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Considering Amherst?

allureNY86allureNY86 652 replies17 threads Member
edited April 2006 in Amherst College
Make that soon-to-be Amherst student, at least.

I'd posted something else, then decided it was irrelevant since I'd overlooked something, and since I can't delete posts I thought I might make myself useful.

Any questions, go ahead. Anything I don't know off the top of my head I can probably find out for you. And fire and bogoro seem to be around--they're also '09ers who probably won't mind addressing concerns either. :D (Sorry for posting this without first asking.)
edited April 2006
65 replies
Post edited by allureNY86 on
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Replies to: Considering Amherst?

  • RellielouRellielou 460 replies49 threads Member
    Please tell me about the Amherst English department!


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  • allureNY86allureNY86 652 replies17 threads Member
    Ooh. I'll answer your question broadly since you didn't mention any specifics.

    The English department is stellar. Historically, Amherst has always had a good reputation (Robert Frost taught there for many years, and the library is named after him; Emily Dickinson was educated at Amherst Academy, a kind of predecessor to Amherst College). And its graduates have done well, like Dan Brown and Pulitzer-winning James Merrill. On both visits to Amherst in the spring and fall, I got to talk to Barry O'Connell, one of the profs. He's extremely talented, but he's also good at teaching. What I liked is that he understands different students' styles and wasn't like my rigid HS teachers. All the English profs are active in publishing their work while directly teaching the students. Some profs are nationally known.

    As for details about the department. There's a small prof:student ratio, so you get a lot of attention. As a whole,
    the English major reflects the open curriculum. You pick an intro course, a junior seminar, but the rest you design yourself with an advisor.

    There's also a Creative Writing Center, along with the standard American and British lit courses. If you ever need help with an essay or inspiration, there's also the writing center to help you out.




    might be helpful links.
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  • green_day_fangreen_day_fan 87 replies34 threads Junior Member
    Do u know whether someone who isnt good at music or sports can get into Amherst? I do extracurriculars like community service, Model UN, Yearbook, research, and student government. I know they r common but if I'm really passionate about them do i still have a chance??
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  • allureNY86allureNY86 652 replies17 threads Member
    I'm not particularly good at music/sports either, but I've dabbled in them. But there are definitely quite a few people who weren't involved in music/sports in HS who got in this year. One of my friends was into debate. So it's definitely possible to get into Amherst without music or sports... music is a common extracurricular too. What your activities are doesn't matter as much as how involved you are in them, how innovative you've been with them. So yes, you have a chance. :)

    P.S. I did yearbook and research too.
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  • CynthiaRCynthiaR 183 replies7 threads Junior Member
    i'm not good at music or sports. I did do band for a couple years, but didn't even list it b/c I was pretty horrible. Then i ran cross country...also not very successfully, but i did stick with it. I don't think it will hurt your chances all that much, as long as you are involved iwth something. Community service stuff is good.
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  • bogororobogororo 520 replies18 threads Member
    I am totally inept in both music and sports. My main EC was debate.
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  • evitajr1evitajr1 926 replies17 threads Member
    D bowled (not school related) and no music - theater, and quiz bowl, and she's in.
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  • green_day_fangreen_day_fan 87 replies34 threads Junior Member
    wow, thanx for your replies!! i started freaking out a little when i read about the ECs that ppl who applied to top schools had...

    congratulations 2 alll of u who got into amherst!! u must have some pretty awsome qualities!!!

    well, i feel a little better now...
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  • YoMamaYoMama 222 replies28 threads Junior Member
    I'm sorry to bring up such a distasteful subject. Somewhere (i'm sorry i don't remember where), I heard that Amherst has a high occurence of students with eating disorders like anorexia and bulemia. What's up with this? Any truth? Or just ugly rumor?
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  • mommamiamommamia 265 replies56 threads Member
    How are the physics and french depts at Amherst? Also, are students cliquey or do kids from different backgrounds mix ; do you feel isolated due to the location in rural Mass? Thanks.
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  • amherst08amherst08 61 replies2 threads Junior Member

    I've never heard or seen anything regarding eating disorders at Amherst. I'm guessing it's just an ugly rumor. People like to bash elite schools all the time.

    The physics and french depts are superb at amherst. The physics dept in particular is small because not many students tend to major in the subject. However, this a huge plus because of the one on one attention you get from professors and the unlimited resources available to you and only you (not a grad student.) This also makes gaining research opportunities much easier.

    Amherst is a small town, but has everything you would need, and with the five college consortium, it seems a lot bigger. There's about 30,000 college age students in the area, and a free bus system connecting all of them. Compared to Dartmouth, Cornell, and Williams, Amherst is very cosmopolitan with Northampton 20 minutes away, Boston 1.5 hours away, and New York 3 hours away. BTW, I'm originally from New York City and haven't felt claustrophobic yet.

    For a school of its size, Amherst is extremely diverse. I think one of the best aspects of being at a small school is that it forces people to mingle with others and not self-segregate. For example, one of my friends is an international student, and from what he tells me, his friends from home at other schools in the US are shocked at how integrated and friendly Amherst is compared to their own schools.
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  • best_wrbest_wr 255 replies38 threads Junior Member
    i'm also seriously considering amherst, and your responses were very helpful.

    here are my questions:
    1.you've mentioned the students mingling with others, which is a positive thing. however, i've heard that at liberal arts colleges, if one doesn't find himself/herself fitting in, he/she is basically screwed b/c the college is so small and there's no chance of finding new ppl w/ similar interest/personality. do you think that's a problem at amherst?
    2.do students from 5 colleges interact a lot? (outside of classroom)

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  • amherst08amherst08 61 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I think someone addressed this before, but Amherst, unlike Williams and Swarthmore, doesn't have any unique character. You'll really find a mix of people here. Whether you are a prep, an artist, an athlete, a musician, a political junkie, etc., you will meet people here who will share your interests. (That doesn't mean you should only stick to those who share your interests and stay in your comfort zone though.)

    What I've found is that the admissions officers do a really good job of putting together a diverse class. When I say diverse, I do not only mean ethnically; rather, people with diverse ideas and stories. If you dig deep enough here, everyone seems to have amazing stories.

    But if not, and that's a big if, the five college consortium will not disappoint you. In regards to typical interaction between the five colleges, I've found that students mix more outside the classroom.

    On the party/social level, all five college students- Smith and Mount Holyoke girls in particular-come to Amherst parties, there's a big Halloween party at Hampshire that people come to from far and wide, and some people go to UMASS frats. On the activity level, there is a lot of collaboration amongst musical groups. For instance, the Early Music Program (Renaissance Music) is a five college organization. Another example is the joint performances of Smith and Amherst choral groups. On the political level, I know a Smith girl attended the College Libertarians meeting every week at Amherst. When there is a dearth of one particular
    activity/class at one college, a student can seek out that opportunity at another college.

    Most of the time though, especially on the social level, five college students will come to Amherst, making the work of meeting people much easier than if you were to go to another college on your own.

    I hope that helps, and feel free to ask any other questions you may have.
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  • allureNY86allureNY86 652 replies17 threads Member
    Thank you, amherst08 for answering the questions so well.

    About the Physics and French departments. Let's see. Those aren't really my areas of expertise, but these links should be helpful and will explain better than I can.


    Those will give you info about the departments, physics research the students do over the summer and/or during Interterm, an overview of the faculty, courses, colloquia, the French house, study abroad and more.
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  • allureNY86allureNY86 652 replies17 threads Member
    Distance from the city: Springfield is another large city close by. And the town of Amherst definitely isn't rural--you won't find anything lacking. Malls, theaters, cafes, bookstores, even a Wal-Mart. You name it, Amherst has it. Also, every cultural event that starts off in Boston eventually drifts over to Amherst.

    Social scene: whatever you want it to be. Make your own magic. You'll find a wide array of people here. If you want parties, there will be plentiful parties, but they're not wild/out of control. Wild is over at UMass, just a mile away. If you're substance free, you'll find likeminded company. I don't think you'll have a problem fitting in. You're bound to find others who like what you like, and even if their interests differ, it exposes you to the amazing diversity at Amherst.
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  • allureNY86allureNY86 652 replies17 threads Member
    Amherst08, could you elaborate on TAP (The Amherst Party)?

    Amherst is not an extremely jocky school like Williams, nor is it an insanely intense school like Swarthmore. It defies stereotypes and simplistic labels. Like with any elite school, you'll have to work hard--but you do that on your own, out of your own passions (yay open curriculum!), not out of pressure. And students are interested in doing a lot of other things with their time--Amherst is the singing college. There's early music, debate, community service, satirical publications, newspaper, yearbook, art, cultural clubs, everything

    (for some reason my computer can't post large amounts of text..recurrent problem)
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  • amherst08amherst08 61 replies2 threads Junior Member
    When I was first reading about Amherst in college guides, all they mentionned was TAP; however, when I got here, there were only a few "TAPs" every year with different themes. I think the administration is trying to phase them out because students like to host their own parties without the school hovering over them. (Someone should make the college guides update this.)

    With that said, the party scene at Amherst is ubiquitous. Thursday and Saturday nights are the big party nights, and often people will hop from one party to the next. (There are usually about four or five on a given night, and no invitation required!) Lots of sports teams host smaller parties even on other weekdays sometimes. (I still don't understand how they manage to get their work done. I guess they have the work hard play hard mentality we are known for.)

    But don't take my word for it! Come visit. While college guides and word of mouth are helpful, they cannot capture the spirit of a college. Amherst is known for having happy students, and I've found that when most students, including myself, stay overnight, they fall in love with the school! Be sure to stay overnight though and not just take a tour. The tour, in my opinion, is not reflective of the campus. (They completely neglect the theme houses and do not explore the individual buildings.) It's much better to walk around on your own. Talk to students in the Dining Hall. You can even walk into a dorm and ask to see someone's room! People are really friendly here, and most, if not all, share my wonderful opinion about Amherst.

    P.S. The last paragraph was not intended as a hint for you to stop asking questions! lol

    P.P.S If you want more detailed info on any department, you can e-mail the professors asking them specific questions. I know a few of my friends did this when they were initially incoming or prospective students, and they found it really helpful. Don't be shy! Professors are very welcoming. The physics department no doubt will be thrilled to have the interest! lol
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  • allureNY86allureNY86 652 replies17 threads Member

    After taking an English course and an English-related course last semester, as well as being enrolled in one currently, I have to say that I love the English department more and more.

    Profs are extremely accessible. If I wanted to talk to my prof who taught a writing class, I could just drop by her office and she'd be willing to talk--why I overslept class by accident, what courses I should consider next semester, and the nitty gritty about my essays. I also had a prof who had a more literature-based course, with whom I actually formally scheduled meetings, but he was deeply interested in my ideas and helped me to expand them without specifically handing me directions.

    Also, the College is very good at bringing speakers to campus. Over Interterm, I attended a seminar called "The Publisher and the Published," which featured alumni in writing and publishing sectors. Not only did I get a comprehensive feel for their professions (which I am interested in), but I was able to talk with them afterwards.

    Lectures on campus can also be, if you're interested in the subject, fun. It's slightly surreal to read a particular author in class (David Palumbo-Liu of Stanford; Alexander Chee; John Kinsella, etc.) and then see him in person. Mark Danner, a noted journalist, also came, as did James Woods, a literary critic. (Lectures are also offered by departments other than English).

    So the resources are excellent here.

    Oh, I forgot to mention my first-year seminar on Renaissance art/lit last semester. We pored through manuscripts from the 1400s in Frost Archives, little freshmen actually handling priceless books. :)

    Also, Amherst College owns the Folger Shakespeare Library in DC, the largest collection of Shakespeare and Renaissance materials in the States. Our class had an all-expense paid trip down to DC just to see the Folger's treasures (and also the National Art Gallery). We were the first college students admitted to the Folger, which allows only acclaimed scholars/famous people in. The visitors before us were Charles and Camilla. Lots of personal attention all around. I wouldn't have gotten this experience with my first-year seminar had I gone to a different school.
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  • RellielouRellielou 460 replies49 threads Member
    Thanks for the feedback! I'm glad that Amherst is working out well for you. Your post has just the sort of details that I wished to hear. It really sounds like a great school!

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  • noxiousnirvananoxiousnirvana 175 replies9 threads Junior Member

    What unique characters of Swarth and Williams ppl are u talking about?
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