An Interview On
Amherst College

Background

Interview Date:April 2019

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Public school with a graduating class of about 125 students. There was not a strong culture of going to college, especially going to college out of state.
Major: Mathematics
Minor: None. Amherst doesn’t have minors
Extracurricular Activities: Amherst College Democrats, Project Sunshine where you visit kids in the hospital, and Partners for Animal Welfare.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Not really, but it was fulfilling doing charity work which is good. None really affected my social life or anything like that.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
At least once a week I have a problem set and then about three exams per semester for each Math class.

Is there anything you feel the Math department does especially well or poorly?
They’re really good about keeping the class sizes small and all the professors really care about the students. I feel like I have a good relationship with most of the Math department professors. They’re also really good about being available outside of class. [The average class size at Amherst is 19 students.]

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly collaborative or competitive?
I wouldn’t say it’s competitive, but I wouldn’t say it’s collaborative either. Everybody tends to do their work on their own. I do all my work alone.

How accessible are your professors?
They’re really accessible. They send out surveys so that they can have their office hours when the most students are available for them.

What has been your favorite class in your major?
Intro to Analysis. Part of the reason I like it is because the professor is really involved. The class is about going back to a lot of the fundamental things we learned in calculus and proving them, which I really like because we’re getting back to the fundamentals of math instead of accepting things as is like we do in most of my other classes.

Why did you choose Math? Are you happy with your choice?
I chose Math because it was the subject I was strongest at. If I could go back and be a freshman again, I think I would go back and pick Statistics because I think it’s more applicable to things in life and is better for job-searching than Math is.

How has the Five College Consortium impacted your experience?
I haven’t taken any classes at the other schools, so it hasn’t affected me. It’s inconvenient to have to get on a bus and go to another school three days a week, so I haven’t used the consortium whatsoever.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: North Hall with one roommate

Sophomore: Greenway Hall with one roommate in a two-room double. We each had our own room.

Junior: Seelye in a single.

What was your favorite living situation?
Definitely Seelye.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I think it’s pretty safe. I’ve never felt unsafe. There have only been a few incidents on campus of thievery and stuff like that. In general, it’s pretty safe.

Pros and Cons of being in Amherst, MA?
Pros: (1) It’s a small town so everything’s really accessible.
(2) There are the other four colleges around, so there are lots of college students and a lot to do.

Cons: (1) It’s pretty isolated. The closest city is Boston which is about two hours away.
(2) The weather’s pretty cold for most of the year.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I go out on campus to parties in dorms or go out to bars with friends. Most of the parties are held in The Triangle, which are three dorms: Hitchcock, Seelye, and May-Smith, and the majority of parties are hosted by sports teams. Wednesday is Bar Night, Thursday I sometimes will go out but that is more rare, and then both Friday and Saturday night.

What is the impact of sports teams on the nightlife?
I think some people those parties are exclusive to athletes because people think that there is a divide between the athletes and non-athletes but I’m not an athlete and I never found that there was a divide. Most of the dorm parties start as mixers between the team that is hosting the party and the other team, and those are exclusive, but they usually open up at 11 or 11:30 and then it’s open to anyone. So, I feel like athletes are the ones hosting, but that doesn’t really change who can show up.

What’s an alternative to going to a party or bar that you like for a night out?
Going into town and getting dinner or going to a movie is fun. Amherst also offers this program called AC After Dark that will host things on campus or take people to do fun things off-campus.

How has identifying as LGBT influenced your nightlife scene? Is there much of a Queer nightlife scene on campus?
I don’t think it’s affected my social life at all. I would probably hang out with the same people if I wasn’t bisexual. There is the QRC and a lot of people go there, but I don’t usually partake in that. If people are looking for those resources, they’re there.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I actually think I met them mostly through partying. I met them out and then was spending more time with them. There’s also a group called NARPs, which stands for non-athletic regular people. They will host mixers and stuff because teams are typically the ones to do that, and I met a lot of my friends through there too.

How would you describe the social scene?
I think it’s good. If you want to go out, there’s always stuff to do and pretty much anyone can walk in. The issue is there’s a lack of spaces so things can get pretty repetitive.

To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think with races people are pretty divided. Most of the going out Amherst social scene is pretty White.

How would you describe the student body?
We have a diverse population but the majority of students are White and from the East Coast. There are also a lot of athletes. Even though athletes don’t make up the majority of the population, it can feel like they are the majority, especially in the social circles that like to go out. [About one-third of students are athletes. About 45% of students identify as students of color.

How do you like the size of Amherst in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How has that impacted your experience?
Academically, it’s perfect. I know all my professors on a personal level and get a lot of attention from them. If you get a bad grade, they care, and I think that is only accessible to me because it’s a small school. Socially, it makes it more difficult. The people who go out is a small group, so seeing the same people every weekend gets repetitive. It also means that there are only three or four parties each week on campus, while at bigger schools there are more options.

How would you describe the LGBTQ+ community? How strong is it?
For the people who want to join it, it is pretty strong here. There are events people can go to and there are support groups. The fact we have the Queer Resource Center on campus is really good because people can go there and have a safe haven. For people who want it, there are a lot of options and I think people find a lot of friends there too.

Do you think people are generally happy with their choice of Amherst by senior year? Do you think people leave loving Amherst?
I think it’s hard to say. I’d say it can be hit or miss, you either really love it or you really hate it. I will graduate really happy with the experience. I think people don’t like it because it’s too small or the culture doesn’t fit.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
It hasn’t helped me find an internship or job, but I’ve used it. I’ve reached out to alumni who have given me great advice, and it’s been pretty helpful in terms of that.

Have you used the career office? How helpful have they been?
I’ve used them for resume help. They will help you edit it and tell you what wording makes the most sense. That was pretty helpful.

Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
I’ve learned Excel through a lot of classes and I’ve learned how to use R Studio, which will be helpful if I go into a career in data analysis.

Financial Aid

Have you used financial aid? If so, how easy are they to work with?
They’ve been really helpful. For me personally, I’ve really liked them. It’s always been really easy going. I’ve never had a problem where I had to go into their office. I just fill out my forms and have been satisfied with everything.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Amherst before entering as a freshman?
I wish I would have known that first semester it is super cliquey, but that is only a freshman year thing and it changes soon after. I was really overwhelmed freshman year when everyone was sticking to their friend group.

What is something a prospective LGBTQ student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
They may think that they have to have friends who are LGBTQ because other students may not want to be their friend for that reason. But, I have found that is not true in my case and the majority of my friends are heterosexual. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel like that would be a limiting factor for them.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I think most people come and just see the school, but there is a lot of value in actually spending time in the downtown area and the area around Amherst. I didn’t do that, and I wish I had known how small the town is and how isolated the area is before I came here.

Reasons to attend Amherst:
1) The academics are great and you’re totally supported.
2) The alumni really care and that will be a resource I use in the future.
3) The school can be really fun if you try to make it fun. A lot of students have a really good experience.

Reasons to not attend Amherst:
1) It’s really small, so it can feel like high school at times.
2) If you don’t like to go to parties, there is a lack of things to do on campus during the weekends.

Notice: Amherst College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Amherst College.

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