Amherst, MA: Yale. Harvard. Amherst College? If you haven’t heard of this school, maybe you should have. Not only is it the second bestliberal arts college according to a recent ranking, but also the fifth most selective school in thenation.
I visited with a pretty closed mind, deterred by the surrounding rural area two hours fromboth Boston and New York. The center of the city has the obligatory college feel with book shops andrestaurants, but five minutes down the road are cornfields. Some people may appreciate the tranquil,bucolic scenery, but I am not one of them.
Amherst College is awash in money, as students will tellyou. A downfall is that most students are white and affluent; there’s not much diversity, though they denyit. “Sara Lee, you know, the pie woman? Her daughter went here … ” our guidebragged.
Amherst is a pricey school, at a little over $30,000, but the value is tremendous. Onemajor advantage of the school is that since the students are wealthy, the school can offer a lot. They havedetermined all the extras to be worth $50,000. For example, if you want to play an instrument, they offerfree music lessons and instruments. Also, Amherst guarantees to meet 100% of demonstrated financialneed.
Graduates are offered some of the highest-paying jobs in America right out of school.Rigorous course loads and a respected name make Amherst alumni some of the most sought after in thecountry. Almost half make significant donations to the school.
The college boasts the secondhighest land acreage-to-student ratio in the country. Although there is a small student body, you won’t feelisolated; the Five-College Consortium with Hampshire College, Smith College, Mt. Holyoke and UMASSAmherst allows you to take courses at any of the schools, and use their resources. Also, there are alwayscollege students around town, no matter where you go.
Amherst College has exactly what aprestigious, small college should: great scenery, a nationally acclaimed faculty, a high success rate,rigorous classes and academic excellence. If you can get over the attitude of some students and the remotelocation, it is a wonderful school.
Reviewed in 2000