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Amherst is a small school that doesn't feel like it, because of its position in the five-college area (which includes UMass, Hampshire, Smith, and Mount Holyoke). Students can take classes at any of the five colleges and and a free bus service makes this a very accessible option. It's all the benefits of an intimate liberal arts education with personal attention, caring professors, and a tight-knit community, without the limiting factors that many other small institutions face. The town of Amherst is eclectic and extremely college-friendly, full of coffee shops, cheap eateries, and funky stores. In sunny weather the town green is full of picnickers, Frisbee players, and students reading or doing work. It really is that idyllic college town you see in brochures. The administration is genuinely interested in what students have to say and makes a concerted effort to be accessible and meet the needs of the student body.
The best thing about Amherst is the variety of different people you meet (if you look in the right places). There are so many people from so many different places and its really amazing to see the convergence of ideals and sentiments during that first week of orientation. One thing I'd change is making the atmosphere a bit more friendly. The campus, especially during the winter months (which is about 3/4 of the school year), is very disjointed from each other and doesn't have as much friendly interaction. People here can be sorta cold if you're not their best friend. When I first told people I was going to Amherst they said "You mean Elmhurst?" (a community college back home). Outside of New England, nobody really knew what I was talking about. Downtow Amherst is a bit more subdued, with some good places to eat, one bar, and a CVS for all of your urgent daily needs. There's a great public transportation system that takes you to the mall, the other 5 colleges, and Northampton, a really great downtown area with tons of shops and restaraunts. The most recent controversies at Amherst stem from intolerance towards different races and sexual orientation, such as the yelling of offensive slurs at people on campus. Also, the recent "Lip Sync" contest for Room Draw created quite a stir since the Feminist Alliance and many students saw the winning performance for the rising juniors as offensive and demeaning towards women. One of the biggest anomalies I find at Amherst is the unexpected large number of jocks. Yes, we're a school filled with people who are multi-talented and did amazing things in high school, but I just didn't think there would be so many stereotypical sports-obsessed students here.
Amherst is a wonderful place. The cliche that we talk about classes and have energetic discussions outside of the classroom is 100% true. Friends will fight over some disputed topic, such as abortion or the death penalty, and then five-minutes later be talking about something trivial or going to play ping-pong at the campus center together. The school is very small, which has its advantages and disadvantages. Everyone recognizes everyone, and even knows somthign about them. Gossip is rife, do noit expect to escape the classic high school drama here. However, its size brings a sense of coziness and comfort, one can talk to anyone about anything; noone on campus is seperated by more than two degrees. The college town is small, but has a few good restraunts. Antonio's Pizza is the best slice you will have, coming in all sorts of weird and fantastic flavors (my personnal favorite is the Steak and Bacon), there are a few good chinesse restraunts within walking distance too. The PVTA is a free bus that takes students to the other five colleges, including North Hampton, which has all sorts of upscale shops and restraunts. Nobody complains about the campus administration, who try to make themselves as visible as possible. It is not uncommon to see the president eating at Valentine or working out in the gym. There is tons of school pride. If you come, do not ever mention the fact that you also applyed to Williams...huge rivalry.
Amherst is a relatively small liberal arts college in Massachusetts. They have a lot of money that they use generously. While this is great in terms of Financial Aid, they do have a tendency to waste money on occasion. One strange thing about Amherst is that you cannot make any comments that are racist, sexist, homophobic or anything like that. However, there is a serious hatred against any conservative viewpoint. Just this year a conservative student was attacked by a bunch of drunk liberal students because of an article he wrote for a school publication. One student received a suspension, the others were not identified. The conservative groups on campus receive little/no funding from the administration and they are trying to get the best conservative professor on campus to leave. Also, the food isn't that great and the toilet paper is really rough. :(
I feel that Amherst provides students with the ultimate college experience. A student body full of smart kids who double as top notch athletes, singers, dancers, and artists, as well as a great deal of school unity and pride, and a fun social scene. The town of Amherst is superb in that is has all of the necessary shops, pharmacies, bars, and restaurants, that are all designed for college students because there are so many in the area.
I feel a certain freedom to pursue what I want to pursue, when I want to pursue it, and the only things holding me back time and my own willingness at Amherst. Since the school is well endowed, I never feel like I am missing any opportunities my friends at larger missing. Although the school is unquestionably small, this is something to embrace. Life at a small college, in an area with many colleges, does create the "bubble" mentality. However, schools like Middlebury and Williams are far more guilty of this than Amherst. One can venture out of Amherst with relative ease if he or she wishes. Moreover, when one leaves, the name recognition of Amherst is known by the right people. Sure the school does not carry the national fame of Harvard or Yale, but the right people know about Amherst, and it often says a lot about one's familiarity with good schools if one knows about Amherst. Students frequently complain about dining services; students congregate at our one dining hall on campus. But they are more than adequate. Most of the complaints come from the silly hours they still employ. The college is undergoing a HUGE renovation of all its dorms, so at times, it feels like things are in flux. However, all the freshmen dorms are now completed. School pride reached a high when the men's basketball team captured the D III National Championship in 2007. On the whole, students feel connections to the school in a variety of ways, not just athletics.
Garrett JuniorReviews provided by: Unigo