What Does it Take to Get Into Amherst College?

Strategies by School
April 16, 2020
Amherst College Is Known For Its Highly Competitive Admission Process And Traditional College Feel…

Yet there’s so much more history and depth to Amherst that potential students can’t see from webpages or glossy pamphlets. This well-known liberal arts college sets the bar for surrounding colleges and lives within a town that houses over 30,000 college students at a time. With this exciting and vibrant setting, Amherst students can learn from some of the nation’s top professors at one of the nation’s most historic universities. If you’re ready to attend Amherst College, keep reading to find out everything you need to know to make your application shine!

What You’ll Find In This Article

Amherst's Ideal Student

Amherst College is known for being competitive, and its average first-year GPA and test scores reflect this:

  • GPA: 4.05
  • SAT: 1470
  • ACT: 33

These scores reflect the highly competitive playing field that every Amherst student has made their way through. The scores also reflect, to an extent, the high standard that students at this storied liberal arts university are held to.

In addition to academics, Amherst students wear their pride, along with their purple and white, on their sleeve. This pride can be felt mixed in with everything students do, and alongside pride, students hold a similar set of values that align with Amherst’s mission. If you find yourself holding these values as well, you may be right at home among this eccentric and high achieving bunch.


Students at Amherst College are taught not to be passive, but to become involved in the issues and causes that shape the world around them. From shocking visionaries to thoughtful leaders, Amherst students are encouraged in their passions and pursuits across campus.

  • Recall a time when you become involved in a cause or volunteer effort.
  • How have you faced challenges in order to pursue your passions?


Just as students are taught to be engaged with the world around them, upholding one’s responsibility is a key value that Amherst students take seriously. Students across campus feel a sense of responsibility, not just for themselves and their own education, but to each other and their greater community. This sense of responsibility has spurred countless alumni to create real change in their home communities and the greater world around them.

  • Has there ever been a time when you took responsibility for a negative action that affected a larger group? How did that change you?
  • Do you feel a sense of responsibility to those around you and your community? Have you ever acted in this sense?
  • Highlight a time when you faced the consequences of your own actions and came out on top.


Your sense of curiosity will never be quenched when you study at Amherst’s beautiful campus. Faculty do more than encourage your curiosity; they’re often just as eager to learn about the world around them as you are. This spirit of wanting to learn is present in nearly every aspect of campus and leaves students with the  lasting impression that following their curiosity leads to great discoveries.

  • Does your curiosity lead you to create or to learn?
  • What unique perspective to learning, art, or discovery would you bring to Amherst?
  • Recall a time when your curiosity led to solving a problem.


Amherst is known for offering a comprehensive liberal arts education and for their wide variety of programs. At Amherst, everything is designed both to prepare students for the workforce while enriching their minds with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in higher education.

Some of Amherst College’s most popular majors include:

  • English (Ranked 10th nationwide)
  • History (Ranked 15th)
  • Chemistry (Ranked 20th)
  • Economics (Ranked 22nd)


Amherst College is known for its dedicated and passionate students. The picturesque and traditionally styled college promotes a system where students can thrive while pursuing their education. The ideal Amherst student is one who will maximize this system, a student who is seriously dedicated to not only learning but becoming a better member of their community.

Students who are well-suited for Amherst are those who know what they want to do with their future and those who will take advantage of the opportunities that the college has to offer. Of course, Amherst officials don’t want to see another typical “highly competitive” essay with no personal flair or story; focus on tailoring your application to your strengths and the specific features that draw you to Amherst if you want the best chances of being accepted.

What You Need To Get Accepted Into Amherst


Amherst allows students to choose between the Common Application and the Coalition Application. These web-based applications take a huge amount of hassle and paperwork out of the college application process. Students should begin filling one of these forms out as early as possible to avoid running up too close to the deadlines.

There are two deadlines future Amherst students need to be aware of. The early decision deadline is November 1st. The regular decision deadline is January 4th.


Your official high school transcript and test scores are required to be considered for admission. A mid-year report of your transcript is also required to showcase your senior-year grades. Amherst places the greatest weight on your academic scores, so don’t let your grades slip after submitting your application!


Future Amherst students should brush up on their skills for asking for a letter of recommendation. Amherst asks for two letters from teachers of core subjects or foreign languages in addition to a letter of recommendation from your counselor. Give your teachers and counselors plenty of advance notice so that they can write the perfect letter of recommendation with no worries about a looming deadline.


Students can either answer a writing prompt in 300 words or submit an essay that’s already been graded to complete Amherst’s writing supplement. With both standard options, students should take care to present only their clearest, most concise writing. With only 300 words to make an impression, you don’t want to waste your word count on weak adjectives or unnecessary fluff.


Amherst requires that students pay a nonrefundable $65 application fee or apply for a fee waiver through the Common Application or Coalition Application.

Amherst's Campus Life


Located in the bustling college town of Amherst, Massachusetts, Amherst College is known for its traditionally styled and beautiful campus. A sense of community flows throughout the Amherst College campus. This community thrives on diversity, and everyone feels included and responsible for caring for their community. A full calendar of events spans the year and across campus, from the central heart of campus in the Keefe Campus Center to the diverse selection of community centers scattered across Amherst.


97% of students live on campus, with access to all the action (and all the food) they could ever want at Amherst. In the center of campus, all first-year students live in a quad of dorms that help them become acquainted with Amherst life. Older students can choose from 34 different residence halls in a variety of locations and themes across campus. The most popular on-campus dining option is Valentine Hall, but there’s plenty of other options, including Schwemm’s Coffee House. Many students choose to walk or bike through Amherst, though parking is available to students who choose to bring their car to campus.


More than 100 student organizations bring students together across Amherst’s campus. From joining the student radio station to participating in a debate club or dance classes, there is far more than meets the eye within Amherst’s student organizations. If you’d rather represent the Mammoths out on the field or the court, you can join varsity teams from ice hockey to basketball.


As is tradition, every senior who graduates from Amherst College receives a cane. The cane is said to represent a college education, which like a cane supports students as they journey through life.

From Application To Career: What You'll Experience At Amherst


Amherst places the most weight on your academic records, so if you have a low GPA you should do everything you can to raise it. Don’t worry about overselling yourself; do your best to showcase your academic record in a way that makes sense when combined with your extracurricular activities. The Amherst admission deans want to know the story of who you are just as much as they want to see your high grades, so don’t make them search for your passions and interest among pages of unrelated achievements.


If you choose to submit a 300-word response to the Amherst College prompt, make sure you keep your response sharp and to the point. Use strong language to make your point and don’t be afraid of going over your essay several times until it’s perfect. Recruit an extra pair of eyes to give your essay a once over before you submit it through the Common or Coalition app.


Your years at Amherst will fly by as you spend each day engrossed in your studies and the community around you. With so many opportunities to engage with the larger community surrounding Amherst between classes, you’ll find yourself learning far more than you ever thought possible both inside and outside the classroom.


As an Amherst alumni, you’ll join an exclusive group including former President Calvin Coolidge, poet Emily Dickinson, and author Dan Brown. Leaning on your solid education for the future, you can find employment in a variety of fields, including:

  • Finance
  • Law
  • Arts
  • Communication
  • Education
  • Technology

Your Future At Amherst

Your future at Amherst College is just the first step in a lifelong journey. Students who truly thrive at Amherst are those who never stop learning and take on every challenge head first. If you find yourself pursuing your passion even in the face of impossible odds, you’ll find yourself among like-minded peers at Amherst.

Fortunately, our WeAdmit counselors know how to tailor applications for Amherst College, and we’d love to help you tell your story to college administrators. Our counselors know how to revise an essay until it perfectly compliments your application and the supplemental prompt. With our expertise, we can help you fine-tune your entire application and increase your chances of being accepted into this competitive school.

If You’re Ready To Thrive At Amherst, Get In Touch Today!



Need more Information?

Gain all the information you need by getting in touch with our admissions team or booking a free 30-minute counseling session.