Zac Bissonette, UMass senior and Art History major, tells us his hopes for his book on attending UMass debt-free, his motivation to study Art History, and the consequences of a power outage on a final exam.


What brought you to UMass? Did your goal of getting a debt-free education influence your decision?

Yes, absolutely. The single most important factor in picking a college should be cost, and in-state public colleges will almost always offer the best opportunity to do that. Debt-free graduates have a level of freedom that those who borrow don’t have: freedom to pursue a low-paying job that interests them instead of a high-paying one that doesn’t, for example.


What do you hope to achieve with the publication of your book, Debt-Free U?

I want to change the way that Americans think about college.


Have you found UMass to be a good setting for writing a book?

Yes. Once I moved out of the towers in Southwest. ::smiles::


You recently declared an Art History major. What inspired your switch, and what other areas of study have you enjoyed?

One of the things I learned while researching the book is that choice of major does not have nearly the impact on outcomes that most people think it does. What matters is your talents and interests, and what you want to do. For instance, history majors who pursue careers in business actually earn as much money as business majors. Education should be about becoming smarter, not just vocational training.


What have been your favorite classes so far?

Professor Denny’s introductory art history class should be a requirement for every student (they can hold the classes in the Mullins Center; he talks loudly enough that everyone will be able to hear him).


What do you look forward to about your last year at UMass?

Learning, growing, meeting people.


What are your plans for after graduation?

Learning, growing, meeting people.


What is your funniest or most interesting UMass memory?

Hmm. While the top twenty-five are probably not ones you’d want on your website (just kidding). I would say the time that my final exam for a science class got switched to an online test because there was a storm and the power went out during the test. . .


Watch his interview on the Today show here.


September 2010


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