Westport, Connecticut, where I grew up, is a quaint and affluent town on the New York border, facing the Long Island Sound. There, going to college wasn’t a privilege but rather an expectation. Competition across the student body was fierce, and the pool of schools that we were encouraged to apply to was minimal.
For most high school students in Westport, college decisions are predestined by parental influences, or where the best program for their majors are. I was unsure what I wanted in a college, and my guidance counselors and teachers weren’t as helpful as I needed them to be. Luckily for me, my mom was very accepting of my choices of what I wanted, and resourceful in helping me with them.
A Boston College communication graduate herself, she knew a lot of people in Massachusetts and had a pretty good understanding of where good communications programs could be found, UMass Amherst being one of them. She was ultimately the person who sparked my interest in UMass, and she was the one who encouraged me most to apply.
I knew that when I got to college I didn’t want to feel as confined as I did in my 2,500 person high school — I wanted a big school with lots of school spirit. For financial reasons, I looked mostly at public schools, but I also aimed for a school with a lot of different kinds of people. Coming from a hometown that lacked in diversity, it meant a lot to me that I’d be leaving Westport to meet a wider range of people. I also was looking for a school with a reputable Communication department, and somewhere that I wouldn’t be stranded in if I need to go home to Connecticut for a weekend. UMass fit perfectly for all of these criteria.
I ultimately applied to 11 schools, four of which were private. The other seven were state schools in the northeast and midwest. In retrospect, 11 colleges for me was a bit excessive, and there were several schools that I applied to completely on a whim. Of the 11, I was accepted into eight, yet I cannot say I’d even really considered half of those schools.
Looking back, I think it’s really important for new students to be able to envision themselves on the campuses they apply to. This minimizes the stress of having too many options when it comes time to decide, and saves money on applications. It’s nice to have options when deciding where to go to school, but there is such a thing as too many.
I didn’t think I’d go to UMass after visiting for the first time. That’s not to say that I had any issues with campus, I just didn’t really see myself going here, and thought that if I were to go to a state school, it should be my own state’s school.
However, having been accepted to one of UConn’s branch campuses, I needed to reconsider my options because I wanted a reputable name school. So, I returned to UMass in March of my senior year with a more optimistic mentality, and, ironically, fell in love.
I declared UMass in April and was one of five students coming from my high school. I was nervous but excited, and have no doubt in my mind that I made the best decision of my life coming here.