Student pays U tuition to study on the beach

This year, Alexa Perkiel will study on the beach while paying U tuition rates.

Perkiel, a sophomore in mass communication, is attending Calpoly in San Luis Obispo, Calif., this year through the National Student Exchange Program.

The program, which is often lost in the shadows of the study abroad program, allows students from the U to attend one of 190 universities in the United States and Canada for one year while paying U tuition rates.

“I think one of the reasons for the exchange program is it allows students the opportunity to study in another part of the country without having to pay out-of-state tuition,” said Michelle Jones, assistant director of Orientation and Leadership Development and coordinator for the program. “At the same time, schools are not losing any money because they are switching students.”

Some of the most popular universities for the U’s exchange program are the University of Portland, University of Hawaii and University of Washington.

Perkiel, who travels around the country riding and showing horses, wanted to get out of the state with her horse.

“My mom looked up the National Student Exchange Program because she knew I was anxious to get out of Utah with my horse, Lakota,” Perkiel said. “She found Calpoly on the list of schools offered in the exchange, and right away I was drawn to the school.”

Perkiel said that if her mom had not done a lot of research on the U’s Web site, she would not have known about the program.

“I definitely think that more students should take advantage of the opportunity to participate in this program,” said Jones. “However, I think a lot of advertising and reaching out to the students will assist them in learning more about the program.”

Jones said students who are interested in exchanging next year should research the program and begin the process this Fall Semester.

“There is a conference that I attend each fall where students are accepted for the exchange program and many schools close after that conference, which means that many schools won’t take students if they apply too late,” Jones said.

Students sit down with an adviser and create a course contract, which allows them to find out which courses transfer prior to leaving.

“I think students do need to know that it’s exactly like transferring to a new school, which can be a difficult process, and that is why they should get started early,” Perkiel said. “It is such a great opportunity, and I really wish more students knew about and took advantage of the U’s program.”