for eligibility.

Of course, the core experience of the exchange is to take courses at a different institution. To receive credit, a student must obtain written prior approval in advance for all courses taken on exchange. UMass Boston determines how grades earned at the host campus are recorded and courses distributed towards a student’s major. This is done before the exchange so students know exactly how the work done at a host campus will be applied.

Some may view this as an alternative to studying abroad, as it provides the opportunity to study in an area that is not home, but it should not be viewed simply a substitute.

“More importantly, [taking part in the National Student Exchange is] a great option in and of itself,” Konarski said. “Study abroad is the popular exchange of the moment, but there is much to explore here in the United States.”

One student, who was one of the earliest exchange participants, called his experience a “mind stretcher in terms of both academic and personal experiences” on the NSE’s web site. He said it was “an opportunity to refresh your whole life in a new environment and see wonders about yourself and others. It’s what life should be-a continuum of new and fresh learning, deepening appreciations and widening horizons.”

The NSE was founded in 1968, and, according to their website, has given more than 90,000 students the opportunity to exchange for either a semester or a full academic year. UMass Boston has been involved in the program since the early 1980s.

“We have had an active program for over 25 years,” Konarski said. “In that time period, over 500 students have been accepted for an exchange. Over the last 25 years we have accepted a higher percentage of incoming students, and they represent every region of the United States.”

Konarski suggests that interested students begin the process as soon as possible to secure the best possible exchange for them. The application deadline for the 2008-2009 academic year is March 1. There is also a $150 application fee.

Additional information is available by calling 617-287-5514 or visiting Career Services in the Campus Center on the first floor or their website, www.career.umb.edu. Interested students should also visit the NSE’s official web site, www.nse.org.