1. Explore Amherst and beyond. Northampton is amazingly diverse, with great food, shopping and art. The other four colleges all have great things to offer, along with a good change of pace from what can be monotonous Amherst life. Check out our maps and suggestions in the A&L section.
2. Avoid Val During Peak Hours. Val gets crowded at noon, after practices get out and especially right after First-Year Seminars.
3. If you want to get in, don’t give up. Can’t get into that class? Well, spots open up all the time: some students switch out, others don’t show up to class and professors often raise the limit on class size. Sometimes, professors will add you if you just show some interest.
4. Show up to the first few classes. This may sound like a no-brainer, but there’s no surer way to get dropped from a class than not showing up! Even if you’re preregistered, your spot is not safe. If you’re just shopping a class, stick around for a few lectures and a spot might open up.
5. Use the PVTA, but also beware of the PVTA. The free shuttle services between schools, towns and shopping malls are invaluable, but understand the limitations: they’ll often be late and crowded. Always make sure to bring your ID with you or you’ll have to pay the fee.
6. Go to your professor’s office hours. They have hours for a reason: because they care. So take advantage of them. It might be intimidating at first, but building a relationship with your professor is essential.
7. Prepare your winter gear. Come winter, you may find yourself in the middle of a blizzard and wishing you had warm, waterproof clothing. Gloves, umbrellas, insulated boots and a windbreaker are also recommended for the elements.
8. Check out The Option. The Option is a great way to find cheap books without having to order them online and wait two weeks for them to come in. You’re also supporting your fellow Jeffs by buying their books.
9. Check out the Subsidized Software at IT. Amherst has software licenses for a variety of programs: from Microsoft Office to the Adobe suite, language tools, and more. Check out the IT department’s list to see if there’s anything you need at a discount.
10. Use the computer labs around campus. There are labs in Frost, Seeley Mudd and Merrill. The Q center (Merrill 2nd floor) has free printing, but you can’t always rely on a computer being available, especially if you wait until Sunday to do all of your homework.
11. Shape your own advising experience. Some advisors really put their foot down, and others are very laissez-faire. Have an opinion and don’t let advisors make your decisions for you. If you want more insightful advice about a particular class or department, feel free to reach out to another professor or ask for a new advisor.
12. Don’t fall into unhealthy eating habits. It’s so easy to order wings at midnight and stuff your face with cheap ramen. And while you can enjoy those occasionally, making it a habit will make you sluggish, tired and full of unhealthy food that’s bad for you. Buy some healthy snacks; enjoy a hearty dinner at Val to avoid late night cravings; and make good use of the kitchen spaces on campus.
13. Check your email often! You’ll receive a few emails every day so you don’t want them piling up in your inbox. Your professors might email you with a change in the syllabus and you definitely don’t want to read the wrong chapter. You should check your email at least twice each day and actually read each message thoroughly.
14. SLEEP! SLEEP! SLEEP! Energy drinks and six cups of coffee may work, but in the long run, they will deteriorate the quality of your academic work and college life. Force yourself to go to sleep at a reasonable hour and get at least seven hours of sleep. It might seem more productive to get three hours of sleep and get ten things done, but when you find yourself crashing midday and skipping your afternoon class, you’ll feel less productive.
15. Leave high school behind. The simple fact that you are a student here means you were great in high school, but here’s the hard truth: so was everyone else. Don’t start the year expecting your high-school 4.0 here. It doesn’t mean you’ve lost your intelligence; it just means you’re playing a tougher game now.
16. Read The Amherst Student. The Student is a great way to keep informed on everything Amherst, from sporting events, student government, to your fellow classmates’ opinions.
Bonus tip: Williams sucks. Always.