Going on Exchange is one of the most adventurous "semester" you can have in college. I wrote more specific about NSE and why you should participate in the program in my past article 10 Reasons Why You Should Do The National Exchange Progam . Friends, just like everything else in life has important steps to take, so does exchange.
Here are a few important steps to take when going on exchange
1. APPLY AND CHOOSE YOUR HOST SCHOOL
Even if you get an automatic invite from your home institution, you still have to go through the application process. Some schools require a 3.0 GPA, some 2.8; the placement requirements vary depend on both your home and host institution. When choosing your host institution, remember to look for your program ( some schools are limited to certain programs), look at the price ( trust me that's a big one) always keep an eye out for Plan B UNEVEN where you get to pay your home institution tuition and they accept more students than they send out. Also, keep an eye out for on campus housing, some schools don't allow exchange students to live on campus but most schools do ( so you want to be sure). You usually have the option to choose between 3-5 schools of your choice ( and you get to list them by priority), so you will most likely go to a school you like. Even f you don't get accepted to your top priority, you'll go somewhere, so just be content!
Don't forget to keep an eye out for the temperature range for where you are going, you want to be comfortable and you certainly don't want surprises.
2. HAVE A BUDGET
Yes!!! you need to have a budget. After you get accepted is when the real struggle start. In your budget you should include the following : your tuition, your rent/on campus housing payment, plane ticket/money for gas (if you are driving to your host institution), meal plan (if you are leaving on campus/ enough money for food to survive for a semester or a year, money for gas ( if you plan on bringing a car) / money for public transportation, money for laundry, etc... The list could go on, but I think the ones that I listed are the major ones.
3. CHOOSE YOUR CLASSES WISELY
The most beautiful thing about NSE is that you can take the same classes you were going to take at your home institution for that semester and your credits will get transferred. and NO your GPA won't merge, you will still get your credits but exchange will not affect the GPA you have at your home institution. That's no excuse for you not to take exchange serious because you have to have a certain GPA upon your return to your home institution. So choose your classes wisely, don't take all the hard classes nor all the easy ones, trust me I had to learn the hard way ( have a mixture of both!)
4. GET YOUR COURSE APPROVAL FORM SIGNED
This is one of the hardest thing you will have to do for exchange, so you want to start early so you don't have to in a rush when the time come for you to turn it in. This form is what will ensure the transfer of your credit back to your home institution, so yes you want to have it. This form is really to prove that the courses you will be taking while on exchange correspond to a specific course at your home institution. It has to be signed by you, your major adviser ( or the head of your department), and by your NSE adviser (yup pretty important form).
5. PLAN YOUR LIVING SITUATION
Honestly, I feel like this was supposed to be step 3, but for some reason I put it 5 because I couldn't figure out which one is more important. You want to have a place to live because(DUH!!!) you will need somewhere to stay. I would highly advise living on campus if your host institution have that part of their plan just because it's the easiest thing to do honestly. By choosing to live on campus, you don't have to go ahead of time to visit place and arrange living situation; although you can do that online for some off campus housing as well, but on campus just seem easier. I know that some off campus housing are cheaper, so choosing where to live is a personal choice. Just keep in mind that some on campus housing ( at least the University of Louisville) include internet, light , water, laundry ( these are just a few things you don't have to worry about). But the ultimate choice is yours friends.
NOW START PACKING BECAUSE YOU ARE READY TO GO!!!!!!
I really hope that these tips on the steps to take to go on exchange help you or a loved ones that is thinking about going on exchange. I will tell you all about my personal experience on exchange soon, keep an eye out for that article.
Don't forget to check out NSE to learn more about the National Student Exchange Program.