Amherst, our top-ranked traditional liberal arts school, has many qualities that set it apart among small elite colleges. For one, unlike most top schools, which dictate a variety of basic classes that lower classmen must take, Amherst has no required courses apart from a first-year seminar emphasizing writing and critical thinking. The school allows students, at no extra cost, to take classes offered by the other nearby colleges: Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The college is recognized for its commitment to teaching and close interaction between professors and students. Amherst also is one of a tiny group of schools that pledge to meet 100% of every student’s demonstrated financial need. As a result, the majority of students—approximately 70%—graduate from Amherst without taking out student loans. Amherst grads report salaries averaging about $53,400 within five years. Sports have always been popular on campus, especially competitions between Amherst and friendly rival Williams College. The annual football game between the two Division III schools is known as the Biggest Little Game in America, a hat tip to the Big Game played annually by D-I rivals Stanford and UC-Berkeley. Williams has won more games overall (71-54), but Amherst has claimed victory in the last five meetings.
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There's a huge variety of courses, and there's always more courses that I want to take than I can fit into my schedule. There's no gen-ed requirements, so you're pretty much always taking classes that you're really interested in. Professors are passionate and always happy to talk with you. Most classes are challenging, but you can get an A if you put the effort in.
The alumni network is very strong and many students utilize it to help find internships and post-graduation jobs. Pretty much everyone I know who has graduated has had a job, grad school or some other plan lined up by the end of the year.
I love Amherst College with it's ups and downs. The professors are amazing and the open curriculum makes the whole "finding yourself" experience even better. However, if you are in minority student, affinity groups (like the black students union, the queer resource center, the international students club, etc) will be very important to your survival. Social life here at Amherst is largely run by upper middle-class white male athletes and the hook-up culture which can be very uncomfortable and weird (especially in such a small college). However when find a solid group of friends, those struggles will be minimized.
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