It may have been 90+ degrees and muggy on campus on Aug. 28, but that didn’t stop a mammoth—not woolly, thank goodness—from appearing on the Main Quad to greet nearly 500 new Amherst students who had arrived for Orientation.
The first-years, transfers, families and friends were met and then herded to their residence halls by a group of cheering, merry and, well, sweaty returning students, faculty and staff members who stationed themselves under purple and white balloon arches to say hello.
Also greeting the undergraduates were members of the offices of financial aid, admission and residence life, and the Loeb Center for Career Exploration, among others. And presiding over it all was the College’s new 15-foot by 23-foot inflatable purple mammoth, who appeared in numerous selfies.
What follows is a snapshot of Amherst’s newest (smaller, non-inflatable) mammoths:
- Of 9,724 high school who applied, the College admitted 1,232 of them (that’s a 12.7 percent admit rate if you're doing the math) and 492 enrolled
- The students hail from 40 states, the District of Columbia and 21 countries
- 48 percent self-identify as domestic students of color
- International students represent 7 percent of the student body; an additional 58 students are dual citizens of the U.S. and another country
- Combined, members of the new first-year class speak more than 50 languages
- 15 percent of new first-years represent the first generation in their families to attend college
- 29 percent have a family income that qualifies them to receive Pell grants
- 62 percent receive Amherst grant funding
- The average financial aid package is more than $60,000 per year
- Although not a single student celebrated a birthday on the first day of orientation—which is unusual—three did the day before
- 11 additional students are transfers to Amherst from another college or university, including two from Doshisha University and five from community colleges
- Six of the transfer students are U.S. military veterans
Among their many accomplishments, the new Amherst students have:
- Written poetry, liturgical verse, novellas, short stories, national news articles and novels—graphic and otherwise—as well as self-published books
- Founded groups focusing on feminist discussion, gender and sexuality, environmental awareness, mental health advocacy, animal rights, sexual assault, veganism, chamber music and Rubik’s Cubes
- Participated in debate, Model UN, quiz bowl and robotics competitions
- Led American Sign Language, Dead Poets Society, Astronomy & Astrophysics Society and Spanglish clubs
- Conducted research on honeybees, worms, snow leopards, sleep, wounds and Adderall
- Volunteered at a shock trauma center, at a Boys and Girls Club and for the Special Olympics
- Taught English in Cambodia, photography to underprivileged youth, computer skills to seniors, and ballet and jazz to children living in a government community residence for refugees
- Joined Ultimate, squash, hiking, weight-lifting, snowboarding, rowing, cricket, powerlifting and bowling teams
- Won championships, competitions and/or medals in sprint kayaking, trapshooting and vocal performance
- Interned with a New York state political campaign, served as safety officer and cadet master sergeant for the Civil Air Patrol and served as ceremonial attendant for the Hawaiian ceremony Hale Mua o Kualii
- Used Bharatanatyam dance, Indian classical singing, ballet, theater, traditional paper dyeing, woodblock printing, photography, bookmaking and designing stationery as creative outlets
- Played music at the White House and the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C.; soloed in violin with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra; and performed as principal first flute at Carnegie Hall.