What is RAP?

Residential Academic Programs, or RAPs, are small communities of new first-year and transfer students who live in the same residence hall and enroll in the same small course together. Designed as a living-learning community, RAP serves as a high impact, hallmark University initiative that has served new students and contributed to a successful transition for years.

History of RAP

The concept of Residential Academic Programs has served students at UMass Amherst since 1964. Webster Hall, with its great expansive glass windowed classroom, served as the “RAP classroom” for many years, with courses hosted by the Faculty in Residence members who lived there for years. Though the program has changed over the years to stay contemporary with UMass students' needs and evolving organizational structures, one thing remains constant: having students take classes with a small group of residential peers, taught by an instructor who cares deeply about their experience and their success, has been a recipe for long lasting positive impact.

A black&white photo from the 1950s of students seated in a residential classroom
Students from the 1960's learning in the Webster Hall classroom

In Their Own Words

For years, students have remarked about the value that being in a RAP has added to their UMass Amherst experience. At such a large institution, RAP helps students make connections right away and be introduced to staff, instructors, and peers who care about their success, challenge their ideas in and out of the classroom, and learn about integral campus resources designed to help them meet their goals.

5 reasons to join a RAP. 1. RAP students tend to achieve higher GPAs than non-RAP students. 2. RAP students are 57% more likely to continue on to their second year of college than non-RAP students. 3. RAP students are 41% more likely to graduate inn four years than non-RAP students. 4. RAP students report feeling more closely connected to their RAP peers and instructors than students in non-RAP classes. 5. RAP students report feeling more at ease and comofortable asking for help than non-RAP peers.

Students who have participated in a RAP have said:

“I didn't have any trouble settling into college life because I had such a great group of friends living not even twenty feet away from my room. It was always a great bonding experience to go to classes, study, and write papers together, and I would 100% recommend that a new first-year student join a RAP that interests them.”

“Having all of us in a class together and live on the same floor created a strong sense of community throughout the group. It was nice to have something in common with most of the people on your floor because it creates a common ground for everyone to bond about.”

“I really enjoy the community aspect of the RAP course. The instructor is very kind and is very knowledgeable in the field. What's normally a large lecture course has been condensed into a class of thirty students. It makes class more intimate and facilitates class discussion better. It also helps that we all live on the same floor. We have been able to bond over this course together and we are able to help each other out when we are struggling.”

“I always had my RAP as the foundation for the house that I would build for myself at UMass and I’m so happy I did it!”

RAP Goals

  • Support students in achieving a smooth transition to college life

  • Provide students with the opportunity to develop lasting connections with their peers and RAP instructors

  • Inform students of the resources and opportunities that are available at UMass Amherst

  • Help students embrace the relationship between healthy living strategies and academic and personal success
  • Guide students in the development of various skills to achieve success in college and beyond