Who Are Amherst Students?

There are about 1,800 enrolled students at Amherst.  The student background profile for the Class of 2016 includes 49% men and 51% women, 57% are receiving scholarship and grant aid, 42% indicated they are students of color, 21% are from low-income families, and 10% are non-U.S. citizens.  Students hail from 40 states, including D.C., Puerto Rico and 28 foreign countries.  Learn more about Amherst College in the About Amherst section of the website.

Mentoring Millennials  The majority of Amherst students were born between 1982-2002 and are part of a generation commonly referred to as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y.  The Pew Research Center has published a report titled Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next which is excellent preparation for working with Amherst students.  It is important to note that this generation has grown up using technology like computers, cell phones, and most have always had access to internet information.  They are very comfortable living and sharing their lives on social media like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, etc.  While this mode of communication can be quick and effective for social change campaigns and political movements, it also poses a challenge for students who may not consider how their online image can affect their professional pursuits.

Communication is almost instantaneous with the use of smart (cell) phones, texting, email, Skype, and instant messenger.  As a result, formalities may not be observed in deference to speed.  Typos, abbreviations, and informal speech are often the result.  Many processes like ordering food from a restaurant or calling customer service have been automated and/or have gone online.  Face-to-face or person-to-person interactions are less frequent and may be uncomfortable for this generation.

Success has also been redefined.  Entrepreneurs, like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg, have made their mark on this generation.  Not only is the entrepreneurial spirit strong in this generation, it is often socially minded.  

Since many public figures have achieved wealth or fame seemingly overnight, expectations may not be realistic.  Reality TV shows like Jersey Shore, competitions like American Idol, YouTube sensations, and younger and younger entrepreneurs have changed the definition of success.  The perception (albeit often times false) is that wealth and/or fame can be achieved easily.

*Note: Because of the increased diversity of this generation, there may be social, economic, race, ethnicity, and other factors that play a role in how a student experiences or exhibits generational norms.

Student Development  Throughout your mentoring partnership, keep in mind the challenges students face as they transition from adolescence to adulthood.  This formative time in a student’s life is marked by discovery and exploration of personal beliefs, interests, values, strengths, goals and identity.  It is an opportunity to help your mentee to learn how to confront problems, both big and small, which may include selecting a career path, forming healthy relationships, finding meaning and purpose, managing conflict, making academic and social choices, and navigating increased diversity, or other social issues.