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The University of Massachusetts - Amherst

How this student rated the school
Educational QualityF Faculty AccessibilityC-
Useful SchoolworkF Excess CompetitionF
Academic SuccessF Creativity/ InnovationF
Individual ValueF University Resource UseB-
Campus Aesthetics/ BeautyF FriendlinessD+
Campus MaintenanceD+ Social LifeB-
Surrounding CityC Extra CurricularsB
Describes the student body as:
Arrogant, Violent

Describes the faculty as:
Arrogant, Unhelpful

Lowest Rating
Educational Quality
Highest Rating
Extra Curriculars
She cares more about Educational Quality than the average student.
Date: Oct 27 2008
Major: English (This Major's Salary over time)
I came to UMass Amherst expecting it to live up to its reputation as the best state school in Massachusetts. I at first considered it because it was quite affordable, as I'm a Massachusetts resident; however after visiting a couple of times I decided I was rather eager for my freshman year to begin.

Well, it certainly lives up to its expectation of being a ridiculously huge school where you are simply a number. I'm still in my first semester of my freshman year but I already feel like I don't even exist. It's hard to drag myself out of bed for my lecture hall class because I know my presence isn't necessary—probably not even wanted, as there are so many people in the class that students are sitting on the floor in the back.

As for my smaller classes, I still feel unwanted because they are all taught by graduate students who have more important things to do than give us any work whatsoever. I don't think it's necessary or even legitimate to blame it on the fact that they're in grad school, as I'm sure people can recall being in high school and having their teachers working on their master's during evenings. I always felt challenged in high school, but here I haven't had one test in any of my smaller classes, and I've only written one essay in my college writing course and the semester is half over. This may sound like fun to some people, but seeing as my smaller classes are all classes for my major (English) I'd actually like to discuss what we're covering.

For example, my Reading & Writing Imaginative Literature class was incredibly hyped up at orientation by one of the RAs. I took it at the honors level expecting to have an amazing experience. So far we've read two books and spent a total of two classes each talking about them and then moved on to the next book. We have three more to go and they all have two days designated for them on the syllabus. We haven't had time to even keep a journal, or have quizzes on the reading or even write essays (in a WRITING course!). The entire class consists of workshopping pieces written by students, and who even knows what my grade is because we haven't handed in one single solitary piece of work yet.

The campus is disgusting. The only part I really enjoy is what I call the "center" of campus—where the library and the Fine Arts Center is. There's a pond and a lot of trees and it's a nice little area to sit and study on the grass. But the rest of the campus is a hodgepodge mess of ugly buildings, and construction EVERYWHERE. I eat at Franklin every day, and I have to walk through a literal maze of construction workers, police doing detail and monstrous machines just to get to the door (or for that matter, anywhere on campus). I feel like I'm living on a construction site.

If you don't like to walk, forget coming here. It takes me 15 minutes (if I walk really fast) to get to my lecture hall class (another reason why it's so difficult to drag myself out of bed) and half of the walk is through a maze of construction anyway; so it's not even an enjoyable walk. Be very careful scheduling classes together (check a map) because if you walk slowly you won't make it to your next class in fifteen minutes if it isn't right near your previous one. I'm scared to think of what the winter will bring, as the buses run incredibly slowly on crappy days. For instance, I have a 2:30 class so I took the bus at 1:30 last week on a rainy day, expecting to make it with some time to spare…and I was 16 minutes late. The campus is dauntingly huge and while that was something I thought I would enjoy when I was deciding where to go, it's something I absolutely hate.

I live in Central and the buildings I've been in are nothing short of falling apart. My least favorite aspect of my residence hall is the clanging heater. I can't put my heater on at night because it clangs and bangs so much that it wakes me up and scares me half to death; and I sleep with my TV on. My neighbors have a grate in their floor that has piles and piles of dust in it which make us rather nervous. Since moving in here I've awoken with a cough and itchy eyes every morning (we call it the "Baker cough"—upon coughing in my neighbor's room I discovered I'm not the only one).

As for social life, I'm not much of a partier so I haven't checked out the super hyped up party scene here. I do know that I lived in an all-freshman dorm when I first came here and everyone was drinking all the time, any day of the week; and smoking in their rooms, and the RAs didn't seem to have a care in the world. I don't have an issue with drinking but if you do, I don't know that living in a freshman dorm is a very good idea. Once sheltered kids move out of their parents' house, they're probably going to go buck-wild at "Zoo Mass" (as many colloquially refer to it). I recall one night in my freshman dorm where kids were literally running around the hallways drinking; the peer mentor on the floor was partaking in the activities, and a kid fell down the stairs from being so drunk and no one (namely, RAs) got in trouble when the police showed up. The security wasn't even at the front desk that particular Saturday night.

Speaking of security, I don't feel safe on the campus after dark. There's even a place to walk called "the rape trail" because it's so dark and creepy. Where I live is right on the edge of campus and while you need card access to get into a dorm building, anyone can just walk right onto the campus from the center of town and hang out in front of the building and wait for someone to hold open the door for them. I've seen people hold open the doors for older adults and students alike, and it freaks me out sometimes to think of who could really be lurking in a building. It's hard to rely on security, as they are only at their desk from 8pm-12am. There are emails sent out to the student body quite often regarding various crimes and issues. I received an email a few weeks ago warning the student body not to go too crazy during the final weekend of the baseball season, where the Yankees were playing the Red Sox. And during the ALCS, there were riots in Southwest which made the news in Boston. Again, not saying the partying is necessarily a bad thing for all, but if you live in these areas don't expect to get much sleep during crazy sporting event nights.

At orientation they told us that we are only 2 hours from Boston and 2 hours from New York; you can just take the bus from campus. However it costs around $50 for a round trip ticket which may or may not be worth it for some people. That's how I go home (to Boston) so I have to fork it over but if you just want to hang around in the city for a day I'm not sure it's worth $50.

There ARE several positives about UMass…

1.) The bus system is good if you aren't in a total hurry, and if you want to go off campus. They are all free for students and will take you anywhere within a decent radius. I can take the bus to Stop & Shop right from my dorm, or Target from the center of campus, and it doesn't take too long.

2.) The library is open 24 hours during the week which is probably my favorite aspect of my whole experience here, seeing as I'm a bit of a night owl. The downside to the library: it doesn't even open until eleven in the morning on Sunday, and it closes at nine p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. If you aren't terribly studious I suppose that wouldn't be an issue, but to anyone looking to study on the weekends, that's a bit ridiculous.

3.) The food is pretty good, although I've only eaten at Worcester and Franklin (you can eat anywhere on campus with your meal plan). Worcester is definitely the better of the two; Franklin never has much of a selection but the pasta bar is nice.

4.) It is the main campus of the UMass system and so there is a great sense of school pride. It is also, I've been told by my adviser, a better school to have a degree from than the other UMass campuses due to its flagship nature.

5.) Amherst Center is cute, and I've heard Northampton is fun but I've only seen it once.

I received an email several days ago regarding the state of the economy and how our campus is losing $12 million of funding. We are already one of the most expensive public schools in the country and I imagine tuition will skyrocket next year and the years to come. It isn't really a good deal when I've compared it with other state schools in MA and looked at the quality of education I've received thus far. I did receive an awesome amount of financial grants but that's because my family's income is really low.

To conclude, I am transferring out of here in the spring. Some people think I should give it more time and maybe that's true for some but the issues I've found with this campus aren't going away and I'd like to get out ASAP.

commentDid you ever VISIT the campus? It seems like you didn't.

A degree from Umass is what you make it…you sound like a whiner. I graduated from there, and went on to grad school at the Univ of IL, which is 42000 students, trust me, Umass isn't that large.

It sounds like you'd be happier at Amherst.

commentYou don't think Umass is SAFE?


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