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Harvard vs. Amherst

juliusthemonkeyjuliusthemonkey Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
edited July 2008 in Amherst College
Post edited by juliusthemonkey on

Replies to: Harvard vs. Amherst

  • whooopa8whooopa8 Registered User Posts: 59 Junior Member
    harvard. wait...amherst. nevermind, harvard. hold on a sec, amherst. it doesn't really matter :)
  • unregisteredunregistered Registered User Posts: 1,180 Senior Member
    Not self-explanatory, though. It really depends on what you are looking for and which environment you feel suits you best. Of course Harvard has a lot to offer that Amherst doesn't, but Amherst also happens to have some benefits that Harvard lacks, which I guess you must know, since you're posting this question in the first place.
  • pmyenpmyen Registered User Posts: 539 Member
    Depends upon what you are looking for in a college experience. My brother as well as several close friends attended Harvard for undergrad so I think I can share my perspective. They are very different in terms of size, degree of undergraduate focus, location, and learning environment. Amherst offers a tight community due to its small size, close interaction with profs, nice college town (and 5 other colleges), and a beautiful surrounding rural NE area. The academics is entirely undergraduate-focused and you will be taught by profs. rather than TAs. Once one gets past intro courses (many which can be placed out by APs), classes become very small and generally are seminar based. My junior year I took a class one on one with my Chemistry professor.

    There also is a strong emphasis on a liberal arts education as students are encouraged to pursue a well-rounded education while in college rather than specialize in just one area. They also are given total freedom to determine what that well-rounded education is, as there is no core curriculum or distribution requirements. I also would say that most students learn for learning's sake although many students do seem to pursue professional careers later e.g., medicine, law, and business although a signficant number do choose education/academics as well as careers off the beaten path. Most students also pursue breadth in addition to depth in their academic career at Amherst. For someone that truly wants to pursue depth while an undergrad, Harvard offers graduate level courses and would be the place to go. At Amherst, students are encouraged to take courses in areas that they will never have an opportunity to take again as they recognize that depth can be pursued later in grad/professional school. This my subjective opinion, but life seemed more laid back than when I visited my brother in Cambridge. Perhaps the combination of Amherst's location and a student population interested in a LAC experience contributes to that feeling. It certainly is quieter and more peaceful than Harvard Square. Also, I believe that there is more help and support from faculty, administration, and other students. Virtually no one falls through the cracks-I'm not sure whether that is necessarily the case at Harvard. There will be great mentors at Harvard; however, not all faculty are committed to undergraduate teaching and mentoring.

    Harvard offers a different experience and I'm sure you can get good opinions on their board. I don't want to knock Harvard as many, including my brother, had a tremondous experience there. In a different way, it offers an unique education and undergraduate experience. Harvard wins cross-admits with every school because it is Harvard. However, I do remember several classmates who chose Amherst over Harvard, and they were very happy with their college experience and would do it again. Their decision was based on careful consideration of what they wanted out of college and where they thought they would fluorish academically and socially, i.e. "fit". They also placed more weight on the type of education they wanted over prestige (as Amherst, like all LACs are not as well-recognized by the general public as the ivies). My own opinion is that one can have the best of both worlds-attend a great LAC and then go to a great university for graduate/professional school. But that is only one opinion, and everyone will give you theirs. Ultimately, you are the one who chooses. Spend an overnight at both places, you will probably know what you prefer.
  • UCLA, Ph.D.UCLA, Ph.D. - Posts: 337 Member
    Be Serious, Harvard.
  • TellETubETellETubE Registered User Posts: 147 Junior Member
    "be serious"?
    It's a matter of attending the best research institution in the country (world, probably) or the best liberal arts college in the US. Each is the very best at what it is designed to do and it's certainly a legitimate decision. Plenty of people turn down Harvard for Amherst or Williams. If you're going to grad school (75% of Amherst grads do), the difference in prestige (which is marginal anyways among those who know truly know about Amherst) won't matter. The education you would receive at Amherst is arguably better anyway.
    I very seriously considered Amherst before choosing Yale, which was ultimately a better fit personally.
  • tealovertealover Registered User Posts: 230 Junior Member
    ugh HARVARD...why is even a question :P jk congrats on both but seriously HARVARD
  • juliusthemonkeyjuliusthemonkey Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    why is the harvard thread so ambivalent while the amherst thread is so opinionated to the otehr school?

    for all those people who are saying UGH BE SEIROUS HARVARD, i am being seroius. both school are the top in their category, be it research universtiy or liberal arts college. while prestige is a factor in my descision, the difference in prestige between the two is not great enough to make my choice "that easy"
  • kwukwu Registered User Posts: 4,759 Senior Member
    You are an extraordinarily sensible person, but the fact of the matter happens to be that Harvard will always be Harvard.

    The 15 percent who turn down Harvard this year will likely be pursuing extremely specialized and prestigious programs at other institutions of similar calibre.

    You'll certainly get a superior education at both institutions.

    But, you haven't made it clear WHAT YOU WANT.
  • TellETubETellETubE Registered User Posts: 147 Junior Member
    what kwu?
    the cross-admit rate between Amherst and Harvard is 1:5 respectively. Amherst is tiny so those who will choose it over Harvard comprise a small percentage of those will reject Harvard this year. But among those who get into both, 20% choose Amherst.
  • unregisteredunregistered Registered User Posts: 1,180 Senior Member
    juliusthemonkey, pmyen had very sensible advise.

    I don't think it is possible to advise you without knowing more about what you're looking for. I love going to an LAC, other people would thrive in a big research university. I don't think either education is objectively better than the other, but the environment will be. You need to decide which is better for you based on your needs and desires - and none of us can help you at all without knowing more.

    Good luck!
  • lmpwlmpw Registered User Posts: 617 Member
    Of course, the draw to Harvard is its name. One of my closest friends teaches at Harvard and she says she doesn't feel it's the best place for undergraduates because of the focus on graduate and professional education. I think that unregistered is correct, we don't know what the interests are of the OP. Amherst is tops in its category and the focus is solely undergraduates.
  • unregisteredunregistered Registered User Posts: 1,180 Senior Member
    Late edit: I meant to say that the environments will obviously be different*, and that should be the basis of your decision.
  • hpg90hpg90 Registered User Posts: 374 Member
    So, I chose Amherst because I wanted a rigerous education, a strong sense of college community and a small, manageable campus. The fact that I can also play sports there is also an added bonus. I figure this is the last period of time when I can "have it all," a social life, great teachers and the ability to learn without huge pressure (I plan to go to graduate school, where I anticipate the focus will be different. I will be planning to work and "contribute...") Harvard has a name, but I don't think that it has the other things, (being a good researcher is not the same as being a good teacher. I think that LAC's definitely have the edge in the teaching arena). As a graduate school, Harvard's clearly a door opener, but my goal is broader as an undergrad than it will be in graduate school. My impression from virtually everyone I have met at Amherst is that they love their college experience. I don't think the same is true of Harvard. AND I think that I will have just a good a chance to get into Harvard or Yale for graduate school as the kids who graduated from any Ivy, including Harvard.
  • KiwikimmiKiwikimmi Registered User Posts: 114 Junior Member
    Amherst definitely! It's all about the undergrad experience which is not there for Harvard.
This discussion has been closed.