I'm currently a freshman here, and I'm looking to transfer now. I REALLY wanted to like it here, but I absolutely hate the culture and the school itself. I'm also in the Honors College.
First off, most people are here because they didn't get in somewhere else they liked. Some out of state students are different, but honestly most people don't want to be here.
The social scene is weird, to say the least. There are a few main residential areas, which split the school up (not necessarily in a good way). The stereotypes about each area are VERY true (OHill - nerds, Southwest, trashy/ party all the time, Central - all smoke weed, very hipster-y, Northeast - Asians/ engineers). I hate to say it, but it's very true. I thought it would be a little different, but I think each area is almost like a small school in itself, so everyone becomes a lot alike. Which makes the social scene VERY boring. If you fit into one of those stereotypes (or are willing to) you'll be a little better off socially. I don't fit in at all. The Southwest (/UMass) uniform is uggs, Victoria's Secret PINK yoga pants, and a north face fleece. The guys always wear their pants too low and honestly just gross me out. It's hard to make new friends here, both because it's so big that you never run into people again, and because a lot of people hang with friends from home.
As a somewhat preppy girl from a nice town, It's hard to find people like me. Diversity is great, but you need to have some people like you to make friends with.
As for academics, I cannot say enough good things about my experience with the honors college. My classes were small, I learned A LOT, and I loved my professors. HOWEVER, my experiences with the non-honors classes (and you cannot sign up for all honors classes) were terrible. I had some good professors, but my math professor was TERRIBLE. Even the good ones I had NO way to contact. Everything was through TA's, they wouldn't even respond to important emails. If you asked questions after class some of them were rude and not helpful. It's easy to get lost here, you are VERY much a number (your student ID, in fact...I have never once been asked my name). I am very independent and easily navigated through school. I've always been a top student, but it's hard to navigate UMass.
The clubs, etc. are hard to join (I honestly don't even know how to go about doing it). The parties are disgusting (unless you're super trashy..which I don't necessarily mean in a bad way...I just don't know how else to describe it).
I'm having a pretty good year this year, but I don't think I could last 4 years. The cops have also shut down most of the party scene, and all the guys are gross anyway. I have met some VERY nice people, and I'm glad I came here this year (I've learned a lot, most of it not academic) but I'm looking to transfer for next year.
It's a shame, the school could be really great and be a wonderful experience if the administration tried to make campus seem a little smaller. Although there's also not much of a work ethic here either, so that's annoying. Slacking off is encouraged, and people think you're weird if you work really hard.
So, if you're okay with being a number and putting in A LOT of effort into finding your way, AND you're in love with PINK, too much makeup, hooking up with gross guys, or are a super nerd or hipster, UMass is for you. It's just definitely not for me.