Senior-Year Expectations

It seems like only yesterday that we were dropping off our son on his first day at UMass Amherst. My wife and I were proud but slightly nervous. Between his outgoing personality, friendly nature, and the many people he already knew on campus, we knew he’d adapt well socially. Our biggest question was about academics. Would he buckle down and do what he needed to do to be successful in the classroom? Fortunately, our concerns were quickly allayed that first semester, and he’s thrived academically and socially ever since. We can sit back and relax, knowing that he has much more time ahead to enjoy his UMass Amherst experience…

But wait. He doesn’t. We aren’t sure how it happened, but that young man — still a boy, really — is now a senior in college. Where did the years go? My wife and I are convinced that we haven’t aged, but one look in the mirror (at least for me, never for her!) says otherwise. 

As our son has grown and matured, in part because of his experiences at UMass Amherst, so have our hopes and expectations as he begins his senior year. We hope that he continues to have fun, makes new friends and enjoys all that the university offers. More importantly, we hope that he will continue to focus on his academics, in which he has clearly blossomed as a UMass Amherst student. This isn’t senior year of high school, where the dreaded (at least by us) senior slump was expected, if not tolerated. We’ve discussed with him finishing strong academically, both for his own personal satisfaction and in case graduate school is in his future. Along these lines, there are several academic tasks that we hope he will remember to do, including:

  • Meet with an advisor to be sure all requirements are met including GPA, number of credits needed for his school/college, General  Education, and his communication major 
  • Don’t look too far ahead. Make the most of the present and stay engaged
  • Continue to attend class

Similar to our hopes for our son, we expect UMass Amherst, as a strong institution of higher learning, will continue to thrive and support our son and all of its students, as it has since his first year. Communication from the school has always been regular and clear. Of course, there will be a new wrinkle this year, as we learn about graduation and related activities. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself in that regard, but even so I’m bracing for the emails and mailings sure to come in the coming months. I hope that he completes all paperwork for graduation. Even though graduate school is not in his immediate future, it may be for some of his classmates. If it is, they should plan for graduate school this fall, take their graduate entrance exams, apply to schools, request recommendation letter, and meet all necessary deadlines.

Along similar lines, we hope that he pursues new opportunities this fall (e.g. an internship or service project), joins a new club or team, travels during winter or spring break, or takes a class in a department he’s never experienced. In addition to gaining new knowledge, we hope this helps him learn the important lesson that discovery and academic passion need not end with graduation.  One way to do so is to join a professional organization related to his desired profession — now — to network and learn about job opportunities in the field.

Looking ahead, we also hope that our son will continue to avail himself of the relevant services available to him as a UMass Amherst student. Specifically, we hope that he will be a frequent visitor to the Career Services office. This outstanding resource connects students to potential employers, career planning, and internships. In addition to daily walk-in advising hours, the office offers many practical services, including resume and cover letter reviews. A quick visit to their website yields important information about upcoming Career Fairs, Job Fairs and the UMass Amherst Alumni Advisor program.

All told, we have been thrilled by the great academic and social experiences our son has enjoyed at UMass Amherst. We hope that he continues to thrive his senior year and becomes an active alumnus, maintaining a strong connection with a special place that has become his second home. 

Chuck Kaufman is the father of a UMass Amherst senior and serves on the UMass Amherst Parents Advisory Council.