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Learn about Western National Student Exchange Program

Written by: Sierra Porter | Staff Writer

In high school, some of us stressed to get straight A’s, some stressed to live their most active social lives and some just attempted to get by each day. Regardless of how we lived our high school careers, all of us had to reach the difficult decision regarding what we wanted to do after we walked across that stage. 

For those of us that choose to go to college, there comes the second decision of choosing which college to attend. Thankfully, students here at Western have the chance to take advantage of the National Exchange Program (NSE) with universities from 50 states, Canada, Guam, The US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. 

What are the requirements? Full time enrollment at Western, at least one completed academic term and at least 45 completed credits by the time of the exchange — freshmen, don’t worry, that just means there is plenty of time to plan where you want to go. When it comes to grades, you must have at least a 2.5 GPA, including at the time of exchange, and no incomplete grades from previous terms. Lastly, students must also be in good academic standing and must not be on any probationary status or any pending legal judgments — on or off campus. 

The first step of the application process is to visit the NSE website, to gather more information about the program and make an appointment with the NSE Coordinator, Cameron Mortensen, to discuss what options are best for you. Next, make sure you’ve applied for FAFSA for the next academic year and take a look at your financial resources; the NSE budget worksheet form can help with planning a budget. Finally, fill out and turn in the completed application, form and essay by mid February. Be aware, there is a $200 fee for application submission that is non-refundable. 

What does the cost look like? Generally, you can choose to pay the host payment or the home payment. The host payment includes paying all resident tuition fees for the campus you will exchange to; some host schools can also provide a tuition plan. The second option is to pay Western Oregon University’s tuition and fees at their current rate — other fees may be added so check out the website for specific payment plan offers for each university. 

Edith Santoyo, a sophomore at Western, shares her NSE story and favorite experiences in San Juan at the Universidad de Puerto Rico. 

Santoyo let the Howl in on her amazing experience with extremely fun locals, beautiful sand beaches, new friends and a culture in San Juan that has been nothing but welcoming and kind. Some of these new experiences include getting used to a whole new university environment. Since attending Universidad de Puerto Rico, she has learned about these different school cultures and said it has amazing benefits. Edith said, “Unlike at Western, I have three advisors” and she also said the campus is so large “…there are 9 libraries.” For all the cat lovers out there, Edith said her favorite part of Puerto Rico is that there are cats roaming all around, “This is quite literally cat island,” Edith said. Her favorite experience was when her mentor gave them salsa lessons and then took them to a local restaurant to show off their new moves. When asked if she would recommend the NSE program to other students she said absolutely; “It gives them an opportunity to be in a completely new environment that helps you grow as an individual, discover new things about yourself, become more independent while also helping you appreciate what you have back home.”

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