Below are some of the questions that new students most frequently ask. The answers have been provided by many Amherst community members such as current students, including the International Students Association.
Many of these questions will be covered when you arrive on campus, but this information is intended to help you plan and relieve some anxiety about starting a new adventure! Most of us have been “in your shoes” recently, and we are happy to share our experiences. If we do not list a question you have, please email us!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Can my parents/family stay with me during orientation? If not, where can they find accommodations?
Your parents cannot stay in the dorms during pre-orientation or orientation. However, there are many options for accommodations within a short distance from the campus.
What will be in my dorm room when I arrive?
All rooms have the following items.
- a bed with a matrress
- a desk with drawers and a small bookcase on top
- a set of drawers to put your clothes/other belonings in
- a small closet with space to hang up clothing
- a trash can
- a heater
What should I bring with me to campus?
Check out this suggested packing list for incoming international students, compiled by our own current international students. You might find it convenient to buy larger items such as winter coats and bedding supplies after arriving on campus. This saves on luggage space and weight, and makes space for you to bring more things from home that are meaningful to you. Be sure to check airline and TSA guidelines for baggage size and weight limits as well as for important item restrictions.
For information about what you cannot and should not bring with you to your campus dorm room (such as pets), please consult with the Office of Residential Life.
Do I need to bring winter clothes with me? What types of winter clothes will I need?
You will need winter clothes, but many students opt to buy them after they arrive on campus, as they can be bulky and difficult to pack. There are stores near the campus, and also many thrift stores where people can purchase gently used clothing and other items.
Winter clothing includes many layers - sweaters, heavy pants, boots, jackets, hats, scarves, and gloves. If you can bring some of the under layers (long-sleeved shirts and pants), that is a good start for the cooler fall weather. For advice on purchasing winter essentials, feel free to reach out to the International Students Association (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Center for International Student Engagement (email@example.com).
Should I bring all the clothing and bedding I need with me, or can I find affordable options to purchase these items near campus?
Both bedding and clothing are fairly easy to purchase in the Amherst area. Many stores are accessible using the local bus system. During New International Student Pre-Orientation, there will also be some shuttles available should you wish to go to the local mall to purchase essentials for your dorm room.
Should I get a fan and a refrigerator?
A fan might be needed only during the first few weeks of school or during the summer months if you choose to stay on campus. The weather is usually cool enough during the rest of the academic year.
A personal refrigerator could be convenient, but it might be a good idea to talk to your roommate to find out if they are bringing one or to arrange to split the cost of a refrigerator with your roommate. A personal refrigerator isn’t absolutely necessary, however. If you need to keep something cold, all of the first-year dorms have a common refrigerator.
Where can I buy things once I get to campus?
Many students shop at the nearby Hampshire Mall as well as other small local stores. The Hampshire Mall is approximately 20 minutes away from campus, accessible by taking the PVTA B43 bus (which leaves right from Converse Hall). Others choose to shop online through websites like Amazon or other large retailers (such as Target, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc.). Amherst College gear and basic office supplies can be purchased at the nearby A.J. Hastings, just a few minutes’ walk from campus.
Are there any shopping malls nearby?
The closest mall is Hampshire Mall, located about 20 minutes away by bus (PVTA B43, which departs from Converse Hall). It has a few department stores, a movie theatre, and some small shops. You can do most of your basic shopping there.
There is also the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside, which is about an hour away by bus. It is accessible by using the R29 bus (which departs from the Amherst Common in downtown Amherst – a short walk from campus).
Can I order items online and have packages mailed to me at school before I arrive?
Yes, you can. Prior to your arrival (around early August), you will receive an email from Donald Kells, your campus Post Office Supervisor, titled “Important Information about your Campus Mailbox.” This email, sent to your @amherst.edu address, will contain important information about your mailing address for packages. Use that address when ordering things online to have them delivered on campus. Once you arrive, just walk over to Keefe Campus Center, show your Amherst College ID to the person at the package delivery desk, and pick up your package.
How do I find my on campus mailing address?
Prior to your arrival (around early August), you will receive an email from Donald Kells, your campus Post Office Supervisor, titled “Important Information about your Campus Mailbox.” This email, sent to your @amherst.edu address, will contain important information about your mailing address and your unique campus mailbox number.
Where will my mailbox be located?
Student mailboxes and the student post office are located on the ground level of the Keefe Campus Center.
Is there an app that I can access on my phone to see which stores are nearby?
Where can I store my belongings over the summer?
Over the summer, you can store your belongings in dorm storage rooms free of charge. In late April, your Resident Counselor (RC) will send you a list of time slots during which the RCs are available to open storage for you to put your stuff in. The contact information of the RCs will also be on the list, so you can text or call them to make an appointment during those time slots so you can store your stuff. It is best to have everything packed and ready to store before the time slots are available, since the dorm storage tends to fill up quickly. There are also private storage facilities available for rent in the area, but these can be costly and difficult to access without a car.
How do I do my laundry? Is it expensive? How often do students do laundry?
Laundry facilities are usually located in the basement of dorms. Ask your Resident Counselor (RC) for specific details as to where it is located in your dormitory. It costs $1.25 for a wash cycle and $1.25 for a dry cycle. Most students do laundry every one or two weeks.
Are students allowed to live off campus? If so, how/when?
First-year students are not allowed to live off campus. Upperclassmen can live off campus if they opt out of room draw. For more information about the process of requesting permission to live off campus as an upperclassman, please contact the Office of Residential Life (firstname.lastname@example.org). It is not common for students to live off campus, though.
What travel documents do I need when I land in the United States to begin school?
Check out the CISE's Travel Checklist for F-1 and J-1 visa holding students! You must have your initial I-20 form from Amherst College, as well as your passport with your unexpired F-1 student visa stamp. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from your date of entry to the US, unless you are from one of the countries exempted from this rule.
It is also recommended that you carry your letter of admission and proof of your finances – while these two items are not always required, the documents that will be requested from you are at the discretion of the US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) officer at the Port of Entry (POE). Be sure to enter the country in proper F-1 student status – NEVER enter as a tourist during your enrollment at Amherst College.
You should also have some important phone numbers handy, just in case you experience any delays or issues. Two phone numbers that you want to be sure to have are that of the Center for International Student Engagement (413-542-2612) and Amherst College Campus Police (office: 413-542-2291, emergencies only: 413-542-2111).
What documents do I need for reentry into the United States after travelling home or to another country during a school vacation period?
If you are still maintaining active F-1/J-1 status, your passport has at least six months of validity remaining (see here for exemptions), and your visa is unexpired and allows for “Multiple Entries” (or you have not yet exceeded your allowed number of reentries), you are able to travel outside of the United States and reenter the country. Your most recent travel signature on your I-20/DS-2019 must be less than 12 months old. Be sure to check the terms of your F-1 student visa, as these can occasionally vary from country to country and person to person.
If you travel outside of the US, it is also recommended that you carry your letter of admission and proof of your finances – while these two items are not always required, the documents that will be requested from you are at the discretion of the US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) officer at the Port of Entry (POE).
I-20 Travel Signatures: Before travelling outside of the United States, you must bring your I-20/DS-2019 to the Center for International Student Engagement to request a travel signature from a Designated School Official. Be sure to allow yourself sufficient time to do this.
Does Amherst College provide an airport shuttle for new international students?
Free shuttle service from Logan International Airport in Boston (Boston Logan) to Amherst College will be provided to new, unaccompanied international students only on the designated arrival date for Fall semesters. More information about the shuttles and how to sign up will be available in late spring to early summer.
I am a new student, but I have independent travel plans and don’t wish to use the new international student shuttle service. Do I need to report my travel plans to the Center for International Student Engagement?
Are returning students required to report their travel arrangements?
Returning students are generally not required to submit their travel details to the Center for International Student Engagement (unless requested for a specific reason), but any potential delays in your travels that could possibly impact your class attendance should be reported immediately. You can always contact the office via email at email@example.com.
Does the College provide transportation during school breaks?
The Amherst Association of Students (AAS) often provides free shuttles to Boston, New York, and Bradley Airport for the Thanksgiving and spring breaks. Seats are limited, however, and they tend to fill up quickly. Most students will need to make their own transportation arrangements for travel, appointments, etc.
How isolated is the campus? How easy is it to access the surrounding areas?
While Amherst is a relatively small town, the surrounding area and major cities in the northeast are quite easily accessible from campus.
The PVTA (Pioneer Valley Transit Authority) bus system serves Amherst as well as surrounding areas such as Northampton and Holyoke. There are frequent buses between the Five Colleges as well. PVTA buses are free for Amherst College students during the semester if you present your Amherst ID to the driver. During the summer break, the bus fare is $1.25 each way.
There is an Amtrak train station in Northampton (near Smith College) and Springfield, which have trains that go to major cities in the Northeast (like New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and others.)
What are the easiest and least expensive modes of transportation to various cities (Boston, NYC, etc.)?
There are various rideshare groups among the Five Colleges. If you can’t carpool with someone, many students on a budget use Peter Pan bus services. The Amherst Association of Students (AAS) also has a limited pool of vans available for reservation, but to drive one you’ll need to have a US driver’s license and a clean driving record in the US for at least one full year. When in doubt, ask an orientation leader or other upperclassman – they will have great travel advice for you.
Who will my adviser be? What will they do?
Your adviser is someone assigned to you to help you with choosing your classes each semester, and with planning what you want to do in future semesters. They are generally professors who have about 20 advisees each. As you go through the semesters, you will want to talk to your adviser about how your classes are going and what direction you might want to take your education in, so they can help you decide what classes to take in the future. They’ll help you choose classes both to explore the interests you already have and to discover interests you might not have known about.
You will also have a Class Dean. First-year students are advised by Dean Rick Lopez. He can advise you on general planning for your college experience, and can help connect you with any campus services for academics or student life.
What’s the difference between my advisor and my major advisor?
Each incoming first-year student is assigned a first-year advisor, since you haven’t declared a major yet. When you declare your major(s), you will have to specify your major advisor on the major declaration form, and your major advisor becomes your primary academic advisor. If you are a double (or triple!) major, then you’ll have a different advisor for each.
What is the average class size at Amherst College?
The average class size is 16.
What is a First-Year Seminar? How do I pick one? Why do I have to take one?
First-Year Seminars are classes you will take as a first-year student during your fall semester. They are compulsory classes that help you develop your critical thinking and writing skills. Before you arrive on campus, you will select the seminars that you are interested in using the Amherst website. You will then be placed in one of your preferred classes before the semester begins.
How do I register for my classes?
You register online, after your advisor approves your course selection. Just log into your AC Data portal, go to the students menu, click the “Registration” link under “Advising and Registration,” and select “Step #7 Register.” There will be a tutorial during New International Student Pre-Orientation, which will help you get acquainted with the online course registration system before you meet with your advisor and sign up for classes.
How do I decide which classes to take?
The classes you take will largely depend on your interests. For instance, you might take a psychology class if you’re interested in what influences people’s behavior. In the second semester of your sophomore year, though, you will be expected to declare a major. The major you might want to declare would also influence the classes you take, since each major has specific class requirements. Your advisor can help you choose your classes based on your interests and the requirements of your prospective or declared major(s).
How difficult is it to get into the classes you want?
Most classes accept all students who register. However, some classes have size limits or prerequisites. These classes tend to be higher-level classes, and as a result they give preference to certain students. For example, a higher-level economics class will most likely give preference to students who have completed an introductory economics class or students in that major.
How do I determine if a class is the appropriate level of difficulty for me?
You can check placement guidelines of different Amherst College departments by searching for “<insert department name here> placement” on the Amherst College website. For example, if you want to look up math placement, search “Mathematics placement” (check out the example of placement guidelines on the Mathematics & Statistics department page). In general, if you are unsure, send an email to the department chair or specific course instructor. They will be glad to advise you.
What is the Five College consortium? Can I take classes at all of the Five Colleges?
The Five College system is a formal academic partnership between five area institutions: Amherst College, Smith College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Students at any of these institutions are permitted to take classes at the other colleges. During the Add/Drop period you can “shop” for classes here and at the other colleges to see if you like them. Your academic advisor can provide you with more information about this system and how to look for and register for courses at one of the other institutions in the Five College consortium.
When should I decide on/declare my major? How do I declare a major?
You have some time to decide! Ideally, you should declare your major around the end of your sophomore year. The process of declaring your major varies depending on the academic department overseeing your intended major. You can learn more about that process by looking up the department on the Amherst College website, or by asking your professor and/or advisor.
How do I balance my workload?
The mix of classes that will work best for you is something you will find out by speaking with your advisors. They are professors who will help you figure out your ideal class combination.
Take advantage of the many resources on campus that are available to help you with your studies. The Writing Center, for instance, offers writing and other types of academic support. In addition to offering mental health services, the Counseling Center also offers resources on other topics such as managing stress and time management. You can also find research support in the Frost Library.
If you are a student thinking about majoring in the sciences, a good way to balance your workload is to take at least one humanities class each semester. Doing so helps you get a more well-rounded academic experience at Amherst.
What are Office Hours? What am I supposed to do during them?
Office Hours refer to specific times that professors set aside each week for students to drop by their offices. They are usually held during regular business hours, but it’s not uncommon for professors to hold evening/weekend office hours too, especially before exams.
Most students go to office hours for academic support. This can come in the form of help with assignments, discussing class materials, reflecting on previous assignments – whatever you need, really. Don’t be afraid to admit to your professor that you need help/don’t know something! They won’t look down on you, and that’s pretty much what office hours are for in the first place anyway. They expect that students will have questions.
Try to get to know your professor during office hours, too! Talk with them about your personal background, your interests, as well as insecurities. They can often relate through personal experience, and this is also how you build up a support network!
Where and when do students usually study? Are there any private study spaces?
Many students study in the libraries - Frost, Keefe Science Library in Merrill Science Building, and also the Music Library. Keefe Campus Center, the Resource Centers, and dorm common rooms are also popular spaces for studying. The Beneski Natural Science Museum and Mead Art Museum also have designated student study spaces. You can often see students reading/writing in Val with their headphones on, too. Try to go to a different study spot each week in your first few months. Figure out your preferences so that you know where is best for you.
How do students find research opportunities with professors?
Many students apply to participate in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program. Through this program, students can apply to do research with professors in various science and humanities departments across Amherst College. Workshops for students who are considering participating in SURF are typically held each November.
Students can also learn about opportunities through their professors or by speaking directly to professors with whom they are interested in working.
Can international students study abroad?
Yes! Be sure to consult the Global Education Office and Center for International Student Engagement well in advance, though, as there is important information that you will need to know regarding your US student visa and foreign visa requirements.
Most students study abroad in their junior year, though there are other possible times to participate. Please note that the timing of a spring study abroad semester or a year abroad may impact your ability to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) for use during the summer immediately following. Email us for more information and to discuss the options available to you.
How will I be assigned to a dorm? A roommate?
There are seven first-year dorms at Amherst College: Appleton, Charles Pratt, James, North, South, Stearns, and Williston. These are all located around the First-Year Quad. You will be randomly assigned to one of these dorms for your first year, but your room and your roommate will be assigned based on the preferences that you indicated on your housing questionnaire.
Room selection after your first year follows a separate process called “room draw,” which you will learn about in the spring semester.
What is a roommate contract? What purpose does it serve?
During move-in period, you are required to sign a roommate contract with your roommate. This is an agreement between you and your roommate, which can help you work out a mutual understanding of the use of your shared space. Take this contract seriously – it is what you will refer to if you have a dispute. The following are important to include:
- Quiet/silent time arrangements: figure out when you two tend to sleep, and decide on the hours during which the room needs to stay silent!
- Guests: For example, how many times a week do you and your roommate find acceptable for the other to invite guests to your room? You want to be sure to have an understanding with your roommate that is comfortable for you both.
What if I don’t get along with my roommate?
If you’re having problems with your roommate, it is important to have an honest conversation with them first. You can seek the advice of your Resident Counselor (RC) or the Counseling Center beforehand if you’re not sure how to initiate the conversation. If the problems persist, you can also speak with the Office of Residential Life or your Class Dean. Don’t worry about approaching them – they are here to help!
What is a “sub-free” dorm/floor?
“Sub-free” stands for “substance-free,” and refers to housing areas in which residents within that particular housing space have committed to not using any substances. (This does not mean that substances are allowed in the other dormitories, though.) In the past, entire dormitories were designated sub-free, but now a floor on each first year dorm is made sub-free instead, to encourage interactions among students of different lifestyles. Sub-free upperclass housing is also available.
What are the policies regarding alcohol?
The legal drinking age in the United States is 21.
Alcohol is strictly prohibited in the first-year dorms. More information about the campus drug and alcohol policies can be found in the Amherst College student code of conduct.
You should be aware that any infractions that result in disciplinary action and/or violations of state and federal law can jeopardize your student visa status. Be smart!
What clubs/activities are popular on campus? Where can I find more information?
The Club Fair is the way to go! Every year during First-Year Orientation, the Amherst Association of Students (AAS) holds a Club Fair for clubs to introduce themselves to incoming students. Representatives from each club will be present to explain their activities, and you can also sign up for emails from the clubs. Don’t worry – that doesn’t mean you have committed to attending every single event of the club! The expectation is that you’re somewhat interested in the activities. You can decide whether to officially join the group at a later time.
There are many clubs, affinity groups, and service organizations at Amherst. The popularity of different groups depends on students’ interests each year, but if you have a particular hobby or activity you enjoy, you can usually find other people to participate!
What is an affinity group?
An affinity group is a campus group composed of people who share a certain identity. For example, the International Students Association (ISA) is an affinity group for people who identify as international students.
Where can I find information about events happening on campus?
You can find out about events in the “Daily Mail,” which is a daily email the school will send you with event announcements. You can also find out about events through the many Facebook groups on campus and the listservs of various departments and groups. For events specifically for international students, keep an eye on listserv emails from the Center for International Student Engagement. You can also check the online event calendar.
What can you do on weekends?
You can always find something to do on or near campus such as attending a school-run event, going to town, attending a social event, or just hanging out with friends. And for alternative late-night options on campus, check out the AC After Dark program!
Where/how do people make friends?
In so many ways! During orientation, in class, while eating in Val, through clubs and affinity groups, or random encounters on the First-Quad. As long as you stay open to new experiences, you will definitely make new friends.
Does Amherst College have “cliques”?
Like any school, groups of students with similar interests often socialize with each other more than with others. Certain majors, sports teams, and groups of students from certain countries or states often meet early on. But there are a lot of activities that put you in contact with people from very different backgrounds and interests, and lots of friendships develop this way.
Are there any useful social media pages for Amherst College?
Many student groups and departments across campus maintain social media pages. The most commonly used social media site for this purpose is Facebook. Each class year, for example, has its group page. There are also groups for student organizations and for some majors. There are two Facebook groups that will be very useful as you get started: the Amherst College Class of 2022 page (coming soon) and the International Students Association. Be sure to check out the official Amherst College social media pages as well: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr. You can also connect with the CISE via our Facebook and Instagram pages.
Am I allowed to work on-campus for extra money? How many hours can I work per week? Where do I find an on campus job?
Yes, you are allowed to have an on-campus job as an F-1 student. However, under student visa policy, you cannot work more than 20 hours per week during the semester, and 40 hours per week during vacations. (Most advisors would recommend that you limit your work hours to 10 hours per week during academic terms, though – you will be busy!) You can find work through the Office of Financial Aid, the Daily Mail, the Jobs on Campus, and through individual departments.
What is a social security number? Do I need one? If I need one, how can I apply for one?
A Social Security Number (SSN) is a personal identification number used primarily for tax purposes, though it is used for other purposes as well. If you have an on-campus job, you will need to successfully apply for an SSN to work on campus and to receive your pay. The Center for International Student Engagement will walk you through the application process, and arrange for your transportation to go to the Social Security Administration (SSA) office (located in the nearby city of Holyoke). Your SSN will then also be used to file your US tax returns.
Are there any summer employment opportunities on campus?
There are many opportunities on campus during the summer, including working at the Book & Plow Farm, working in the library, or doing research under a professor (STEM majors should look into SURF), and programs through the Center for Community Engagement (CCE). Open summer positions are usually posted during the spring semester.
What is a summer internship? Can international students find a summer internship in the US? How do I apply for one? Do I need to have special work permission as an international student?
Summer internships are paid or unpaid temporary work, usually targeted at students. They provide you with valuable work experience you may not get at Amherst. International students can and do find summer internships.
Unpaid internships at non-profit organizations and internships at or funded by Amherst College do not require you to apply for work authorization/Optional Practical Training (OPT). You can find these jobs on non-profit websites, the Daily Mail, and Quest (Amherst College’s online career portal).
If you are pursuing a paid internship or an internship that provides any remuneration (even if you’re not receiving a salary or stipend), however, you MUST have approved Optional Practical Training (OPT). Be sure to consult with the Center for International Student Engagement well in advance. This requires a special application process and the internship must be directly related to your declared major(s).
Can I find a summer internship at home or in a different country?
Yes, you can find summer internships in multiple countries.
What if I find a great unpaid internship - does Amherst College offer any funding? Would I need to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) if I’m receiving funding from the college?
The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) offers funding for unpaid internships with non-profit organizations or government agencies both in the US and abroad. Consult with the CCE for more information about the application process.
If you are receiving your internship funding from Amherst College (and not from any other source), then you do not need to apply for OPT. You must, however, apply for OPT if you are receiving any type of remuneration from a US employer (this could be a salary, a stipend, or even just room and board). If you are pursuing an internship outside of the US, OPT is not required.
Can I get a job in the US after college? How does that work?
Yes! You can apply for a special work authorization category called Optional Practical Training for work that is directly related to your major(s). This would allow you to work for up to 12 months in the US, as an extension of your F-1 student visa. Please note that you have only up to 12 months total of OPT time – so if you chose to pursue a paid summer internship during the summer after your junior year, for example, you would then have 9 months remaining to use after graduation. Please note that Pre-Completion OPT (used before graduation) and Post-Completion OPT (after graduation) have separate application processes.
Non-STEM majors are eligible for 12 months total OPT time. STEM majors have the option to apply for an additional 24 month extension post-graduation if they successfully apply for and are on active Post-Completion OPT. (For more information about the qualifications and application process, please consult with the Center for International Student Engagement.)
The Center for International Student Engagement will help you file your OPT application. Be sure to plan ahead and start the application process early early!
What resources are available to help me plan if I want to work outside the US after I graduate?
The Loeb Center for Career Exploration & Planning can help you plan for a career outside the US. There are counselors that specialize in different career tracks (health professions, education, business, etc.) and workshops offered that can give you strategies on how to conduct a job search.
There is also a very strong Amherst alumni network all over the world - the Loeb Center has a “Pathways Mentoring Program” to help match you with alumni who have careers that interest you. Alumni are happy to talk with current students and provide advice and help!
There is also a Loeb Center advisor who works specifically with international students.
What is the Loeb Center? How can they help me? Should I visit them as a first-year student?
The Loeb Center for Career Exploration & Planning offers a variety of career-related services. These include questionnaires to help you find a career that best matches your interests, workshops, information sessions, peer advising, and individual career advising. In addition to having designated advisors for different career paths, there is even a career advisor specifically for international students.
Visiting the Loeb Center is not mandatory for first-year students, though it is highly encouraged. You can visit the Loeb Center by scheduling an appointment online through Amherst’s Quest website or just stopping by the Center in College Hall. Each year there’s also a special open house specifically for international students, if you’d like to stop by to learn more about the resources available to you to help you get started on your career path (or finding it!).
Be sure to contact the Loeb Center about the Pathways Mentoring Program, too! This is a great way to connect with alumni.
Is there an international student alumni network?
Amherst College has a robust international student alumni network. You can access our network by joining the Amherst College Alumni & Friends LinkedIn group. You can also connect with international alumni by downloading the Amherst College Alumni mobile app on the App Store or on Google Play. Be sure to contact the Loeb Center about the Pathways Mentoring Program, too! This is a great way to connect with alumni.
How do I figure out who I need to talk to about a particular question or problem?
The Center for International Student Engagement is always open to hear about any question or problem you might have. If they do not have the answer, they will direct you to the department that is best suited to address your inquiry. You can reach them in many ways - by phone (413-542-2612), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or stop by their resource center in 103 Keefe Campus Center. Walk-ins are always welcome.
Where is the Center for International Student Engagement? When should I see them?
The Center for International Student Engagement is located on the first floor of the Keefe Campus Center (in Room 103). You should feel free to stop by the office anytime you have any questions or concerns. They are also your primary resource for questions regarding travel, student visas, employment authorization, and international student specific resources and events. They will also point you in the right direction for any other questions or concerns you might have. You can reach them in many ways - by phone (413-542-2612), by sending an email to email@example.com, or by stopping by their office on the first floor of the Keefe Campus Center. Walk-ins are always welcome.
Who can I talk to if I feel stressed out or just need someone to talk to?
Friends are a great source of support in such situations. Other groups on campus, such as the International Students Association, are great places to talk to someone.
Amherst also has a Counseling Center with many different counselors - including a dedicated International Student Counselor. They are happy to talk with you any time about any issues that cause you stress or anxiety. All conversations are strictly confidential (unless your health or wellbeing are at risk). Check out the Counseling Center Facebook page for information about special events and helpful news stories.
What’s a Resident Counselor (RC)? What do they do?
Resident Counselors (RCs) are sophomore, junior, or sometimes senior students who offer support in the form of friendly interaction or advice to the students who live in their assigned dorms. They are very friendly, so don’t hesitate to say hi to yours!
What’s an Area Director (AD)? What do they do?
An Area Director (AD) is a professional staff member who supervises residence halls and RCs. They are a great resource for any questions or concerns that you have about life on campus.
Who is my Class Dean? What do they do?
A Class Dean is a faculty member who is assigned to a particular class year. For instance, the Class Dean for the first-year class is Dean Rick Lopez. Your Class Dean is a great resource for academic advice throughout your time at Amherst.
Where can I get help with academic issues such as writing, class work, or research?
The first step is to go to your professor’s Office Hours! The importance of office hours cannot be stressed enough. This is a great opportunity for you to connect with your professors, to get assistance with coursework or academic issues, and to get the most out of the courses that you’re taking.
The Writing Center provides one-on-one writing support and various workshops throughout the year. Make an appointment for assistance with a paper, then show up for your appointment – it’s that easy! They can help at any stage of writing: whether you’re brainstorming, drafting, or editing, they can help! It is recommended that you schedule your appointment in advance of a deadline to ensure that you can get the assistance that you need before your assignment is due. The Writing Center is located in 101 Charles Pratt Dormitory.
The Moss Quantitative Center (Q Center) provides support for quantitative subjects. Drop by during business hours to receive support, or schedule a one-on-one appointment with a fellow! The Q Center is located in 202 Merrill Science Building.
If you’re struggling, you can also request a peer tutor through your professor. Peer tutors are fellow students who will meet with you for up to two hours a week to provide support in those particular subjects.
Where can I find information about accessibility services?
If you have questions regarding housing, academic, dining, or other accommodations, you can contact Ms. Jodi Foley, the Director of Accessibility Services, at 413-542-8488 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who can I contact in the case of an emergency?
In the case of an emergency on or near campus, you should contact the Amherst College Campus Police using their emergency line phone number: 413-542-2111 (this phone number is for emergencies only). It’s a good idea to program this number into your cell phone, just in case! If you have an emergency away from campus, call the national emergency number: 911 (this phone number is for emergencies only).
There are a number of emergency phones (“blue light” phones) located across campus. You can identify them by their bright blue light. These phones have a direct dial to Amherst College Campus Police.
The closest hospital in the area is Cooley Dickinson Hospital, located at 30 Locust Street in Northampton. It is located about 9 miles from campus.
What do I do if I’m sick or get hurt?
You can go to the Health Center on campus at any time during operational hours.
If it is an emergency and the Health Center is closed you can call ACEMS (Amherst College Emergency Medical Services), a student-run, student-staffed, volunteer organization, which provides Basic Life Support Quick Response (BLS/QRS) to medical emergencies on the Amherst campus. They can also call for an ambulance if needed. To reach ACEMS, you should call the campus emergency number: 413-542-2111. It’s a good idea to program this number into your cell phone, just in case! If you have an emergency away from campus, call the national emergency number: 911.
You can also call the Amherst College Campus Police at any time at the emergency helpline: 413-542-2111. It’s a good idea to program this number into your cell phone, just in case! If you have an emergency away from campus, call the national emergency number: 911.
The closest hospital in the area is Cooley Dickinson Hospital, located at 30 Locust Street in Northampton. It is located about 9 miles from campus.
What kinds of services does the Health Center offer?
The Keefe Health Center offers a variety of medical services such as vaccinations and routine medical checkups. These services are covered under your college-sponsored student health insurance plan if you are on financial aid. If you are on an individual health plan, contact the Health Center for more information regarding your coverage.
Where can I find information about student health insurance?
Basic information regarding the student health insurance plan is available on the Health Center website. If you have specific questions, you should contact Health Center staff at 413-542-2267.
Should I buy supplementary insurance?
To comply with state law, all Amherst College students must have some form of comprehensive health insurance coverage. Students on financial aid may receive scholarship funds to cover the cost of the student health insurance. All students must otherwise either be under their parent’s plan, buy their own separate health insurance, or buy Amherst College student insurance through Gallagher. Whether you choose to purchase additional supplementary insurance beyond this coverage is a personal choice.
Are there any fitness classes available on campus? Is there a gym that I can use?
Yes, there are fitness classes available each semester. Some of them require you to sign up for them and some are drop-in classes. You can find out more about them through the Wellness & Lifetime Fitness program.
There are workout facilities available for use in the gym. For more information, you can contact Athletics at 413-542-2274.
What are intramural sports? How do I sign up?
Intramural sports teams do not officially represent Amherst in sports leagues, and are designed for students who have a common sports interest to come together. You can get more information about intramural sports at the activities fair during First-Year Orientation and through the Athletics website.
What are the different resources centers? Where are they? What do they do?
The Queer Resource Center (QRC), the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC), the Women’s and Gender Center (WGC), and Campus Diversity & Campus Leadership (CDSL), are the four resource centers housed in the Keefe Campus Center in addition to the CISE. They provide safe spaces for students from underrepresented backgrounds to socialize, learn about their identities, and to relax. These resource centers are also meant to foster dialogue on issues including but not limited to: race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious beliefs, cultural identity, and socioeconomic class. All five resource centers are located in Keefe Campus Center.
The Queer Resource Center (QRC) supports the LGBTQIAP (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Pansexual, and ally) students of Amherst College. The QRC provides a safe, intentional, open, and confidential atmosphere where queer students and their allies can gather openly and discuss relevant topics and issues. The QRC is located on the second floor of Keefe Campus Center.
The Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) contributes to the College’s goal of creating a more inclusive community by acknowledging, celebrating, and promoting the diverse experiences of every student. The MRC also helps promote understanding of different cultures present in the Amherst community. The MRC is located on the ground floor of the Keefe Campus Center, between the student mailroom and Schwemm’s Coffee House.
The Women’s and Gender Center (WGC) seeks to foster a critical awareness of gender and create an intentional space, accessible to students of all genders, that will serve as a resource and forum for topics and issues related specifically to women and, more broadly, related to the experience of gender. The Center promotes learning about and exploring gender through personal experience, academic inquiry, community organizing, activism, and discussion. The WGC is located on the second floor of Keefe Campus Center.
The Office of Campus Diversity & Student Leadership (CDSL) supports first-generation, low-income, transfer, veteran, and undocumented/DACA students, and cultivates leadership development opportunities for all students. CDSL is located on the second floor of the Keefe Campus Center.
Is there international student representation in the resource centers?
Yes, there is!
Is there a student group specifically dedicated to helping international students on campus?
Yes! The International Students Association (ISA) is a student-run organization that caters to the needs, interests, and concerns of international students. They hold regular meetings and support a number of events throughout the academic year. You can check out the ISA Facebook page for more information.
Are there religious services available on campus? How do I find/get to my place of worship? Do many students attend religious services?
The College does offer some church services, and there are several places of worship of various denominations around the Amherst area either close to campus or easily accessible by bus or car. You can join a religious affinity group (such as the Amherst Christian Fellowship, the Amherst College Muslim Students Association, etc.). Joining such groups is a great way to meet with people who share your faith, as well as a way to find out about nearby places of worship. There are also religious advisors on staff who are available by appointment. For more information, check out the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life.
What is the Loeb Center? How can they help me? Should I visit them as a first-year student?
The Loeb Center for Career Exploration & Planning offers a variety of career-related services. These include questionnaires to help you find a career that best matches your interests, workshops, information sessions, peer advising, and individual career advising. Visiting the Loeb Center is not mandatory for first-year students, though it is highly encouraged. You can visit the Loeb Center by scheduling an appointment online through Amherst’s Quest website or just stopping by the Loeb Center in College Hall. Each year there’s also a special open house specifically for international students, if you’d like to stop by to learn more about the resources available to you to help you get started on your career path (or finding it!).
Is there an international student alumni network?
Amherst College has a robust international student alumni network. You can access our network by joining the Amherst College Alumni & Friends LinkedIn group. You can also connect with international alumni by downloading the Amherst College Alumni mobile app on the App Store or on Google Play. Be sure to contact the Loeb Center about the Pathways Mentoring Program, too! This is a great way to connect with alumni. For more information about resources for alumni or how to connect with alumni, contact the Loeb Center for Career Exploration & Planning and the Office of Alumni & Parent Programs.
Have a question about a different campus resource not listed here?
Email the Center for International Student Engagement (email@example.com), and they will help you find the information that you need.
Where can I find a campus map?
Campus maps will be distributed during New International Student Pre-Orientation and general First-Year Orientation. They are also available at the Campus Police building, Frost Library, and the Center for International Student Engagement. You can access the online campus map on your computer or smartphone through the College website as well.
How do I choose a cell phone service? Where can I get it set up?
The stores located closest to campus (near the Hampshire Mall) are AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. The closest T-Mobile store is located in the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside. Each service offers its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on your individual needs. If you plan to purchase a cell phone service before arriving on campus, you can visit the cell phone carrier location of your choice to find out more. And don’t hesitate to ask your International Student Leaders for recommendations. When you decide to open an account, be sure to have proper identification with you. There will also be time to set up your account during New International Student Pre-Orientation.
How do I open a bank account? Which banks are easily accessible?
Bank of America is the closest bank to the College, being just a few minutes’ walk away in downtown Amherst. Some of the other nearby banks include PeoplesBank and the UMassFive College Federal Credit Union. Don’t hesitate to ask your International Student Leaders for recommendations. When you decide to open an account, be sure to have proper identification with you. There will also be time to set up your account during New International Student Pre-Orientation.
What are AC Dollar$? What can I do with them?
AC Dollar$ is a debit system that allows Amherst College students to pay for various on-campus services using their student ID cards. You can charge up your ID card with AC Dollar$ by online transfer from AC Data or in person at Dining Services. You can use AC Dollar$ to do laundry, print from public printers, pay for postage in the mailroom, or pay for food at the campus cafes.
What does my meal plan include?
Your full meal plan includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You will be able to enter the cafeteria (Valentine Hall) as many times as you like within the operating times.
During the academic year you can also have the option of a “Grab and Go” lunch, which gives you easily portable food if your schedule doesn’t allow time for a sit-down meal.
What are my options if I have food restrictions or special dietary needs?
Amherst has one dining hall (Valentine) that has many food options for each meal during the academic year. If you do not find choices that meet your needs or if you have special restrictions during a religious or cultural holiday, the managers at Valentine will help to provide appropriate options for you. Check out the Dining Services website for more information including menus and staff contact details. In some cases, if the college determines that Dining Services is not able to reasonably meet a student’s dietary needs, a meal plan exemption may be granted as an accommodation.
Are there any public printers/scanners/copiers on campus? Should I buy my own printer?
Many public printers are available on campus, in public locations such as the libraries and Keefe Campus Center. Students can print from public printers for a charge of 5 cents per sheet, and the money is deducted from your AC Dollar$ on your student card. Files can be sent to the public printers from public computers, or through the email mobile print system. Free printing is also available at the Resource Centers in Keefe Campus Center (Queer Resource Center [QRC)], the Center for International Student Engagement [CISE], the Women's and Gender Center [WGC], the Multicultural Resource Center [MRC] and the Office of Campus Diversity & Student Leadership [CDSL]) and the Moss Quantitative Center (Q Center) in the Merrill Science Building.
How do I receive my mail and packages while I’m living on campus?
You will be given a mailbox where you will receive your mail. You will also use the same mailbox number to ship your packages. If your package is bigger than the mailbox size, you will receive an email notification to pick up your package at the post office window using your student ID. Mailboxes are located on the ground floor of the Keefe Campus Center.
Who do I talk to if I have a question about financial aid or billing?
For questions about financial aid, you should contact the Office of Financial Aid at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are on campus, you can visit their office in the basement of Converse Hall.
For questions about your student billing account, you should contact the Office of the Controller at email@example.com. If you are on campus, you can visit their office upstairs in College Hall.
Am I required to file US federal taxes? Do I need to file state taxes?
As an international student, you must file a federal tax return regardless of whether or not you have earned income in the US. The tax year in the US runs from January 1st to December 31st, and the tax filing deadline is April 15th. Early in the spring semester, you will receive important information from the Center for International Student Engagement regarding how to file your tax returns. While the CISE is unable to give individual tax advice, they will provide you with the guidance necessary to meet your tax filing obligation. For more information regarding federal tax laws in the US, consult the IRS website.
Most international students are not required to file state tax returns, but there are some exceptions (for example, if you earned over a certain amount of money from a summer internship). It is important that you evaluate your own tax circumstances carefully to determine whether or not you will need to file state taxes.
The Center for International Student Engagement cannot provide individual tax advice, but will endeavor to provide you with the information that you need in order to complete your tax reporting requirements as an international student.
What is an ITIN? Do I need one? If I need one, how can I apply for one?
An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is another type of personal identification number used only for tax filing purposes for individuals who do not qualify for a social security number (SSN). If you do not have an SSN from working on-campus, then you might need to apply for an ITIN in order to file your taxes. If you think that you might need to apply for an ITIN, consult with the Center for International Student Engagement (firstname.lastname@example.org) for instructions well in advance of the April 15th tax filing deadline.
Where can I find information about obtaining a US driver’s license or state ID card?
For more information about how to obtain a driver’s license or state ID card, you should consult the CISE's general resource page on these topics and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles’ website.
Please feel free to email the Center for International Student Engagement at email@example.com.