From Changing Majors to Making Friends, Students Offer Advice – UMass Lowell

By Brooke Coupal
Feelings of excitement and anxiousness swirl around campus as students arrive for a new academic year. Thankfully, returning River Hawks are offering advice on everything from changing majors to making friends that will help newly arrived students thrive at UMass Lowell. 
Here are some of the topics they addressed:

For rising sophomore Anna Schmidt, the best way to get around campus involves hopping on a bicycle.
“Biking is a great option, as it allows you to get around campus in a relatively short time while getting some exercise in,” says Schmidt, a computer engineering major from Melrose, Massachusetts.
BikeSafetyIconDon’t have a bike? The university’s Free Wheelers Bike Share program offers about 50 bicycles that students, staff and faculty can use for free on a daily basis.
“The rideshare program is a great option, as the bikes are regularly maintained to be in safe, working order, and it’s completely free,” says Schmidt, who works in the UML Bike Shop.
Students can also pay $75 for a fall semester rental, which includes a bike, lock, lights, a helmet and free maintenance. The Bike Shop additionally sells new and used bikes.
A free shuttle service also provides rides to all corners of the campus seven days a week. There is even an app, Roadster Routes, that tracks the buses’ locations.
Those interested in walking can make their way between North and South campuses in about 15 minutes.

As the Student Government Association chair for health and wellness, rising senior Rose Louro urges students to get familiar with the different mental health and well-being resources that are available on campus.
therapy-dogs“I keep up with the Wellness Center and what kinds of therapy they offer, such as short-term individual sessions or group therapy,” says Louro, a public health major.
The Wellness Center, located on the third floor of University Crossing, provides counseling services to undergraduate and graduate students. Appointments can be made by calling 978-934-6800. A crisis clinician is also on call 24/7 and can be reached at 855-890-2879.
Louro additionally recommends that students check out the Office of Student Life & Well-being’s website, which lists on-campus, off-campus and online resources for eight different dimensions of wellness – emotional health, physical health, financial health, occupational health, intellectual health, environmental health, spiritual health and social health.

Patrick Orcino entered his first year at UMass Lowell as a mathematics major but soon realized it was not the right fit.
College Exploration Seminar 1“I really enjoyed math in high school, and I thought it would be a good major for me in college, but after taking this one class, I realized I did not like the abstract side of math,” says Orcino, who decided to make the switch to marketing and finance.
Orcino’s experience is common, with some 80% of college students making a change in major, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
As a first step, Orcino scheduled an appointment through the NOW student dashboard to meet with his advisor and talk over the change. He then filled out a Declaration of Major form to officially make the switch. He went through this process a second time when he decided to change from a marketing major to an accounting major because he missed working with numbers.
“During your first year, take classes in different fields to find what interests you the most, and don’t hesitate if you decide you want to switch majors,” says Orcino, who adds that it’s easiest to switch during your first year in order to complete degree requirements within four years.

Rising junior Justin Baez Peguero is no stranger to working while going to school.
Justin-Baez-Peguero2-1400Over the last academic year, the business administration major worked two on-campus jobs – as an office assistant for the Manning School of Business dean’s suite and as a marketing ambassador for University Dining – and one off-campus job at Subway.
He says the best place to find jobs is through JobHawk. Students can log onto this website and look through departmental jobs, off-campus employment and federal work-study positions.
Baez Peguero advises students who want to work during the academic year to make sure they manage their time well, so their academics don’t suffer.
“I always balanced the day by making sure I left time to study in between classes and work,” he says. “Also, always make time for yourself to relax. Assignments and work can be draining, so you need to make time to go out and clear your mind.”

Whether you prefer to study outside on an Adirondack chair or inside one of the many study spaces on campus, there is a place for everyone to get schoolwork done.
student on laptopRising senior Sarah Lindtveit’s favorite study spot is the fourth floor of O’Leary Library, where “it’s always super quiet and I always find an entire table to myself,” she says. Other times, she can be found studying in Coburn Hall.
“As an education major, I am often already there, and the rooms have such a nice aesthetic that it almost makes me feel excited to sit and study,” says Lindtveit.
For applied biomedical sciences major Sofia Viviani, she enjoys studying in the Health Sciences Hub on the first floor of the Health and Social Sciences building.
“I like to study at the HUB because it has tons of resources for STEM majors, including models and tutors,” the rising sophomore says. “I spend about 10 hours a week there.”
Viviani credits the space for helping her succeed in anatomy and physiological chemistry courses.

UMass Lowell is in the center of a bustling, history-steeped city with a thriving cultural scene, giving students plenty of places to visit during their free time.
downtown-dinersJamilet Amoguea, a rising junior psychology major from Revere, Massachusetts, highly recommends that students check out the wide variety of restaurants in downtown Lowell.
“I like the 1981 Ramen Bar a lot because it’s a great place to go hang out with your friends and eat all different flavors of ramen,” she says. “Also in downtown Lowell is El Potro, which is a Mexican restaurant with a cool vibe. They play a lot of music.”
For students hanging out on North Campus, Amoguea suggests they visit Eggroll Cafe, which she says is a favorite restaurant among the university community.
She adds that there are plenty of walkways throughout downtown Lowell and around campus, making it a great place for a stroll with friends.

New students looking to make friends at the university may be hit with a wave of uneasiness, but rising senior Alana Smith hopes they all remember one thing: “You’re all in the same boat.”
ACE studentsThe mechanical engineering major from Sandown, New Hampshire, says there are several ways to make friends on campus, one of which includes joining a student organization.
“Look at a few different clubs that you might be interested in, go to the initial meetings, meet some new people and see if that might be a good fit for you,” says Smith, who’s president of Pi Tau Sigma, the International Honor Society for Mechanical Engineers.
UMass Lowell offers more than 250 clubs for students to join and find like-minded peers, such as the Japanese Student Association, the Student Organ Donation Advocates and the Master’s Gaming Konnection.
Smith says another great place to make friends is in the classroom.
“You already share something in common by being in the same class,” she says. “You can form study groups with those classmates and work on homework together.”

Between intramural and club sports, personal training, outdoor adventures and group fitness classes, Campus Recreation is helping students stay active.
IMG_2807CJ Perrow, a rising junior mechanical engineering major from Gardner, Massachusetts, enjoys lifting weights at the Campus Recreation Center on East Campus. He says students new to the space will meet regular gym-goers who are happy to show them the ropes.
“Find somebody who looks like they’re doing the same kind of exercise as you and go up to them and ask, ‘Do I have proper form?’” he says. “It’ll help you a lot in the gym, and you may even make friends with that person.”
Environmental, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences major Libby McGrosky prefers to take part in Outdoor Adventure programs, which include hiking and kayaking.
“I was honestly surprised to find an outdoor community in the city of Lowell,” says McGrosky, a rising senior from Pennsylvania. “But everyone is so kind and welcoming and staying active through the outdoor programs is really fun.”
Visit the Campus Recreation programs page for all its offerings.

With nearly $95 million in annual research spending, the university offers multiple opportunities for students of all majors to get involved.
Noah_Mason_1400“Research is everywhere on campus in every department,” says Noah Mason, a rising senior from East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. “There are tons of ways to get involved in a research lab.”
The chemistry major recommends that students look at different professors’ websites to learn about the type of research they conduct. When a student comes across a topic that interests them, Mason says they should email that professor to learn how they can get involved.
“They will help get you trained and find a project you can begin working on,” says Mason, who works on plasmonic nanoparticles in Chemistry Asst. Prof. Michael Ross’ lab.
Mason adds that the university offers several programs that can help support student researchers financially, including the Immersive Scholars program, Honors College Fellowship and the Kennedy College of Sciences Science Scholars program.

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