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Student perspective: How to start looking for colleges?

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An image of the University of Massachusetts campus with the text, Student perspective: How to start looking for colleges?

When I was applying to colleges, I remember spending the summer going into my senior year of high school working on my college applications. I already had my SAT scores (this was before UMass went test optional), my personal statement written (thanks to my wonderful AP Literature teacher), and a list of colleges I wanted to apply to. Having already gone through the process of applying to colleges, here are two major tips for students looking to start their college application process:

1. Journal: Write down what you are looking for in a college and what you are hoping to gain from that experience  

Before you even attempt to start looking for colleges, you must take the time to think about what you are looking for in a college, and what you hope to gain from that experience. Want to attend a large school? With plenty of major or minor options? Is location important to you? Would you like to attend school in a large city? Or perhaps a small town? These questions, and many more, will help narrow down your college search and ensure you are not wasting your time or energy applying for colleges that may not fit your needs. Taking the time to think about your needs in your college journey will help make searching for colleges a lot less stressful and more rewarding. 

2. Think about your Possible Major or Career Path

Every college excels in certain disciplines. Here at UMass Amherst, we are are considered one of the top public research universities in the nation, making us the largest public research university in New England. We also have many highly rated academic majors and programs. For example, our business school, the Isenberg School of Management, was rated the top public undergraduate business school in the Northeast. To give you an idea of the many options at UMass Amherst, we are also ranked the #2 agricultural university in the US, and our landscape architecture major is in the top 25 most admired programs. When looking into colleges, you want to make sure that the places you are considering will help you excel in whatever path you want to pursue. You want to know that the university that you are attending excels in your program of study. This is why I decided to attend UMass Amherst. As an English and communication double major, I knew both programs would position me well for my life after college. As a soon to be college senior, that statement still holds true. 

I would also highly suggest, if you are like myself and are unsure of what you want to pursue in your career, to make sure that the colleges that you are looking into have a multitude of majors and minors. If you decide that you want change career paths in college, you should position yourself at a school that gives you the possibility to do just that, rather than be forced to transfer to a different school that offers your new desired major. This was one of the deciding factors as to why I decided to attend UMass Amherst. With more than 90 undergraduate majors residing in 10 schools and colleges — and a multitude of minors and certificate programs, UMass Amherst provides students even more pathways to explore their interests and passions. UMass Amherst even gives students the option to design their major through the Bachelor's Degree with Individual Concentration (BDIC). With so many options, I knew I would be in a great environment if I decided that English was not for me. When considering colleges, remember to keep in mind your potential major and career path, it will help make your search more structured and efficient. 

For high school juniors, these next few months are going to be exciting times. Remember to make the most of your college admissions experience — I promise you that it will be a memorable one. Best of luck to the class of 2025! Remember to consider UMass Amherst when looking into colleges! 


Application Process
Transitioning to College
Why UMass

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For prospective college students, the process of applying to colleges can be very lengthy and time consuming. From narrowing down your applications, writing your college essay, touring colleges, and much more, your college application process can span over a period of a year or even more. Having applied to college more than three years ago, I still vividly remember how much time and effort went into my applications. I wanted everything to be perfect, and this was the only chance I had to make a good impression on these colleges. While admittedly I was pretty stressed out during the majority of the process, I still remember how freeing it was to finally hit the submit button on the Common Application.

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As I am writing this, December 4th, 2020, it is officially the last day of finals here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for the fall 2020 semester. For myself, this marks my final day as an undergraduate student here at UMass Amherst. After three and a half years, I can hardly believe that this lovely chapter is coming to a close. While this may not be the way I envisioned the ending of my time here to look like, I feel incredibly happy with the time I had and all the wonderful memories that I was able to create.  

With my time at UMass Amherst coming to a close, here are my final thoughts and advice as I close this chapter.