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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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Studying Away, But Not Too Far From Home

Most students know all about studying abroad and what it entails, but what if they were given the opportunity of studying in a different state? That’s exactly what National Student Exchange (NSE) is about. It allows undergraduate students the opportunity to exchange within the United States, its territories and Canada.

Students are allowed to either participate in a summer program, a semester program, or they can choose to spend the entire year at the exchange school.

Across the country, 49 states have at least one school in the program. The territories of Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands also have schools participating in the program.

The program was brought to Stony Brook around 1987, with the hopes that it would give students another option besides just studying abroad. The Stony Brook coordinator, Barbara Fletcher, says most students do not know the program exists, but when they do find out, they’re immediately interested.

Fletcher, though, says she tries very hard to spread the word about the program.

“I’ve got posters, the web site and I send out e-mails as well,” she said.

Most Stony Brook students are given information about the program during orientation and Fletcher says at that time students are very overwhelmed and that’s when NSE gets overlooked.

For those who are interested in the program, the application process is not as tedious as one would think. It is required that all students who are interested in the program must have a GPA of at least 2.5.

Students who would like to participate are required to call Fletcher and set up a meeting in which they will discuss GPA, major, degree progress report, and finally, what schools the student is interested in.

It is expected that the student also meet with their major’s undergraduate director as well as the academic advisor. “This way, the student knows what he or she has to take when arriving back at Stony Brook,” Fletcher said. The student will also need two letters of reference.

For financial purposes, the student has two options depending on their exchange school. They could either pay Stony Brook tuition or they could pay in-state tuition in accordance with the university they are attending. Some universities, though, only have one option, such as paying Stony Brook tuition instead of paying the exchange school’s tuition.

The application deadline for the program in Feb. 14. During the month of March, Fletcher attends an annual conference in which she places all the interested students at their respective schools. After the student is placed, it is then time to talk about what financial option they will choose and what courses they are interested in taking.

The courses, just like Stony Brook, are not guaranteed at the exchange school, so students do have to come up with alternatives in case.

The courses that the student will take will come back to Stony Brook and be received as transfer credits.

The program is what Fletcher calls a “constructive risk” and overall that the average amount of Stony Brook students participating in the program is usually around 12. “I would love to see more students to participate in the program. I would actually like to see the number double,” Fletcher said.

The states that have the most appeal to Stony Brook students are Hawaii, Florida, California and Arizona.

There is also a number of students who come from different states to study at Stony Brook. Every year, Fletcher says, there are the same migration patterns with students across the United States. “The east goes west, the west goes east, the north goes south and the middle disperses in every direction.” Students coming into Stony Brook come from all over the country, including Texas, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, California, South Carolina and Tennessee.

“I really enjoyed the experience,” said Deanne Scarpulla, who went to New College in Florida. “The school was very accommodating and friendly. I made so many new friends that I still keep in touch with.” Scarpulla says she made the decision to participate in NSE instead of studying abroad to get the experience of going to a school in Florida that she otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.

NSE “is an excellent program for any student to take advantage of for reasons such as experiencing a new place, meeting new friends and studying a subject you do not necessarily have the resources to study at your home school,” said Devin McCarthy, who comes to Stony Brook from the University of South Carolina.

McCarthy, who is hunting for a job in New York City, came to Stony Brook in order to get a feel on what is was like to live on Long Island. “I want to eventually live out here where Stony Brook is located, so by going to a school here it has given me a sneak peek of what it would be like living out here.”

While some students who come to Stony Brook from other states wind up transferring here, not everybody stays after their time is up.

Holly Grodsky, whose home school is located in Colorado, came to Stony Brook to get the experience of living in a state other than Colorado. While she says she enjoyed here time here and would never take it back, she says school wise she might have preferred to go to a different university. “I am a Math major here, and it’s tough, but it’s a great program. On the other hand, I haven’t had a lot of extra time to experience life here in Stony Brook and New York.”

Grodsky says she would recommend NSE to interested students but she wouldn’t recommend Stony Brook as an exchange school. “Yes, I have met some really amazing people here, and had some very amazing opportunities, and enjoyed my time here as much as I could, but it wasn’t quite the right school for me.”

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