Dear Past Self,
Right now you’re busy with preparing for the next step in your life: filling out scholarship applications, revisiting your top schools, watching videos on how to prepare for college, and deciding on where to spend your next four years. Take a deep breath, try not to stress too much, because I’m here to assure you everything is going to work out.
You’re probably really stressed right now about the college decision process, as you don’t want to make the “wrong” choice. Ultimately you’ll end up loving where you go, and it’ll work out in the end. I know change can be really scary but it’ll be a lot easier than you think!
You tend to focus on your future, but don’t forget to live in the moment. While college is just as amazing as everyone says it is, there are parts of high school that you’re really going to miss. You’ll miss high school sports the most, so make your last season count! Another thing you will miss is the small class sizes and convenience of your classes being close together, but you'll come to find that you’re still able to make meaningful connections with your professors in larger classes — and learn to enjoy the walks to class in college.
Your time at UMass Amherst is going to go by like a blink of an eye, so soak it all in while you can, because college is what you make of it. First semester is going to be a huge adjustment period, but you’ll find you’re rarely homesick because there’s always stuff to be doing, and you’ll make friends very quickly.
On occasion, you’ll still miss some aspects of home, and especially realize this after going home for breaks. You’ll miss your family, being by the ocean, and going out to eat with friends on the weekends. That being said, there are plenty of ways to keep in touch with those back home, and UMass Dining helps you save money from eating out while giving you restaurant quality food. When you are craving more of a restaurant experience, Blue Wall is a great option where you can spend your dining dollars. While there are no oceans around UMass, there are a handful of ponds, and beautiful hiking trails to explore. You’ll also come to appreciate your small home town the more you’re away from it!
Newfound independence is the biggest adjustment you’ll make besides being in a whole new environment. Nobody is going to be telling you to do your homework, and responsibilities will ultimately lay on your shoulders at the end of the day. Lucky for you, self discipline has always been your friend, but be careful about overbooking yourself and make sure you’re writing down important dates as sometimes these tend to slip your mind! There are going to be so many opportunities thrown your way, so make sure you take them — as they’ll open up doors to really cool experiences that will be both fun as well as educational and help you professionally. You’ll even find yourself traveling to New York City and Florida with the student clubs you join, so make sure you sign up for the Student Activities Expo in the fall to see what it’s all about!
You’re going to meet a lot of people your freshman year, and while groups will shift and you’ll lose a few, you’ll also make some lifelong friends. Don’t be afraid to make plans and reach out. The dining halls will be where you spend a lot of your free time with friends, and you’ll rarely have to eat meals alone.
Take advantage of the Rec Center, which is amazing: three floors featuring every type of exercise equipment you could imagine, free weights, an indoor track, and more. You’ll also want to stop by the Courtside Cafe located by the top entrance, they have the BEST smoothies.
Enjoy your first semester of college to the fullest, as an unforeseeable pandemic will really rock your world. 2020 is going to be a rough one, so make sure you’re keeping your priorities straight and making your mental health one of them. Don’t worry, you’ll be back on campus spring of your sophomore year, and while things will look a LOT different, your friends will still all be there for you, and you’ll make the most of it! You’re not going to have the traditional college experience for a while, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel and you’ll learn to appreciate the small things. You’ll even score an internship for the summer, so make sure you’re still attending those virtual events.
Just remember college is what YOU make of it, so take every opportunity you get and live in the moment. You’re going to love it here at UMass Amherst, so hit that acceptance button and don’t look back.
Sincerely, Your Future Self