Students at a SURF Lab Crawl

Advancing Equal Opportunity for Success

The goal of the Meiklejohn Fellows Program is to advance equal opportunity for success by providing robust resources and support to Amherst College students from families with low incomes, and to those who are the first in their families to attend college. All students are admitted to Amherst on the basis of a record of stellar academic and personal achievement. The college recognizes that students who have grown up facing financial hardship, and those from families without firsthand experience of college, often achieve this exceptional level of success in the face of significant societal obstacles. Amherst is also aware that students with these backgrounds typically have not benefited from the social capital and resources that advantage students from more privileged circumstances. 

Who is Eligible to be a Meiklejohn Fellow?

All Amherst students who meet family-income eligibility requirements and/or are the first in their families to attend college are named Meiklejohn Fellows in their first year at the College. Fellows retain this distinction during their entire time at Amherst. All Meiklejohn Fellows are the first in their families to attend college and/or come from low-income backgrounds.  

A student visiting the Loeb Career Center

A Focus on Career Advancement

Amherst’s Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning administers the Meiklejohn Fellows Program, and assistance with career development and advancement is the cornerstone of the program. Fellows participate in Meiklejohn career workshops; benefit from individualized guidance from career specialists; are guaranteed at least one paid summer internship, research opportunity, or other educational experience after the first or second summer at the college; and engage in networking opportunities with Amherst alumni.

Support for Personal and Intellectual Growth

Meiklejohn Fellows also participate in programming designed to support them in their transition to college, in their continuing engagement with academics and social life during their time at Amherst, and in their lives and careers after graduation. Learn more on our benefits page.

Benefits, Resources, and Opportunities

Learn about the many benefits, resources, and opportunities that are available to the Meiklejohn Fellows. In addition to those that are specific to the program, these include generous financial aid and myriad college services.

The Meiklejohn Fellows Community    

As fellows engage in Meiklejohn programming together, they form a community that becomes another resource on which they draw during their years at the college—and beyond.  Staff members in the Office of Student Affairs with experience in supporting students who are the first in their families to attend college, and those who come from low-income backgrounds, provide support to the fellows and help them navigate the college experience.  Many of the staff (including the program director) and faculty who are a part of the Meiklejohn program come from backgrounds that resemble the students’ own. These mentors have a unique understanding of the fellows' circumstances and needs that is informed by personal experience. In addition to enjoying important relationships with the broader campus community, Meiklejohn Fellows benefit from close ties with Amherst alumni.   

President Alexander Meiklejohn: An Inspiring Namesake

Alexander Meiklejohn

Alexander Meiklejohn, who was from a long line of textile workers and immigrated to America as a young boy, was likely the first in his family to graduate from college. He was able to attend Brown University only after relatives collectively paid the tuition. By 1912, when he was named president of Amherst College, he had earned a doctorate and become a philosopher and educational reformer. Meiklejohn remained true to his roots. While at Amherst, he organized classes for members of labor unions in nearby mills and was committed to welcoming students from all races and socioeconomic backgrounds to the college. [Learn more]

President Biddy Martin: Scholar and Leader within Higher Education


Biddy Martin Fast forward to Amherst’s current president, Biddy Martin. The president grew up in then-rural Campbell County, Virginia, and she and her brother were the first members of their immediate family to graduate from college. A scholar of German studies and a leader within higher education, Biddy Martin was drawn to Amherst because of the college’s “commitment to a student body that reflects the rich diversity of the country, indeed the world.” [Learn more]