Amherst College

Amherst, MA: Last summer I had the fantastic experienceof staying at Amherst College, a top-ranked liberal arts college, for athree-week summer program. I had the chance to tour the school and find out aboutthe programs it offers its 1,600 students.

Amherst has no required classesexcept for a freshman liberal studies seminar. Even then, there are 20 programsto choose from. English is the most popular major, but Amherst pioneered thefirst neuroscience program in the country and has a non-traditional study in lawcalled Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought. Teaching Assistants and graduatestudents are nonexistent; Amherst’s focus is strictly on its undergraduates andit shows. Most alumni pursue graduate work, typically in the areas of medicine,law or business.

I can attest that the cafeteria serves up a variety ofdelicious foods, although after three weeks I did grow tired of certainconstantly served entrees. The salad bar and frozen yogurt machines made up forthat, though.

Freshmen housing is adequate, though not spectacular. Mostfirst-years live in two-room doubles. After that the housing options increase andinclude social dorms, converted frat houses and traditional dorms.

Amherst’s bucolic campus is located in the Pioneer Valley, a region ofMassachusetts rich in cultural opportunities and beautiful scenery. Amherst isthe stereotypical college town with its independent bookstores and trendycoffeehouses; the main street is just steps from the campus.

Adding evenmore to the flavor of the area is the Five College Consortium, which is composedof UMass-Amherst, Hampshire, Smith, Amherst and Mount Holyoke. Through areciprocal agreement, Amherst students can take classes at any of these colleges,as well as enjoy their cultural opportunities. There are five additonal collegesin nearby Springfield.

After spending three weeks at Amherst, it became mytop-choice college, and attending is a goal I will work toward. Anyone lookingfor a small liberal arts college devoted to training its students with thehighest amount of academic rigor should take a look at this prestigious college.

Reviewed in 2001