I went back to the very first Letters to Kate I wrote. It was exactly two years ago Saturday. You, Christine, Beth and I all look like such babies in the picture I included. The dorky tree I added at the bottom? It's all set up in my apartment again, this time off campus.
It’s funny I feel ready to write my last letter to you, but not my second to last one. Like I’ve been saying all semester, the end sort of sneaks up on you.
With less than 6 days of classes left in my undergraduate career I think it’s time to dole out my last bit of advice on them. I took over 30 classes here at UMass, I’d like to think I can speak from experience.
- Use add/drop. When I first came here I thought dropping a class was for the weak, it’s not—it’s for the smart. If you can tell that you and your professor aren’t going to vibe or that the syllabus isn’t going to be manageable then leave. If you’re gonna bail, bail early.
- Take classes that challenge you. On that same note, don’t bail because it’s hard. Hard is good. Hard makes you better. Take classes that will allow you to succeed. But not without a little effort first.
- Make friends. This is advice I needed myself. I’m a lazy friend maker who found amazing people on her floor freshman year. That’s not enough. Having pals in your major make a world of difference in navigating group projects, stressful finals and course registration. Trust your peers’ advice!
- Move on at the end of the semester. I often tell myself pain is temporary but GPA is forever. Don’t be like me. It’s not that fun. As a graduating senior I’m finally letting go of that oceanography class freshman year that scarred my transcript forever (see, I'm still bitter). It’s not worth it. You took the class. You got the grade. Move on.
- Find a professor or two, and stick with them. UMass is a huge school, make it easy for your favorite professors and take all their classes. You like them, they’ll like you. Very simple. I wouldn't have been able to complete a thesis, get scholarship and law school recommendations or sound career advice without my faculty mentors. Those relationships all started with taking a class.
As a full-time student, you spend a lot of your hours in a class. Choose wisely. I know I’m grateful for the courses I’ve had the opportunity to take. I really mean it when I say UMass has it all.
See you around,
PS - Enjoy the throwback of me from freshman year. It felt appropriate.