My mother was my biggest supporter during the entire college search process. She was always there to support and encourage me. I credit her for the majority of my successes in life, including a seamless transition to the University of Massachusetts!
Here are some of her thoughts on the college process, and advice for other parents:
For my Mom, there was no “set” type of college she envisioned me choosing. She believed it would “be best if you attended a college with lots of available choices, in case you wanted to change majors, or pursue an interest outside of your chosen major." She believes that UMass Amherst is a great fit for me due to the wide variety of choices, from majors to recreation, dining, clubs and so much more.
The number-one piece of advice she gave me during the college admissions process is to “start early and try not to stress”. We toured so many schools — starting as early as the summer before sophomore year of high school. While in person tours are not offered as I write this in August 2020, Mom says if we were looking at colleges right now she would recommend virtual tours and taking advantage of as many online resources as possible. Here at UMass Amherst we have a great virtual tour you can take to get a feel for the layout of our campus, and there's also a Virtual Student Guided UMass Visit, and Online Information Session with admissions counselors! If you have questions about either student life or applying, students and counselors are available to answer them during Conversation with UMass.
When I asked my Mom what advice she’d give other parents going through the college admissions process, she replied “try to let the student decide”. She adds “have lots of discussions, nudge them to keep track of deadlines, do some research yourself so you can present ideas or concerns, but ultimately let the student be the one who makes the final choices”.
The one thing she wished I’d done differently when applying for colleges was completing my individual college essays sooner than I did. Mom advises others to get those essays out of the way early, and wishes I’d had time to put the essays aside and come back to re-read them.
From both of our points of view, the process adjusting to life at college was quite smooth. She recalls feeling “happy that I was gaining independence”. While we did not text or call on a daily basis, we both knew that if one of us were to contact the other we’d be able to do so quickly and touched base quite frequently. One important request she asked of me was to keep her informed if I was traveling overnight somewhere off campus. This made both of us feel better — I knew that someone had basic information at all times about where I was, and she felt much better knowing my whereabouts when I went traveling on trips with clubs.
One concern she had about me going off to school was that I’d find it hard to balance between doing well academically and making friends. Luckily, I found it quite easy to balance and she loves the fact that I was able to find a way to do both!
In her eyes, some of the perks of attending UMass Amherst include the distance and cost.
"You can have your own independence, yet be close enough to come home for breaks and a couple long weekends. On the cost end, UMass Amherst was a much affordable option compared to many of the private colleges we toured, while still having the amazing credentials I was looking for in a college," Mom says. She saw UMass Amherst as a great place for me to go as “they have a strong and well respected academic reputation, and being such a large school, they have something for everyone”.
When visiting me at college, some of our favorite things to do together include enjoying stir fry at one of our dining commons, taking nature walks, or visiting the downtown Amherst area. Mom also notes that she loves the cider donuts at the Atkins Farm Country Market, located just five miles off campus!
As a parent, one of the things she loves about UMass Amherst is how connected she feels to the school. The Office of Parent Services keeps her updated with emails about all of the important issues. Mom says that the Parent and Family Orientation had workshops addressing subjects of concern, and she learned a lot about the university from that experience. She is also a member of the UMass Amherst Parents page on Facebook, and says she gets a lot of helpful information from there and it’s a very popular and active page.