First-Year Experience

UMass Amherst has always placed a strong emphasis on student success. In line with the national trend, the university has recently increased its attention and level of committment to programming for our first-year students.

UA&LC plays a leadership role in the coordination of programs and opportunities for first-year students across the campus. We work closely with the office of Undergraduate Admissions,  academic deans from all the schools and colleges, and various departments and offices across campus to facilitate a fantastic beginning for our incoming students. 

Academic Opportunities and Resources

First-Year Seminars - Designed to assist new students transition into the world of college, these courses provide students with a small class experience and an opportunity to develop a close relationship with an instructor during their first year in college. Some first-year seminars are structured around topics of interest and others are focused on college success strategies and skills, and still others are a combination of both.  

Residential Academic Programs (RAP) - RAPs give first-year students an opportunity to begin their college experience as part of an academic learning community.  A RAP is a group of students with similar academic interests or majors who enroll in specific classes (usually small sections taught in the residential area) and live together in a designated residence hall. Approximately 45% of first-year students join a RAP.

Global Pathways Student - "GPS" is an initiative designed to provide first-year students with information about a variety of opportunities that will enhance their college experience and enable them to develop the skills, tools and knowledge to take charge of their college education and become active and engaged members of the global community upon graduation.

Advising - All students are encouraged to develop an academic plan to guide them in their academic journey from incoming student through graduation.  This conversation begins during New Students Orientation (NSO) and continues throughout the academic year.

Undergraduate students are assigned to a collegiate-level unit that coincides with their academic major status. These units house advising centers where students can go for advising activities related to their major as well as for tasks that require the assistance of the academic dean. Undeclared student receive their academic advising from Undergraduate Advising.

All undergraduate students benefit from the advising services available at the Academic Advising Link in the Learning Commons of the W.E.B. DuBois Library. 

General Education Program - UMass Amherst has a core set of academic requirements that all undergraduate students must complete. This program ensures that students have an opportunity to develop critical thinking, communication and learning skills that will benefit them for a lifetime. 

Commonwealth Honors College - The Honors College at UMass Amherst offers Honors RAPs and other specialized program opportunities for their first-year students.

Career & Field Experience Services - Students are welcome to begin a relationship with Career Services during their first year on campus.

Learning Resource Center (LRC) - Peer tutoring for the majority of General Education classes is available free of charge to all undergraduate students. In addition to the 1:1 tutoring, the LRC offers a very popular Supplemental Instruction program for numerous classes.

Campus and Residence Life

Our partners across campus have extensive programming designed specifically for first-year students.

Residential First-Year Experience (RFYE) 

Housing Assignments (HAO)

Center for Student Development

New Students Orientation

Parent Services 

Disability Services 

Student-Athlete Services


We hope that students will take advantage of all these wonderful opportunities!  Staff from all these units are also able to help guide students to a wealth of additional resources including, but not limited to: Financial Aid Services, Office of the University Registrar, Office of the Bursar, and University Health Services.


Pamela R. Marsh-Williams, Ph.D.
Assistant Provost & Dean

This website is part of Undergraduate Advising & Learning Communities. We provide undergraduate students a variety of opportunities and services designed to facilitate the best academic experience possible. 609 Goodell Building, UMass Amherst.

UA&LC Units: Undergraduate Advising, Residential Academic Programs, Domestic Exchange Programs, Five College Interchange