The University of Massachusetts has anything and everything you could want in a college at almost half the cost of comparable private schools—provided you think big. Big as in size and scope, both a bit intimidating at first. And big as in diverse, culturally rich, and forward-thinking.
UMass-Amherst is like a city defined by its neighborhoods, each with its own identity: There are the Polo-wearing party maniacs (in the urbanized Southwest living area), video game addicts (in the more traditional Northeast living area), and cigarette-smoking, hipster artists (in the beautiful, rolling hills of the Central and Orchard Hill living areas), to name a few. You can choose a part of campus you genuinely love and go fit in.
UMass shares the Pioneer Valley with Smith, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Amherst colleges, and thanks to the Five College consortium, we can take advantage of the classes at all of those schools. One could knock the hit-or-miss architecture at UMass, but to me it reflects that the school isn't putting resources better spent on professors toward placing towering Doric columns on the front of every building.
As it is the state flagship university, a large array of programs and compelling professors can be found, but you have to be willing to seek them out. Life's a test, right? There is no hand-holding, but any student can find abundant academic and social opportunities if willing to explore a little. It doesn't take long on this huge campus to realize that your experience ultimately rests on your own shoulders, so say hello to the real world.
UMass-Amherst began as Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1863, when mandatory student labor supported educational farming operations. Within a decade, a student strike had ended the practice for seniors.
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