Should I Go To University of Massachusetts?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Joseph is a New York City tutor specializing in a variety of foreign languages including German tutoring, Latin tutoring, and Spanish tutoring. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2011 with a B.M. in Music Performance. Check out his review of his school:

VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?

Joseph: I attended UMass Amherst from 2007-2011 and still have the fondest memories of the school. From the moment I walked onto the campus for the first time, I felt right at home and knew that it was the place where I should be. UMass is situated in Western Massachusetts in an area that is not too far from Boston or New York, but still far enough from both that the hustle of the city seems like a distant world. With 25,000 students, though, UMass feels like a town of its own, situated in the middle of rural Massachusetts. While I had a car when I was there, the public transportation system is more than adequate, and serves not only the campus of the UMass area but the whole Pioneer Valley area. You could reasonably take a bus from UMass to Springfield, Northampton, or any other area you desired to go to in the area. As far as safety goes, UMass is perfectly safe, with police stationed on weekend nights, and more importantly, a general air of positivity and no tolerance for violence that makes attempts at theft, assault, etc. very rare.

VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Joseph: The professors at UMass truly love what they do. Even in my general education classes with 400 students, I never had to wait long to get a response from my professors about questions from the class, exams, finals etc. Even more available were the TA’s who ran study sessions for their sections, and in some classes, even did Friday “labs” where we would go over the information presented in class in a smaller setting to make sure every person comprehended the information and had all the tools possible to succeed in the class.

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Joseph: Dorm life was actually the best thing that I took away from UMass. I met my best friends there, and even now, 6 years later, I live with 2 of my fellow dorm-mates in New York. I will press the fact that I praise UMass so much, not because everything about it is perfect, but because it has endless choices. If you look, you will find a dormitory that fits you perfectly. Are you social and love being around people? You can live in the residence areas of Central or Southwest (where there are plenty of dorms) and socialize. If you’re more studious, you can live in Orchard Hill. If you’re an introvert, you can live in Sylvan, away from the campus traffic. Dining options are also endless, with 4 huge dining commons on the campus and award-winning dining. There is still many a night when I wish I could swipe my card into the dining services and eat to my heart’s desire. As far as opportunities with other students go, if you have a pulse, you will make friends. With 25,000 kids, you are bound to find someone with similar interests with whom you will make a true bond of friendship.

VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study?

Joseph: The majors that are best represented and supported at UMass would have to be any of the majors that fall under the Isenberg School of Business. As one of the foremost business schools in the country, it was definitely a main priority for the UMass administration to both publicize and fund. I myself was a Music major, which was not particularly highly-funded by the university, but it gave just adequate funding (common universally for Music) that allowed us to take part in trips around the USA, as well as new lockers, etc.

VT: How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Joseph: As already stated, if you have a pulse, you will make friends. Between your dorms, new classes, the plethora of social events at the beginning of the year sponsored by the campus, etc., there’s no way you’re going to be eating alone after the first day. Greek life has a small but present role in the campus social life. 5% of the undergraduate population is in a fraternity or sorority, and many of them are geared toward community service. As the UMass website says “Fraternities and sororities are about friendships, scholarship, community service, philanthropy, brotherhood, sisterhood and leadership.” I think this sums up the role that Greek life plays on the campus of UMass.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

Joseph: The Career Center at UMass has career fair after career fair, with each day carved out for a specific major. Many of my friends started paid internships through UMass that have progressed into paid full-time jobs.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?

Joseph: UMass has plenty of quiet areas to study, the foremost one being the library. Being the 2nd tallest library in the world, there is plenty of space for you to study, both in peace on any of the floors, or with a friend on one of the slightly louder floors toward the bottom. The student union center is a little too active to study in, but the dorm lounges are spacious, available 24/7, and extremely comfortable. If one of those locations doesn’t suit you, you could always find a secluded area outside near the lake or on Orchard Hill. 

VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus? 

Joseph: Amherst is one of the most fun towns I’ve ever been to in my life. It is full of amazing restaurants, clubs, bars, etc. Students go there not only every weekend, but more often every night, since it’s only a 5-minute walk away from the center of campus.

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Joseph: The student body is pretty big, and I realize that might not be good for everyone. With 25,000 students, there certainly are many people walking around, but I would like to stress that it never felt frenetic or crowded. In the general education classes, the number of students was larger; it could be anywhere from 40 to 400 students. In the classes more geared to my major, there were probably anywhere from 12-40 students.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Joseph: The most memorable professor I had was definitely Professor Anthony Tuck, the Classics teacher. He was the coolest guy; I really loved going to his class. I remember one time, he brought his son into class (a newborn baby) and one of the girls said that he was cute. He let the girl hold the baby. It was entertaining and reinforced my belief that Professor Tuck was the most awesome man ever.


Check out Joseph’s tutoring profile.


The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.