Q: In light of COVID-19, will A2A participants be able to visit campus? 

We are excited to welcome A2A participants to visit campus in person this year! At Amherst, the safety of our community and visitors is our highest priority, so we require full vaccination including booster, or negative COVID test within 72 hours of your visit, for all campus visitors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you'll find the answers to some frequently asked questions about our Access to Amherst (A2A) program. Make sure you also check out the main Access to Amherst webpage for more information. If you can't find the answer to your particular question, please feel free to contact us by email at admissionprograms@amherst.edu. We want to be certain you have the information you need!


Eligibility

Q: Who should apply to participate in A2A weekend?
Access to Amherst is available to all prospective students, but the selection committee prioritizes inviting students from historically excluded groups, such as African-American, Hispanic/Latinx American, Native American, and Asian-American backgrounds, as well as first-generation to college students. The selection committee will also prioritize inviting students from families with limited financial resources, regardless of cultural or racial background. The above-mentioned are priorities, but are not meant to imply any exclusivity regarding the program or the selection process. If you have an interest in attending, we encourage you to apply!

Q: I’m a high school student who lives outside the United States, can I apply to participate in A2A?
Students who live outside the United States may apply to A2A, but unfortunately we cannot fund travel to visit Amherst during the A2A weekend. Some students who apply to A2A will also receive a waiver for the $65 application fee to encourage their applications to Amherst, regardless of whether they are invited to participate in A2A. Some students who apply to A2A will be invited to participate in a virtual Mock Application Workshop with admission deans, regardless of whether they are invited to participate in A2A. Students who live outside the US are eligible for these application benefits, and may choose to apply.

Q: How do I apply to participate in A2A?
First, you must submit an online application form, which is available through the main A2A webpage each May. The application asks you to answer a short essay prompt. You must also upload a scanned copy of your high school transcript through your junior year (unofficial transcripts are acceptable) and a list of your senior year courses. Your application is not considered complete until we have received all of these materials. All materials must be received by the deadline stated on the application. You also have the option to submit a graded academic paper and a school profile.

Q: Why do I need to submit my transcript?
You must submit your transcript to show the Admission Office what you have accomplished during your high school career. Your transcript allows us to get an accurate picture of what courses you have taken, how much you have challenged yourself academically, and how well you have succeeded in your studies so far.

Q: What is the cost of applying to A2A?
The A2A online application is completely free!

Q: What is the cost of participating in A2A?
Participation in A2A is completely free! Additionally, a fee waiver for Amherst's $65 admission application fee is provided to all students invited to participate in A2A. Some students who apply to A2A will also receive a waiver for the $65 application fee to encourage their applications to Amherst, regardless of whether they are invited to participate in A2A.

Q: Am I eligible to apply if I'm currently taking a gap year?
Unfortunately we are not accepting applications from students currently in a gap year, as the program is designed to help students navigate their senior year in high school.


Application and Selection Processes

Q: When will I hear regarding my selection for A2A?
We typically notify all applicants three weeks after the application deadline.

Q: Does being selected to participate in A2A mean that I am guaranteed admission to Amherst?
An invitation to participate in A2A is a sign that Amherst is interested in you, but by no means assures admission to the College. In the past, approximately 75% of A2A attendees (who create an extremely competitive pool) subsequently apply for admission to the College. Of those who apply, typically 65% are admitted.

Q: Does not being selected for A2A mean that I wouldn’t be admitted to Amherst?
No! The A2A application and selection process is extremely competitive. Many qualified students are not selected to attend the program, simply because of space limitations.

Q: What are the benefits of being an A2A applicant who then decides to apply for admission to Amherst?
In addition to the possibility of participating in A2A, submitting an A2A application offers a few other benefits, as well.

  • A fee waiver for Amherst's $65 admission application fee is provided to all students invited to participate in A2A. Some students who apply to A2A will also receive a waiver for the $65 application fee to encourage their applications to Amherst, regardless of whether they are invited to participate in A2A.
  • Some students who apply to A2A will be invited to participate in a virtual Mock Application Workshop with admission deans, regardless of whether they are invited to participate in A2A.
  • A2A applicants who eventually decide to apply for admission to Amherst College will have the option of using their A2A application essay in satisfaction of Amherst's Writing Supplement requirement.

Q: What is the short essay prompt, and how long should my response be?
Your response to the following essay prompt should be no more than 350 words: 

“I came here for many of the same reasons you did... I came because of [Amherst’s] commitment to a student body that reflects the rich diversity of the country, indeed the world. I came, as you did, to contribute in some way to making Amherst even better, and to figuring out what it might mean, here as elsewhere, to take full advantage of the diversity you represent.” —Biddy Martin, Amherst College President (2011-2022)

In what ways would your background, experiences, and values "contribute in some way to making Amherst even better"?

Q: How should I submit my short essay?
The online application allows you to upload a document in response to the application prompt. If your essay is not ready to be uploaded at the time you submit your application, you may upload it later through your Application Status Portal (login information provided after you submit an application). Please note that, should you eventually decide to apply for admission to Amherst College, you will have the option of using this A2A application essay in satisfaction of Amherst's Writing Supplement requirement for your admission application to Amherst.

Q: How should I submit my transcript?
You should upload a copy of your transcript while completing the application, or on your Application Status Portal (login information provided after you submit an application). You can also send a copy of your transcript by email to admissionprograms@amherst.edu. Documents should be sent in the following formats: PDF, Microsoft Office Word Document, or TIFF.  If you are unable to upload or email a copy of your transcript to our office, please fax it to 413-542-2040. If none of these options work, please call our admission office at 413-542-2328 to discuss other options.

Q: What kind of academic writing sample is most helpful to submit?
If you choose to submit a graded paper, one from your junior year that best represents your writing skills and analytical abilities is most helpful for application review purposes. We are particularly interested in your ability to construct a tightly reasoned, persuasive argument that calls upon literary, sociological or historical evidence. You should not submit a laboratory report, journal entry, creative writing sample or in-class essay. If you do not have the ability to upload a paper and include the evaluator's comments or grade, you should submit the paper in its final draft.

Q: What if my transcript doesn't have final grades for 11th grade?
A: You can submit a transcript that contains all of the grades that you have access to now, but your application will be incomplete until we receive final grades from your junior year. You should submit your full transcript through the end of junior year by the deadline. If you're not able to access your full transcript, you may submit a report card for the marking period, semester, or trimester that is not reflected on your transcript.

Q: What if I don't have an official list of senior classes? 
You should upload a document with a list of classes you intend to take in your senior year. Do your best to be as accurate as possible but we understand that not everyone will have an official list available by the deadline. 

Q: What is a school profile?
A school profile is a document available through your school counseling office. Your school compiles information about the student body, curriculum, and grading system, which can be helpful to admission offices. You can see a sample school profile here. If your school does not have a profile available to you, keep in mind that this document is optional!

Q: Who can I talk to if I want to learn more about Amherst or A2A?
Our fantastic Diversity Outreach Interns! These current Amherst students help the Office of Admission plan the program. You can get to know them by checking out the Diversity Outreach Interns webpage!

Hosting and Meals

Q: How will I be matched with a student host?
You will be staying with Amherst College students who volunteer to host prospective students. The students represent a variety of class years, interests, and majors. If you have any specific requests (e.g. if you would like to be hosted by an English major), we will do our best to honor them, but please be aware that our ability to do so depends on the students who volunteer to host. Some requests are more difficult to honor than others.

Q: What should I expect from my host for the weekend?
Your host will provide you a place to sleep and be a contact while you are on campus. Although some hosts will be able to show students around campus and into town, others may have academic or extra-curricular commitments that prevent them from doing so. Instead, you can ask one of our lovely interns any questions that you may have if your host is unavailable!

Q: Can I stay with an athlete?
If you would like to stay with an athlete in a club sport, (rugby, ultimate Frisbee, crew, equestrian, fencing, mountain biking, sailing, skiing, water polo, wrestling), you will have an opportunity to notify us about this request prior to the program. If you would like to stay with an athlete who is part of a varsity team, you should be in direct contact with the coach of that sport to be sure the coach has assigned a current student to host you BEFORE registering to attend the program. Links to individual webpages for specific teams and contact information for coaches can be accessed through the drop-down list located at the About Amherst Athletics page. 

Q: Can I stay with my friend who goes to Amherst?
Yes! All housing arrangements are made through the Admissions Office. Please request your friend by name. Your friend should also sign up to host (we send out emails in the fall) and request to host you, by name.

Q: Do I need to bring money for food?
Not at all! Amherst will provide all meals for the weekend. After you arrive for the program, you will receive an access card that will allow you to have your meals in our campus dining hall.

Transportation

Q: How much of my travel expenses does Amherst cover to attend A2A?
Students selected to visit Amherst for a A2A weekend will receive 100% of round-trip transportation costs (airline, bus, or train) for A2A attendance. This funding includes ground transportation to and from our campus, as well.

Q: Does Amherst pay for my travel expenses upfront?
Yes, we do! We will be in contact with you shortly after acceptance with instructions on how to book travel for the program.    

Q: Who should I contact to book my plane, train, or bus tickets to the College?
The Office of Admission uses a travel agency to assist students in securing travel tickets to attend the program. We will provide the contact information for our agency to students who have been accepted to attend the program.  

Q: How will I get from the airport/train station/bus station to Amherst College?
All shuttles/vans drive directly to Amherst College and drop students at the A2A check in location.

For air travel: a shuttle service will meet you at the baggage claim area in the airport. Shuttles hold 10 students, and do not depart the airport until they are full.

For train travel: Amherst College vans will meet you at the platform. Vans will not depart the train station until all train travelers have been accounted for.

For bus travel: an Amherst staff person will meet you at the bus stop in an Amherst College van for easy luggage transportation.

Q: Will Amherst cover the transportation costs of my parents to the program?
No, Amherst cannot pay transportation costs for your parents or otherwise assist with their travel arrangements. Because we would like to offer as many students as possible an opportunity to explore Amherst, we do not make funding available for parents.

Q: Does Amherst pay airline fees for checked luggage that I bring with me?
No, so we recommend that students traveling by air bring only the standard "one carry-on bag and one personal item" that can be taken on board the airplane and do not need to be checked. If you do decide to check any bags (at your own expense), keep in mind that fees for checking luggage vary across airlines and by the weight of your bag. (If you need information on the size and number of bags that you're permitted to carry on board the plane for free, or the airline fees for checked bags, you can find that at the website of the airline you're flying.) Typically, airlines will allow you to bring a backpack/bag (for personal items) and a sleeping bag, as your personal item. 

Arrival and Departure

Q: What is the recommended departure time?
Upon arrival on campus, you will be given a list of Monday classes, which begin at 8:30 a.m. and continue into the afternoon. As your last event before your departure, we encourage you to visit classes that interest you! To get a good sense of the classroom environment at Amherst, we expect that you will leave no earlier than 11:00 a.m. on Monday, so that you can choose from a wide array of classes to attend.

Q: What should I do if I need to leave earlier than the recommended departure time on Monday?
You should first notify the Office of Admission. We expect attending students to stay for the entirety of the program. However, if you need to leave early on the final day of the program for a compelling reason, please let us know as soon as possible. We try our best to accommodate students who would like to attend other college overnights that overlap with our program.   

Q: Can I come early or stay a day late?
The college cannot provide additional funding for students who plan to arrive a day early or stay after the program ends. However, we will consider extenuating circumstances for students traveling long distances.

Programming

Q: What COVID-19 protocols do A2A participants need to follow?

At Amherst, the safety of our community and visitors is our highest priority. Full vaccination including booster, or negative COVID test within 72 hours of your visit, is required for all campus visitors. We will follow all College guidance for building occupancy and masking. A2A applicants should consult our COVID-19 website for the most up-to-date information.

Q: What will we be doing during A2A?
There will be special programming for students selected to participate in A2A, including sessions with admission deans and financial aid deans, a faculty panel, and opportunities to interact with current Amherst College students, faculty, and staff. Plus, you’ll also get to know other A2A participants from across the country!

Q: What classes are offered and when will I be able to visit them?
We allow students free time to attend classes on the Monday of our program. Since Monday is also the last day/departure day of the program, please be mindful of your departure time. The earlier you leave on Monday, the less time you will have to take classes. We expect all students to depart no earlier than 11:00 a.m. You will receive a list of classes when you arrive and will have time to decide which ones you would like to attend. To make sure you don't disrupt the class, please plan to stay for the duration of the class. 

Q: What if I want to attend multiple fly-in programs in a single weekend? Will Amherst accommodate me?
Many students who come to A2A also attend other programs and we will do our best to accommodate your plans. If you are attending another program either immediately before or after A2A, we will arrange appropriate transportation with advanced notice. We are unable to accommodate students who wish to attend multiple fly-in programs on the same dates, as we feel that each program deserves a student’s full time and attention.

General

Q: What should I do if something comes up and I can no longer go to A2A?
Again, let us know as soon as possible. Either call the Office of Admission at (413)-542-2328 or email us at admissionprograms@amherst.edu. Please be aware that all students who book travel for A2A and don’t attend the program are responsible for reimbursing our office for all costs incurred.

Q: Will I have Internet access?
You will be able to access Amherst College's wireless Internet as a guest. There are computers for public use in several locations on campus.

Q: What should I bring with me to campus?
Dress for this weekend is casual. You may want to check the weather in the Amherst area before deciding what clothes to pack. The following are other suggestions for what you should bring with you on your trip:

  • sleeping bag or blankets and pillow (required - let us know if you can’t bring these items)
  • COVID Vaccination Card or negative test result
  • casual clothing
  • warm jacket
  • towel and toiletries 
  • cell phone
  • spending money (You will not need to pay for any meals or events while on campus, but you may want to buy some Amherst memorabilia while you are here.)
  • HOMEWORK!  (You are visiting a college, after all!)