There are a number of steps you'll need to take on your own to prepare for your orientation session and the semester ahead. Most steps can be completed before you come to orientation, so let's get started!
Before NSO: Choose Your Date | Ask Your Parents to Sign Up Too | Hold a Spot in a Residential Academic Program | Explore the Residential Life | Get Familiar with SPIRE | UMass Google Email | Math Placement Exam | Writing Placement Exam | Foreign Language Placement Exam | Test Scores and Transcripts | Upload Your UCard Photo
Before the Semester Begins: Read the Common Read | Residential Life | Paying Your Bill | Immunizations | Health Insurance | Consent to Treat Minor Patients | My Student Body | UMass Amherst Alerts | Designate an Emergency Contact in SPIRE | Get Involved | Jobs | Books | Parking | Get Your Computer Ready
Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis so make sure you sign up as soon as possible. Choose a date that doesn’t conflict with work, graduation, prom, vacation or any other prior commitments.
Encourage your parents to attend our parents program and register online ahead of time.
Students admitted as fall freshmen should explore the exciting living and learning opportunities available to you through RAP. If RAP is right for you, hold a spot starting May 22, 2016.
If you are entering in the spring or RAPs are not for you, check out the many residential options UMass has to offer on campus.
Off Campus Housing Referrals are also available to help students who wish to pursue housing off-campus. Check out their website for more details.
SPIRE is the student information and registration system and it will be a major part of your life at UMass! During orientation, you will use SPIRE to register for classes. Spend some time learning to use it before you come to orientation. Browse the course catalog and check out the search for classes feature to explore the course offerings at UMass Amherst, so you can jump right into the registration process during orientation.
You can learn more about SPIRE on the IT website.
There are also several video tutorials to help you get started with SPIRE Be sure to watch the tutorials before orientation:
Searching for Classes
Enrolling in Classes
Starting in mid-May for students entering in September and in November for spring students, IT will send you information about your UMass Google Email account. Email is the official mode of communication between the university and its students. It's a good idea to get in the habit of checking your UMass Google Email account on a daily basis.
All incoming freshmen must take the Math Placement Exam online before attending orientation. This exam will help you and your advisor identify the right math/science courses for you. Transfer students should consult the Preliminary Transfer Credit Evaluation form in their admit packet to determine whether or not they need to take the Math Placement Exam. Ready to take a placement exam? Click here to read the directions and get started.
Before attending an orientation session, incoming freshmen must take the online Writing Placement Exam. Students entering in Fall 2016 who complete the writing placement exam by the priority deadline of May 30 will receive their results before coming to NSO. This exam will inform the conversation you and your advisor have about what courses you need to take to fulfill the First-Year Writing Requirement. Transfer students should consult the Preliminary Transfer Credit Evaluation form in their admit packet to determine whether or not they need to take the Writing Placement Exam. Ready to take the exam? Click here to read the directions and start your exam.
Students who have studied French, German, Latin, or Spanish for two or more years and will continue with the same language at UMass Amherst, must take the Foreign Language Placement Exam online prior to orientation. Ready to take a placement exam? Click here to read the directions and get started.
First-year students, please make sure that the Office of Undergraduate Admissions has received an official copy of your final high school transcript with graduation notation.
Any student who is taking college course work must send an official transcript to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. You should also bring a copy of your fall schedule and/or grade report with you to your orientation session. This will help your advisor recommend the appropriate courses for your first semester. The mailing address for admissions is:
Undergraduate Admissions Office
37 Mather Drive
Amherst, MA 01003
In order to receive credit for AP or SAT II testing, the university must receive official copies of your score report(s). You may have already requested this when you took the test. If not, please go the College Board website and request an official report be sent to UMass. Our CEEB # is 3917.
Incoming first-year and transfer students that are participating in a New Students Orientation (NSO) session can upload their own UCard (campus ID) picture to the UCard web site. By submitting your ID photo over the web before you attend your NSO session, you can avoid waiting in lines during your session or at the start of the semester. For more information on photo requirements and instructions on how to submit your photo visit the UCard website.
- Students Entering Fall 2016: Read Make Your Home Among Strangers, which you’ll receive at your Summer NSO session. Take some time this summer as you’re reading the book to participate in social media contests, have discussions with future classmates, and write about your reactions to the story. When the author, Jennine Capó Crucet, comes to campus in the fall from September 25th-29th, you will have opportunities to hear her talk about the book in large and small group settings and also hear what your peers have to say.
- Students Entering Spring 2017: You will receive a copy of Make Your Home Among Strangers at your Winter NSO session in December or January. Be sure to read the book before you return to campus or during the first few weeks of the semester so that you can engage with your peers in this on-going conversation.
Students living on-campus need to complete a housing preference application and plan carefully for move-in. Complete the following in SPIRE:
- Your Housing Preference Application.
- Roommate Search- Looking for a roommate? Fall admits can use the Roommate Search tool to find compatible roommates.
- Make your Move-In Reservation and print your Boarding Pass.
You can find important information such as video tutorials for how to pack and information on the Luggage Program for out-of-state families on the Residential Life website.
- If you're planning on shipping items through the Luggage Program, send them during the stated time.
- Contact your roommate(s). Begin to get to know each other and decide who will bring or rent the refrigerator/MicroChill and other shared items.
- Consider getting involved in your residence hall community by joining House Council and the Residence Hall Association. Visit Getting Involved for more information.
- Download the Living at UMass app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store for all up to date information about Move-In and living on campus.
UMass Amherst uses a paperless billing system—bills will not be mailed home. Instead, bills for the semester will post to the “Finances” section of your SPIRE account. Bills post in mid-July for fall and early December for Spring. An email will be sent to your UMass email address when your bill is available to view. For more information about billing, please visit the Bursar's Office.
- FERPA Waiver: If you want UMass staff to be able to discuss your financial records (tuition bill, financial aid, and residential life account) with parents/guardians, you need to give permission by completing the FERPA waiver available mid-May for fall admits and for spring admits.
- Authorized Payer: If someone is helping you pay for school, sign them up as an authorized payer for billing purposes.
- UPay Payment Plan: Enroll in UPay to pay your bill in monthly installments.
- Excess Express: If you want to receive excess funds via direct deposit, make sure you sign up for Excess Express.
Massachusetts law requires that all college students have certain immunizations before coming to school. The New Student Immunization Program (NSIP) at University Health Services oversees these requirements. Go to the NSIP web page, for information on required immunizations. Starting in late June, visit the UHS Patient Portal to enter in your immunizations and upload proof from your physician. If information is not received by the end of the Add/Drop period, a registration hold will be placed on your record. It’s best to complete all required immunizations before beginning school. For more information, call the NSIP, 413-577-5275.
Massachusetts law requires full-time college students to have primary health insurance. If you don’t already have insurance, or if the plan you have won’t meet your needs while at school, you can take advantage of the university-sponsored Student Health Benefit Plan (SHBP).
Students taking five or more credits are automatically enrolled in the SHBP; charges will appear on the semester tuition bill in SPIRE. Depending on your insurance coverage and student status, you may be eligible to waive the plan. The waiver opens in mid-July.
If you're staying on your current insurance plan, be sure to bring a copy of the front and back of your insurance card when you move to UMass.
For information, visit the UHS website or call UHS Patient Services, 413-577-5192.
If you are enrolling at UMass Amherst before your 18th birthday, have your parents/guardians complete the Consent to Treat Minor Patients form.
MyStudentBody (MSB) is a comprehensive, evidence-based, online prevention program that gives students the tools to choose behaviors that help them successfully navigate the social pressures of the campus environment and achieve academic success. The Essentials course covers two of the most significant behavioral risks new college students face as they transition into a new community: alcohol use and illicit and prescription drug use. If you don’t complete this requirement, you won’t be able to register for classes for the following semester. If you have any questions or concerns about passing the course by the deadline, e-mail the MSB Coordinator, at MSB@uhs.umass.edu.
Sign up to receive emergency text messages and learn more about emergency preparedness through UMass Amherst Alerts.
Add an Emergency Contact to the My Personal Information section of your SPIRE account to identify the individual(s) who should be contacted on your behalf in case of an emergency. For instructions go to www.it.umass.edu/support/spire/emergency-contacts
Log into and explore Campus Pulse our online community that lets students find out about campus events and clubs (known at UMass as Registered Student Organizations or RSOs).
Are you looking for a job in the area? The Student Employment Office lists work study and non-work study jobs available both on and off campus. Auxiliary Services also posts a number of student jobs on their website.
A list of required course materials can be found on your SPIRE account. Amazon @ UMass Amherst offers the opportunity to rent, buy used or buy new textbooks. There are also several local bookstores in town as well as ways to find your books online.
If you choose to bring your car to campus, make sure you purchase your parking pass as soon as possible. There are many different options for students. Visit Parking Services for more information.
To help ensure that your computer meets our minimum standards and will be able to connect to the UMass wireless network review the new students computing "To Dos".
When the Semester Begins
Students Entering Fall 2016: Save the date for Fall NSO from September 2-5 (Labor Day Weekend).
- Students Entering Spring 2017: Get the latest news on our Winter Welcome.
Sign up for a RefWorks account today and make your research easier. RefWorks keeps track of your references and creates bibliographies in the correct style that your professors will require. Go to the Library's homepage, click on RefWorks then click on Sign Up for an Individual Account. Choose a username and password that is easy to remember as you'll be using RefWorks often.
To find out how to use RefWorks, visit the library or go to the library website to speak with a reference librarian. Librarians are eager to help you. "Every single freshman should learn how to do this early on!"