Amherst, MA: As a potential Amherst College student, I have shifted into the “Amherst Crowd” almost methodically. When I first visited the campus earlier this fall, I stayed at a friend’s dormitory in Moore Hall. I’ve always thought of this school of “political correctness” as being virtually a “brain school” until I discovered how immensely diverse the school was in its overall make-up. Evenly split between conservatives and liberals, Amherst College’s political atmosphere has many elements that complement the late Lord Jeffry Amherst’s philosophy of education.
Rated as Most Competitive, Amherst accepts on the average of only twenty-one percent of its yearly four thousand plus applicants. I laughed when I initially heard that one, but it must be realized that their admission process is rather definitive. Amherst looks heavily at your academic record, but the overall weight lies within your activity/community involvement. It also costs nearly $24,000 dollars to come here. That, though, shouldn’t discourage you from paying the $45 dollar application fee.
I never went on a formal tour, but during my visit I was able to see the Freshman Quad, the Campus Center, the Dining Hall, and the huge sports field. Fraternities and sororities have been abolished, and sports at Amherst are still very popular. The sports teams are the Lord and Lady Jeffs — from Jeffry Amherst the Lord, I figure. Amherst was playing competitive sports including football, lacrosse, field hockey, and soccer against Middlebury when I was there.
As a member of the Five College Consortium, Amherst offers a lot both academically and socially for students not only from Amherst, but from Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith College and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst as well. If students who attend one of the five colleges find a course not offered at their school, they are permitted, free of charge, to take these courses at any of the other four colleges.
A lot goes on in a Five College community. For instance at Amherst, I saw a rather kinky French movie for a dollar (“Bette Blue”) while at Mount Holyoke or Smith, I could have seen their theatre productions. Hampshire or UMass/Amherst had “wild parties” that night, so I could have sampled that as well.
Located in the Valley, a very popular and picturesque environment located in Western Massachusetts, attending a college like Amherst gives all of its students a chance to explore everything. The town of Amherst (the College owns half the town) provides a wide array of boutiques and specialty shops and various clubs. Nearby Northampton is the mecca for many of the Five College students, for it has everything from music concerts, jazz festivals, first-rate movie theatres, popular clubs, boutiques, specialty shops and much more at reasonable prices. Also, for the avid skier, ski slopes are available since a part of the Valley consists of the Berkshire Mountain Ski Resorts (Mt. Tom).
Besides being first-rate academically, Amherst College has a lot to offer. You become part of a world that cares for you in spirit and in mind. Even though the most difficult part is getting into Amherst, realize that as a prospective student, you have two to four other chances to experience it all. You have the option of applying to any of the other colleges in the Five College Consortium: there are no limits. n
Reviewed in 1992