Five College Consortium classes give students a chance to branch out

By Troy Kowalchuk

The PVTA bus system allows for students get to any of the five colleges. Collegian File Photo)
The PVTA bus system allows for students get to any of the five colleges. Collegian File Photo)

From science and sexuality at Amherst College, to yoga for dancers at Smith College,  the Five College Consortium is a diverse and creative option for students, despite its underutilization at the University of Massachusetts.

There are hundreds of courses accessible to nearly every UMass major with very little requirements. Students need only be a second semester freshman or beyond, be in good academic standing and be registered in at least one three-credit course at UMass. Five college programs don’t even charge extra for classes at other colleges. UMass students with in-state tuition could be taking courses at schools that have nearly triple their in-state tuition rates.

Reasons behind the small percentage of UMass student participation could be because of misinformation, the commute or believing the process of getting into a Five College course is too difficult. In actuality, the process is quite simple.

Juniors Khadija Ahmed and Bianca Couture can attest to this. Ahmed has taken three courses at UMass, including readings in journalism, newswriting and reporting and community journalism.

Couture, a member of the Five College Ethnomusicology Program and student at Smith College, has also reaped the benefits of the Five College Consortium. She attributes her success in the consortium to the flexibility of the program which allows her to design her course of study.

“I feel like the structure of this program has allowed me to explore all aspects of music and culture that I am interested in while keeping a common theme throughout my studies,” she said.

When asked if she believed the process was difficult, Ahmed said, “Not at all. So far I have been able to register for every class I have tried.”

As for the commute, Ahmed admits that it can definitely prevent enrollment in certain classes. She mentions how missing the bus is always a risk factor and how motivation is a necessity to make the long haul to class.

“I manage to convince myself and try my best,” she said. “At the same time, the commute isn’t as bad as one thinks. One gets used to it. My Tuesdays and Thursdays mean I am in three different towns. All that traveling is like commuting to work. It’s totally preparing me for my future job.”

Couture reflects on the opportunity of all Five College students to pick from four other schools with different strengths and personalities.

“Every school has a different style of teaching and a unique student body that keeps my college experience interesting,” she said. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the courses I’ve taken.”

She regards her favorite part of participating in Five College classes as observing the different social and academic cultures on the different campuses.

“Everyone should try to take a class once at all of the five colleges,” Ahmed said. “I don’t know why I waited until my junior year. You never know – you might make a great impression, or fall in love with a new book or even find a new subject that you never knew you were interested in.”

The registration process involves first identifying the course desired by searching on the Five College Consortium website. Then, find the Five College Consortium form on Spire, fill it out, print out two filled out copies, get the instructor’s signature and bring it to the Five College Interchange Office located in room 614 of Goodell. As course registration begins to open in the next month, a Five College course should definitely be in the realm of possibilities for UMass students.

Troy Kowalchuk can be reached at [email protected]