Groups of students gather on the academic quad at Amherst College. During Orientation, squad groups gather on the Academic Quad for their first meetings.

Readers, take note: If you’re walking across campus these days and you run into a member of the class of 2026 or one of this year’s transfer students, there’s a solid chance that the individual’s name starts with “A.” 

You might encounter an Amelia, for example. Or an Alejandra. Or an Anoushka. Or an Andrew (which is the most common name among new students).

About 17 percent of the members of the class of 2026 and this year’s transfers have “A” names, according to Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Matthew McGann, adding that there’s a kind of poetry to so many students sharing the same first letter as their new home. 

Matt McGann, dean of admission at Amherst College, speaks to the incoming class. Matt McGann, dean of admission and financial aid, welcomes the Class of ’26 to the Amherst community.

“What I love is that, sure, our students can have many things in common, such as an academic interest, passion for a particular sport or genre of music or even simply an ‘A,’” he says. “But each one of them has their own combination of interests, background and achievements that make them unique, and what made us want to invite them to join our community.” 

A group of students gather in a circle, placing their hands together in a stack.
Students participate in a LEAP (Learn, Explore, Active, Participate) activity as part of the Orientation program at Amherst.

“We didn’t admit them by mistake,” he continues. “We chose each one of them for who they are. And who they are is pretty extraordinary.”

What follows are some other facts and figures about Amherst’s extraordinary newest Mammoths:

  • Of 14,684 applicants to the class of 2026, the College admitted 1,079 students (that’s a 7.3 percent admit rate if you’re doing the math), and 467 enrolled.
  • The students hail from 43 states, plus Puerto Rico, the Mariana Islands and Washington, D.C., as well as 33 countries, including Brazil, Canada, Cameroon, Kazakhstan, India, Ireland and Syria.
  • 49 percent identify as domestic students of color.
  • International students represent 12 percent of the student body; an additional 40 students are dual citizens of the U.S. and another country.
  • 17 percent of new students represent the first generation in their families to attend college.
  • 20 percent of first-years will receive Pell grants.
  • 57 percent receive Amherst grant funding.
  • The average financial aid package is more than $63,000 per year.
  • Eighteen additional new students are transfers to Amherst from another college or university.
  • Four of the new students are U.S. military veterans; three are first-years, and one is a transfer.

Two new students moving into their dorm room at Amherst College. Fellow New Yorkers and new roommates Kayley Vargas ’26, left, and Jenna Berkman ’26, second from left, set up their room with the help of their mothers.

  • The most represented home state is  New York, with Massachusetts and California a close second and third, respectively
  • Among the class are students who are Chickasaw, Chippewa, Crow and Potawatomi
  • Six new students celebrated a birthday  at some point during Orientation, including, yes, one student whose name starts with an “A.”

Six students gather together talking in a lounge. A squad of transfer students gathers, including Angie Camarena (seen at the top of the photo in a purple shirt) who attended school in Miami until she discovered Amherst College where she plans to continue studying biology as well as art.