Fare thee well summer readers.  I had planned a longer entry for my last, but I did something a little bit different instead.  For anyone interested, I recorded a 12 minute long final video blog entry which will be available on facebook and upon request.  For the full, "unspencored" version, shoot me an email at Spencer8@gmail.com and I can send you the link. It's pretty goofy, and has almost nothing to do with Amherst, which is why I am not going to embed it here.  So, it's been real, but I have a school year to start.


Stay Posted!

Alas, the end of the summer is near upon us, and I have a lot to say.  I will be posting one last blog entry for the summer, hopefully by Thursday, before I begin Resident Counselor (RC) training. 

If you are reading this now, make sure to check back in for the last entry. 

Perhaps I will be allowed to continue blogging during the school year, but perhaps not. 

The future is all but certain, and I am but an autumn leaf thrown this way and that- ultimately at the will of none other than God.

You think I am joking, but I am not.  If I was, it would be much, much, funnier.


Questions, Questions, Questions...

DanPeople ask me, they ask: Spencer, when are you going to talk about Amherst College itself for a change?  Why do you talk about yourself so much?  Who is Dapper Dan?  Although these are all valid questions, they can all be answered by a single, simple run on sentence about how I try to post something useful about the college once a week, so that each time I say something about the school it is very deliberate and honest, and I would respond that I write about myself so much because it is both easier and funnier than if I were to write about something I didn’t know very well; cheese is an example of something I don’t know very well, and is also a food group that Dapper Dan, everyone’s favorite Russian Blue, doesn’t know very well since his diet probably consists primarily of Friskies’ Seafood Sensations, or, if he’s lucky, Fancy Feast’s legendary Salmon and Ocean Whitefish Feast. 

On a more serious note, I offer my heartfelt apologies for rickrolling you all last week.  Says father Russell, “I clicked the link, but it took me to a different video.”  If this was your first time being rickrolled, then you, like my father, are probably not exactly the youngest of adults, and I apologize.  Kids these days are crazy…with their cd players, and their chia pets, and their digipets, and their whatchamacallits.  Back when I was a kid, you put a nickel in the jukebox and it played all night…  

For your enjoyment, I have pasted below some Q&A on classes and advising.  The answers are my own, and may vary from student to student, buttttt maybe worth checking out for those who want a little more info on the academic and advising side of things. 


Is it hard deciding what classes to take with an open curriculum?

Personally, I think picking classes with the open curriculum is exciting.  Given so much freedom, it’s really a matter of which classes sound interesting, or which professors your friends loved, or what subject matter you’ve never tried before.  As a Psych major (hollllaaa) I understand that sometimes as one’s choices increase, one’s level of satisfaction with said choice decreases, but I think it’s a surprisingly fun process and you’ll have an advisor with you to help you navigate the curriculum. 

Didn’t think I could be serious?  Think again.  Next Question.

Does your advisor start working with you freshman year?
The advising system starts immediately.  During the summer you’ll fill out a sheet listing potential academic interests, and you’ll probably be paired with a professor from one of those fields.  But not to worry, as soon as you figure out what you want to pursue specifically , you can switch to an advisor from that department.  If you are a double major you can have an adviser from both departments, and if you write a thesis then you can have a thesis advisor as well.  This is all just to say, we got yo’ back, yo.

Yeah, didn’t think I could answer that question in a cool, hip, and relevant way did you?  Next.

Do you find that students usually prepare for classes and do a lot of people participate?

That’s a very good question.  If you've taken one of my tours, then you are probably familiar with my yes/no answering style, but if not, this is how I like to attack the trickier questions.  Yes, most students do come prepared to class.  No, not everyone comes prepared to class.  I think the classroom experience here is great, and it really is what you make of it.  It’s up to you to prepare yourself for each class and decide how much reading or studying you want to do.  You’ll have a lot more freedom than in high school, but I think the kinds of students Amherst admits coupled with the fact that each student is picking the classes they want to take (shout outs to the open curriculum!) means that students are going to be engaged with the course materiels.  Are there times when certain students dominate discussion, or certain students come unprepared for one reason or the other?  Sure.  But this is first and foremost an academic institution, and a very selective one at that, so you’re going to get a great experience in class.  Even the professors of lecture classes often pause for questions to make sure that everyone is on board.

Have more questions?  Let me know and I'll be happy to answer. 

You stay classsy San Diego.  I'm Ron Burgondy?
Ron Burgundy


Today's entry was supposed to feature myself as well as a fellow summer intern, Dan "Bieber" Pastan.  To all of our disappointment, Bieber is out of commission for the next few days and you will get yours truly.  That said:

I consider myself a very honest tour guide.  If you ask me a question, I am going to give you a thoughtful and truthful answer, regardless of whether it casts the school in its best light.  Amherst has students from 46 states and over 40 countries (I've heard a few stats, but this one seems to be the consensus.) Likewise, our summer visitors come from all over the country and all around the world.  I've had a seven family tour where three families were from different countries, and the other four families were all from different states.  There is a lot to say about the different kinds of diversity that Amherst attracts, but for now suffice it to say that people spend a lot of time, energy, and $ visiting colleges. It is my job then, to try and give you a sense of how the school operates and what we think makes us unique from our peer institutions. 

At this point you may be thinking "Spencer, you're being neither funny nor informative." I respectfully disagree.  In typing out "Spencer, you're being neither funny nor informative," I am actually taking a lighthearted jab at my writing thus far, making this entry at least a little bit funny.  Maybe not.  I mean, not terrificly funny by any means but funnier than Katie Jablin.  Her idea of funny was cruelly rick rolling prospective students via my blog by making them think she had recorded a video for them.  Well I have news for you Katie Jablin: rickrolling people is not cool...  My father is still not sure why you made him sit through :15 seconds of Rick Astley. 

This entry's going worse than my Tuesday tour. rofl. But in all sobriety, it was a pretty bad tour, and I apologize.  When my jokes don't go over it's like a train-wreck.  A chiseled, bronzed, backwards walking train-wreck. 

Hopefully that made you chuckle and you are ready to return to the original matter at hand: my job as a tour guide.  As I alluded to earlier, my job is to give you information about Amherst College with a personalized touch.  It is not my job though to convince you that Amherst is  most diverse, most unique, and outstanding college in the country.  That is your job. 

I bring this up because myself, Bieber, and the rest of the tour guides are continually asked "Why should I (usually a parent asking for a student) choose Amherst over any other school?"  Sometimes this question is asked politely, while other times it's meant as a sort of stumbling block.  Either way, this is a question that is better suited for your son/daughter after the tour and info session.  All we do is show you the school and give you a taste of some of our experiences here.  Whether your visit to Amherst was unique to your other visits is up to you.  So please (Campus Visit Etiquette Part 4 Much?) refrain from asking me to convince you why Amherst is better than ______ college/university.  If you've spent a few hours at Amherst as well as at some similarly selective colleges and and universities and still feel the inclination to ask "Why Amherst?" then maybe this is not the best fit for you.  Hopefully, instead, you can leave asking the question "Why not Amherst?"

All of that said, I love Amherst.  I think, for myself, it is better than any other school I could have chosen, but its obviously not going to be the best fit for everyone.  So, my advice to prospective students is to take some time tgetting a feel for each school and how you feel on the campus.  If it's not vibing with you, don't ask someone to convince you why it's an amazing school.  Rather move on to the next school, and hopefully you'll end up with a few that you love.


Spencer's Corner

Spencer Russell

Since blogging is the new facebook chat, which was the new twitter, which was the new aim, which coexisted with myspace, which overshadowed friendster- which no one used anyways-  I’m going to be blogging for you all this summer (Summer of 10!! Woo!!!) 

So, my name is Spencer.  I am a rising junior and I hail from a small town in New Hampshire about an hour away from the college.  I am going to be a Music and Psychology double major, and I want to fuse the two subjects together but am still unsure as to how.  I am a diversity intern and summer intern for the Admissions Office, a pianist (although that word is way too formal for someone who plays pop music almost exclusively), an academic tutor, and am soon to be a Resident Counselor (RC) in one of the dorms. 

I came to Amherst College for a number of reasons which I hope to further illuminate throughout the summer, so you all can feel free to make this your new homepage (your old one wasn’t THAT cool) and keep up with the 'Herst over the summer. My email address is SRussell12@amherst.edu for anyone with questions or comments.

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Amherst in Uganda

Sent to me from my eldest brother, Evan, who is doing some work in Uganda this summer.  Here is the Amherst t-shirt I sent him during my freshman year.  Now, it is in better hands.

Ugandan Child holding an Amherst t-shirt

Says Evan via email "Internally displaced camp in Eastern Uganda"

Homepage much?

We made it, huh?  The big time.
Twenty years of hard work and good looks have finally paid off.
I mean, I always thought it was a possibility…
But not like this… not now.

I feel like Kobe Bryant when he won his fifth Championship... or Kobe Bryant when he returned to Philadelphia to win his first All-Star game MVP... or perhaps I feel a little bit more like Kobe Bryant that time Michael Jordan said he was better than Lebron James.

Speaking of Lebron, I've decided to start hosting my own hour long press conferences to make announcements about my own life developments...  "It's been a hard decision, but after much deliberation, I've decided to take my talents to Papa Gino's tonight." 




Anyways, I think I'm going to start writing smaller posts and posting more often.

Also, Katie Jablin recorded a pretty awesome video yall should check out: Katie's advice for incoming students


While You Wait

I tried to embed this video, but alas I was unsuccessful. So, while you patiently wait for my next post (expect me to post more often in the near future,) enjoy a little Coldplay cover I recorded with a friend.

Viva La Vida

Dave's youtube account: http://www.youtube.com/user/dboo300

Spencer's youtube account http://www.youtube.com/srussell12


Week 6

Campus Visit Etiquette
Dapper Dan
Why Spencer Chose Amherst
Closing Remarks

Family and friends agree: my blog is the greatest thing of all time.

"Your blog is kind of a big deal" –My sister

"Just what my rainy Thursday needed! Thanks again, Turkey!"*  -My sister’s friend

"I'm now craving French toast. Thx a lot.” –My sister’s friend like two hours later.

"How did you know I was looking forward to some Turkey Time?!”** –My sister’s other friend

And from real live (and soon to be real live) Amherst students:

"I love your blog. So much"

"HAHA you're hilarious."

"I agree, you were wrong; I absolutely prefer your blog longer"

"I guess it was better than the last one." 

Want to see your comments in my blog?  Email me at SRussell12@amherst.edu or respond to my facebook stat.  Stat is slang for status.  I mean, noone says it yet.  But I'm making it happen.

Now onto the good stuff. 

I bought some sunglasses last week in Northampton for $7.95.  They look really, really good and the frames are clear so they match any outfit. 

Also, I met five tour guides from Fairfield University this past weekend.  They were cool people, and addition to racking up a few new facebook friends, I took the opportunity to learn some new tour guide jokes.  For example, when passing the mailboxes in the student center, I can break this one out "These are the mailboxes where all Amherst students receive their mail. [Pause.] And since mom never sends me anything, you can feel free to forward any gifts or care packages to Keefe Campus Center Box #1718, AmherstCollege, AmherstMA, 01002."***

Now for part 3 of Campus Visit Etiquette: Research the school beforehand.  Tours are growing increasingly obsolete.  You can find out almost anything about a school from its website.  If the site is difficult to navigate, use the search bar to find whatever it is that you would like to know.  If you want to get a very basic picture of what the school looks like, take a virtual tour, and, if you’re interested in Amherst, an audio tour.  Take the time to contact the coaches if you’re an athlete, or to research the Theatre department if you’re an actress.  US News and World Report is fun and dandy, but that should not be the only site you check before visiting the college. 

Octagon in the winter

Why do I say all of this?  It makes my job much easier if I am answering well-educated questions that are relevant to Amherst.  The advantages of taking a tour in person are two fold.  First off, you can get a sense of how you feel on the campus, and secondly, you can interact with a current student.  However, briefing yourself on the school beforehand will help a) determine whether or not you are interested in a particular school (for the school and not the rating,) b) prevent many questions from being asked that need not be asked, c) direct the questions you do ask to a relevant aspect of the school or student experience, and d) make me a much happier tour-guide.  That said, I will smile and answer your questions fully and honestly regardless.  But, I’ll be bleeding a little on the inside. 

So the Netherlands lost 1-0.  In related news, Bert van Marwijk’s mullet won 3-2.  I don’t have much else to say to that besides the fact that Chris Morrison is much cooler than me and I loved spending the weekend with him.  Newest prediction: Lakers over the Heat in the 2010-2011 NBA Finals.  Kobe will win his 3rd Finals MVP award, and there will be no discussion as to who the king really is. 

BIG Shouts to Dapper Dan!

Dapper Dan

Above: Dapper Dan

Why Spencer Chose Amherst Part 2:

Freshman Quad


In addition to the open curriculum (see last entry,) I was attracted to Amherst’s beauty.  There are no statistics on how a school looks, or how you feel on campus, but I cannot overstate the importance of physical appearance in my college search.  Shallow? Perhaps, but I wanted to attend a school with red brick buildings and green quads, with white pillars and a definite and unified sense of campus boundaries.  I am in no way saying that this was the biggest factor in my decision, but a legitimate one nonetheless.  I think if you are going to spend four years somewhere, it should be somewhere comfortable and cozy.


In closing, I would like to say a few things.  Today, I had a terrific tour.  I met two lovely families whom I hope will apply.  On a scale from 1-Pizza Hut Lunch Buffet, they were a Pizza Hut Lunch Buffet. 

In addition, as has been the tradition of late, I will conclude with some borrowed words:

"They would not find me changed from him they knew

Only more sure of all I thought was true."

-"Into my own" by robert Frost

One blog wasn’t enough? Check this one out: Pat's Blog


**Turkey Time= Spencer Time

***Seriously. Mom actually doesn’t send me stuff.  And I would appreciate mail to this address.