BackgroundInterview Date:August 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: Public school right outside of Boston with a graduating class of about 250 students. There was a culture of going to college
Minor: None. Amherst doesn’t have minors
Extracurricular Activities: Varsity Athlete
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
There is definitely a heavy focus on reading. I would say I have an essay about every three weeks. Because of the way the timing works out, it’s usually all of them at once.
Is there anything you feel the History department does especially well or poorly?
I think they’re especially understanding when you receive all of your papers at once. They’re pretty lenient about extensions and working with your course load as long as you’re responsible and proactive about it.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly collaborative or competitive?
For History, it’s more of an individual workload, especially with a lot of the papers. Students don’t really tend to work together. Other classes I’ve taken are more collaborative.
What was your favorite class in your major?
A seminar on the history of history. It was a class of about 12 people and it was about who determines what aspects of the event are important and who provides the voices. It was very theoretical but it was definitely interesting to pick apart certain historical events and see the different perspectives.
What was your least favorite class in either of your majors?
Global Valley, it was the history of the Pioneer Valley and Western Massachusetts specifically. It was an easy enough course, but I found the material dry and not applicable to other situations.
Do you feel people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
In the History department, yes. A lot of the classes I’ve taken are prefaced with encouraging open thought, and, if anything, encouraging people to acknowledge other schools of thought. I think people would argue differently for other departments, but History itself remains pretty objective.
How accessible have your professors been?
Extremely accessible. A lot of the upper-level History classes are no more than 15 students and they have office hours during the week and if you can’t make them you can email them and I’d say 8/10 times they can meet with you at a different point that week.
Why did you choose History? Are you happy with your choice?
I chose History because it was something that interested me and something that came fairly easy to me. I enjoyed being able to write papers and sit down and work on things on my own schedule. I also looked at Economics as a major. A grievance I have with Amherst is they don’t have minors because I would say econometrics scared me away from the Economics major.
How was managing your athletic schedule and your coursework?
It’s difficult, but something I believe, and something that almost every athlete at Amherst will say, is when you’re in season you get into more of a routine. It’s building time management skills and just not really wasting time when you’re in the library. It’s important to know how to manage your time better especially when you have practice.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Stern Hall in a two-room double. [It has been torn down]
Sophomore: Morris Pratt in a one-room double with the same roommate
Junior: Seelye in a two-room double with the same roommate
Senior: Seelye in the exact same room with a different roommate
What was your favorite living situation?
I think living in the two-room double freshman year was my favorite because it was kind of rare for a freshman to be able to your own room and space. I was able to meet new people while still having an area for myself to get used to the environment.
How was transitioning from living outside of Boston to Amherst, MA?
I’m kind of used to the area because I have a lot of family members there, so it wasn’t too difficult. I think the only transition process I noticed at Amherst was that I was one of the few in the group of people I was always around that went to public school. That didn’t affect things too drastically, it was just something I noticed.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I would say the campus is extremely safe. I’ve never heard of anyone having a problem and I’ve never had a problem. It’s nice to be in a social environment where if someone wants to go home [they can just go by themselves]. Our campus is not that big, so it’s very easy to be independent and do things on your own, especially late at night.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Johnny’s Tavern, it’s kind of a pub-bar that’s right downtown.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I like going to Northampton, they have a lot of good restaurants and cute little shops to go to. It’s about 20 minutes down the road and that’s where Smith College is, so it’s kind of nice.
Pros and Cons of being in Amherst, MA?
(1) For me, it’s within driving distance. It’s pretty centrally located, it’s under 2 hours away from Boston and under 3 hours from New York City, so I’ve done weekend trips.
(2) You’re in a great college town surrounded by [tons] of other college students.
Cons: (1) Sometimes you feel like you’re a little bit in the middle of nowhere. Especially, as an athlete traveling to other NESCAC schools, you tend to feel like you’re going from one place of isolation to the next.
(2) It gets really cold spending the whole winter in Amherst, MA.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
In season we can only go out on Saturday nights. Out of season, I’ll go out three to four nights a week depending on how popular things are.
Amherst has half a bar scene and half an on-campus scene. I personally like the bar scene because we have UMass Amherst down the street from us, so it’s kind of a rare opportunity to be out with a bunch of college kids that you don’t know. That alleviates the small school problem a little bit.
What nights of the week do you regularly go out?
Wednesday is our Amherst bar night for seniors and people who are 21. Thursday night there are small things happening on campus. Because our school is so athlete oriented it depends on who isn’t in season at the time, so I will usually go to bars because there are a lot of UMass students out. Friday nights depend again on who’s not in season. For example, in the spring if [a certain team] isn’t having a party, nobody will really go out because there isn’t a team hosting. Saturday is a free for all, most people who I hang out with go out.
How happy are you with the weekend options at Amherst? Is there anything you would change if you could?
We need more spaces. My freshman year I was in the social dorms [that were torn down] so we had suites and a lot more opportunities. Now it’s limited to four or five spaces on campuses. It also encourages exclusivity because if spaces are getting crowded people to start to limit it to only people they know, which is creating issues on campus. Besides that, I’m fairly happy with it. I like having UMass Amherst nearby, it’s a nice break to get to immerse yourself in a larger school environment. [See Amherst Student article about the social dorms being torn down.]
What have been your favorite times at Amherst?
This is an athlete point of view, but there are a lot of formals which I think are a lot of fun. Different sports teams and different clubs will host a formal one or two times a year and it’s fun to get dressed up and go into town or go to a bar. Sometimes we go to a Chinese restaurant for dinner before the event and then go out with our formal dates. I would also say Homecoming is fun because it’s a small school and it’s nice to see people you went to school with for two or three years. The alumni can also meet underclassmen they wouldn’t have known otherwise.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Through the randomized roommate process freshman year, and then also a lot of my other close friends I met through my team.
How would you describe the social scene?
I’m definitely biased in the group of people I hang out with. I’d say it is athlete run or athlete based. I don’t know if that’s because Amherst athletes want to go out more or because non-athletes are not choosing to intermingle or it’s both. I would say that it’s mostly based on male athletes hosting things, and then other groups also host things but those seem to be smaller events.
To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think that also goes back to the athlete social life. I would say that different races and sexual orientations mix socially, but that’s also if you’re friends with athletes [who define that way]. There are people that feel excluded racially and sexual orientation-wise because of the dominant male athlete culture on campus.
How would you describe the student body?
We have a very diverse student body. In some of my classes and even people on my team, there are a lot of international students and people I might not have had the chance to meet if I had not been at a school like Amherst. [In the 2017-2018 academic year, about 44% of students were White and about 9% were international students.]
Do you think people are happy with their choice of Amherst by the time they graduate? Do you think people love Amherst?
I don’t know if people leave necessarily leave loving Amherst, but they leave loving the people that went to the school. Homecoming is a huge event that people come back for because they want to see the professors they worked with and the people they went to school with. I don’t know if it’s necessarily the school environment itself, but I think it’s definitely the close-knit students that attend the school.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
It hasn’t personally helped me find internships, but it’s definitely an accessible way to find internships. I know a lot of students that do a lot of networking, especially in finance, through Amherst. [In the Class of 2017, 24% of students went into careers in finance after graduation.]
Have you used the career office? If so, how helpful were they?
The career office is very helpful if you know what you’re looking for. They have helped me edit my resume and cover letter and make it professional. Something that Amherst also does is their career center can provide funding and stipends for your summer internships. For example, I have a partially funded summer internship to help me with commuting costs and housing costs, which is definitely something you can’t get at a lot of schools.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
My only use of Excel was at a class that I took at UMass. That’s another positive of Amherst is that you can take classes at other colleges around the area. I’ve been taking business classes at Eisenberg at UMass, which is my only interaction with Excel. At Amherst, no.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how accommodating was the office to your needs?
Yeah, I use financial aid for almost all of my tuition. They’re pretty accommodating. Sophomore year I took a semester off and I had to go on financial aid probation, and all I had to do was write a letter explaining it to them and they were accommodating to me.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Amherst before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew how small the school is. I think my sophomore year I knew probably over 50% of the school, which is kind of scary. The size definitely has its pros because I know a lot more people at a smaller school than I would have at a larger school, but I think people need to understand how small and confined the school gets.
What is something a prospective athlete should know that we haven’t touched on yet?
It’s important to focus on your athletics and your studies and not get caught up in the social environment at Amherst. I know a lot of kids that quit because they feel the sport isn’t worth it and they’re missing out on social endeavors. I would just say remember why you love the sport you do and why you chose to play this sport.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I would go check out the new science center because it’s new. So, the science center, the Beneski Museum, or Antonio’s because it’s the best pizza I’ve ever had.
Reasons to attend Amherst:
1) Unmatched academics with the ability to take classes at schools in the Five College Consortium.
2) Very small classes.
3) A lot of one on one opportunities with professors and easy accessibility.
4) Super awesome students you can form relationships with socially, athletically, and even studying-wise.
5) There are a lot of opportunities outside of sports, like investment clubs, consulting clubs, outing clubs, etc.
Reasons to not attend Amherst:
1) If you don’t like cold weather you will hate it.
2) I would say understand how small the school is. I know a lot of students who went to bigger high schools than Amherst.
3) If you’re looking for a crazy party scene this is probably not the school for you.