- Class: Junior
- Major: English
- Gender: M
- High School: Chaminade High School
- Transfer Student: N
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.
If one must decide on a single aspect of Amherst that sets it apart from its peers, it is on its academics. Famous for its lack of a core curriculum, Amherst students bear the freedom and responsibility to choose any class at any time. While I have seen some students abuse this privilege by taking only "gut" or easy courses, others truly take advantage of this by trying subjects that they would normally have been restricted from due to distribution requirements at similar schools. The school definitely fosters the image of producing humanities and social science majors--probably from the relative well-spokenness of Amherst students. However, the biology, neuroscience, and psychology departments are quite renowned. More so than just the actual subject matters, the professors themselves are one of the central reasons to attend Amherst. Not only are they accessible, but they actually enjoy student interaction. Additionally, you are never taught by TAs at Amherst.
A lot has been made of certain recent incidents on the Amherst campus involving race and gender questions. However, the school has met them head on. Anyone of any background can feel comfortable in the inviting environment. However, some self-segregation does exist. Most Amherst students come from an upper-middle class background, with a majority coming from the largest states, New York and California. Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the D.C. area are also well represented. A decent number attended prep school, but not an overwhelming number. Amherst remains a relatively apathetic campus politically, but during an election year, things heat up. Certainly left leaning, with the breakdown following 50% Liberal, 10% Conservative, 10% Very Liberal and 30% Moderate. Many juniors and seniors are concerned about their futures, especially the job hunt. However, it does not dominate conversation as it does at some schools like Wharton-UPenn and Stern-NYU.
The Best Things
The smallness, lack of a core curriculum, and accesibility of professors.
The Worst Things
The social scene gets a bit tedious and repetitive after a while.