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Workload at Amherst

blainekoblaineko Registered User Posts: 552 Member
edited November 2004 in Amherst College
Hey all...

Just wondering what the workload is like and how many hours a day the typical Amherst student studies during the week and on weekends. Any input would be appreciated. Also, what do students do to blow off steam and have fun.

TIA. :)
Post edited by blaineko on
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Replies to: Workload at Amherst

  • cangelcangel Registered User Posts: 4,127 Senior Member
    Hey, Blainko, how's it going? My daughter just did an overnight at Amherst, and currently "blow off steam and have fun" = WATCH BASEBALL. She stayed with seniors (which we thought was a little odd, but OK), and at some point they schlepped her over to a frosh dorm common room to watch the Sox. It was fun. She did notice that there was "no visible studying" on this weekday night, but as her dad and I pointed out, it is very possible that this was the first day back from midterm, so that impression might not be accurate. I'd like to hear other students thoughts.
  • jeffs08jeffs08 Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
    I'm a freshman at Amherst, and I've found that there's a nice mix of work and fun. Most of my friends are busy with activities in the afternoon, and then at night a substantial amount of studying goes on. In humanities courses a sizeable amt of reading is always assigned, and my friends who are in classes such as chem and calc are usually doing problem sets or studying for a test. I've actually found the work to be valuable and enjoyable, and it's always tempered by sufficient non-work time. On weeknights we hang out on the floor and on the weekends there are parties all around campus. There's no shortage of work, but there really is a lively social scene.
  • blainekoblaineko Registered User Posts: 552 Member
    Thanks for the info Cangel & Jeffs.

    Things are going okay here in the Pacific Northwest....very rainy as usual. :(
    It's funny, but all this college stuff is starting to weigh heavily now that it's getting closer. Luckily, I did start a little eary, so the only things to worry about are the supplemental essays and applications. Like everyone else, I'm starting to fret over my chances at Amherst (ED), and the other colleges. I'm sure your D must be going throught the same thing. BTW...what was her impression of Amherst?

    In any case, I'll be crossing my fingers for your D. It would be amazing if your D and I get to Amherst. :)
  • blainekoblaineko Registered User Posts: 552 Member
    Jeff...

    I was just a little worry at first. Some people have said the workload can be daunting. I'm glad to know that there is breathing room and some down time. Some of the college guidebooks scared me with how hard Amherst students work and how much time they study out of class.
  • cangelcangel Registered User Posts: 4,127 Senior Member
    Her impression was generally favorable despite the gods doing everything in their power to make it not so! Awful weather, hostess became ill, and basically had to pass her off to roomies, because of time constraints she could only attend one class, etc. etc.
    Our impression, cool students who like to be there, interesting generally small classes, intro classes (like the one she visited) are certainly larger, but not overwhelming, consortium is a neutral thing (both advantages and disadvantages for a student in a common major - might be very different for you with your interest in dance), truly diverse, housing has been a big problem, admin is rectifying this but upperclassmen are getting the shaft and frosh get the benefit, open curriculum, but listen to your advisor.

    Something we noticed on all the NE campuses we visited is that they are slightly less liberal and "out there" than they are painted in the guidebooks - not conservative, certainly, but a little more mainstream than led to believe.
  • cangelcangel Registered User Posts: 4,127 Senior Member
    About the studying, she was very comfortable in the intro class, familiar with topic discussed, etc. She did an overnight at another school on this trip, and many people brought materials in to study while socializing, this did not happen at Amherst. But, as her dad and I said there might be many reasons for that other than just the school.
  • blainekoblaineko Registered User Posts: 552 Member
    Cangel...

    Thank you very much!

    It's strange, but I noticed the same thing with respect to the liberal-mindedness of Northeast colleges. I've been told that students tend to appear more conservative and dress relatively simular. However, it seems that once engauged (takes a bit of doing, compared to here in the Northwest) their ideas fall on the more liberal side of the spectrum. Also, colleges out on the East Coast tend to have students who are brisk (but friendly). I've noticed that a bit when I've attend prospective student receptions for those schools as well.

    As for housing, I was not aware of the crunch...that's good to know. I toured a year ago and was a little surprised myself with the situation. I had toured Vassar before Amherst, and was struck by the differences myself. Seemed to be over crowded. Oh well. Maybe your D or I will truely luck out if we get there. :)

    Anyhow, Mahalo again for your thoughtful posts. I enjoy reading your perspective and hearing about your D's experiences. :)

    Hope that all is well for you and yours.
  • jeffs08jeffs08 Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
    a quick reply to the housing points.....as a freshman, i've found the housing arrangement at amherst to be not only accomodating, but exceedingly comfortable and well planned. two of the freshmen dorms were renovated just last summer--the interiors of these are now state-of-the-art, with elevators, carpeting, spacious, clean floors with several common rooms, etc. Two more freshmen dorms are undergoing similar renovations now, and will be completed by next fall to accomodate the class of 09. The "displaced" students--as result of the construction--are living in modular housing, which is nicer than permanent dorms i've seen at many other colleges. I've been very, very, very pleased by the housing here---they treat us great.
  • cangelcangel Registered User Posts: 4,127 Senior Member
    Yes, to clarify the housing situation - admin freely admitted housing in past was not "where the money had been spent" - to the point that it was a negative for the school in comparison to its peers. They are spending a great deal of money to improve the situation for the frosh, some seniors have also benefited, and eventually sophs and juniors will benefit. What that seemed to mean was that some of the current juniors and seniors missed out on the improved housing, just by the luck of the draw (remember it is random, supposedly) - and have had to put up with construction for a couple of years. The class of 08 forward have much improved housing options, especially as frosh and again as seniors. The modular housing was universally praised, with the only negative being the uphill walk in the wintertime.
  • blainekoblaineko Registered User Posts: 552 Member
    Hey there...

    Hope you Halloween was fun, but safe. I took a couple of days away from CC to relax and celebrate my applications all being completed (last teacher rec went out on Friday). Now, it's time to sit back and relax--and try not to think about it too much. :)

    Again, thank you Cangel & Jeff for the input.

    Cangel, I'm sure your D is more to gether than I was these last few weeks. Did your D decide to apply to any ED schools? Besides Amherst, I sent out my apps to:

    Bowdoin (too bad your D doesn't want to apply, it would be a great match)
    Middlebury
    Swarthmore
    Williams (it was either here or Dartmouth)
    Haverford
    Colgate (because it is more of a match for me than Williams)
    Colby
    Hamilton
    Connecticut
    Trinity U (EA school)
    CWRU (EA school)

    Seems like a long list, but it was even LONGER a few weeks ago.

    I dropped Vassar (because they seemed a bit aloof on the phone (x4) and at a college fair0, Emory (the college representative said it would be unlikely that the university would be able to grant me an exception to first-year housing by letting me live off-campus or securing a single), Vanderbilt (like Vassar, a bit cool to my taking a couple of years off before college), Macalester (also did not seem too interested in encouraging a non-traditional application), Rhodes (housing, again). I guess that was one way to hone the list further. I did call when I first created my list and was told that I would be able to get out of housing requirements, or I would not have applied. Oh well. I just wish that I knew then what I know now, and before I sent in my application fees.

    Anyhow, I hope things are going smoothly for you all.

    Aloha. :)
  • cangelcangel Registered User Posts: 4,127 Senior Member
    Blaineko - see her list (plus Rhodes, UA, and B'ham-Southern) on the thread on Parents - "Moon is full, should she". She and we considered discarded many of the schools on your list for reasons that are not always the most logical ;). Those are great schools. Her high school officially discourages more than 6 applications, although most kids only apply to 2-3 schools anyway; they will work with a kid like DD, but she didn't want to push it. Also, frankly, she loves Rhodes, may actually prefer it to some more highly ranked schools on her list, so when she had excluded most of the more selective schools on your list, she declared herself finished (that's kind of what the other thread is about).
    I, on the other hand, have regrets about both Williams (that's a long story) and Bowdoin - Colgate to a lesser extent - Bowdoin especially would have been a great choice, it was actually the first school her college counselor recommended - sailing and science.

    Best of luck to you - I think Amherst will be fortunate to choose you as a student. I'm a little surprised that they would work with you on housing, though, they seem very proud of the high residential %. What was the problem with housing at Rhodes? I know it is in the middle of a residential area, but not that far from aahhh ?Memphis State, and I thought they had a few local kids commute.
  • blainekoblaineko Registered User Posts: 552 Member
    Cangel:

    Amherst
    Bowdoin
    Swarthmore
    Hamilton
    Connecticut
    Trinity U
    CWRU

    said that, although it is unusual, they would waive the on-campus requirement. I was a bit surprized with CWRU and Trinity U, sice they required 3 years of on-campus living. As for Bowdoin & Swat, they too would waive residency requirements for my four years. Hamilton & Connecticut recommend living on-campus but do not require it for non-traditional applicants. And, Amherst said that I could get a break, if I apply for an exception early enough.

    As for:
    Williams
    Haverford
    Colgate
    Colby

    I am waiting to hear back from them or will ask again when I attend another college fair this weekend in Seattle (Colgate & Colby). Hopefully, I'll be able to get a waiver at these four colleges. Otherwise, my college list will look a little...short. Just six schools...much like the number on your D's list.

    As for Rhodes, the admissions representative said, but was not sure, that the only way I could recieve a waiver for housing is by living with parents or relatives in the area. I was also told it would be unlikely that a request for a single would be granted unless I had other special needs. That being said, the Rhodes official said that sometimes exceptions are made--although rarely. He did say that after the first-year, I could apply to live off-campus, and would likely be granted permission.

    I thought about keeping Rhodes on my list (as I really liked it), but because I'm still unsure of whether off-campus housing or having a single on-campus is an option, I had to make a hard call. Since my application to Rhodes is complete, if I find that they will be able to grant me an exception, it would be easy for me to place it back on the list. As for the others (Vassar, Vandy, Emory, Macalester), I've already withdrew my applications.

    It's funny, but your D's reaction to schools that may be ranked higher than Rhodes is similar to mine. I don't know if it's cold feet, but Amherst as an ED school is not as clearcut a first choice as it was in August. In fact, my friends think my list is crazy with respect to which schools are on the top and on the bottom (with the exception of Amherst). My parents are surprized that Carleton, Wesleyan, Oberlin, Pomona, and a few others are not even in the running. They don't like the gap between Amherst and my next few schools.

    Luckily for me, I met with an admissions officer at Bowdoin. It made all the difference in the world, as it was previously somewhere in the middle. Likewise, some of the top colleges fell to the bottom. After the initial shock of how my list came together, I got comfortable with it. Except for the housing questions, which threw me a little, and a bit of second guessing about my ED app, I think I've really begun to appreciate fit, more so than I did previously (and I was already an advocate of drawing up a list based in part on fit).

    Anyhow, thank you for the vote of confidence and your always insightful advice. Let me know how everything is going with your D's applications (although, I don't think she'll have any trouble with any of her college choices).

    :)

    PS--I read the other post on the Parents forum, definately very interesting...especially because I found out about the housing questions on Halloween. Must have been the spirits having some fun. Spooky! :)
  • nikkornikkor Registered User Posts: 34 Junior Member
    Hey blaineko, pardon my asking, but why is a single dorm room important to you? I understand if the question is too personal to be answered on an open forum. I wouldn't mind having a single myself, and I'm guessing that most of us would if given the chance! Where did you end up applying ED? How would you personally rank Rhodes- as a fit for you -with regards to your other choices?
  • blainekoblaineko Registered User Posts: 552 Member
    Rhodes is in the middle of my list with Colgate, Hamilton, Colby.

    As for the single room question, I'm several years older than the 'typical' first-year student. As such, I've already been on my own for a few years. I'm a little more directed, to a certain extent in the sense that I would have to do college work & work over the internet for the dance studio that I openned this year. Noise, and a roomate would detract from working long hour with respect to the business. As I would be required to have some quiet to do my best work, not having the space or sharing one room does not seem very smart. Also, I would need to have meetings once or twice a month while I am attending school, and I want to travel as little as possible. A dorm room that is shared with a roomate generally does not lend itself to long meetings. I could do the meetings off-campus, but that would be another expense. And, you know how much a LAC costs already.

    Anyhow, hope this answers your questions. It's a bit odd to be out of high school a couple of years to make an adjustment where I'm not able to do things as effectively as possible with respect to business and school. Some of the college experience, I've already had due to my situation--I'd almost feel like it would be a step in another direction, if I had to share a room with someone. That being said, I do feel that it is important to be on-campus or vey near it, to stay in tuned with the college and participate in my education.

    I feel a bit strange, compared to traditional student, so how I live, work and study is a definate concern. :)
  • minoritymanminorityman Registered User Posts: 76 Junior Member
    Can anyone comment explicitly on the social life at Amherst College? How do the students interact and what are some of the activities most students like to involve themselves with? Thanks.
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