As I finish up my sophomore year at the University of Massachusetts, I can officially say I am halfway done with my undergraduate career. I want to take a look back at the past two years and share some advice for the incoming class, the Class of 2024. Here are some common concerns that first year students may have coming into UMass Amherst and some advice I have to answer them the best I can!
“Why will I love UMass Amherst?”
You will love it because of the community here. Everyone who I’ve met in the past two years — whether it be a friend, classmate, professor or anyone else, have been some of the most kind and respectful people I have ever known. UMass Amherst has such a strong sense of community and school spirit, it makes the 20,000-plus undergrad population really feel small.
UMass Amherst also has such a diverse community, you really can meet every kind of person here. I am positive you will be able to find people with similar habits, interests and passions as you.
“Where should I live at UMass Amherst? Should I live in a RAP?”
There are a lot of different housing options for freshmen at UMass, I know how stressful this can be. There are seven residential areas at UMass - Southwest, Central, Northeast, Sylvan, Orchard Hill, North Apartments, and the Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community. Each one is pretty different and has unique perks to it. If you prefer the “city” lifestyle, a Southwest tower may be your choice, but if you prefer a view of campus from atop a hill you may want to go with Orchard Hill.
I would recommend checking out the UMass campus map, the 360-degree room tours and the residential areas map offered by UMass to really get a good look at both the location and the interior style of each residence hall. Personally, I have lived in Southwest both years and loved that I got to live right near my favorite dining hall, Berkshire!
As for joining a RAP (or a Residential Academic Program), I was a part of the Social & Behavioral Sciences Connect RAP my freshman year and would definitely recommend it! The RAP was a great way to get to know my floor, so if you’re at all interested in joining a RAP check out my full blog on my experience!
“What general education classes are good ones to pick?”
UMass offers tons of different general education (or gen. ed) classes for each requirement! You really have a lot of options to pick something that looks interesting to you, which is a great part of being a big school. A few of my favorite gen. eds that I took were History 151: U.S History Since 1876 (history requirement) and Physics 105: Weather and Our Atmosphere (physical science requirement).
If you’re interested in recent U.S history at all, History 151 was great and really covered everything. It was also super cool to learn about all types of weather in Physics 105, and I found it interesting because of how practical and relevant the things we were learning about in class were. And don’t worry if you’re not super confident in any one area, and nervous about having to take a gen. ed — all of the professors understand this and are always open and available to help.
“I'm concerned I don't have the background from high school to really excel in my major.”
This is something I can definitely relate to. I am now a marketing major in the Isenberg School of Management and this was super daunting for me. I had never taken any kind of business course before UMass Amherst. I was nervous at first to take courses like accounting and management, but I had no reason to be. Professors don’t expect us to be experts, that’s why we’re in school. They know and understand that most of the things you are learning are completely new to you.
That’s why UMass has academic resources like teaching assistants, tutoring centers, writing centers, and every professor has office hours available. Everyone wants you to succeed and do the best that you can. When I took calculus and statistics last semester I was really nervous, but the tutoring centers that were available for each class were super helpful — and I’m really glad I utilized them.
Make the absolute most of your time at UMass Amherst because it really does fly by!