BackgroundInterview Date:April 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Middle Eastern
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Private school outside of Boston, MA with a graduating class of about 200 students. There was a culture of going to culture.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Political Science – there are no minors at Amherst
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a student-athlete.
What impact has being a student-athlete had on your experience?
I think it’s added a lot. It helps with time management and being more organized. It’s tough, but it helps out.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
Each class usually has around four essays a semester and the majority of homework is reading and writing reading reflections.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
The professors have a great focus on their classwork. They don’t just teach you a bunch of information so you learn it, they teach you skills you can use after college. I’ve learned how to analyze documents and different ways to format documents. I don’t feel like I’m regurgitating information, I’m actually learning something.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s competitive or collaborative?
The academic nature of the school makes it competitive, and as a first year, it can be a little intimidating because everybody’s coming from the top of their high school class. You just have to realize that you’re not going to do as well as you did in high school and let that stress of failing go away. Once you do that, the place opens up more.
How accessible are your professors?
Very accessible. I’ve never not been able to meet with or contact them.
Do you feel people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Yeah, I think so. It depends on the professor you have and how the professor wants to teach the class. Professors usually acknowledge other schools of thought but whether they incorporate them into the curriculum is up to them.
How is managing both your sport and your coursework?
It’s tough in season because you have way more time devoted to sports, but in the off-season it’s not as bad. You have to figure out the right schedule for you and stick to it.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your major choice?
I like writing, but I didn’t want to do history or English. I wanted something that applied more to the outside world. I came in wanting to do economics, but then I realized that I didn’t like that, and had taken a Political Science class and liked that so I decided to go with that.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Williston Hall with one roommate.
Sophomore: Plimpton with one roommate.
What was your favorite living situation?
Williston is one of the older buildings, so I wasn’t too happy with that. There were more newer buildings that a lot of other freshmen got. This year I’m happier with my situation because the rooms are bigger.
How was transitioning from living outside of Boston to Amherst, MA?
It’s a change of pace. Everything you need is around you, but it’s still not the same. You just need to get used to the change of pace, and besides that, it’s not bad.
Can you describe the level of safety you experienced on and around campus?
I feel pretty safe. There are always college police around and they are accessible and the RA’s are accessible. I haven’t had any issues.
Pros and Cons of being in Amherst, MA?
Pros: (1) You get a different environment if you’re from a city.
(2) It’s a college town, so there is always stuff to do.
Cons: (1) I could see how people coming from warmer places especially may be homesick because the winters here are pretty brutal.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Usually there is a team party or, I’m 21, so I can go to the bars in Amherst. When I’m in season, I can only go out on Saturday night, but then out of season I can go out Wednesday, sometimes Friday and definitely Saturday. Wednesday is a bar night and then Friday and Saturday are usually on campus. You see the same people when you go out usually based on who’s in season and out of season. The parties are usually on campus in dorm common rooms.
What is the impact of sports teams on the nightlife at Amherst?
I would say that the majority of it is run by sports teams because the people who reserve the common rooms are usually athletes. Even though they book it, anyone can show up. There’s nobody at the door letting people in.
What is an alternative to going to a bar or party that you like for a night out?
It depends on the weekend. I always have work to do, so if I don’t go out I’m probably doing that. There are also good places to eat in Amherst and a movie theater.
How happy are you with the nightlife at Amherst? Is there anything you would change if you could?
For what the school is, I wouldn’t change anything. Amherst College is definitely not a party school. Everyone’s very academically motivated. With that in mind, it’s pretty good.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Through my team.
How would you describe the social scene?
For me as an athlete, it’s always been that in season I can’t go out until Saturday, then we have a game, and then we party at night. I was friends with a lot of other athletes in my season because of that. The athletes [for the other season] would come out on Saturdays, but that would be the only time I’d see them. We’re also friends with a lot of non-athletes who maybe played sports in high school and didn’t want to play in college. Over time you become friends with people who play in the other seasons, but especially when you first get there, you become friends with the people who you’re seeing the most often so that’s how it works out.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
To a pretty high extent. I have a really diverse group of friends because the diversity of my team is pretty high and everybody hangs out together. We also have people of different sexual orientations who hang out with us from time to time, so I think it’s pretty mixed.
How would you describe the Middle Eastern community on campus? How strong is it?
I don’t know because I really don’t participate in it. Time and time again I’ll see one or two other Middle Eastern students who may recognize my last name. I’m not saying the school hasn’t done a good job with us or anything, I really haven’t made an effort to be involved.
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.]
I would like it to be a little bigger, but it’s fine that it’s small. I think if we had more students it would assist with social life and helping there be a bigger social mix.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I haven’t begun that process yet but I know that Amherst has a strong alumni network because a lot of my friends who just graduated and the seniors now all got their jobs and internships through the alumni network. Amherst has a bunch of alumni nights where they come and you can make connections. The whole team had an alumni night last fall with alumni all from my team which was helpful.
Have you used the career office much?
They’re pretty helpful. You meet with the head there and they help you create a resume, a LinkedIn page, and help you figure out what path you want to go down and make the right connections. They also provide different information sessions so you can learn more about the industry you’re trying to get into.
Have you learned any computer programs or languages through your coursework that will be helpful to you professionally?
No, not at Amherst.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how easy is the office to work with?
They’re pretty easy to work with. They are very clear cut about what you need to get in and they respond quickly. If you want to appeal the offer you get or have questions, the process isn’t too hard to go through. They respond within a reasonable timeframe.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Amherst before entering?
I knew it was small, but I didn’t really understand how that would feel. When you go to college you don’t expect to see the same faces every day, but here it’s hard not to. It would have been good to know the actual impact of how small the school is.
What is something a prospective athlete may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
The story I keep hearing from a lot of athletes here is that they were hoping to go D1 but then ended up coming here, so it’s important to understand that it’s a D3 school. It’s a mix of everything. It’s not leaning all towards your sport, it’s not leaning all towards school or your social life, it’s a blend of each. You have to balance it all and have fun with it.
What is something that a student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I think prospective students should see a day or night in the social life because they won’t’ get that on a tour. If my friends ever complain about something, it’s the social life. If you come in with different expectations and you get here and it’s not that, it might ruin it. If you come here and expect it to be the stereotypical four years of fun, you’re going to be disappointed. It’s really focused academics with additions of social life.
Reasons to attend Amherst:
1) The academic standing. You can improve on all elements of what you might need for your post-college career by coming to Amherst. The professors focus on not just teaching you fact but taking things that you learn outside of the school.
2) The alumni network is very dense. There are alumni in every sector you might want, so it’s not hard to find someone from Amherst who has had similar experiences as you.
3) The fact that it’s a small school gives you the opportunity to make good relationships.
Reasons to not attend Amherst:
1) Don’t come here if you’re looking for a party scene and for the stereotypical college time, because that’s just not what it is.
2) For athletes, you’re not going to be some sort of campus superstar. Don’t expect to be treated special because you’re good at sports.