What is it Like to Attend Amherst College?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach—they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Yeva is earning her bachelor’s degree in sociology at Amherst College. She lives in Boston and specializes in algebra tutoring, calculus tutoring, chemistry tutoring, and several other subjects. See what she had to say about her experience at Amherst College:

Describe the campus setting and transportation options at Amherst College.

Yeva: Amherst College’s campus is small and walkable. A walk from one side of campus to the other takes about five to ten minutes. Some students have bikes, some even have scooters, but most prefer to walk. To travel to one of the four other colleges in the Amherst area, students take the bus, which is free for all college students. Students also use the bus to travel to nearby shopping centers and restaurants. Amherst is located in rural Western Massachusetts and is very safe.

How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Yeva: Professors are extremely accessible; students have no difficulty arranging meetings with professors and academic advisors, and they often regret not taking full advantage of the accessibility of faculty. Teaching assistants hold review sessions frequently and are available for extra tutoring if needed.

How would you describe the dorm life—rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Yeva: Amherst College dorms are simply stunning. The rooms are huge and the hallways have hardwood floors. The common spaces are beautiful. You will never find even one cinderblock wall. My single room for next semester is bigger than most of the doubles I have seen at other universities. First year students live on the First Year Quad, and being close to their classmates allows them to form strong bonds with each other. Most students have an unlimited meal plan, although the dining hall is not open for as many hours as dining halls at other colleges.

Which majors/programs are best represented and supported at Amherst College? 

Yeva: The most popular majors are economics, history, English, psychology, and political science. Amherst College also has many pre-med and pre-law students. I am majoring in sociology and I am pre-med. I am interested in learning about social structures and how they affect both individuals and people as classes. I have strong interests in both medicine and education, so I am looking to combine those interests into a fulfilling career after I graduate. Because there is a very small student-to-faculty ratio at Amherst College, professors are highly interested in supporting students and their individual goals. Amherst has an open curriculum (meaning no classes are required outside of completing a major), so students create unique curricula and professors are eager to support them.

How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Yeva: Because students come from all parts of the nation and the world, they are eager to meet each other and make new friends. I made many friends during orientation, which lasts for a week and includes activities such as camping, film-making, and yoga. Most students find friends in their extracurricular groups or on their sports teams. Amherst College has no Greek life at all, and I believe that has improved social life on campus very much.  

How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? 

Yeva: The Career Center has been extremely supportive. It has open hours for students to discuss career plans and job searches with both professional and peer career advisors. It also maintains strong connections with alumni. The Career Center has a program called Amherst Select that allows students to apply for internships and jobs that are open only to Amherst College students. It also allows students to be matched with alumni as career mentors.

How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges?

Yeva: Although the libraries tend to be crowded during finals, spaces are usually easy to find. Many choose the traditional route and study in the library, but some, including me, prefer to find small study nooks in dorms, academic buildings, and the campus center. Finding the “coolest study spot” is an unofficial sport at Amherst.

Describe the surrounding town.

Yeva: Amherst is a small town that has a bustling downtown area. Downtown, you’ll find restaurants and shops that many students love. One famous spot is Antonio’s Pizza, which many claim has the best pizza in the U.S. Hampshire Mall is located a bus-ride away, and has several stores, a movie theater, laser tag, and a roller skating rink. Most students venture into town about once or twice a week, and take the bus to Hampshire Mall every one or two weeks.

How big or small is the student body at Amherst College? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Yeva: Amherst College has around 1,800 students who are all undergraduates. All classes are taught by professors and class sizes are very small. My biggest lecture last year, Introductory Chemistry, had only 80 students. Social science and humanities courses often have around fifteen students or less. I love small classes because of how much discussion and individual attention there is.

Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Yeva: Near the beginning of my first semester at Amherst, I needed to stop by my chemistry professor’s office to pick up a quiz. I expected to grab the quiz and leave; after all, this was my biggest class, and I doubted the professor would even remember my name. However, my professor told me to sit down and asked me how my year was going so far. We ended up talking for almost an hour about everything from seasonal allergies to gymnastics. Then, he said, “Oh! You’re here for your quiz!” He helped me review the problems that I had missed and explained everything thoroughly. After this experience, I realized that coming into my professors’ offices would never be a waste of my time or theirs. They genuinely want to get to know their students on a personal level in addition to an intellectual level.

Check out Yeva’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.