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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Reflections from a senior

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Josh Kotler
UMass Boston’s Campus Center. Photo by Josh Kotler / Mass Media Staff

I have spent the last four years of my life as an undergraduate student at UMass Boston. I like to believe that I made the most of my time here and took advantage of the numerous opportunities available to students. Now that I am graduating, I want to share some words of wisdom with younger students who are looking for some advice!
1. Explore your options
I came into UMass Boston undeclared, with the idea that I would be a psychology or social psychology major. I took my first psychology class in my very first semester…and I hated it. Surprisingly, my favorite class was a random political science course that I took because it was the only thing that fit in my schedule. I realized that, at 18 years old, it was absurd to be expected to know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life without even exploring my options a little bit. Over the next few semesters, I took a myriad of courses: American studies, sociology, philosophy, French and even some STEM classes.
UMass Boston, like most colleges, requires you to take a multitude of courses before you graduate; many of these are elective courses where you can take any class that sounds interesting to you. If you can, I recommend you use your first year, at least, to explore your options and take classes outside of your comfort zone. I am now a double major in political science and sociology—something that freshman year me would’ve never expected. 
2. Join some extracurriculars
My one big regret is not joining more clubs when I got to UMass Boston. This campus has hundreds of clubs and organizations to join, and if there isn’t one you’re interested in, it’s pretty easy to start up a new one. There are the more well-known ones, like Undergraduate Student, Student Arts and Event Council, College Democrats and Republicans and The Mass Media. There are also language clubs, club sports teams, mental health clubs, ethnic-based clubs, gaming clubs and more. Students can explore and join clubs on UMBeInvolved. The website also has upcoming events, meetings and activities listed, so spend some time exploring!
3. Take advantage of the student discounts
As a college student, you have access to so many great discounts and deals. Some of these apply to college students everywhere, like UNiDAYS, and some things are UMass Boston specific. Make a UNiDAYS account as soon as possible and peruse the offers they have. My favorite has always been the 15 percent off H&M apparel online, and I recently got 10 percent off my 1-800-CONTACTS order. In addition to UNiDAYS, make sure you check out the Office of Student Activities on the third floor of the Campus Center in Suite 3300 to get discounted tickets. They sell tickets to the Museum of Science, New England Aquarium, Franklin Park Zoo, Boston Bowl and more. I’ve gone to numerous Boston Red Sox games for super cheap because of them!
4. Apply for scholarships
This is a big one; so many students I’ve talked to have no idea that the university offers hundreds of scholarships to continuing students every year. These scholarships all have different requirements, but there are some for everyone. Additionally, each department offers their own scholarships specific to people in the major. The deadline for each scholarship varies but interested students should check them out as soon as possible. Students are required to complete a general application, which asks for some basic information, an unofficial transcript, a two-page essay answering a specific prompt, and a short statement about extracurricular activities and community service; there is also an option to upload a letter of recommendation from a faculty member. To apply for scholarships, search the UMass Boston website for “scholarships for continuing students,” and navigate to where it says, “submit a merit scholarship application today!” From there, students can make an account and start filling out applications.
Additionally, it can be worth it to consider outside scholarships. There is a page on the UMass Boston website that talks about outside scholarships and where to look, and there is a list of opportunities on the page. Make sure you reach out to your high school and ask if they have graduate scholarship opportunities.  
5. Make connections
The final bit of advice I have is arguably the most important. Networking is the key to success in every industry. Make the most of your time at UMass Boston and form connections. To start, meet with your professors. Visit them in their office hours and talk about the course or ask about what research they are currently conducting. Forming a bond with your professors will prove incredibly beneficial; these are the people who will be writing your letters of recommendation and nominating you for scholarships and awards. If you are part of a club or organization, take the time to chat with the staff advisor. Staff advisors can also write letters of recommendation, nominate students for various things, and assist in networking. These sorts of connections are incredibly important. For example, I formed a strong bond with a professor back in my sophomore year. Two years later, this professor is still writing me letters of recommendation, nominating me for awards, recommending me for jobs, and introducing me to their colleagues.
College is a different experience for everyone, and every student will have their own bits of advice and wisdom when they graduate. Talk to some upperclassmen and graduating seniors to see what they did during their time here—or what they wish they had done—to help influence what you do while a student at UMass Boston.

About the Contributor
Josh Kotler, Photographer