Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Students branch out through domestic exchange

For sophomore Jackson Harris, The University of Alabama will always be home; however, this semester, Harris is 732 miles away from Tuscaloosa in Stillwater, Okla., studying at Oklahoma State University.

Harris, along with many other undergraduates across the United States, is currently participating in the National Student Exchange. Programs like NSE aim to provide students with an outlet to delve further into specific interests, particularly those that are not specialties at their respective institutions.

While students remain enrolled in their primary university, they take classes at another state university or college of their selection.

Harris said he wanted an experience that would allow him to focus on agricultural studies and rural communities.

“Unfortunately, UA doesn’t have an agriculture department, so I started to look at land-grant institutions through the National Student Exchange,” Harris said. “Oklahoma State has a world-class school of agriculture and had the most to offer.”

Because the New College program at the Capstone allows students to develop highly personalized paths of study, it naturally fits with the domestic study abroad option, which also allows students to complete the required depth study.

“For most people, that independent study will either be an internship or to study abroad or to study domestically,” Natalie Adams, director of New College, said. “We encourage it; we work to help make it happen.”

Although Harris pursued an independent domestic exchange program, New College does offer its students opportunities through its own collaborative program with a number of sister institutions. This group, called the Consortium for Innovative Environments and Learning, functions as a domestic exchange outlet for students in similar interdisciplinary programs.

Because the CIEL program is based on fundamental agreement and partnership with other universities, all administrative transcript functions are handled at the University.

When a student registers for the semester during which they will be studying elsewhere, he or she registers for a specific “placeholder” course. Upon the student’s completion of coursework at the partnering institution, the placeholder is replaced with transfer courses and credit, ultimately creating a structured process, Adams said. The classes Harris is taking now will transfer back, fulfilling his depth study requirement for his New College major.

“It’s a totally different experience, but otherwise, UA would have been the only learning environment I would have ever known,” Harris said. “I’ve grown a lot as a person, being somewhere I’m not so familiar with and having to start relationships from scratch.”

Though students like Harris trade in their crimson and white for a semester, they generally maintain their attachments, returning with new experiences.

“I’m a student at both UA and OSU,” Harris said. “I still get emails from UA, I will still register for classes at UA, and I still say ‘roll tide.’ This opportunity is one that really puts things at my home university into perspective and helps me to appreciate the similarities and differences.”

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