BackgroundInterview Date:June 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2018, transferred in fall of sophomore year
High School Experience: All male private school in Manhattan with 55 students in the graduating class.
Major: Political Science
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a varsity athlete. I was in a program called LEADS, which holds events for the athletic programs where you meet with leaders in business.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
We have a lot of reading, usually around 100 pages a week. About every month you have a 5-10-page paper.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
I thought the teachers were friendly. They seemed more open to talking with you, meeting with you after class to work on your essays, talk about readings, or literally talk about anything.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s competitive or collaborative?
It’s a mix. It trends towards what your social scene is or your academic scene. Political Science and the other Humanities departments are a little more collaborative because you have papers and group projects where you do them together.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your major choice?
Yeah, I am happy with it. I studied international relations at [my school freshman year] and they didn’t have that at Amherst, so I chose Political Science because I would be able to finish my major pretty quickly. But, if I was able to do it again, I would have done French and Political Science or Economics and Political Science because it’s not that tough to get in two majors over four years.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Sophomore: Coolidge dormitory, which is one of the socials that was torn down. It’s similar to Taplin, which I was in last year.
Junior: Greenway A, which are new dorms they built that are really, really, nice and modern.
Senior: Taplin, which is not the greatest dorm. It’s all [messed] up from people having parties. It has carpeted floors, so those are really gross. It was me and four other guys living there. We all had singles.
What was your favorite living situation?
I liked Greenway the most because it was clean, nice and we still had a lot of space for ourselves, but we didn’t need to worry about it getting trashed every Friday and Saturday. All my friends who aren’t seniors try to live there. Another really nice dorm for sophomores is called Morris Pratt.
Can you describe the level of safety you experienced on and around campus?
It’s really safe. I’ve never heard of any problems ever.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Antonio’s, it’s a pizza place that has a lot of different kinds of pizza.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
There all these nice little coffee shops and breakfast places around the UMass area. You need a car to get there. It’s like a whole other town around UMass. It’s nice to go to Northampton, which is about a 15-minute drive away and where Smith College is. It’s a nice, trendy town with a couple more restaurants and shops than Amherst has. Every once in a while, we go to Boston because it’s only like an hour and a half drive away.
Pros and Cons of being in Amherst, MA?
Pros: (1) There’s a lot of good food and bars in the area. I think the town of Amherst is pretty nice.
(2) There are all these kids from the other schools in the Five College Consortium, which is Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Hampshire, and UMass. They’ll all come to the bars in Amherst, so you see them all the time in an academic and social setting.
(3) You can walk anywhere. You don’t need a car to go to Walgreen’s or something to get medicine if you’re sick.
Cons: Amherst is kind of small and it’s just one little street. There’s not much going on there and it gets repetitive.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
It is very athlete oriented. Most of the time, I would hang out with my team or your group of friends and either go out to bars – our bars are shared with UMass, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Hampshire – or go to these things called socials. They are these big common rooms, but they’re really dirty and gross. [Editor’s Note: The socials have been torn down, which many students believe have had a negative effect on social life.]
There’s a bar in town which is like a 10-15-minute walk away which is not bad, and there are a lot of formals and mixers on the weekends. You can rent out common rooms and have a formal with a men’s team and women’s team, or you could do something with your club and you can have alcohol there.
Can you describe a typical night going out at Amherst?
If it’s in the winter it’s cold, but in the spring and fall, there is usually a party outside. Usually, you just hang out with your friends at a dorm or in the common room area and the younger guys on your team will all come down to the socials. That will usually be a mixer, like men’s soccer and women’s volleyball from 10 to midnight and then everyone will go out. Everybody has started going to the Triangle, which has big common rooms [in Hitchcock, Seelye, and Mayo-Smith] that people host formals in. A lot of people go there around midnight and then at 1:30 AM go home.
What have been your favorite days or nights at Amherst?
There’s a thing called Farm Dance which is pretty fun. There’s a big farm at Amherst and the school sets up food, drinks, and music and it’s pretty fun. And then there’s Blarney Blowout, which is probably the best day. It’s UMass Amherst’s St. Patrick’s Day party. A lot of kids from Amherst will participate on Saturday and go to UMass or there’s a big street with a lot of UMass housing on it. I’d say Blarney is the biggest day in Amherst at least.
How happy were you with the nightlife at Amherst? Is there anything you would change if you could?
When I first got there, I thought it was pretty good. But the socials got destroyed and I don’t think they should have done that because it kind of stunted the social life and everyone was freaking out. Every single Amherst person that was there before would say the same thing about the socials going down. [See Amherst Student article, “The Scattering of Campus Social Life”.]
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met them through my team just because I transferred in as a sophomore. My friends met their closest friends through the people they lived with freshman year and their mutual friends from that. For example, we are close with the baseball team and some football players just because they lived on the same floor as my friends did freshman year.
To what extent do people of races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think it’s pretty good at Amherst. Maybe other people would have a little bit of a different opinion as me, but I think it’s as good as it gets with all the stuff that’s going on politically right now.
How would you describe the social scene?
It’s okay. It’s not the best, but it’s not the worst. If you want to have a good fun night you can make it fun, but it’s not going to be amazing on its own. You can make it what you want.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of Amherst by senior year?
Yeah, I think people are. I think after four years of going there you appreciate what you got out of it. But, people are ready to leave after 4 years because it’s so small and you see the same people over and over again.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yeah, they did. It’s pretty good at Amherst, especially if you’re on a sports team. The Amherst LEADS program sets up you with people that have not only played for your team but people from other teams who graduated in the past and can help you get jobs.
Have you used the career office much?
I think the career center’s pretty good. They help you get jobs and internships. They’re especially good with finance people and pre-med people.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Amherst before entering as a transfer?
I feel like I had it all figured out because I went to [a small liberal arts school] freshman year. I feel like some people come in thinking it’s going to be a huge party and easy. People think it’s going to be a lot more fun than it is, but it’s actually a lot of hard work.
What is something that a student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I would definitely walk around the town a bit. I’d check out Greenway and try to walk through a couple of dorms without the tour and try to get a sense of what the students are like and how they live. Go into the dining hall and maybe try to chat with them or say you’re a prospective student and try to talk to a couple of people and see how they feel. It’s better to go on a tour in the spring than the winter because I feel like everyone’s down, cold, and tired in the winter.
Reasons to attend Amherst:
1) Really good opportunities for academics and jobs in the future.
2) They will find a way to help you out with financial aid. They really try to make you feel accommodated.
3) The Five College Consortium is nice. You can take classes at any of the other schools. You have access to thousands of classes compared to a couple hundred.
Reasons to not attend Amherst:
1) It doesn’t seem as small as you think. But, after 4 years you keep running into the same people and it can get repetitive socially and academically – even professors get old sometimes. I went to a really small high school and after 3 years at Amherst, I thought it was getting small.
2) The cold is really depressing. It’s only hot for two to three weeks each semester. It’s really nice when it is, but it’s usually freezing.
3) The fact that it’s landlocked can make you feel like you can’t get away.