I love getting questions on my tours. Questions are an important tool for both visitors and Tour Guides, and ensure that tours cater to the guests’ interests and concerns. Plus, they give me something to talk about for the whole hour! So if you ever decide to visit Amherst and you are on one of my tours, be sure to ask a ton of questions!
Speaking of questions, a crowd favorite seems to be: “Why did you choose Amherst?” I figure I might as well get that question out of the way in my first blog post.The story of how I came to Amherst is actually a bit funny, because I did not even want to apply to Amherst in the first place! As a senior I had my own ideas about where I wanted to go to school, largely influenced by what my fellow peers thought about each institution. At my uber competitive collegepreparatory high school, big-name, high-recognition schools were the only one’s deemed valid. Despite, Amherst’s recognition in the world of academia and the job market, the small liberal arts college did not seem to be on my classmate’s radar.
My parents were drawn in by Amherst’s amazing financial aid package, one of the few schools that guarantees to meet all demonstrated financial need with grant funding rather than loans. So despite my own desires, I was still 18 years old living under my parent’s roof so Amherst was added to my college list. Additionally, my parents also insisted that I apply for Amherst’s Diversity Open House, or DIVOH program. The DIVOH program is an opportunity for seniors to visit Amherst, stay with a student host, explore the social scene, and even sit in on classes. I was accepted and I attended the September DIVOH and all of my negative feelings about Amherst were converted.
My experience at DIVOH, at risk of sounding cliche, was absolutely amazing! (For any seniors considering applying all I have to say is DO IT DO IT DO IT!) My host was a junior at the time, and she immediately made me feel at home, even entrusting me with a key to her room. Everywhere I went at Amherst, passing students would stop what they were doing and turn to me and smile saying, “Are you from DIVOH?” or “How’s DIVOH?”. Everyone seemed so genuine and even though I did not attend the school, let alone had not even started on the application (procrastination and all that, you know how it is) I began to feel at home.
Attending classes that Monday sealed the deal for me. I sat in on two classes each completely different, one a Spanish class and the other a Sociology elective. Worried that college spanish would be sooo rigorous my 7 years of middle and high school spanish would be no match I sat in on a beginning Spanish class. To my great relief, the class was actually too easy so I was able to act as a conversational partner for one of the student’s in the class. We chatted in Spanish, and after the class he invited me to head to Val (the dining hall here) to eat lunch with some of his friends. I was literally shocked! I, of course, accepted the offer and took it as an opportunity to get more of my questions about Amherst answered (they were all very good sports about being bombarded).
After attending DIVOH I knew that Amherst was the school for me. Toward the end of the trip I bought a purple Amherst sweatshirt that I wore proudly the day I got back to school. I was too excited to even care about what my classmates thought about the school.
So reader, that is my challenge to you! Throughout your college search try not to get hung up on what other people say about each school. Instead take control by asking your own questions and formulating your own opinions. If you’re frank and honest with yourself you will end up at the perfect school for you. And who knows, maybe it will be here at good ol’ Amherst!
Until next time!