Choosing a college is one of the most difficult decisions we have to make as high schoolers, and doing this during a global pandemic is making it even harder for seniors across the country. I was able to connect with some current first-years at UMass Amherst about how COVID-19 affected their college decision process in 2020, hoping we can help ease the stress a bit for seniors making their big decisions in 2021.
What was your process like in choosing colleges last spring?
“It was definitely odd choosing a college at the beginning of a global pandemic. I did attend a couple of virtual information sessions and student panels,” says Emily, a current first year at UMass.
“These were so helpful, especially the student-run ones, because knowing statistics and information on a college is important — but hearing students and their experience was a game changer,” she adds.
Virtual tours and information sessions are a helpful way to visualize yourself at the colleges you applied to, and get a good look at the campus. UMass Amherst has it's own virtual tour for prospective students, check it out here!
“I was very indecisive going back and forth between three schools until the very end — it was very stressful. Ultimately it came down to academics and price,” Noah tells me.
“For graduating high school seniors, I do recommend doing your research, attending virtual student guided visits, and picking up the phone and calling your prospective universities,” agrees Allyson, majoring in public health and kinesiology.
What made you choose UMass Amherst?
“UMass Amherst is the best of both worlds. You are able to have the large university feel, while also creating your own small campus environment. My smallest class as a freshman is currently six students, where my largest lecture is over 250 students. The wide range helps me explore what I am looking for in the classroom environment,” Allyson explains.
“One reason I chose UMass may sound cheesy, but I wanted to go to a school where the students seemed happy. When I went on other tours the students didn’t seem pleased, but when I came to UMass, all the students were so excited to be there!” Emily says.
Authors note: I can personally really relate to this, one of the main reasons I ended up choosing UMass was because of how enthusiastic and happy everyone I saw was!
How have you connected with students this academic year?
There are many ways to stay connected with students at UMass while in a virtual environment, from group chats to Registered Student Organizations.
“This year I mostly connected with others through the RAP (Residential Academic Program) I joined — as I set up a zoom call with them to go over notes, and study for our shared classes. This group that eventually translated into game nights and group outings,” Noah shares.
Allyson took a different approach by joining a club: “I joined UMass CHAARG, which is a health and fitness community here at UMass of over 250 women. CHAARG stands for 'Changing Health Attitudes and Recreating Girls' — and even though we have been virtual, I was able to meet some of my best friends through CHAARG.”
Sophia even created her own discord server with students from UMass, “I met some of my best friends now in that discord, and at its peak, it had about 1300 people in it, from all years and majors! We would always play games together, watch shows and movies, listen to music or just text.”
I hope these tips will help the Class of 2025 as you decide whether UMass Amherst is the place for you! Although it's a big decision, don't stress. You've already made it through the difficult part of applying to college. Just do your research, and you will end up in the right place!