National student exchange benefits members

This spring senior Melissa Marsh studied at a university with about 10,000 students on a campus she described as “beautiful.”

This fall, she returned to UW-Eau Claire, saying she had a better attitude about the campus after spending a semester on the East Coast.

Marsh was one of about 50 Eau Claire students and 4,500 students nationwide to participate in the National Student Exchange program. She spent last semester at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H.

Marsh said she always wanted to go out east, and that New Hampshire was a good fit for her.

“It was nice to get out and meet new people,” she said. “The campus was gorgeous. It was hard coming back here.”

With about 50 students going on NSE, Eau Claire has by far the largest participation among the UW System schools, NSE coordinator Mary Ryan-Miller said

Other UW schools that participate include UW-River Falls, UW-Green Bay, UW-Platteville and UW-Whitewater.

While Eau Claire has a large number of students who take part in the NSE program, very few students come to Eau Claire.

“For some reason, people aren’t drawn to here,” Ryan-Miller said. “They look at the map and don’t really pay attention to the middle of the country.”

Instead, students like Marsh focus on the coasts. One thing that she enjoyed about her stay was the small size of the city of Durham.

“I worked at a floral shop, so I really got to know the little town and the people in the town,” she said.

Students who participate in NSE continue to pay tuition at their original school, and any financial aid or reciprocity are still in effect.

Transferring credits isn’t difficult for students, either. Ryan-Miller said that credits taken while on NSE count as resident credits at Eau Claire for graduation purposes.

Marsh, who will graduate in May, didn’t lose any ground towards graduation when she went to New Hampshire.

“It actually gave me a few more credits,” she said. “All the classes were four credits, so I brought 16 credits back.”

Marsh said she had no problem registering for her classes, because she took mostly general ones. Ryan-Miller said registration at the new school is no more difficult than it is here.

The application process for NSE isn’t difficult, but it takes a long time, Marsh said. She’s glad she took the effort to sign up.

“My attitude about Eau Claire changed for the better,” she said. “I needed a break, but I was glad to come back.”