Students usually don’t choose Amherst because of its academic reputation, although a sound reputation is a must when the competing schools are Harvard and Williams. Rather, students come here because of the promise of experiencing an eclectic array of stimulating peers, professors, classes, and activities. Some become disillusioned, not finding their niche within the abundance of opportunities and freedom. Some succeed in familiarizing themselves with the ways of this place, find that they’re having the time of their life midway through college and become depressed that this whole thing is going to end soon. Chronologically speaking and with clear generalization, freshman year can go by in a rush, with everyone immersed in the whole college experience with their freshmen friends and classmates. Sophomore year can be the most challenging, since a lot of people go through “sophomore slump”—a state of mild or not-so-mild depression caused by the sad fact that all their freshman friends suddenly are not living in the same dorm but are now in far corners of campus. Also, many sophomore students are conflicted by the sudden need to decide on a major and to get serious about their lives. Junior and senior years are usually better and calmer, since most students have settled into a chosen major and formed a group of close friends across distant campus dorms. Upperclassmen, then, can be free to concentrate on studying and having fun.
The key to living here is perhaps keeping yourself open and receptive to new and unfamiliar experiences, opinions, and values. You’ll gain a lot more if you communicate openly with that odd-looking and opinionated girl from Dallas or that too-cool-for-school-looking guy from Philly, rather than choosing to be repulsed by Amherst’s oddities. A place like Amherst, with so many accomplished and bright people threading its grounds, is bound to have more oddities than the average university. Even though few people come to Amherst College for the sole purpose of meeting new people, learning from everyone, exploring themselves and so on, most students do admit, however reluctantly, that Amherst is both fun and a unique learning and growing experience that can be found nowhere else.