Letter to the Editor: Study away in the U.S.

By: John Mabilangan, Columnist  

Study away but not too far away. Studying abroad is an experience of a lifetime that can facilitate personal, academic and professional growth in a new foreign setting. The International Exchange Student (ISE) program offers such advantages ranging from opportunities for language and cultural immersion, learning to adapt to new cultural and environmental settings and discovering a new horizon while establishing a rich network. 

However, studying abroad might not be everyone’s cup of tea because it comes with its own challenges such as living extremely far away from home and overcoming cultural and linguistic barriers. To Towson students for a study abroad alternative, a study away through the National Student Exchange (NSE) program is the perfect solution. 

The NSE is a student exchange program that enables students to study at institutions all over the United States, the Caribbean and Canada. Just like study abroad, the NSE program enables students to soar through new heights by challenging them to learn in new learning and cultural environments while not being too far away. 

Students can have a language and cultural immersion experience by studying in exchange institutions at Puerto Rico or Quebec or perhaps study at historically black colleges and universities in the United States for a fresh and diverse college experience. Whether it be studying under the coconut trees by the beach in the University of Hawaii at Manoa or partaking in internship and research opportunities at the heart of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis, at the University of Minnesota, experiencing a new culture does not have to be far from home. 

While expanding horizons, the NSE encourages students to avail of the academic and professional opportunities provided by their respective partner institutions. Through the program, students can apply for exchange to universities that offer similar and perhaps more challenging, academic experiences. Towson University students can complete their major requirements by participating in the exchange program and consulting academic advisors for course equivalencies. 

According to Jonathon Lesh, a TU Adjunct Professor and Academic Advisor, and a former NSE coordinator, all sorts of students participate in the program. Students who have completed at least 24 credits and have a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA are eligible to participate. Students from across all disciplines can partake of the program while completing their graduation requirements.

Besides the flexibility to complete graduation requirements at an exchange institution, the location of the institution can make it possible for a vast array of experiential learning opportunities. 

For instance, political science majors may complete degree requirements in the bustling United States capital, Washington D.C., through American University or perhaps biology majors learning about the ecosystems of the Alaskan frontier through the University of Alaska. Through the NSE, not only can students discover new cultures and environments right in their backyard, but students can reach for new academic and professional heights while away. 

Jackie Consolloy, a double major in biology and MB3 with a minor in chemistry, shared her experience with the NSE. 

“My experience in Hawai’i was actually the pushing point for me to change my major to biology from computer science, so they were super accommodating for course changes in the first week of classes,” Consolloy said. “The level of diversity in courses that the university provided allowed me to take introductory courses geared towards my new major as well as allowed me to explore electives such as a weight training class for 1 credit. Overall, professionally, Hawai’i was a big influence in shaping what I aspire to do with my future and I hope to go back soon.”

A study away experience of a lifetime does not have to be another ocean away. Students do not have to go far to see new horizons. 

According to Lesh, the NSE experience will enhance the overall college experience. 

“Partake in travel study,” said Lesh. “Do it.  The learning, personal and academic, outcomes are unmatched. I believe the takeaways are far greater than expectations. Students learn a great deal about themselves, learn about a new place, and create life-long relationships through travel study.”

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