Fall 2019 was a particularly exciting semester for me -- I began working two jobs on campus, I joined a sorority, and I became a member of the Commonwealth Honors College (CHC) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. For the first time, my time on campus was not merely allocated to my studies, but rather a ton of different things. I was the busiest I had been, but this helped improve my time management skills tremendously. As my collegiate career continues, I am constantly learning new things about myself and about UMass Amherst.
Joining the Honors College was not something I had considered entering college. Instead, my acceptance was just a validation of my hard work. If anything, this just goes to show the opportunities offered at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst-- even if you are not accepted into the honors program from your admissions as a first year student, it is something you can work toward.
There are two paths you can take if you decide to join the Honors College. There is Breadth of Study, which includes general education requirements and prerequisites, and there is the Depth of Study, where you take higher level classes usually pertaining to your major (it is through this path where you can complete your honors thesis). If you join the program late and have already completed your gen-ed requirements you can chose to only complete the Depth of Study path. The only difference is what will appear on your diploma. Because I was ahead of myself in credits for my major, I chose to complete the full Honors curriculum of both Depth and Breadth of Study.
My Semester At Large
As Fall 2019 nears to an end, I can wholeheartedly say that it was a semester full of ups and downs -- I’ve successfully completed some of the most interesting classes of my entire collegiate career, yet it was equally as challenging as it was interesting.
To catch myself up to fellow students in the program, I decided to take three honors requirements this one semester. Paired with the one class I took for the program the first semester of my acceptance (Spring 2019), I was able to catch up to what is expected of a junior in the program.
I do not recommend taking three honors classes in one semester. While it’s feasible, and each class has their own requirements as per the discretion of each professor, it’s a lot of work --especially written work -- to be expected of someone.
However, if you are someone who likes to be busy, particularly when writing, this could be for you. It is all dependent on how much work you are comfortable with having at one given time. I like to have my study breaks, and I had a lot less time for those this semester.
That being said, this semester has been by far the most academically rewarding. It wasn’t until now that I’ve grown strong bonds with my professors, and taken classes to allow me to see potential career paths that interest me. I attribute this largely to being apart of CHC.
That being said, I’d advise any student on campus to be as resourceful as possible with what is offered at UMass -- introduce yourself to your professors, visit their office hours, and attend career fairs. You’re at college to make connections, and UMass makes this as easy as possible with the help of friendly staff and open office doors.
My ability to balance my physical and mental health with a 19-credit course load and social life was definitely put to test this semester, but has been an extremely rewarding experience. I’ve continued to meet amazing people, have fostered great relationships with my professors, and have gained an incredible amount of knowledge through the classes I’ve been lucky to take. While college, in all senses, can be stressful, it can also be the best few years of your life -- if you make it. Luckily, when you’re at UMass, with the help of extensive campus resources and a load of friendly staff, your four years are some of the most rewarding of your life.