Join us for three weeks of college-style learning on the historic, tree shaded campus of one of the most prestigious schools in the country, Amherst College. The college’s ivy-covered buildings and the adjacent town common form the heart of the “Five College Consortium,” a vibrant academic network that includes Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Hampshire Colleges, as well as the University of Massachusetts. The town of Amherst is filled with shops and cafés and is surrounded by rolling hills and rivers, ideal for hiking, canoeing, and biking. During the summer, artists, writers, and musicians make Amherst a lively and exciting place to be.
- June 22, 2014 - July 11, 2014
- July 14, 2014 - August 2, 2014
- Students completing grades 9-12
- Typical Group:
- 60-75 Students, 15-20 Staff
- 3 week(s)
Located in Massachusetts’s Pioneer Valley, Amherst College has been committed to the pursuit of academic excellence since its founding in 1821. As a Putney Pre-College student, you spend four hours a day pursuing two areas of interest in small, active seminars. Seminars encourage collaboration and hands-on learning, getting out of the classroom often for field trips and to meet with local experts, experiments, performances, college tours, and field assignments. Without the pressure of grades or tests, you can enjoy delving into your courses without the stress that comes along with a traditional classroom. Seminar size is limited to ten students or fewer. Pre-College Amherst participants hail from all around the United States as well as international destinations. In 2014, Pre-College Amherst welcomed students from 20 different countries.
Afternoon and evening activities allow you to make the most of your summer and of campus life. Whether taking part in an instructional sports clinic, volunteering at a local daycare, learning the art of crepe- or sushi-making by one of our international students, jumping into a Zumba workshop, or going for a swim in one of the local swimming holes, there are plenty of chances to connect with other students and instructors and to pursue new interests. Introduce the community to your favorite activities, or try something new – maybe digital photography, African drumming, or mountain biking – in a social environment that supports and shares your enthusiasm. Several afternoons during the program, you can choose to visit a full spectrum of New England colleges. In past summers, we have visited Middlebury, Dartmouth, Smith, Williams, and Trinity Colleges, as well as Harvard, Tufts, Brown, Wesleyan, and Yale Universities, as well as others. Visits are generally led by our faculty who are alumni of these colleges. Relax and have fun with our nightly community meetings, talent shows, and movie nights. You might tear up the quad with a game of glow-in-the-dark ultimate frisbee, or see a live show in nearby Northampton.
For your first weekend away from campus, choose between three exciting destinations. The White Mountains of New Hampshire offer an opportunity to explore some of the best-preserved wilderness in the East, historic Cape Cod boasts gorgeous beaches and opportunities for whale watching, and Montreal in French-speaking Canada is full of cultural vitality and hospitality. On the Saturday of our second weekend, make a day trip to Boston to explore locations like Harvard Square, the Boston Science Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Freedom Trail, or take a surf lesson in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. On Sunday, seek out bargains at a local flea market, spend the afternoon at the provocative Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) in North Adams, or enjoy a few hours of biking, rollerblading, or hiking in the hills surrounding campus. Students not from the northeastern United States may also opt for a day trip to New York City to see some of the sights and explore the Big Apple.
The program culminates with a final day of presentations and performances, allowing you to showcase your many accomplishments and share what you have been working on with the rest of the community. Whether you recite an original poem, host a gallery opening of your photography, deliver a knock out stand-up routine perfected in Public Speaking class, or present the debut of a short film you made in the Filmmaking seminar, this evening is your time to shine. Parents are invited to attend this wonderful event – the perfect way to say goodbye to each other and this amazing campus.
“The program succeeded in providing an intelligent, caring, funny and all around wonderful staff. However, the fellow students were what really made Putney at Amherst so special. Without them, it wouldn’t have been the same. I made friends for life – no matter where they live – and I can never thank this program enough for that.”
- Ryan Blume, Summit High School, Summit, NJ
- Get a feel for college life on one of New England’s most beautiful college campuses.
- Polish your college essay or create a new short story in one of several writing workshops.
- Sample delicious local meals while participating in a sustainable food workshop.
- Discuss Aristotle, Camus, and Marx in the shade of the campus quad with your Philosophy class.
- Improve your soccer or tennis game with instruction from the professional coaching staff.
- Hike up Mount Washington, the highest peak in New England.
- Follow in the footsteps of history on the Freedom Trail in downtown Boston.
- Gear up for the big test with a Kaplan SAT prep class.
- Practice your language skills with new friends from around the world.
What to Expect
Students must be able to think critically and creatively while engaging in thoughtful discussion with classmates. Pre-College at Amherst College gives a taste of college life that provides flexibility and expects responsibility. Students are expected to be correspondingly mature and productive in their free time. Rules prohibiting alcohol and tobacco use, setting curfew times, and providing a safe and structured environment are in place and enforced. Our courses are not affiliated with Amherst College and are not for credit.
At Putney we take pride in our reputation for careful, thorough planning and attention to detail. The descriptions of our high school summer programs are based on our experiences in previous summers and our plans for this summer. It is inevitable that some things described here will not happen exactly as presented. To get the most out of the Putney experience, participants need to be flexible in responding to unforeseen situations, and creative in taking advantage of unexpected opportunities. We expect Putney participants to share responsibility for the success of their experience.
As part of the late afternoon activity program, we offer optional instructional clinics in tennis and soccer where you can polish your techniques and maintain your level of skill over the summer. Clinics meet three times a week throughout the program, allowing time for you to get involved in other campus activities. Space is limited to ensure individualized attention, and clinics fill up quickly. Participation is determined on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a supplemental fee for sports clinics.
Learn about last year’s program by reading the 2014 Pre-College at Amherst College Blog.
This program begins and ends at Amherst College.
Arrival • Join your group as we begin the campus experience at Amherst College, one of New England’s most picturesque and preeminent liberal arts schools. You and your family are welcome to arrive directly at Amherst College, or our staff is happy to arrange pick ups from the Amherst bus or train station, or nearby Bradley International Airport in Hartford, CT.
Campus Life • As a Pre-College student at Amherst College, your day is much like that of any college undergraduate, but with a structure that is appropriate and will keep you busy and engaged throughout your summer. Participate actively in stimulating, seminar-style courses and spend time with like-minded individuals who quickly become good friends. Get involved in a host of fun and fascinating activities, from pick-up sports games to college visits to unique course-generated projects.
A Typical Class Day • Morning seminars meet from 9-11am. Make sure you wake up with enough time to spare to grab breakfast at the cafeteria and get ready for the day! 11am-1pm is the lunch hour, and you might take this time to finish up a group project with classmates before heading to eat. Afternoon seminars meet from 1-3pm. After that, it’s time for afternoon activities. Pick between many different options; we might have a badminton tournament on the quad, a salsa dancing lesson in the dorm lounge, a college visit to a nearby university, or a trip to Puffer’s Pond for a swim. Every day offers something different and participants are encouraged to suggest activities of interest to them. Community meetings in the late afternoon give you a heads up for activities coming later in the week and allow you to check in with friends and instructors. After dinner, spend the evening hours playing capture the flag, attending a concert, viewing and discussing an independent film showing at Amherst Cinema, cheering on your friends at a coffee house talent show, or engaging in a board game night. Don’t forget to check in with your instructor on-duty before lights out.
College Visits • Several afternoons during the program you can choose a school to visit from a full spectrum of New England colleges. In past summers, students have visited Middlebury, Dartmouth, Smith, Williams, and Trinity Colleges, as well as Harvard, Tufts, Brown, Wesleyan, and Yale Universities. Visits are generally led by our faculty who are alumni of these colleges.
“I think the business class exemplifies my summer… it felt like a real college class! The experience of being on my own for the first time and being able to do that gave me a great sense of accomplishment.”
- Spencer Reno, Rye High School, Rye, NY
Excursion Weekend • Our first excursion weekend showcases some of the best of what the Northeast has to offer. Choose from the following trips to the White Mountains, Cape Cod, and Montréal.
The White Mountains: Explore some of the best-preserved wilderness in the East with two days in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. As a group, we hike in the magnificent Presidential Range, take in spectacular views from the top of Mount Washington, and canoe, kayak, or swim in some of the region’s many lakes. If you choose this excursion, get excited about hiking, canoeing, and staying in a cozy hiker’s lodge! The cost of this excursion is included in the Pre-College at Amherst College tuition.
Cape Cod: Historic Cape Cod is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the Northeast. On this excursion we stroll the lively streets of Provincetown, swim on one of the Cape’s pristine beaches, and toast s’mores over a bonfire under the stars. Whale watching trips, beach volleyball, kayaking, and Frisbee round out a wide array of activities. There is a supplemental fee of $390 for this program.
Montréal: The cultural vitality and hospitality of French Canada are enticing reasons to visit Montréal. From our base at McGill University, we explore the cobblestone streets of the Old City and soak in the Parisian atmosphere of Rue St. Denis. Activities might include biking along the St. Lawrence River, shopping for a picnic lunch at the sprawling Marché Atwater, and catching an outdoor concert at the International Jazz Festival. There is a supplemental fee of $390 for this excursion.
Boston Weekend • Our second weekend begins with a group day trip to Boston to explore locations like Harvard Square, the Boston Science Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Freedom Trail, or take a surf lesson in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. On Sunday you can visit a locally famous flea market in Hadley, MA, visit the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) in the afternoon, or enjoy biking, rollerblading, or hiking in the hills surrounding campus.
Final Night • Invite family and friends to attend the culminating Final Night Show. You and your fellow students make presentations on what you’ve learned in class, give concerts, explain projects, display artwork, and say goodbye to your instructors and new friends from across the country and around the world. International students and students not from the northeastern United States may visit New York City on the Sunday of this second weekend.
Departure • Staff escorts students from the Amherst College campus to the Amherst bus or train station, or Bradley International Airport. Families can also arrange pick up directly from campus.
This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.
Background • Located in Massachusetts’s Pioneer Valley, Amherst College has been committed to the pursuit of academic excellence since its founding in 1821. The town of Amherst bustles with interesting shops and cafés and is surrounded by rolling hills and rivers, ideal for hiking, canoeing, and biking. The Mead Art Museum, Emily Dickinson Homestead, and the Robert Frost Library stand out among the rich cultural resources of the area. During the summer, artists, writers, and musicians make the Amherst area a lively and exciting place to be.
Housing and dining • At Amherst College, live in single-sex residence halls located at the heart of campus, with easy access to playing fields, tennis courts, and other college facilities, and to the town of Amherst. Rooms are doubles and the majority of students choose to room with participants they do not know prior to the beginning of the program. Dorms are equipped with social common areas, as well as laundry facilities and a computer lab. Eat the majority of your meals at Amherst’s high-quality dining facilities, which provide a wide range of choices of hot and cold entrees, salads, healthy desserts, and vegetarian selections. Cook-outs, picnics, and restaurant meals provide the occasional change of pace.
Population • Amherst College is situated within the town of Amherst, a community of about 35,000 people. The College quad is a short walk from Amherst’s single main street. This cozy size allows for a safe, small-town feel while providing great shops, restaurants, and a burgeoning art scene for students to explore.
Climate • Summers in the Pioneer Valley are pleasant, with moderately warm afternoons and the occasional rainy day or short heat wave. Temperatures can be quite cool in the morning, with overnight lows in the 50s but generally warm into the 80s during the day.
Currency • The town of Amherst has numerous ATMs available for students if they would like additional spending money during their stay. Coin-operated laundry facilities equipped with change machines are available in the dorms.
“My expectations were beyond met. The amount of independence we were given really was good exposure to what college will be like. The staff were absolutely amazing and it was a privilege getting to know them.” -
- Sarah Jackel, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, Sarasota, FL
The Pre-College at Amherst College program is directed by Maggie Strassman. If you have questions, are interested in receiving more detailed information, or would like to talk further about the program or any of our high school summer programs abroad, please get in touch!
Maggie Strassman: University of Wisconsin, B.S., Geography, International Studies. Maggie studied abroad in Austria during college and has had the travel bug ever since. After graduation, she moved to the Czech Republic before working at National Geographic as an intern in the Education department. She has led Community Service programs in Dominica and Fiji, and a Pre-College program at Amherst College. Maggie coordinates Putney programs in India, Thailand, the West Indies, and Massachusetts. She enjoys trivia, riding her bike, playing frisbee, and exclaiming over delicious food.
How To Apply
STEP 1: LOG ON.
STEP 2: HOLD A SPACE IN THE PROGRAM.
You can hold a space in a program by completing the Online Application Form, submitting a signed Agreement Form, and providing the $700 Application Deposit by Mastercard, Visa, or Discover Card through our secure online system or by sending a check to our office. Our admissions staff is also available to take credit card information over the phone. We will hold a space in a program for a reasonable time, pending completion of the full application process. See Step 3.
After March 15, we will hold a space temporarily as above, but we must receive full payment by check or wire transfer within three days to continue to hold a space in the program.
STEP 3: COMPLETE THE APPLICATION PROCESS.
Before we can make a final admissions decision, an application must be complete. In addition to the Application Form and Application Deposit described above, a complete application includes:
- Applicant Statement - Attach a statement explaining why you would like to join a Putney program and what you feel you can contribute to it. Your application cannot be processed without this statement. Approximately 150–300 words is sufficient. Global Action applicants’ statements must be 300-500 words addressing these questions, and detailing their interest and/or experience in the country and issues on which they wish to focus.
- Two Teacher Reference Forms
These documents are available as part of our Online Application. We review a completed application within a few days, and notify families of our admissions decision by e-mail.