Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.

Comparing Amherst with Williams

2

Replies to: Comparing Amherst with Williams

  • minimini Registered User Posts: 26,431 Senior Member
    If you want to know about drinking at Williams, you can consult the school's own data (which they made public).

    Williams was a pioneer in film studies, and had the late great Charlie Samuels, bless his soul. No idea what the situation is now.

    You really need to visit. The music department and art history departments at Williams are much, much stronger than at Amherst (they are, however, much stronger at Smith than at Amherst, and many Amherst students take advantage of that). Languages - especially Romance languages are stronger at Amherst (especially if one includes the Five College offerings.) It is also worth checking out the Five College Certificate programs, which extend Amherst offerings well beyond what Williams is able to offer in certain areas:

    http://www.fivecolleges.edu/academic_programs/academprog_deptprog.html

    (One of the surprising things, though, is that in some of the Five College programs, Amherst is clearly the weak brother - but that's what the programs are for.)
  • onemoremomonemoremom Registered User Posts: 405 Member
    "Williams has a slightly higher percentage of varsity athletes (40% vs. 1/3)"

    Actually, the proportion of varsity athletes at Williams is about 1/3 (34%).
  • EntenduEntendu Registered User Posts: 20 New Member
    If you're concerned about the prevalence of drinking, whichever way you may prefer, Amherst probably has it the best. If you're completely adverse to the idea of substance use, there is a significant group of students at Amherst who feel the same way, and there is a lot of stuff to do that doesn't involve it. But even so, it doesn't preclude you from hanging out with the people that do. A lot of the students who opt for sub-free housing go to the parties just like everyone else, they just choose not to drink and no one minds. But if you are looking for a substance heavy culture, we're right next door to Hampshire and UMass(not to mention that alcohol is incredibly easy to obtain here), which you can draw your own inferences about. Amherst is great in the sense that no matter what you want out of college, you can find it here or through one of the other Five Colleges. On the other hand, Williams is lacking in certain respects.

    I can't really comment on the strength of the art or music departments at Amherst as I haven't had enough experience with them. However, I can say that Amherst lives up to its reputation as the "Singing College". Our Acapella groups and choral societies are extremely good. If you're ever going to visit, you should try to catch a performance by the Zumbyes.
  • mythmommythmom Registered User Posts: 8,305 Senior Member
    As a musician, my son chose Williams. Amherst has a very small department. Although the professor he contacted was quite friendly, he made it clear that
    Amherst's offerings were very limited.

    Williams has a much larger course offering. There are several composers on the faculty and more than one studio for many instruments. The Berkshire Symphony Orchestra is a semi-professional orchestra that exists along side of the student orchestra.

    For the serious musician, the consortium is not as good as it seems. Because music requires so much practice time, my S felt he would not have the time to travel to other campuses to benefit from their offerings.

    As for film, Williams does not have a separate film department, and Amherst does, so Amherst wins there. However, there are film courses offering through the English Department. My S has a film-English prof. right now whom he says is awesome. First class they discussed the metafictional elements of the narrative style of Psycho. Since one of his goals is to write movie music movies are very important to him.

    In addition, Williams has a yearly Williamstown Film Festival during the Fall semester. John Sayles and David Strathairn both attended Williams.
  • minimini Registered User Posts: 26,431 Senior Member
    "For the serious musician, the consortium is not as good as it seems. Because music requires so much practice time, my S felt he would not have the time to travel to other campuses to benefit from their offerings."

    Well, we can only speak from experience. The Five College Consortium sponsors an opera program, to which my d. was the paid research assistant attached (starting her first year), and prepared the first score of the first opera ever written by a woman, in 1626. It was performed with musicians (and faculty) from all five colleges, headed by a Five College Professor, founder of the Folger Early Music Consort (whose office was at Mount Holyoke), on the Smith Campus, with 2300 people attending three performances. Faculty from around the U.S. came in for the event. Williams has nothing even close. (And this doesn't even include the chance to participate, as either player or singer, as a paid member of the Commonwealth Opera.)

    The Baroque ensemble she is part of met on both the Smith and UMass campuses, again coached by the head of the Folger Consort. Early music Renaissance choirs met at Smith, Mt. Holyoke, and UMass. Composers consortium brought composers from all over the world.
    So while I agree wholeheartedly that Amherst's music department is much, much inferior to that of Williams (indeed, Amherst is the weak brother), the combined resources of the Five Colleges far surpass those of Williams, including the Berkshire Symphony. I'm sorry your s. felt the way he did - because he was poorly informed: the Consortium is BETTER than it seems. But the Williams music department is indeed terrific.
  • unregisteredunregistered Registered User Posts: 1,180 Senior Member
    mini, what do you mean "Amherst is the weak brother"? Perhaps in the arts (unless you were speaking specifically about the music programs?) but that could hardly be considered the case in general.
  • mythmommythmom Registered User Posts: 8,305 Senior Member
    Mini: I have no doubt that the Consortium offers more opportunites that Williams does, and s had no doubt either. He would be interested in the ensembles your daughter is in. He just didn't think with the time it takes him to practice that he would have time to travel from campus to campus. I think it's quite possible that he is neither as talented nor as focused as your daughter.

    I was a fan of Amherst; s preferred Williams. Maybe he lacks the confidence to move from program to program.

    I think I mentioned the problem of time for practice in first post. I would never suggest that Williams has more than Consortium; just more than Amherst.

    Thanks for clearing this up for later readers.
  • minimini Registered User Posts: 26,431 Senior Member
    "mini, what do you mean "Amherst is the weak brother"? Perhaps in the arts (unless you were speaking specifically about the music programs?) but that could hardly be considered the case in general.'

    Weak brother - meaning that, within the Consortium, it has either the weakest or next to weakest programs in art, art history, music (both music history and in performance), languages (especially Romance languages), and in a host of the Five-College Certificate areas (already posted, and including some of the sciences), they have the least in the way of resources, faculty, and courses. But that's exactly what the Consortium is for.
  • unregisteredunregistered Registered User Posts: 1,180 Senior Member
    I wasn't aware that Williams languages were stronger than Amherst's, but Amherst is a much smaller school. I wouldn't say that necessarily makes it weaker, but art has never been its strong point.
  • tommybilltommybill - Posts: 849 Junior Member
    oops, found a typo. narcistic = nihilistic. sorry

    Ok Williams and Amherst students explain the difference of the two and how in this context they are similar…
  • unregisteredunregistered Registered User Posts: 1,180 Senior Member
    I think the primary differences are:

    Williams is more rural, nestled in a beautiful (but boring, I'd say) Berkshire village. Amherst is in a more lively college community, in a less beautiful (but more fun) setting. Amherst also has Bueno y Sano and Antonio's...;)

    Williams is stronger in the arts, if you disregard the strengths of the 5-college consortium offerings.

    Williams also has a reputation for being a bit preppier and sportier, Amherst a bit more liberal and humanities oriented. I can count the number of Williams students I know on both hands, so I can't really speak to this.
  • tommybilltommybill - Posts: 849 Junior Member
    I plan to study physics….You may want to look at Swarthmore College in PA. they have a strong physics program. John Mather the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics got his undergraduate degree there In addition to Mather 4 other Swarthmore grads have been awarded Nobel prizes since 1972.

    Like Amherst and Williams, Swarthmore is a small LAC.
  • minimini Registered User Posts: 26,431 Senior Member
    "I wasn't aware that Williams languages were stronger than Amherst's, but Amherst is a much smaller school. I wouldn't say that necessarily makes it weaker, but art has never been its strong point."

    I would never have argued that Williams languages were stronger than Amherst's. I think when evaluating language departments, one should examine the number of upper level electives, the number of majors, the number of faculty teaching upper level electives (and hence offer strong faculty advising), the availability of language tables and halls, the number of individuals who attend study abroad programs in which the target language is the only language of instructions, film series, etc. Languages are one of those places where, size (or at least robustness) really does matter. I doubt that, on the whole, either school would rank in the top 40. (This has also been reflected in the smallish number of research (i.e. non-teaching) Fulbrights awarded to students at either school, relative to some of their peers.)

    Williams' program in astrophysics is really topnotch (and there are alums working in the field all over the world.) The Five Colleges have an international reputation for radio astronomy.
  • AileyAiley Registered User Posts: 698 Member
    Is it true that Amherst is not very strong in the sciences? My daughter wants to study Chem and maybe Bio, I'm concerned about that comment since she liikes Amherst.
  • SparkeEcrash78SparkeEcrash78 Registered User Posts: 29 New Member
    yea... i'm a science dude too and i'm thinking about applying early to amherst.
2
This discussion has been closed.