12 Things All Incoming UMass Collegiettes Should Know

Dear Future UMass Collegiettes, 

First of all congratulations and welcome to the UMass Family! We all remember how exciting and relieving it is to finally know where you will be living for the next four years. College really is as awesome as everyone makes it out to be, and UMass is a wonderful place (though I know I'm biased). These suggestions are things all UMass Collegiettes figure out on their own. However, this list will ensure that you are ahead of the game and don't have to find everything out the hard way. 

1) It is in fact always windy by the library (and for that matter, on most of campus). It was not just an especially blustery day when you took your tour... or when you came back for Accepted Student's Day. Trust me, it's literally ALWAYS like that. So, my advice to you is this: if you are brave enough to wear a short or flowy dress or skirt, wear shorts underneath. This will save your life and dignity. 

2) Speaking of the library, decide which of the twenty-two study floors is your favorite. Though you may not spend much time at the library your first semester, it will become your second (third?) home at times. When you have been cramming for finals and are surviving off of caffeine and not much else, it helps to be familiar with a floor and not have to do any extra thinking when getting in the elevator and pressing a button.

3) This next tip concerns food (so obviously it's important). If you live in Southwest (as many of you probably will, since it is the largest residential area), avoid Berk between 5:45-6:45 and between classes around lunchtime. This can be difficult to do, but try to figure out an eating schedule that isn't the same as everyone else's. While it's not impossible to eat during those times, you will save yourself a lot of anxiety if you can pull this off. You don't know what frustration is until you've walked around Berk for half an hour trying to find a place to sit.

4) UMass has something called Residential Academic Programs, or RAPs. They enable freshmen to really get to know their floormates. RAPs put together people of common interests or majors; you all live on the same floor and have some classes together. Don't have a major? Don't worry. I did a RAP specifically for undeclared students as a freshman. Many of my friends today are people I met through it. So, if you can, join a RAP!

5) Obviously this quite a large school. There are a lot of professors, advisors and teaching assistants. You will come across many of each in your time here. Some you will curse with every cell in your body. However, there will be some that you just click with for one reason or another. Stay in touch with the advisers, professors and TA's that you really like. You never know when you will need a letter of recommendation or help with something; they can all be excellent mentors. Plus, it can make their day to get an email from you telling them how much of an impact they have had on your life. 

6) This next piece of advice is probably one that you have heard for many years already: join a club when you come to college. I know it was drilled into my head long before I got here. Once here I wondered how on Earth anyone had time for clubs though. College was so busy after all. I finally got involved this year and want to kick myself for not doing it earlier. It's not only a great way to meet people with common interests, but it makes you feel like a part of the UMass community in a way nothing else does. A list of all the clubs at UMass can be found here.  

7) Go to UMass sporting events. While this one might seem obvious, you'd be surprised how many people don't go. It's exciting to root on the Division I teams with your fellow students. Pick whichever sports spark your interest, throw on your UMass gear, and start cheering. 

8) One of the great things about going to school in an area with so many students is that really good public transportation exists. The PVTA has buses that go all over the place: between colleges, towns, shopping centers, etc. All of their schedules and routes can be found online. So many students never bother to learn how to take the bus until they have to for some reason and then they don't know what they're doing. So, my advice to you: learn how to use the bus system. It's really quite simple.

9) Practice your bus skills by taking a trip into town. However, on a nice day it's an easy fifteen minute walk. There are so many wonderful shops and places to do homework, it's a waste if you don't take advantage of it! So maybe sometime during orientation week or one of the first weekends when you don't have a ton of work, go explore Amherst Center.

10) Always have a plant or flowers in your room. Let's be honest, you are essentially living in a cement box. Posters and photos help make your dorm room feel better, but nothing beats having a little piece of nature inside. My favorite is anything that smells good. Then it acts as both a decoration and an air freshener. Can't beat that! 

11) If you keep your UCard and room key on a lanyard (as many people do) do not wear the lanyard around your neck. Just trust me on this one. 

12) I've saved the most important for last. I remember how it seemed like all of my friends knew what they wanted to major in as soon as they decided on a school. I was really worried. Would I be behind? Am I really expected to know what I want to do with my life? The answer to both of those questions is no. In reality, the majority of incoming freshmen are undeclared. Even those who seem so certain about what they want to do usually end up changing their major one...two...three times. I can't say this enough, you do not have to know what you want to do or major in as soon as you get here. Take your time exploring, chances are there are subjects and classes offered here that weren't at your high school. You may discover you love something you never even knew existed. 

As savvy, obviously awesome young women I have no doubt you would have figured all of this out on your own very quickly. These few suggestions are just a good foundation to build off of. Follow the ones you like, discard those you don't but most of all, take it all in. Going away to college can be scary, but it's mostly an exciting, amazing and once-in-a-lifetime experience. We can't wait to see you here!

HCXO,

Current UMass Collegiettes

Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.