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Questions about Amherst??

oxfordgirl123oxfordgirl123 Registered User Posts: 45 Junior Member
Hello! I am a high school sophomore, but I have already begun looking at colleges, and I am interested in Amherst. I maintain a 4.0 GPA unweighted with nearly all honors classes (don't worry, this is not a chance me post) and participate in many activities inside and outside of school, so I am aiming for some fairly top-knotch schools.

1. How good is Amherst's English program?

2. Amherst's class sizes are much smaller than those of full-scale universities. What would you say are the advantages of a smaller school?

3. What is the political/religious atmosphere like on campus? I am a liberal and an agnostic, and while I am not very in-your-face about my beliefs, I will gladly participate in a debate if someone else initiates it. Would I fit in?

4. I understand that in terms of academics, Amherst is one of the best liberal arts colleges in the US. How do the academics at Amherst compare to those at schools like Columbia, Princeton, Yale, and UChicago (other schools I'm looking at)?

5. How would you say Amherst compares to either Wellesley or Vassar (other liberal arts colleges I'm considering)?

6. What are on-campus student organizations and activities like?

7. What types of universities do Amherst students typically gravitate towards for graduate degrees?

Thank you so much! If you cannot answer all the questions, that's fine. Any answers are accepted.

Replies to: Questions about Amherst??

  • EnglishmanEnglishman Registered User Posts: 391 Member
    You're doing the right thing getting started early; To your points:-
    1. English is outstanding at Amherst, very strong faculty, lots of research and access to the Folger collection in DC, easily the equivalent of any top school for English.
    2.Most classes are less than 30 students, first year seminars max at 15, so almost all classes will be small seminar/colloquydiscussion. This enables close contact with professors for all your time at amherst, lots of research opps, no competition with grad students, lots of flexibility for classes and lots of faculty/advisor support, you'll get to know your profs and they will get to know you, great for recommendation letters for grad school or careers.
    3.Very liberal environment though College GOP just got restarted, very open to all and very secular non religious, you'll in well! Lots of debate encourage and facilitated
    4.Amherst is par with all schools noted and to many above UChicago
    5.Amherst is academically a level above Wellesley which is above Vassar, in my op, loved vassar campus but very heavy to female, and well wellesley is the best female college so.
    6.Heavy with every conceivable sports, lots of politics, debate, langauages and more than 100 clubs, so much to do, I'm sure others have more but many have less
    7.All manner of opportunities abound after an LAC ed, many go to financials and tech firms east coast and west, many go onto top grad program at HYPS and law schools, equally alot go to NGo's and non-profits together with education always attracting alot of alums, so many choices but an LAC like Amherst you are almost overwhelmed with opportunities.

    Hope this helps, but it is so hard to get accepted you need really good essays, top notch- most rigourous transcript, best recommends and lots of passion around EC's and BE LUCKY.
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,737 Senior Member
    x loved vassar campus but very heavy to female, and well wellesley is the best female college so.

    Can we please slay this dragon? Vassar WAS an all-female college until 1969. The male-female ratio is now the same as most LACs. There are lots of reasons why Vassar might not suit you, but if you are looking at mixed-gender LACs, gender ratios is not a significant factor.
  • EnglishmanEnglishman Registered User Posts: 391 Member
    Point taken, but, the school does still have a significantly higher ratio of female students to male and to the OP this is a perspective I think potential students should know, It can, for some students, affect what they want from college, it is NOT 50:50 Male to female, but rather more like 60:40, I am not saying there is anything wrong, but rather , it can affect the college social perception, again nothing wrong in that, more so, I and my DS14 loved Vassar and the campus during our visit after he had been accepted, but it is not at the same ratio as many of the top LAC, Amherst is 50:50 and I think Williams is around 51:49. So again, I take your point, but it is a factor some students may care to note. If you visit the campus you will see this manifest itself and we loved it and thought it made Vassar the better.
  • EnglishmanEnglishman Registered User Posts: 391 Member
    Actually to amend what I said, Vassar say they are more like 56;44 Female to Male, point remains the same, great school!
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,737 Senior Member
    Williams is indeed pretty much 50:50, but overall LACs tend to mirror the national average: nearly 60% of college students are female.

    More on gender trends in higher ed here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ccap/2012/02/16/the-male-female-ratio-in-college/

    Am now getting down off my high horse :-)
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 12,045 Senior Member
    Amherst has a few more men than women now, actually. 929 male vs 863 female. So kind of NOT like most LACs.
  • bsalumbsalum Registered User Posts: 549 Member
    These stats came from US News&WR (which I know isn't the final word) based on 2014-2015 class: Amherst College has a total undergraduate enrollment of 1,785, with a gender distribution of 50.4 percent male students and 49.6 percent female students. Stats not too different from #6 post. I wonder why? two near-by strong women's colleges?
  • shawbridgeshawbridge Registered User Posts: 5,585 Senior Member
    Amherst is a terrific undergraduate school. The size and orientation mean that professors can, do and want to work with their students. I think it tends to be stronger in the humanities and social sciences than sciences, but others may correct me on that. I suspect that its size, the quality of its student body put it in a small group (Williams, Swarthmore, Pomona, maybe a couple of others) where very high quality faculty pay attention to very high quality student and care about teaching.

    Students are probably comparable to those at Penn, Dartmouth, Chicago, Cornell, Columbia but not quite as strong, especially in math and science, as Stanford, Harvard, Princeton or Yale. The faculty tends to be PhDs from strong graduate programs who are not on the same aggressive research track that the faculty at Stanford or Chicago will be on. A fair number of them actually want to teach good students.

    One of its great strengths -- no distribution requirements and a system in which advisors actually pay attention to the kids. If you have interests, you can pursue them and get your professors to help you with independent studies, etc.

    Amherst is a good feeder for elite professional schools and probably grad schools as well. There is a fair bit of data on where people go, I think. HYPS and Penn are better-represented numerically at HBS/GSB/HLS/SLS as I think is Williams ... but whether they are disproportionately represented relative to Amherst, I'm not sure.

    The male/female ratio is not that complicated to explain. On average, girls have been doing better and better academically than boys. The most competitive schools can choose from their pick of a plethora of truly excellent candidates. They can and do social engineering when they construct their classes. If they want 50/50, they can get it (with just a bit of randomness) without sacrificing academic quality. At lesser schools, the top batch of boys have been skimmed off and the cohort of available females is a lot stronger than the cohort of available males, so they have to take more females to maintain academic quality.
  • ThankYouforHelpThankYouforHelp Registered User Posts: 1,295 Senior Member
    WSJ did an analysis a couple of years back, and found that Amherst is one of the top ten colleges/universities in the country as far as being a per capita "feeder" to the 15 most elite business, medical and law schools. The top 10 are Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Williams, Duke, Dartmouth, MIT, Amherst and Swarthmore.


  • bsalumbsalum Registered User Posts: 549 Member
    Agreed, but this doesn't explain why Amherst still accepts a higher percentage of men compared to their peer institutions...even though we're just talking handfuls and they receive higher % of female applicants than some competitors.
This discussion has been closed.