Almost everything has myths, even colleges. When I first decided to attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I thought I knew everything there was to know about the school. I knew all the best and worst dining halls, where I should live on campus, and the best study areas and academic buildings, all based on either what I was told or what I read online. While there is nothing wrong with researching the college you will be attending, you should not take every opinion you read as fact. I thought I knew everything about UMass before I stepped foot on campus. Needless to say, I found that many of my assumptions to be wrong, especially once I came to know the school on my own.
So, as a prospective student, how do you avoid getting absorbed in these myths? To help ease your worries and clear your mind, let us dispel three common UMass myths.
UMass is a Massachusetts state school, so it is reasonable to assume that UMass is mainly composed of in-state students. While there are many students from Massachusetts, our out-of-state and international population is present and growing rapidly. Take our enrollment for Fall 2019 for example. The Undergraduate Enrollment for Fall 2019 consisted of 22,726 undergraduate students, 77% in-state and 23% out-of-state or international. Additionally, the class of 2023 was composed of 4,309 in-state students, 978 out-of-state students, and 444 international students.
On-campus, you will be surprised at the number of people you will meet who are not from Massachusetts. Two of my best friends are from out of state, from Vermont and Connecticut. Coming to UMass, I thought I would only be surrounded by other people from Massachusetts with similar stories. Oh, how wrong I was. Even if those around you are from Massachusetts, it is such a large state that people’s experiences within it are vastly different, especially based on location. Ultimately, UMass Amherst is far more diverse and broader than I could have ever imagined.
Things to do in Amherst
I lovingly refer to the Amherst area as “Cowtown.” I grew up in a small city, so coming to Amherst was a bit of a culture shock. Amherst is a rural town, home to a colorful and abundant agricultural landscape, mom-and-pop shops, beautiful mountains, and many well known colleges. When I first came to Amherst, I was nervous that I would struggle to find things to do. Back home, I often traveled to nearby cities with friends to hang out. The closest major city to Amherst is Boston, which is 75 miles away. Yet, that does not mean there is nothing to do in the Amherst area.
The Amherst area is home to many great restaurants, museums, shopping centers, movie theaters, gaming centers, and much more. I have lived in this area for the past three years, and there is still so much I want to experience before I graduate. Never have I spent a weekend bored, especially with all the events that happen on campus. Trust me, there is so much to do in the Amherst area. If anything, come senior year, you may find yourself scrambling to check everything off your bucket list!
Southwest Residential Area, You Will Either Love it or Hate it
There is this assumption that UMass students are either die-hard Southwest fans and have lived there the entirety of their stay on campus or have little to no interest in living in that area. When I first came to UMass, I never thought I would live in Southwest. I was pretty closed-minded and believed the stereotypes I heard about each residential area here on campus. In my mind, Southwest was not, and never would be, the right living area for me. Yet, here I am, as a junior, living in Southwest and loving everything about it.
Southwest is a lot more than a booming, lively, residential area. It is home to two of the best dining halls on campus, Berkshire, and Hampshire. It also houses other great eateries and study spots, such as Argo Tea and Chicken & Co. Not to mention, living in a Southwest tower is not only such a cool experience but can provide amazing views. While each residential area here at UMass has its charm, Southwest is such a memorable place to live. Remember when picking your housing to be more open-minded and ignore the stereotypes. You might just find that you love living there!
While it is easy to fall victim to negative stereotypes, it is important to remember that they are not always the truth. When coming into any college, I cannot stress enough how important it is to come into this new environment with an open mind. Trust me, UMass Amherst may just surprise you!