BackgroundInterview Date:December 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Private school in Southern California with a graduating class of about 110 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First-Generation College Student: No
Majors: Computer Science and Psychology double major
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a student-athlete.
What impact has your sport had on your experience so far?
I really like it. It’s not a super big commitment which is nice and it’s pretty easy to balance with my academics. It also adds a social aspect which is nice.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your majors?
For Psychology, there’s not too much week-to-week work. It’s really just tests and lectures. For Computer Science, we have projects and labs. They’re manageable but it adds a lot more than Psychology.
Is there anything you feel your majors’ departments do especially well or especially poorly?
I think the Psychology department is really strong because the professors are really engaging and they offer a lot of research opportunities. With Computer Science, I don’t think they do anything particularly well or poorly. The labs are helpful, but that’s pretty much it.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s competitive or collaborative?
It depends on what kind of class you’re in. It’s never super competitive, especially not in the humanities classes. The science and math classes are a little bit less collaborative and more competitive, but, in general, I wouldn’t say it’s a super competitive environment which I like.
What have been your favorite classes you’ve taken for your majors?
Psychology: Social Psychology. The professor was really good and was very engaging.
Computer Science: The second introductory class because the last project you do is make anything you want, so that was pretty cool.
What have been your least favorite classes you’ve taken for your majors?
Psychology: Behavioral Neuroscience because it was more like a science class so I had a harder time in it.
Computer Science: Machine Learning just because it’s really hard.
How accessible are your professors?
It’s super easy to get in contact with them and have very clear office hours. They’re super easy to meet with outside of their office hours too.
Why did you pick your majors? Are you happy with your choice?
I chose Psychology early on because I found it interesting and thought I would like it and then really liked my introductory class. I missed having more mathematical classes because I hadn’t taken any, so I decided to try Computer Science and I liked it. I was pretty ahead on the Psychology major and had a bunch of classes that I didn’t know what to do with, so it fills that space. It’s also nice to have something that’s more concrete.
How is managing both your sport and your coursework?
It’s pretty easy. It’s not much more of a time commitment than my varsity high school sport.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: South College Hall with one roommate. My room was very small but it was fun.
Sophomore: Morris Pratt Hall in a single, which was really nice. Pretty much all the sophomores live there.
Junior: Seelye Hall in a single
What has been your favorite living situation?
I really like last year and this year equally. They are pretty much the same situation.
How was transitioning from Southern California to Amherst, MA?
It was actually pretty easy. I think having the sport helped a lot because it was in the fall so I came in and had a lot to do. Being so busy made it easy. It’s definitely hard to get to, but it’s fun to be somewhere different.
Can you describe the level of safety you experienced on and around campus?
It’s very safe.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Anywhere in town. The town is super close and there are a lot of good restaurants and cute coffee shops. Also, going to Northampton is really fun because they have a lot of cute stores and restaurants. It’s about a 20-minute drive.
Pros and cons of being in Amherst, MA?
Pros: (1) It’s fun because you really get the campus vibe.
(2) Because the town is small and the school is small, everybody goes out together, which I really like.
(3) Being from California, it’s fun to be in a different region where we have winter.
(4) It’s really pretty here.
Cons: (1) It’s hard to get to. You have to take a bus from Boston.
(2) It’s cold.
(3) I miss having a city.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Usually, I go out with my team and the parties are always in the dorms. It’s pretty centered on athletics sometimes, which I like, but could be hard if you’re coming in and are not on a team. Wednesdays are bar nights but it’s only upperclassmen who can go to that because you need to be 21. Sometimes there will a party on Wednesdays too. Then on Fridays and Saturdays there is usually stuff going on the dorms. The nightlife here is pretty centered on campus. [About one-third of students are athletes.]
Can you describe a typical night going out freshman year?
We would have a team event somewhere and then a mixer with another team that has a theme or something. Then everyone else would end up at a dorm called Hitchcock by the end of the night for a bigger party.
What is an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
There’s a movie theater about five minutes away that’s really nice, there are a lot of restaurants to go to for dinner, but there’s not that much else to do though. There is some stuff in Hartford that you can go to and UMass is close too.
How happy are you with the nightlife at Amherst? Is there anything you would change if you could?
This year it’s been good. In general, I have fun and I think it’s gotten better. Some people complain a lot, but I think they’re overreacting.
What have been some of your favorite times at Amherst?
Playing sports and having our games is really fun. The Homecoming football game is really fun too. Also, when we have snow days and everyone goes sledding is really fun.
How did you meet your closest friends?
All my closest girl friends are on my team. My closest guy friends I met through classes and going out.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
There’s a bit of a divide between athletes and non-athletes. At the beginning of nights when there are mixers, pretty much everybody is an athlete, but as the night progresses there are more non-athletes. Also, I’m an athlete so I experience more of the athlete scene.
How would you describe the student body?
It’s really diverse which I like a lot. Students are also more preppy here. [About 9% of students are international students and about 45% are students of color.]
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think everyone mixes pretty well.
Do you think people are generally happy with their choice of Amherst by senior year? Do you think people leave loving Amherst?
In general, yes. All of my friends who have graduated are definitely happy with their choice and I am also happy with my choice.
How do you like the size of Amherst in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How has that impacted your experience? [Amherst has about 1,900 students.]
You see the same people around, which I really like but can be not ideal for some people. I really like it because you can go to the dining hall and always see someone you know and I run into a lot of people I know when I walk to class.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I haven’t used it yet, I should.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful are they?
The career center is not the greatest. They’re really good if you’re interested in finance or consulting and everyone who’s interested in that get jobs that are really good. I don’t think they’re that helpful if you aren’t interested in those fields.
Have you learned any computer programs or languages through your coursework that will be helpful to you professionally?
We did SPSS in a Psych-Stats. In the intro classes for Computer Science you learn Java. As you move on it’s mostly Java but in Machine Learning you learn Python and in Computer Systems you learn C. The majority is Java.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how easy is the office to work with?
Yes, I get financial aid, and it’s good to work with. They give you some leeway if you’re late on deadlines and it wasn’t too bad of an experience to get financial aid through the school. It’s not too complicated.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something a prospective athlete may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
Studying abroad was a big part of my decision, and they make it really easy here [for both athletes and non-athletes]. There are a bunch of good programs. As far as missing off-season, all the coaches are very accommodating about it.
What is something that a student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
There’s a really cute ice cream place on a farm called Flayvors. It’s very rural and is really fun to go there. It made me realize how in the middle of nowhere we are.
Reasons to attend Amherst:
1) There’s an open curriculum which is nice because freshman year it’s nice to come in and take whatever classes you want.
2) The professors are really good and invested in you. They are super easy to get in touch with and get to know, which is nice.
3) I like the culture on campus and there’s a strong sense of community. If I meet somebody from Amherst outside of Amherst, you feel that connection.
4) Playing sports here is really fun. I love it.
Reasons to not attend Amherst:
1) If you want an intense party school, this is not that. People are very committed to academics. We still go out and have fun, but you can’t go out every night of the week here.
2) If you don’t want hard classes, don’t come here.