Beginning in fall 2012, the Provost's Office and the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Life (SACL) collaborated on a longitudinal study of first-year students' experiences and progress. In academic year 2012–2013, all first-year students were surveyed about their early experiences at UMass Amherst (survey administered in late September) and again midway through their first semester (late October–early November). A smaller subset was surveyed for a third time at the end of the students' first year. A similar protocol was followed in 2013–2014, with results used to inform actions associated with the student success priorities outlined in the campus's Strategic Plan. Changes to residential life programming and advising services were informed by these results.
As a continuation of this effort, SACL conducts a survey every fall of all first year students in the early weeks of their first semester on campus. OAPA has collaborated on this survey, which includes information on students’ early experiences in their first year seminars, with advising and building connections on campus, and on their early commitments to staying enrolled at UMass Amherst. The results of this survey informs the First Year Seminar curriculum, advising, and student support efforts across campus.