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Am I on the right track?

NabokovNabokov Registered User Posts: 59 Junior Member
edited February 2010 in Amherst College
I'm a junior, considering applying to either Amherst or Columbia for ED. I realize that they're very different schools on paper, but both interest me a great deal. It'd be interesting to hear from anyone who was mostly considering larger, more urban, more "arsty" schools but ended up picking Amherst.

Anyway, I would love your input on my chances at Amherst, as well as any experiences you've had with the extracurriculars and fields of study I mention below. Advice on what is and isn't worth putting on my app would be really helpful as well.

Thanks in advance, and sorry for the length of this post.

  • SAT I (taking in March, this is based on PSAT & practice tests): 2370 (800 CR, 800 M, 770 W)
  • ACT (same as above): 34
  • SAT II: Plan to take Literature, US History, Latin
  • Unweighted GPA (out of 4.0): 3.79
  • Weighted GPA (out of 5.33): 5.09
  • Rank (percentile if rank is unavailable): Top 10%
  • AP (place score in parenthesis): Taking/plan to take US History, Lang. & Comp, Euro History, Macro Econ, Micro Econ, American Gov't, Comparative Politics, Lang. & Lit, BC Calc, Latin (Virgil)
  • Senior Year Course Load: AP PoliSci, AP Econ, AP Euro, AP English 4, AP Calc BC, AP Latin, Symphony Orchestra (I might end up taking AP Studio Art [double period, photo concentration] in place of PoliSci and Euro. I'm about equally interested in the art and social sciences classes. Any advice on this?)

  • Extracurriculars

    • Intern/campaign photographer for US House candidate in summer '08
    • Intern/campaign photographer for different US House candidate last winter-spring
    • Currently Chair of high school student campaign for same candidate as in '08 race (also still working as campaign photog.)
    • School Young Democrats club (member freshman & sophomore years, co-president junior & senior years)

    • Freelance photography throughout high school (work featured in [one of the top 10 U.S. newspapers], 10+ suburban newspapers, books published by large commercial & academic presses, other various media)
    • Internship @ local newspaper (summer '08)
    • Shot stock library for prominent national political website (summer '09)
    • All the political campaign photography I mentioned
    • Photographer (I shot photos and video for a documentary about the camp)/camp counselor at an art camp for kids (summer '09)
    • Photo editor, school newspaper (freshman year)
    • Founded & edited online alternative newspaper/lit mag. Kids lost dedication quickly, but it was really good while it lasted. (sophomore year)
    • Staff yearbook photographer (junior year)

    • I play double bass.
    • Principal, freshman orchestra (freshman year)
    • Section player, symphony orchestra--this orchestra recently won a Grammy, plays advanced repertoire, regularly hosts Chicago Symphony players as guest soloists (sophomore and junior years)
    • Private lessons (since 5th grade)
    • Latin club (member freshman year, co-president this year)
    • Latin honor society (freshman & sophomore years, probably this year too)
    • National Latin test (silver medal freshman year, gold medal sophomore year)
    • State Latin test (went to state freshman year, one of 5 students from my school to sit qualifying exam sophomore year)

  • Essays & recs
    • Essays should be good. I'll probably write something about fashion, Nabokov, growing up in a interfaith home, or losing faith in politics throughout the course of working on political campaigns
    • Recs should also be good. My AP English teacher gets a few kids into Amherst/Williams/Stanford/Ivies each year, and we have a pretty cool relationship.

  • Applying for Financial Aid?: No.
  • Intended Major: Russian/Philosophy/Econ?
  • State (if domestic applicant): IL
  • School Type: Highly competitive public
  • Ethnicity: White
  • Gender: Male
  • Income Bracket: Upper
  • Hooks: Legacy at Amherst (dad and aunt both attended, neither are huge donors, both are pretty well connected at the college; I probably shouldn't say more)
Post edited by Nabokov on

Replies to: Am I on the right track?

  • mrscollegemrscollege Registered User Posts: 659 Member
    You look good, plus you format well, so there's that.

    Seriously, you look good. Latin is great. Legacies definitely help. Your ECs look fastastic. Your unweighted GPA is a little on the low end of the high spectrum, but our GPA for junior year will be more important. As far as your question about AP classes, I would say you should take what your heart tells you. Your grades and scores are strong enough.

    Have fun. Good luck.
  • HorseRadishHorseRadish - Posts: 126 Junior Member

    Notwithstanding the antagonisms of tradition, why are you not applying to Williams College? Your application should find Williams a most prudent choice considering your predisposition towards the principle major of interest you express.

    Though your legacy reflects Amherst, your clear dramatization of interest points towards Williams College. What a great testament to your family than to add a Williams grad onto its victory plate.

    Best wishes wherever you apply.
  • NabokovNabokov Registered User Posts: 59 Junior Member
    mrscollege, thanks. I get that the GPA is probably a weak point in the application. My 5th semester grades probably won't be stellar. I have legitimate reasons for that, although I generally don't like making excuses for anything. Hopefully I'll pull straight A's next semester.

    HorseRadish, I'm open to the idea of Williams. I don't really care about the Amherst-Williams rivalry, but I figured that Amherst would be a little less insular and rural than Williams due to its place in the Five Colleges Consortium, as well as its proximity to Northampton and, less so, Boston. I also get the sense that Williams is more socially conservative than Amherst. Please, though, feel free to let me know if you've had different observations.

    And out of interest, what does "clear dramatization of interest" mean? :p
  • kwukwu Registered User Posts: 4,759 Senior Member
    Careful. If you choose Williams, you'll be surrounded for four years by people who talk like HorseRadish. ;)

    Your chances at both Amherst and Columbia are excellent.

    I can tell you with confidence that the office of admission has a thing for talented and experienced musicians and that these musicians make up a significant proportion of the student body. Thus, you can rest assured that the Amherst Symphony Orchestra is one of the most popular co-curricular activities on campus, and there are plenty of other performance opportunities on campus.

    Take a look at this link for more information:

    Don't worry about the GPA. Top 10th percentile is the only factor that matters, because it's the statistic by which elite colleges and universities are judged.

    Amherst has the largest private collection, in the West, of Russian books, manuscripts and media.


    The following is Professor Brian Leiter's advice on pursuing undergraduate study in Philosophy. Observe how often Amherst is mentioned.

    The Philosophical Gourmet Report 2009 :: Undergraduate Study

    Economics is consistently one of the most popular majors at Amherst. Our professors received their doctorates at these institutions:

    2 Harvard, 2 Stanford, 2 Yale, 1 MIT, 1 Columbia, 1 Minnesota, 1 UCLA, 1 Washington, 1 Illinois

    You look like a great fit for Amherst, but you should take the opportunity to visit.
  • samej860samej860 Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
    I was also deciding between Columbia and Amherst ED. I visited Columbia first, and it was my top choice. I then visited Amherst and immediately fell in love with it. Before I visited Amherst, I was really only interested in medium-large, urban schools. I am also a legacy, and I ended up applying to Amherst ED and got in. Good luck; you're stats look great, and being a legacy will definitely help you out.
  • ejr1ejr1 Registered User Posts: 1,128 Senior Member
    Let's face it. There are no sure things in elite college admissions. However, they do need to make up a class and fill different major slots. There aren't that many Russian majors, so saying you want to major in that should help you. Your stats are good enough. Just make sure your essays are the best they can be and really showcase who you are. The essay sare crucial for admission to Amherst, Since you are a legacy, you could request a legacy interview in which they give you an idea of your chances - no guarantees.
This discussion has been closed.