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Amherst or Swarthmore?

canelacanela Registered User Posts: 16 Junior Member
edited May 2008 in Amherst College
Sorry for duplication since I'm just learning how to post.

Any advice for psychology bound student lucky enough to be admitted to Swarthmore and Amherst? Diversity is important here. Thanks!
Post edited by canela on

Replies to: Amherst or Swarthmore?

  • juliusthemonkeyjuliusthemonkey Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    amherst is more fun :-/
  • finalroundfinalround Registered User Posts: 26 New Member
    Hey. I am a freshman at Amherst. I am not an expert on either schools but here's my two cents.

    Amherst is better for sporty people. Swarthmore apparently have very limited sports facilities. This also means we have a ton of athletes. Which can be good or bad according to your tastes.

    Amherst is pretty diverse in terms of statistics. There are lots of internationals and ethnicities. But if you are talking in terms of NYC style diversity (accents, cultural events to attend all the time, radical differences in thought and lifestyle) it's probably not the best. White's still the color of the campus. The faculty diversity could be better. On the other hand, there is diversity and cultural events, and from my knowledge, if you are looking for diversity as in above, Swarthmore probably isn't the place to go either. Just realize that if you are a minority, you will be welcome, but there are times you might feel alone.
  • lmpwlmpw Registered User Posts: 617 Member
    Have you visited both campuses? My daughter decided on Amherst (she's African American) and loves it. She stayed at Swarthmore for a weekend when she was searching for colleges a couple of years ago and didn't feel Swartmore was a good match for her. Amherst is extremely diverse and there are students there from all over the world and students of color of all types. You definitely won't feel isolated or alone.
  • canelacanela Registered User Posts: 16 Junior Member
    Thank you all so much. This is very helpful.

    She is a Latina, who also values her many other identities and is interested in learning from others. She fell in love with different aspects of both campuses. She has a lot of respect for diversity and social justice and is probably seeking an institution that will allow her to merge her interests in psychology with an inclusive ethos.

    We wondered whether Swarthmore was too "intense" yet loved the peace and conflict minor. And it seemed to us that Amherst strives to nurture the development of the whole individual. College should be many things -- including social! I think I am reading that Amherst has respect for diversity inside the classroom and outside.
  • lmpwlmpw Registered User Posts: 617 Member
    My daughter did feel Swarthmore was too intense. There was a post last year (which I noticed was taken down) by a Swarthmore student who talked about how much stress students were put under there and how difficult it was for students to earn As. There was a tee shirt that said, "anywhere else it would have been an A". But, A's aren't easy to come by at Amherst as well. But, my daughter said at Amherst she felt students worked hard but played hard as well. She said she didn't see anyone out on campus at Swarthmore. She said it just seemed dead to her. Of course, a lot of people reacted negatively to the post that the Swarthmore student had up last year. Swarthmore has a wonderful reputation and I was surprised that my daughter didn't see it as the place for her. Amherst is really wonderful and I feel that students of color (as well as others) would feel very comfortable at Amherst. The college has worked hard on bringing in all kinds of students - worldwide as well as social class wise. I visited for family weekend and I felt very happy that my daughter was there. I never met one student who said they didn't like Amherst and that they wished they had gone elsewhere. Amherst has the second highest graduation rate for Black students (94% versus 96% for Harvard). That says a lot. I imagine the graduation rate is similar for Latinos. So, students of color persist and don't transfer elsewhere. It's a wonderful and nurturing college. Good luck in your decision.
  • hpg90hpg90 Registered User Posts: 374 Member
    She should go visit. It makes the decision clear.
  • MexiCaliDemoMexiCaliDemo Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    As a student of color who has visited both places, I would recommend following her gut. Both schools are amazing institutions, and she will not have a "bad" time at either one. Diversity will be more or less the same at both, so your daughter should really listen to any gut reactions she had to the schools.

    Or she should go to Amherst given the results of today's Pennsylvania primary.
  • lmpwlmpw Registered User Posts: 617 Member
    I agree about visiting both campuses. I just looked at the Swartmore CC site and noticed that the post I mentioned written by a Swarthmore student is back up. It had been taken down last year. I assumed you've looked at the Swarthmore posts. If not, please switch over and read the comments.
  • ejr1ejr1 Registered User Posts: 1,128 Senior Member
    I remember just 3 years ago when I posted wondering if my D, who is caucasion, but socio-economically a diversity student, would fit in at Amherst. An African-american student responded that if she felt comfortable and fit in, my D wouldn't have a problem. She loved being there. So, I will tell you the same thing. D has made friends of all persuasions, and not only feels comfortable, but she LOVES it. And as to intensity and pressure, rest assured that A's are not just doled out. There are classes when there were only 1 - 2 A's given, and D even had a class where the kids who had below a C could re-do their papers for a discounted grade, of course, and a large percentage of the class did so. Academically challenging? Incredibly so. Can you slide by? Of course, but it won't be for A's (or even B's,) as it can be at some other schools as we have heard. You will make your experience what you want it to be. D works very hard and plays hard, too. She is already planning her thesis topic for next year, and still works and plays. Someone more knowledgeable of Swarthmore can tell you more. But I can say that I think my D is getting a superior education and she I both LOVE Amherst!!!!!!!!!!
  • lmpwlmpw Registered User Posts: 617 Member
    I can seconded EJR1. I'm a college professor and I have spent a lot of time looking at these elite colleges and what type of environments they present for students of color. I can tell you without any exaggeration, I've never met a Black student who said they didn't like Amherst. I can truly say, I was so impressed not only with the range of the diversity but how Tony Marks (the president) has made diversity one of the signature features of Amherst. I've sat on fellowship committees for various awards and I recall some years ago a Black female student from Swarthmore talked about her difficult transition and how it took her a while to adjust. But, that may have been that individual. This year, same fellowship competition, I met an incredibly talented Latina who had attended boarding school who transferred from Williams to Wellesley because of feelings of isolation. She was actually doing well academically with top grades. Just have your daughter visit these campuses. I'm a real cheerleader for Amherst. I don't find issues like theme dorms a problem because the campus is small and students interact across all kinds of categories.
  • icantfindanameicantfindaname . Posts: 256 Junior Member
    Amherst is the better choice.
  • madvillemadville Registered User Posts: 1,100 Senior Member
    Amherst baby!
  • Dad2Dad2 Registered User Posts: 532 Member
    Disagree. Both are great, but individual fit may differ irrespective of race, creed, religion etc. Approx. 44% of Swarthmore students are non-white, just to put in perspective.
  • LACtransferhopesLACtransferhopes Registered User Posts: 233 Junior Member
    "Or she should go to Amherst given the results of today's Pennsylvania primary."

    Because clearly a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for racism. After all that the first Clinton presidency did for blacks, minorities, and the poor in general, we can be sure that Hillary is actually a KKK member in a tweed suit.
    Besides, Delaware County, where Swarthmore is located, went for Obama.

    I have to reiterate what previous posters have said. Please have her visit both for a substantial period of time (info session and one-hour campus tour is not enough!!). Swarthmore is extremely intense, and really really quirky, as many have noted--but that's what it is about it that appeals to me (prospective transfer applicant), and every other student with Swat pride. I've visited Amherst and just did not mesh with its overall vibe, which struck me as preppy and sporty. That's not me, but it may be your daughter, OR some aspects of Amherst may appeal to her over Swarthmore. Regardless, both schools are very intellectually-based, politically aware, and, without the facts in front of me, appeared equally diverse and accepting of diversity in ethnicity, sexual orientation, interests, etcetera.

    Have her visit!!
  • mythmommythmom Registered User Posts: 8,305 Senior Member
    Massachusetts went for Clinton, too, so that's a wash.
This discussion has been closed.