UNI students broaden their horizons

For any student who has dreamed of traveling, but might not want to go abroad, the National Student Exchange (NSE) at the University of Northern Iowa might prove the perfect fit. Through NSE, students have the opportunity to study at one of more than 170 participating colleges throughout the United States, its territories and Canada.

National Student Exchange
A UNI student studies at the University of Alaska in Anchorage.

NSE is a program that sends students to different participating colleges to live and study for one or two semesters. The exchange even features a special program for resident assistants who want to continue working as an RA at one of the many exchange colleges.

Through the program, students have a chance to become accustomed to a different region, advance their educational goals and meet new people. Students in NSE also have the unique opportunity to participate in field experiences, internships, study abroad opportunities and more while attending other colleges.

"I love helping students achieve their goals," said Karen Cunningham, program director of NSE at UNI. "Through the NSE, students can do a variety of things, not only academically, but socially and culturally as well."

Students involved in the program can still receive financial aid through UNI, and credits received at exchange schools are easily transferable. Exchange students even have the exclusive opportunity to take classes at other universities that might not be offered at UNI.

"It makes students much more marketable," noted Cunningham. "It shows future employers that the student broke outside their comfort zone and took a risk."

National Student Exchange
Students have studied at the University of Guam.

Although students have to be accepted to exchange college, the NSE office at UNI is typically able to place students at their first or second choice. Some of the more popular exchange colleges include California State University at San Bernardino, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Florida International University and the University of New Mexico.

One of the students currently participating in the exchange is Sam Bonnecroy, a junior majoring in electronic media at UNI. "I gained more knowledge in my career field from the classes I'm taking through the program at Minnesota State, University of Moorhead," explained Bonnecroy. "I think it's a great program because it allows you to gain more experience in the path you're pursuing."

The exchange can be especially uplifting for students who have never had the opportunity to travel beyond Iowa to experience different cultures within other states. "It's so rewarding when a student gets the school that they want," said Cunningham. "I want all of them to get their first choice."

NSE is the perfect program for any student looking to experience a new culture, advance their educational goals and meet new people -- or maybe just get to a warmer climate. Whatever the reason, students shouldn't be missing out on the opportunity to enhance their collegiate experience both socially and academically.