Do you want to live in a foreign country for half of year? Do you want to study and make friends in an environment that is completely different from your own? If your answer is yes, then university exchange program is definitely for you. Digital Senior promises you that going for exchange is once-in-a-lifetime experience, one that is unforgettable and often instructive in the end. Feeling excited? Let us see what exchange is all about.
What is in stock for you?
As part of the effort of universities around the world to instill international perspectives in their education, they often partner with each other by sending students to each other’s institution, mostly for one semester, sometimes for one whole year. Students just need to apply in their home universities from the choices available and such application usually starts one semester, sometimes one year, before the actual exchange program begins. Students just need to pay the tuition fee of their home universities. This is a huge benefit for Singaporean students as they don’t have to pay the often expensive tuition fee of an overseas university. And perhaps more attractively, one only needs to pass the modules that he/she is studying for in the overseas university. Without the worry of how their academic performance may affect their GPA, they can spend more time travelling around and socializing with local people, the true purpose of going for exchange.
There are various exchange programs catering to different needs of students. The most common one is the exchange program where one attends normal classes in an overseas university and takes exams thereafter. There are increasing varieties. Some exchange programs are for students who want to do research in an overseas institution and some are for students who just want to learn a foreign language in an immersive environment. Some more innovative ones even allow one to study and work at the same time. But of course, the lesson hours have to be reduced due to the commitment for work.
How are you selected?
While programs differ in their specific, they generally have very similar application process. As said, you need to submit your application to your home university exchange office, not to the overseas university that you want to go. One needs to select a few choices in order of their preferences. As supply is always smaller than demand, one has to go through a competitive bidding process. University often takes one’s GPA, seniority, nationality, scholarship status, among many other factors into account. While different universities attach different weight to the selection criteria, it is always a good idea to aim for higher GPA and/or apply at your senior years.
Even though the bidding process is competitive, you still need to make sure that you select schools that are to your greatest possible satisfaction. There are a few factors that you can look into. Very often, students go for a university because they like the country or the city in which the university is located. Probably they are attracted to the history of the nation or the architecture in the city. It is a valuable chance to explore those places of interests for six months or even one year at your own pace and often with the company of the local friends you make there. And they are much better than tour guides!
Some people choose a university because of what the university has to offer. People may be interested in a foreign language and by going for exchange, they can learn in an authentic and immersive environment. Learning in such an environment for a few months is probably more effective than weekly tuition classes one takes in Singapore. In some cases, a university is particularly strong in one area. One may be able to learn more about those areas by learning in that institution as some relevant courses are not offered in one’s home university or are not supported by the best academic resources. For example, many Singapore students like to go German to study some its engineering courses, as the German universities are at the forefront of engineering innovation. If you are interested in the European arts as an arts student, places like Paris can be fantastic classrooms for your immersive learning.
You just need to pass
Lastly, since you only need to pass your modules in an overseas university, going for exchange is also taken as an opportunity for one to take more classes for personal interests or to clear more modules without affecting one’s GPA. However, your home universities definitely have restriction about the number and type of modules that you can clear overseas. Your major core modules can usually only be taken in Singapore. There is also a maximum number of credits that one can transfer back to one’s home university. Hence going for exchange is not insurance for one’s unwillingness to work hard back home.
Given the means, Digital Senior strong encourages you to go for exchange. If you are held back by financial concerns, you universities usually provide financial assistance to students and such financial assistance may come with the extra duty to promote Singapore overseas (why not?). Do check them out if need be, and have fun for six months!