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Exactly how competitive is Amherst?

Keren01Keren01 Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
edited January 2010 in Amherst College
Hey. Can I please get some opinions on exactly how competitive Amherst is, not so much in terms of admission, but rather academics and daily life in general?

I recently mentioned to someone that I was considering Amherst and she replied that she didn't think I was a good much, simply because from what she'd heard Amherst students are VERY hostile. She described to me situations where students would rip out pages from the library books so that those that shared courses with them would be more likely to fail.

This is definitely not the type of environment I'm interested in living in. From what I've heard before now students are nothing like this -- but then again, I wouldn't really know. Does anyone here have anything to say on the subject? Can I get a second opinion?
Post edited by Keren01 on
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Replies to: Exactly how competitive is Amherst?

  • bhollowaybholloway Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    I visited Amherst and the feeling I got from the people was that it was a very competitive environment. I don't know about ripping the pages out of library books, but from what I could tell, many of the students are incredibly driven and real workhorses. The people I've known that have gone to Amherst have been nice, but also intensely focused on their work. The people are defiantly really smart at Amherst, but I also got the feel that they were a little pretentious. In my information session the admissions officer kept saying how Amherst was a "little ivy" and going on and on about the school when in my opinion, it wasn't that great. The surrounding area was beautiful but the facilities wern't great, especially the dining hall which was always jam packed because its the only one on campus. They emphasize having a close knit community, but they refuse to do student interviews because they claim it would take too much work. They don't get more than 8000 applications a year and probably less than half even decide to interview. The feeling I got from Amherst was that it was a great school with really smart and driven students, but that there wasn't much fun to be had and I really wanted a better mix of fun and academics for my college experience.
  • kwukwu Registered User Posts: 4,759 Senior Member
    When one describes a learning environment as "competitive," that very archetypal image of cut-throat competitiveness comes to mind, of students "rip[ping] out pages from the library books so that those that shared courses with them would be more likely to fail."

    However, there's a huge, clear-cut difference between "everyone cares a lot about succeeding academically" and "everyone sabotages one another to get ahead."

    As a second year student at Amherst, I can say authoritatively that the former is uniformly true of the student body and that the latter simply does not happen.
    bholloway wrote:
    I also got the feel that they were a little pretentious. In my information session the admissions officer kept... going on and on about the school ...

    Your reasoning speaks for itself:
    Some admissions officer at Amherst is pretentious.
    It follows that every student at Amherst is pretentious.

    The criticisms about facilities--such as the Science Center and the Music Center--needing improvement, about the logistical impracticability of a single dining hall, about the admission office's peculiar neglect to interview all or even most applicants--they are understandable and legitimate complaints against Amherst.

    However, I don't understand the thought process behind: "Amherst doesn't interview its applicants. Therefore, there is no tight-knit community at Amherst." Enlighten me.

    To return to the original question: Amherst is not at all competitive, in the cut-throat sense.
  • QuasiProfoundQuasiProfound Registered User Posts: 7,623 Senior Member
    I've always heard about how 'brilliant yet laidback' and 'friendly' the student body is. Is that not true? What's the community really like, kwu?

    I haven't had the chance to visit, being an international.
  • kiterunner18kiterunner18 Registered User Posts: 1,394 Senior Member
    I visited Amherst for the DivOH weekend - my host and every other student I met were SUPER friendly. My host actually said the environment of the school was very chillaxed, not cutthroat.
  • abstract17abstract17 Registered User Posts: 101 Junior Member
    the lack of interviews is prbly due to the fact that amherst only has 20,000 living alumni, as opposed to larger schools which may have 5 times as many. i got no sense of a cuthroat atmosphere during my stay, which although with the football team, seemed to give me a pretty good sense of the school. Also, from what i saw, they have plenty of fun, the party i attended their was out of control, every college studnt within ten miles seemed to be there. Amherst seems to be a great place for a mix of fun and academics, but then again it was only 1 weekend
  • 'rentof2'rentof2 Registered User Posts: 4,327 Senior Member
    My kid is a second year student there, and he's a laid-back gentle sort of country kid. He loves it. He really likes the atmosphere and the people and has made great friends there. He is serious about his studies but not overly so. (In fact I wish he was a bit more so!)
  • kwukwu Registered User Posts: 4,759 Senior Member
    I've always heard about how 'brilliant yet laidback' and 'friendly' the student body is.

    "Laid-back" and "friendly," yes, generally speaking. That all or even most students are "brilliant" may be an overstatement, though. How about "intellectually earnest?" Even if it's not the case that every Amherst student is brilliant, you can rest assured that there is something special and remarkable about every Amherst student, whether it has to do with personal life experiences, unusual talents, or pure academic power. The best thing about Amherst is that you can't underestimate anyone here--if you take the time and the effort to meet your fellow classmates and really get to know them, you'll always be surprised.

    Despite not offering interviews, the admissions committee does a surprisingly good job at picking needles out of the haystack.
  • samej860samej860 Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
    "she'd heard Amherst students are VERY hostile. She described to me situations where students would rip out pages from the library books so that those that shared courses with them would be more likely to fail."

    HAHAHHA. This is clearly a made up story. Amherst students really are not that competitive, "hostile," or pathetic. Rest assured, the pages in your library books will be safe at Amherst.
  • miss_murd3rmiss_murd3r Registered User Posts: 804 Member
    I agree with samej860.

    I know a good amount of people at Amherst and they're pretty smart, but they're really chill at the same time. Also, I'm sure you'll get those "super ultra, awkwardly social" nerds on any college campus.

    Again, have you visited the school? Visit before you jump to conclusions based on one person's stories. Also, the fact that your "source" doesn't attend the school should be a flag raiser. People will always talk trash about other schools. I bet she goes to Williams. Haha.
  • PKWsurf21PKWsurf21 Registered User Posts: 556 Member
    I heard that same exact story about ripping out the pages except someone told me that happened at JHU, not Amherst. I am a first year at Amherst and I have found this place to be anything but cut-throat. So far, all the students want to work with each other and aren't afraid to say, "I don't understand this, can you help me?" and someone always does help. One of the main reasons I chose Amherst was because it felt like a very intellectual environment but was also very friendly. Students don't pester each other about what grades they got either like they did in my high school. They are mainly concerned with their own grades and know that if the other person wanted to do well, he or she could so there's no reason to ask. I'm sure that there are a few of those really competitive kids here, but every other school is almost guaranteed to have those types of kids as well.
    I am actually extremely impressed with the way that the admissions team was able to sculpt all the classes with their remarkable students. The kids here are all very smart but are also very laid back and that's the kind of environment that I wanted for my college experience.
  • lmpwlmpw Registered User Posts: 617 Member
    My daughter is a third year student and says one of the many things she loves about Amherst is the students are all very smart but not super competitive. These are very serious students, as one would suspect at a place like Amherst. My daughter says that her friends who attend places like UCLA (we're from California) tell her they don't have to go to classes at these places and they spend a lot of time in their sorority and fraternity houses. Amherst students attend classes and appear very cooperative with one another. The term hostile doesn't appear to describe the students at Amherst that I know. Also, I understand the students study hard and party hard.
  • CatfishCatfish Registered User Posts: 725 Member
    I recently mentioned to someone that I was considering Amherst and she replied that she didn't think I was a good much, simply because from what she'd heard Amherst students are VERY hostile. She described to me situations where students would rip out pages from the library books so that those that shared courses with them would be more likely to fail.

    That is the opposite of true. I've spent I don't know how many hours in a study room with a couple other people, grappling with a tough subject before a test or project, each person explaining the parts that they understand to everybody else until we all finally understand everything.
  • ShesOnHerWayShesOnHerWay Registered User Posts: 757 Member
    I thought the page rippers were MIT students.
  • kwukwu Registered User Posts: 4,759 Senior Member
    I've heard that the moon is made of cheese.

    Now, this fella from whom I'd heard this, he isn't an astronaut nor has he been on the moon, but I value his opinion.
  • miss_murd3rmiss_murd3r Registered User Posts: 804 Member
    Kwu!!
    I think I heard the same thing from the same person! It really makes me want to pursue being an astronaut, you know?

    :)
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