- Class: Alum
- Major: Communications
- Gender: M
- High School: Belmont High School
- Transfer Student: N
UMass is currently expanding it's enrollment. When I enrolled in 2004, there were about 18,000 undergrads. When I graduated, it was over 20,000 and is continuing to increase. To accommodate this, the school is building new facilities for both classes and housing. It's big, but not so big that you don't get to know people. As far as Amherst goes, it's an amazing college town. Downtown Amherst (or Amherst Center) is a great scene at night and the proximity to other cool places, particularly Northampton, make for a great college environment. The five college consortium is generally underutilized by UMass students, but can be a pretty awesome asset, especially with Amherst College literally a few blocks away.
The degree to which you get to know professors and students is largely based on what you're studying. In majors such as Communication (my own), there are a lot of classes with a few hundred students in them, making it very hard to get to know people on a personal level. However, it isn't impossible, especially with small discussion groups and professors always available for office hours and extra help. Majors with smaller numbers, like music, are much easier to get to know professors and students in. I took at least one music class for each of my last six semesters at UMass and got to know the music students and faculty much better than I did the Communication faculty.
UMass is generally a tolerant place for people of different races, religions, sexual orientation, etc. This past year there was an incident after the Super Bowl in which two white kids (neither of them UMass students) broke into a black UMass student's dorm room and a fight broke out which made some pretty serious headlines, but it's important to note that the instigators had no right to be on our campus to begin with. Most UMass students hail, as one would expect, from Massachusetts. However, we have students from all 50 states and, in my experience, the largest out of state population comes from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
The Best Things
The extracurriculars, intramural sports, musical groups, clubs, organizations.
The Worst Things
Being a big state school, we get a lot of bad seeds who really don't want to be in college but are there just to be irresponsible.