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Things I Learned Outside of the Classroom at UMass Amherst

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Things I have Learned at UMass: Outside of the Classroom graphic, photo of University of Massachusetts campus from above

Although the number one reason people go to college is to get their degree, there are so many more things we will take away from college than just that. We are living on our own, meeting new people, solving our own problems and working with diverse groups of people with interesting and different lives than our own. Sometimes, the things we learn on our own outside of the classroom, become the most important things we take with us when we graduate. 

I started to think about what the most important things that I’ve learned outside of the classroom during my three years at UMass Amherst, and here’s what I came up with!

I Learned to Do Things That Scare Me

One of the most important things that I have learned since coming to UMass, has been to try new and scary things. By scary, I mean things that you’ve never tried before or that make you nervous. This took me a while to learn and I wish I had realized it much sooner. It is so important to reach out to that classmate and ask them if they want to grab lunch, join a new club, or try a new food at the dining hall.

College is the perfect time to try new things, and it is definitely the thing that I miss most about my life at UMass pre-COVID. I encourage everyone to try new things and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way — I promise it won’t be as terrifying as you think!

I Learned Independence

This is probably the most obvious thing that comes to mind when thinking about what we learn from college, but it’s also extremely true. One of my favorite parts about college, dorm living — and now apartment living, has been independence. The idea of being “on my own” scared me before I moved into UMass as a first-year. I remember asking my mom before I left for school “But what happens if I run out of soap?!?!”. Questions like that seem silly to me now, I want to tell myself - walk to the Campus Center or take a bus to CVS! But back then, they were real questions I had!

When I got to campus, they had a ton of helpful resources and so many other people in the same situation as me, that I realized there was nothing to be worried about. The most important thing to do is to utilize the resources that UMass provides, and not miss out on opportunities because you might be nervous. 

I Learned How to Manage Stress

I have to admit, I may not be 100% perfect with this one but I’ve definitely improved! In college, I have learned how to juggle class, clubs, an internship, my social life and free time. I used to become very easily stressed out in high school when I had a lot going on and I would have definitely considered myself to be a perfectionist. Now having been in college for three years, I have learned to not stress over school as much. I’ve also learned that it is okay to get some grades you aren’t happy with — it’s not the end of the world. Everyone has classes they don’t love and that are difficult. All that really matters is that you’ve put in as much effort as you can with everything you do.

College will be stressful, there’s no doubt about it, but developing healthy ways to deal with it — and remembering to always take time for yourself and for doing the things you love, will help tremendously.


Life at UMass
Transitioning to College

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A Letter to my High School Self

Text reading: A Letter to my High School Self, images of Maddie graduating high school, on campus at the University of Massachusetts, and on an athletic field

Dear Maddie,

Hey me my senior year of high school, I’m writing to you three years later as a junior in college! I know you’re probably super stressed right now from juggling school, extracurriculars and choosing where to go to college but I hope that by writing you this letter, as a junior in college now, I could ease your stress a little and give you a few tips.