NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Opinion: Transition

UMass Amherst is so different.

I attended NECC for three years. For two, I was on staff at the Observer. 

During those two years, those four semesters, I met people from all walks of life. I worked in Athletics, did orientations for Student Engagement, was friendly with Public Relations. I knew almost everyone.

Fast forward three months since graduation, and it’s like starting all over again.

I came to the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Aug. 29. I was terrified to start over again. I didn’t have any friends that came here, I didn’t know anyone here beforehand and I didn’t really know what to expect. I was afraid of class difficulty. I was afraid to fail.

As it turns out, those were silly fears. Let me say one thing about the transition to a living at a four-year school: if you try hard at Northern Essex, really try, classes are no different.

NECC helped me skip a required 300-level course. The journalism program, Mary Jo Shafer especially, prepared me as well as anyone could have. 

I’m taking four journalism classes and so far everything we’ve gone over, Mary Jo has already taught me.

While the academic side of school is similar, the social aspect is where everything gets crazy.

Living at school is such a different experience than attending a community college. 

At NECC, I had my share of friends around campus. It’s such a small school that having two or three people in the same few classes isn’t uncommon.

While my biggest class is only 30 people, all of my suitemates are in the large lecture-style classes that can boast higher than 200. 

For someone who had around 25 students in every class for three years, that boggled my mind.

Transferring in also unfortunately puts students at a disadvantage. Everyone in my year has had two years of getting to know each other. 

Whether they met in class, at a game, or at a party, it seems like everyone in journalism knows everyone else. In a way, it’s the same thing at NECC. But trying to break in and show them what you have is harder.

It’s been a month, and I’m enjoying it. I miss Northern Essex. 

I learned a lot there and made many friends that I still cherish. But the challenges of UMass Amherst are something I welcome with each passing day.

NECC taught me how to break apart and excel. In a month, I’ve found an on-campus job, an internship and started writing for the campus magazine.

If you’re patient, NECC will teach you to do it too.