Amherst's curricular approach of broad student choice, guided by faculty advising, rests on the conviction that students learn best when they take responsibility for their own education. We believe that Amherst students present such strong credentials at matriculation that forced exposure to subject areas or enforcement of minimum competencies would largely end up mandating what students choose to do. Our experience in the past has demonstrated that by the time they graduate, most students have taken courses across the major divisions at the college.
However, the freedom we provide students places a heavy responsibility on faculty to advise students to develop a range of skills and take a breath of courses. All regular faculty serve as advisors and all academic advising is done by faculty. As student and advisor together plan a student’s program, they should discuss whether the student has selected courses that:
- develop fundamental capabilities such as critical reading, written and oral expression, quantitative reasoning, and proficiency in using information resources;
- achieve breadth of understanding through study in a range of disciplines and modes of inquiry.
The Office of Student Affairs oversees pre-major advising. A member of that office serves as the class dean for first-year students, sophomores, juniors and seniors. All in-coming students meet with an orientation advisor at the start of new student orientation to discuss their interests and objectives and to develop a course schedule. After that schedule is finalized, the student is assigned to a college advisor, who is to the degree possible one of the student’s instructors.
Once a student declares a major, the department chair assigns him or her a major advisor, where possible in keeping with the student's preferences. Double and triple majors have an advisor in each department. Course registration requires the signature of the advisor(s). Through the Catalog and its supplements, the Registrar provides full information about the courses available, about department requirements and expectations, and about the eligibility of individual students for some sequential courses. Departments present information sessions about their programs during new student orientation.
Amherst College offers a variety of services to support the academic work of students. These services include : Quantitative Skills , Peer Tutoring , English As A Second Language (ESL) the Writing Center , academic support for Students with Disabilities, Reading & Study Skills Seminar (fall semester), and Math Review during winter break. Students who have used these support services have consistently recommended them highly. The Career Center has information on Study Abroad Programs and on Resources for Students Considering Careers in the Health Professions .