A UMass student uses string to create a large soap bubble.

What's It Like to Attend UMass?

Six student tour guides offer a glimpse into a typical day in each of their lives at UMass Amherst.

At UMass Amherst, students can explore myriad academic opportunities, keep active (and have fun) by participating in intramural sports, network through the Student Alumni Association or a Registered Student Organization, or roam our 1,450-acre campus to find a hidden study nook. No two students carve out the same path, but they all have one thing in common: They make UMass Amherst their own.

Below, six student tour guides—experts on the UMass Amherst campus—share their experiences and offer a glimpse into what a day at UMass is like for them.



Kyle Cardoso

Kyle Cardoso

Operations and information management major and sociology minor Kyle Cardoso enjoys spending time in the Isenberg School of Management's state-of-the-art Business Innovation Hub (not to mention ordering the excellent grilled cheese you can get in its Carney Café).

8:30 a.m. Wake up, eat breakfast, and get ready for a full day.

9:30 a.m. Leave for the bus stop and catch the No. 30 UMass Transit bus that runs from North Amherst, through campus, and southward to the border of nearby Belchertown, MA.


9:45 a.m. I arrive at the Isenberg School of Management and get ready for my first class.

10–11:15 a.m. My Transportation Logistics class is one of my favorite classes, but it's the most challenging this semester!

11:30 a.m. Time for a quick coffee and breakfast burrito (with hot sauce!) from the Newman Café.

12–1 p.m. I arrive for a quick shift checking in guests at Campus Center, welcoming prospective students and their families who will be touring the campus, and answering questions about UMass.

Image for 404 Page UMass Campus Center Building
The W.E.B. Du Bois Library is a towering presence on campus.

1–2:15 p.m. I try to squeeze in some homework and reading in the W. E. B. Du Bois Library before heading to my next class.

2:30–3:45 p.m. Head over to Machmer Hall for my final class of the day, Sociology 337: Social Movements. This is the last class I need to fulfill my sociology minor and is an interesting discussion on past and current actions that led to social change.

4–5:30 p.m. I work out at the Rec Center (the free student gym on campus) and try to wrap up quickly because it gets busiest around dinner time (and I’m hungry!).

5:30 p.m. My roommates and I meet at the Blue Wall in the Campus Center for dinner. There are enough options for all of us to get something different. Today, I chose the lamb wrap from Tavola, a Mediterranean-inspired food counter that serves pizza, hummus bowls, pasta, salads, and more!

7 p.m. After I catch the bus home, I hop on a Zoom call with groupmates to plan a project for our Supply Chain Analytics class.

7:45–10 p.m. Time to relax and unwind before going to sleep.

Isenberg Business Innovation Hub
The Isenberg Business Innovation Hub.

The Isenberg School of Management has to be my favorite building at UMass, and it'll be the one I’ll miss the most when I graduate. I have made so many wonderful connections in that building, from great friends to professors who inspire me with their passion for the field. Over the years, I have worked on many fulfilling projects at Isenberg, and I’ve learned the most in my classes there. Not to mention, the Carney Café in the Business Innovation Hub has the best grilled cheese!

One of the proudest experiences I have had was studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, my junior year. At this point in my academic career at UMass, I had become quite comfortable with my routine, and by studying abroad, I was pushing myself out of my comfort zone with new people, places, and even language.


Throughout changes and adversity, I’ve managed to be a consistent and well-performing student, maintaining Dean’s List every semester thus far with only one semester left to go!

I have gone to the Fall Activities Expo every year I have attended UMass because I believe it is never too late to learn something new on this campus. I have sat in on various club meetings I discovered through the expo, including the Isenberg Operations and Management Club and Marketing Club, which I have been a member of for years. Each has provided valuable career advising and insight. I also have taken the opportunity to play intramural sports, as they allow me to connect with other students and de-stress by staying active.

Depre Carr

Depre Carr

Political science and economics double major Depre Carr takes advantage of UMass Amherst's bike-friendly campus when traveling to and from class. 

7:30–8:30 a.m. My typical morning routine includes getting dressed and having breakfast with my partner.

UMass Amherst named bike-friendly university by the League of American Bicyclists.

8:30 a.m. My partner and I bike to campus to start our day.

9–11 a.m. I work as a tour guide on campus, so during the day, I’ll give tours to prospective students and tell them about the amazing things UMass has to offer!

12:20–1:10 p.m. Head over to Hasbrouck Lab for my American Politics through Music class.

1:30–2:30 p.m. My partner and I meet at Worcester Dining Commons for lunch and connect about our days.

2:30–5:15 p.m. I head back to class: Intro to Legal Studies in the Morrill Science Center and United States Foreign Policy at nearby Goessmann Lab.

5:45 p.m. At the end of the day, I bike back to my apartment.

6–10:30 p.m. My partner and I chat about our days, share dinner, and then get started on schoolwork before watching TV or playing video games together if time permits.

There are several awesome spots on campus, like the roof garden on the Olver Design Building, the Augusta Savage Gallery in the New Africa House, the Franklin Permaculture Garden, and the Makerspace in the Agricultural Engineering Building. My personal favorite is the eighth floor of the W. E. B. Du Bois Library, by the shelves holding the United States Reports. I enjoy reading Supreme Court decisions in those hard-copy tomes. 

The Franklin Permaculture Garden at UMass Amherst.
The Franklin Permaculture Garden is a place to learn about human-scale ecological solutions for a sustainable future. This space engages the UMass Amherst community through educational models such as organic food production, rainwater harvesting, and solar charging stations.

My proudest accomplishment at UMass is my 4.0 GPA my first semester of sophomore year. I took intermediate microeconomics, a notoriously difficult class in the economics department; Introduction to American Political Thought, another notorious class with the most difficult essay format I’ve ever seen; and a couple of other classes that were not easy, either. I had between 100 and 200 pages of reading every week. During finals week, I wrote roughly 20,000 words. To get above a 94 in all of my classes required supreme dedication and effort, and for that, I am very proud of myself.

There are constant opportunities to get involved at UMass outside of classes. I enjoy the club meetings I attend, and I’ve been recently interested in joining the Tabletop RPG Club and the board games club for some more fun in my week. I also get regular emails from the political science and economics departments that are often fun or informative.

Gavin Defina

Gavin Defina

A double major in geography and sustainable community development, Gavin Defina spends most of his time in the award-winning Olver Design Building, a hub for design students on campus.

10 a.m. I walk to the Olver Design Building to take my Research Issues class [for my sustainable community development major]. This course fulfills my Integrative Experience General Education requirement. Every major has a course that deals with various research topics, and you can work on group projects with students who have the same major! 

11:30 a.m. Now, I have office hours for the club Student Alumni Association. I am currently the vice president of membership, [dealing] with recruitment and retention initiatives for the organization. Usually, during office hours, I help plan for future events and general body meetings.

12 p.m. My friends and I usually grab lunch at Blue Wall. There are so many options, but I usually end up in line at Green Fields or Deli Delish for a salad or sandwich

Students enjoy lunch at the Blue Wall in the Campus Center at UMass Amherst.
Students study and enjoy lunch at the Blue Wall.

1 p.m. Final class of the day is Introduction to Remote Sensing and Image Interpretation in the Morrill Science Center. As a double-major student, I also take courses within the geography department. This is my only course with a lab where I can work with my peers in a computer classroom to complete projects and weekly assignments. 

2:30 p.m. A couple of times a week, I work for the Commonwealth Honors College as a student ambassador. My main role in this position is presenting information sessions to prospective students and their families about the academics, residential life, and opportunities at the Commonwealth Honors College.

5 p.m. I have some time to complete homework due later in the week and catch up on emails I missed during the day. 

7 p.m. Off to the [Turf Fields]. Some of my coworkers and I created an intramural soccer team. I played soccer my whole life, so it is fun to still be able to compete at UMass! 

8 p.m. After getting dinner with my teammates, I head home to do some more homework and watch a movie with my housemates. 

Students chat in the Design Building rooftop garden.
The rooftop courtyard of the John W. Olver Design Building.

My favorite spot on campus is the Olver Design Building. Most of my sustainable community development courses take place here, so I frequent this building a lot during the school week. This building is a big hub for design students to complete their coursework as students can work in studios to finish semester projects, and there are many table seats to work with friends. On the ground level, there is a café called Post & Bean. I always get a drink and a snack between classes. And saving the best for last, this building has a rooftop garden. Up there, I sometimes do my work when the weather is nice. I even had class on the rooftop at the beginning of the semester.

The academic experience I am most proud of is presenting my final poster project to my peers, professor, friends, and faculty for my Introduction to Geographic Information Science course. Through visual maps, I showed the projected climate change impacting sea level change [and] harming a community close to my hometown. It was a great opportunity to research a topic I am passionate about and explain the research and work to other people! 

Beyond academics [and my role as a Commonwealth Honors College student ambassador], I have had the chance to get involved with a plethora of opportunities UMass has to offer. First, I am a campus tour guide, giving tours to prospective students and their families. I have also worked for the Office of New Student Orientation and Transitions, introducing incoming first year and transfer students to life at UMass Amherst and planning events when they first arrive on campus in the fall!


The main student organization I am involved with is the Student Alumni Association. Since joining in the fall semester of my first year, I have held several leadership roles in the club and supported our mission of connecting current students to the alumni world. I have had the chance to meet alumni who now work in my career fields, plan events for the whole student body to participate in, and meet other amazing members who I now live with! 


Lastly, I have also played on intramural volleyball and soccer teams every single season to have fun in a team setting and de-stress after a long week of classes! 

Isabel Durning

Isabel Durning

As event director for WMUA, UMass Amherst's campus radio station, communication and theater dual major Isabel Durning helps plan concerts and social events throughout the year.

9 a.m. Get onto the bus and head to campus. My apartment is right next to a bus stop, which makes the trip to campus super convenient.

9:15 a.m. Before class, I head to People's Organic for a coffee (they have the best chai on campus). Then I walk over to the radio station and lounge around there until my first class.

10 a.m. First class of the day: Intercultural Communication. We examine interactions between different cultures and how body language, dialects, and syntax allow for miscommunications. 

Old Chapel in summer with two students walking in front
The historic Old Chapel sits at the center of the UMass Amherst campus.

12 p.m. I go to the Old Chapel to check in prospective students for their information session and tour.

1 p.m. Then I’ll rush over to my last two classes of the day. First is a linguistics course, where we learn all about the International Phonetic Alphabet. Then, a film history class, where we learn about the rise of Hollywood and film in the early 1900s.

4 p.m. I head over to Tavola in the Blue Wall and order the Mediterranean wrap with falafel (no feta). I bring it over to the WMUA radio station to see if anyone else is hanging around. I’ll stay there and catch up on work right up until my weekly meeting!

6 p.m. The WMUA directors get together once a week to discuss our work and talk about any upcoming projects. Being the events director, I’ll use this time to talk about upcoming concerts and social events for the semester! 

6:30 p.m. For the next two hours or so, I catch up on homework, emails, and other tasks concerning my job or my clubs. 

8 p.m. After the longest day of my week, I’ll head back home to my apartment. I’ll make dinner and put on a movie to watch with my roommates to end the night. 


The interior of the Olver Design Building
Inside the John W. Olver Design Building.

My favorite spot on campus is the Olver Design Building. The inside of the building is really beautiful, and they frequently have small concerts on the first floor. It also has an outdoor rooftop courtyard, which makes a great study spot for warmer days on campus.

UMass Theater
Students work on set design in the UMass Amherst theater department.

I’m the most proud of my experience in my Theater 160: Beginning Techniques for Design class. Throughout the semester, we learned the process of how to make sets for theater productions. Going into college, it never seemed to be a topic I’d be good at or interested in, but it ended up being one of my favorite classes. I started out the class needing to spend extra time on our homework, and I realized I enjoyed doing all that hard work. I was really proud of finding a topic I was so passionate about and ended up adding theater as a second major. 

Aside from my classes and being a tour guide on campus, I’m heavily involved at our radio station on campus, WMUA 91.1 FM! Every week, I produce a show with my friends where we play music and also interview strangers that we find on campus. I’m also on the e-board as the events coordinator, so I’m arranging events like our Battle of the Bands, concerts, drag shows, formal, and so much more! This position has allowed me to provide a space for students to have fun and meet new people on campus, and it has also allowed me to learn more about leadership.

Drew Gauthier

Drew Gauthier

Environmental science major Drew Gauthier keeps busy as a research assistant and a peer advisor for the Department of Environmental Conservation. When he's not working or studying, Drew can be found singing in UMass Dynamics, one of nine a capella groups on campus.

8 a.m. Wake up and get ready for the day! I always make my breakfast at my apartment and then hop on a PVTA bus to head to campus.

10 a.m. My first class of the day is Glacial Geology. We focus on glacial processes and landforms, all while getting tons of hands-on experience through our weekly field trips. This is one of my favorite classes I’ve taken at UMass!

11:30 a.m. My second and last class of the day is Organic Chemistry. I’d say I like chemistry more than the average person, so I still enjoy this class, even if it’s a little more conceptual than general chemistry.

Interior shot of Worcester Commons
One of the most popular dining facilities on campus, the Worcester Dining Commons offers a variety of options including Mediterranean, authentic street food, tandoor Indian kitchen, hand-rolled sushi, noodle bowls, pizza, and much more! 

12:45 p.m. I head to Worcester Dining Commons to grab a quick bite to eat with my friends. Tandoor, the Mediterranean section, is my favorite section in Worcester, so I always make sure to fill my plate with kefta kabobs and plenty of pickled onions.

1:30 p.m. Now it’s time to pick out a podcast and get some work done as an undergraduate research assistant. I work in a soil ecology lab in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture to help better understand carbon cycling within transitioning environments.

5 p.m. For my last commitment on campus, I host office hours as a peer advisor through the environmental science department. 

6:30 p.m. Back home! Time to make dinner and work on some homework before I watch a movie with my roommates.

The Durfee Conservatory
Established in 1867, the Durfee Conservatory is a sanctuary of calm and serenity tucked away on our hustling and bustling campus.

I love all the outdoor space on campus, but especially around the Central Residence Area. The Durfee Conservatory gardens and the Gordon S. King Rhododendron Garden right across the street are home to a huge amount of plant species to explore, thanks to our campus being an arboretum. 

I am most proud of the grades I have earned while working two jobs and staying involved on campus. Education is important to me, so the least I can do is work my hardest to make sure I succeed in classes.

UMass Dynamics pose on the steps of the Campus Center
UMass Dynamics, founded in 2005, is one of the oldest co-ed a cappella groups on the UMass Amherst campus.

I’m a member of the UMass Dynamics, an a capella group. We have nine different acapella groups on campus, and they’re a great way to continue singing after high school or start singing if you’ve never tried before! As I mentioned, I am also a research assistant and a peer advisor for my department, both of which allow me to gain more professional experience outside of my courses.

Shyla Senn

Shyla Senn

Commonwealth Honors College student and kinesiology major Shyla Senn stays moving as she creates routines and prepares for competitions as a member of the UMass Ballroom Dance Team.

7:30 a.m. I wake up and get ready for the day. I currently live in the Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community with a few of my friends, and we all get up around the same time so we can get ready for classes and have breakfast together. 

9:30 a.m. I give prospective and admitted students a campus tour in my role as a campus tour guide. I knew when I came to UMass that I was interested in looking for an on-campus job, and we have many options to choose from. 

11 a.m. When I give a tour in the morning, it usually ends around lunchtime, so I go straight to one of our dining commons on campus. I usually go to Worcester Dining Commons with my friends when they are in between classes.

1 p.m. My first class of the day is Introduction to Statistics, a requirement for my major.

2:30 p.m. Right after statistics, I go to Anatomy and Physiology! I love taking classes that are more specific to kinesiology; this class is not only required for my major but it is also needed for graduate school.

3:45 p.m. After all of my classes are done, I work on homework assigned that day and any assignments that are due soon. I usually go to the 20th floor of the library since it’s super quiet. 

6 p.m. For dinner, I go to Hampshire Dining Commons to catch up with my roommates! Hampshire is the closest dining hall to my dorm, so it's super easy to meet up with everyone and then walk back to our dorm together. 

8:30 p.m. I am currently on the Ballroom Dance Team, and it is one of my favorite clubs I’ve joined on campus. During practices, we are either learning new dances or creating routines for competitions! I am also the treasurer for the team, so I do some finances during [this time] as well. 

10:30 p.m. I go back to my dorm, and depending on what is needed for the next day, I either do more homework, relax with my friends and roommates, or (on most nights), I go straight to bed. 

A courtyard in the Commonwealth Honors College Residential Area.
The courtyard in the Commonwealth Honors College Residential Area.

My favorite spot on campus would have to be the courtyard between Linden and Maple halls in the Commonwealth Honors College Residential Area! It's a super quiet spot during the day for when I want to work outside, but a lot of people play soccer or spikeball here, so it's also a great spot to hang out with friends. One of my roommates convinced me to buy a hammock so we could relax after a long day in the courtyard together!

In my junior year, I coded a nine-page exposition with proofs on abstract algebra, specifically group theory. If all of that sounds like gibberish, essentially, I created my own mini-textbook section explaining in simple terms how to do complex math. In one section of the paper, I even went into the mathematics of Rubik's Cubes, which are largely dependent on group theory. This project took me months of research, trial and error, and coding. Not only is this my proudest academic achievement, but I also got an A on this project and in the class.

Students participate in ballroom dancing.
Members of the UMass Ballroom Dance Team perform. Courtesy of UMass Ballroom via Instagram.

I have been given many opportunities at UMass to get involved; they have mainly been through job fairs and expos. I went to a job fair, and I was able to see many jobs that were open to me as a student. That is how I found my current job as a tour guide, and I love it! I also attended the Fall Activities Expo during my first week as a student. I learned about all of the clubs and organizations I could join, and it's where I found the Ballroom Dance Team!

This story was originally published in February 2024.