Parent Class Year Notes

Below we have included a general timeline and helpful tips for you and your student from Freshmen to Senior year! While we acknowledge each major and intended career path requires specific milestones,  here are some suggestions to help your new student get the most out of their experience at UMass Amherst.

Freshmen  |   Sophomores  |  Juniors  |  Seniors 


Freshmen year is exciting! There are many new things to adapt to including living away from  home, laundry, sharing a room, time management and making new friends all while balancing an academically rigorous schedule. To help find their place at UMass we encourage freshmen to join clubs, teams or jobs where they can create communities of friends with similar interests. We also suggest that freshmen connect with faculty early on and always ask for help from the numerous resources available to them.

Ready for the U: The first step to ensure your freshman’s success at UMass is to have them enroll in Ready for the U, where students will select their classes, get to know campus and meet their peers. We also offer Parent & Family sessions designed to give families the resources necessary to support students throughout their undergraduate career.

RAPs: Freshmen entering in the Fall Semester also have the opportunity to live in a RAP (Residential Academic Program) where they will live and take the same classes with other students that share their interests. This is a fantastic way to have both academic and social support right in their residence hall.

Even if students are not in a RAP, they will be in a first-year hall along with other freshmen.

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Sophomores have one year of college experience under their belt and now that they have a handle on academics, it is time to enrich their college experience! There are living and learning communities just for sophomores that continue to provide academic support to students right where they live! Encourage your sophomore to join clubs, RSOs (Registered Student Organizations), student government and more!

Students must also select their major by their sophomore year, an important choice made easier if they communicate with their advisor. Also, many students like to find jobs on and off campus for their second year. Sophomores may also begin thinking about taking Five College classes or studying abroad. It's important to research these options early. While it is very important to maintain academic standing, future employers also look for campus involvement and with over 300 organizations to choose from, students have plenty of opportunities!

SophoMORE Communities: If your student enjoyed their RAP or first year hall, they can continue that theme of living and learning in community with these programs specific to sophomores.

Campus Pulse: Students searching for clubs, intramurals and organizations can find them on the Campus Pulse website by searching alphabetically or searching by their interests.

Student Employment Office: Work study? No work study? On Campus? Off Campus? Encourage your student to visit the job listings on the Student Employment office to find a job that fits their academic schedule. Full time undergraduates can only work up to 20 hours a week on campus.

International Programming Office: If your student is planning on studying abroad their junior year, they should make an appointment with IPO to begin planning in their sophomore year.

Domestic Exchange: Students don’t have to go far to experience some amazingly diverse academic opportunities. UMass partners with colleges around the country in a domestic exchange program.

5 College Interchange Office: One of the most amazing academic opportunities UMass has to offer is the Five College Consortium. UMass students can take classes at Amherst, Smith, Mount Holyoke and Hampshire colleges. Encourage them to talk to an advisor if they are interested!.

Student Success: Looking for ways to create successful student life? Encourage your student to visit this website for resources and opportunities.

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Junior year is all about planning ahead, whether that means applying to internships or taking on leadership roles in the activities they do beyond the classroom. Juniors are encouraged to use this college year to build a solid resume and network with professionals and professors in preparation for their career after college. Also, Juniors should touch base with their advisors to make sure that they stay on track  for graduation.

Internships: Many jobs require field experience and junior year is the perfect time to start building that resume. Visit Career Services to find great resources like resume workshops, career fairs and internship searches.

Scholarships: Many juniors apply to merit scholarships through their college, major or outside donor their junior year. This is a great opportunity to put in a little extra elbow grease and reduce the cost of school. To find information about merit scholarships offered through UMass, encourage your student to visit their college’s website or the Financial Aid Office.

Networking: For jobs and graduate school students need recommendations from employers and faculty. Now is the time for your student to forge those relationships and build a strong network of professionals that will partner in their career goals.

The Student Alumni Association also hosts networking nights and etiquette dinners to help students prepare for the job market in the future.

Leadership: As upperclassmen, many juniors take their knowledge of UMass and apply for leadership positions. Whether that be joining the executive board in their Registered Student Organization, running for student government or earning promotion in their job.

Living Off-Campus: If your student is moving off campus, encourage them to visit the Off Campus Student Life for great information about how to find the right apartment as well as support for students already living off campus.

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Senior year is all about pulling together all of the knowledge learned at UMass and transforming it into a productive enriching career. Throughout their senior year, students will have numerous opportunities to attend career fairs, graduate school information sessions and more to prepare them for life after the university. It is important that your senior check in with their advisor at the beginning of the fall semester just to make sure they are on track for graduation.

Career Services: The last year goes by quickly, so it is important for students to be proactive when planning their career post-UMass. We encourage seniors to take advantage of the opportunities Career Services has to offer including resume workshops, job search help, and career fairs.

Commencement Weekend: The university offers one undergraduate ceremony during Commencement Weekend in the spring semester.  Each school/college offers its own Senior Recognition Ceremonies as well during that weekend.  Senior graduates should work closely with their academic advisor to ensure they are on track for graduation. Commencement details are always available on the Commencement website starting early spring up until the day of graduation.  Visit their website often for updates.  

Graduate School: If your student is interested in pursuing post-graduate study, they should connect with their advisors and professors to craft their applications. Also, many graduate programs require additional standardized tests as a supplement to the student’s application which requires advanced scheduling. As with all academic goals, being proactive is the best way to stay ahead of the game.

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