The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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After New Students Orientation (NSO)

You’ve completed NSO, signed up for classes, planned your arrival… now what?

As a first year student you will be navigating new places, new people, and new expectations. You will experience personal freedom- and a lot of new responsibilities. Start off right by thinking about the following:

Get to know foundational course tools:


Moodle is the learning management system used in most UMass courses. You  already encountered Moodle during NSO, but it is useful to explore your course Moodle sites as soon as you get access so you are familiar with the layout, resources, and tools available. Each instructor customizes their course Moodle, and you don’t want to spend valuable study time trying to navigate the system for the first time.

Course Syllabus

The course syllabus lays out expectations for the course. Assignments, grading, office hours for instructors and teaching assistants, and other course requirements are set forth in this document. Review the syllabus for each course, make sure you understand the work you will be expected to do and the resources available to you.


SPIRE is the University system that manages your student information. Your SPIRE student center page lists your course schedule, assigned academic advisor, registration holds, and other important enrollment information. You also use SPIRE to request official and unofficial transcripts and to register for classes.

Add class, exam, and academic dates to your electronic calendar:

Your class schedule, final exam schedule, and the UMass academic calendar are all available as downloadable files that can be added to the Google Calendar (part of your Apps @UMass account). Instructions:

Prepare for your coursework:

If you feel underprepared for certain subjects, consider using online resources to review fundamentals before attending your first class. Remember that tutoring and group study options are also available during the year, and don’t hesitate to use them – even if you have never had to before. (Note: the linked resources below are just some of what is openly available online and are not necessarily the best or most relevant for your individual needs – search around, compare, and find what works for you!)


The UMass Chemistry Department has an online learning platform to prepare students for Chem 111 and 112 as well as Organic Chemistry.



Understand your time commitment and where to get help:

Plan in advance.

As an Engineering student, you will be taking up to 19 credits in your first semester. That is a lot! Each hour of class will involve multiple hours of out of class homework (the general rule is 3-4 hours of homework outside of class.) Schedule your study time ahead so you aren’t caught by surprise. When is there time in your schedule? Study in gaps between classes, at the start or end of the day – and remember to make time for meals, sleep, and socializing as well. As you settle in you will find the balance that works for you. Get to know your classmates, plan study groups, and use each other as a resource if you have questions.

If you are having difficulty remember that your academic advisor is here to help.

We are here for you! Let us know what you need or what challenges you are encountering so we can point you in the right direction. The sooner the better when asking for help! If you don’t know the name of your advisor or how to contact them, look at your SPIRE student center page or come to the Office of Student Affairs for assistance.

Use academic support options!

Whether it be tutoring, group study through the Learning Resource Center or your academic department, Tutoring and Study Jams organized by Engineering Diversity Programs Office, or online learning resources, there is support available. Your Academic Advisor can point you toward the right resources for each course.

Don’t forget to take time for involvement and fun:

Keep it in balance. You will be very busy, but it is also important to take time to explore your interests, whether it be through Engineering or UMass student organizations, cultural centers, recreational sports – making connections on campus can help you manage stress and maintain your sense of balance. Use the “Get Involved” menu item to begin exploring your options.

Take care of yourself. Sleep, nutrition, exercise- these are all important parts of maintaining your overall health. If you find you are struggling to find the time you need, talk with your academic advisor, doctor, or another professional who can help.

We are so glad you are here! This is an exciting time in your life. Take advantage of the opportunities available, and don’t forget we are here for you should you need advice or support.