University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Amherst, MA: With about 19,000 undergraduateand 6,000 graduate students from all 50 states and 71countries, UMASS seemingly overflows with activity. As such alarge school (with its own zip code and bus service), it canoffer more than 3,000 courses, ensuring all students can findclasses to interest them. Furthermore, the Campus CareerNetwork provides many research and internship opportunitiessmaller colleges might not offer.

The campus itselfisn’t much to look at in winter, without leaves addingmuch-needed color; those looking for Eden will be sorelydisappointed. Concrete buildings next to brick and smallbuildings next to high-rises give the campus an uneven,unaesthetic look. Yet behind their doors lie a wealth ofprograms and possibilities to adapt the university to theneeds of any individual.

For those who feel morecomfortable in a small-school atmosphere, there are severalprograms which can make UMASS seem more of a tight-knitcommunity. Students who qualify (either by excelling in highschool or by maintaining a 3.2 GPA during one’s firstsemester) can enroll in the UMASS Commonwealth (Honors)College, which has a distinguished reputation. With only 1900students, classes are more personal and allow moreteacher/student interaction. Another program is TAP (TalentAdvancement Program) where students live with fellow studentsin their major and take classes together. These programs arelimited to 24 students. In RAP (Residential Academic Program),students can take classes without leaving theirdorms.

UMASS is part of the Five College Consortiumwith neighboring acclaimed liberal arts colleges (Amherst,Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke and Smith). A UMASS student can attendsocial events, borrow books or take courses at any of thesecolleges at no extra cost, and buses run to their campuses ona regular basis.

For competitive athletes, UMASS is inDivision I (except football, which is Division IAA.) One canalso participate in a wide variety of intramurals, as over10,000 students choose to do. UMASS’s impressive athleticfacilities include eight basketball courts, a gymnasticscenter, three fitness centers, a dance studio, weight rooms,two swimming pools, an indoor track and an Olympic-size icerink.

Listed as an “exceptional buy” by Moneymagazine’s College Guide, UMASS offers a quality education ata reasonable price. Anyone looking for a great educationwithout having to worry about repaying college loans untiltheir children are in college should pick up a UMASS catalogor, if possible, arrange for a visit. Your academic future isworth the effort.

Reviewed in 1999