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Academic intensity and workload

ricka8ricka8 354 replies24 threads Member
I'm actually comparing Amherst and Brown on this factor. I'm wondering how intense academics are at Amherst and how stressful/hard the workload can be. Also, how seriously do people take their academics compared to at Brown? Because when I visited Brown I noticed students recommending or boasting about classes just because they were the easiest, while I see Amherst as a place where students are more academically driven (though maybe more than me?)

Any opinions and personal knowledge would be very helpful in choosing which college to go to! I'm looking for a school where academics are the priority but don't take up a significant amount of time, so much so that people have a hard time doing fun things for themselves. My sister goes to Wellesley where lots of girls never leave campus or even the library because they have so much work, even on the weekends, so I definitely don't want that. And I definitely see Amherst as being closer to that than Brown, but I'm hoping it's not as bad. Amherst doesn't have grade deflation, right??

And finally, how big is drinking/partying at Amherst?
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Replies to: Academic intensity and workload

  • douggy91douggy91 77 replies14 threads Junior Member
    I know you posted this in the Amherst sub, but my brother goes to Brown so I'll give you that angle.

    Yes, Brown is definitely relatively easy academically when compared to its peer schools. My brother is pre-med, and, while he is definitely a smart kid and he works hard, he has a nearly perfect GPA and has plenty of time to go out, have fun, and get involved in lots of activities. There is definitely some grade inflation there. A kid I talked to at Amherst did not say the same thing- he made it sound like lots of kids are squirreled away in the library 99% of the time, because everyone there is so smart and you have to work really hard to do well. Curious what other Amherst students say though.
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  • EconomathematicsEconomathematics 49 replies4 threads Junior Member
    edited April 2017
    @ricka8 Wow, congratulations. Either one you end up choosing, you'll be at a phenomenal institution with great opportunities.

    There is very wide diversity of how people approach academics here at Amherst. I have met some people who don't seem to care much about their grades, and others that obsess over them. I think there will (always) be people at both ends of the spectrum, but I do think Amherst is slightly skewed towards the "more obsessed" type (naturally). That being said, interpersonal competition isn't really a thing here. It is all intrapersonal. You are truly pushing your own self to do better.

    Via the workload, I would say it is very manageable. Some classes will be obviously much more challenging than others -- if you wanted to take two seminar classes, a language class, and an advanced math, you will surely be dying. But, as most people do here, they generally take 1-2 classes each semester for their major(s), and 2-3 classes they simply find interesting (and, that they also believe they can handle the workload in). Even though it is sometimes a lot of work, it has always been doable in my experience. (Given, I am a math + econ major, so I do not have many writing-intensive classes on my courseload. But I have taken a few, and they seemed not as bad as what one might think.)

    Similar to what @douggy91 said about Brown, here at Amherst there is quite a bit of grade inflation. I was, at least personally, surprised with the ease with which I could get an A in some of my classes (e.g. some classes offer extra credit, lol). FWIW I've never heard of or experienced grade deflation. Even in one of my classes where the class average will likely be higher than what the department allows (because it is an Advanced class with very smart students), the professor said he will not curve down on tests.

    If you are a big partier, I wouldn't recommend Amherst as the place to go. That being said, of course there are parties here. <:-P

    Go ahead and message me if you have any more specific questions!
    edited April 2017
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 13238 replies247 threads Senior Member
    My D's roughest semesters were the ones where she took 2 lab sciences. As you may know, Amherst kids generally take 4 classes a semester but lab classes are often like taking 2 in that they have their own hours, homework, reading, etc. That was tough for her to juggle, but she still managed to be involved in a couple of clubs and go out on weekends. Her GPA was lower than it was in high school.

    This semester she's taking 4 non-lab courses and works something like 9-5 with evenings free.

    So it depends. There are classes that are easier/require less work and those that require more. Like Econo says, most take 2 major reqs and 2 something else.
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  • ThankYouforHelpThankYouforHelp 1294 replies1 threads Senior Member
    The neuro majors have it particularly rough. Multiple lab classes almost every semester. Second semester of first year, chemistry with lab and evolutionary bio with lab. First semester of second year, organic chemistry with lab and cell bio with lab. Second semester of second year, O-chem with lab again and neuro with lab. Then in third year, it gets hard. :)
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  • ricka8ricka8 354 replies24 threads Member
    I'd most likely major in psychology, which is not a very difficult major I've heard. I am interested in neuro but not in taking organic chem so probably not for me! I might double major in a humanities (like history) but definitely would not be taking many lab courses. I've seen first-hand from my bio sister how rough they are!
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