Join us for three weeks of college-style learning on the historic, tree shaded campus of the prestigious liberal arts school, Amherst College. Excel’s small seminars are engaging, interactive, and free from the pressure of grades and exams. Explore your artistic side with a Drawing or Photography class, or debate investment strategies in a Business and Economics seminar. Make new friends from across the country and around the world, and be inspired by your supportive and talented instructors. Take weekend excursions to some of New England’s most beautiful cities, beaches, and natural areas.
- June 23, 2013 - July 12, 2013
- July 15, 2013 - August 3, 2013
- June 23, 2013 - August 3, 2013
- Students completing grades 9-12
- Pre-College Enrichment
- Typical Group:
- 60-75 Students, 15-20 Staff
- 3 week(s) (June 23, 2013 - July 12, 2013)
- 3 week(s) (July 15, 2013 - August 3, 2013)
- 6 week(s) (June 23, 2013 - August 3, 2013)
Located in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley, Amherst College has been committed to the pursuit of academic excellence since its founding in 1821. As an Pre-College enrichment student on campus, you spend four hours a day pursuing two areas of interest in small, active seminars. Course size is limited to ten students or fewer. Seminars encourage collaboration and hands-on learning, getting out of the classroom often for field trips, experiments, performances, and field assignments. Afternoon and evening activities allow us to make the most of our summer and of campus life. Whether taking part in an instructional sports clinic, volunteering at a local daycare, visiting a local farm for some homemade ice cream, or playing a pick-up game of Ultimate Frisbee, there are plenty of chances to connect with other students and instructors, and to pursue new interests. You are encouraged to start clubs and introduce the community to your favorite activities, or try something new – maybe digital photography, a cooking club, or mountain biking – in a social environment that supports and shares your enthusiasm. Evenings also provide a special opportunity to relax and have fun with our nightly community meetings, talent shows, and movie nights.
At Amherst College, we 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.
Some afternoons and on weekends we leave campus to see the best of what New England has to offer. 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. Visits are generally led by our faculty who are alumni of these colleges. On our first excursion weekend, choose between two-day visits to New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the historic beaches of Cape Cod, or the cosmopolitan streets of French-Canadian Montréal. On the Saturday of our second weekend, the entire group takes a day trip to Boston to explore locations like Harvard Square, the Boston Science Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Freedom Trail, or Salem. On Sunday, seek out bargains at a local flea market in Hadley, Massachusetts, 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.
The program culminates with a final day of presentations and performances, allowing you to showcase your many accomplishments. Whether you perform an original a capella arrangement of a favorite song, deliver a knock out stand-up routine perfected in Public Speaking class, or present the runway debut of a chic dress you made in the Fashion Design 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.
“I expected Julia to have both an intellectual and social experience, and the program exceeded my expectations. I was particularly impressed with the professionalism of the staff. Julia enjoyed her independence, and Excel provided appropriate structure and oversight to keep her safe. The balance was masterful!”
- Jane Veron, Scarsdale, NY
- 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.
- Record a CD of original music in Music Performance.
- 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. Excel at Amherst College gives a taste of college life and provides flexibility, and 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.
- $4,990 (June 23, 2013 - July 12, 2013)
- $4,990 (July 15, 2013 - August 3, 2013)
- $8,990 (June 23, 2013 - August 3, 2013)
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 2012 Pre-College Enrichment 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 art 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 an Excel 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 T-shirt decorating crew 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! 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, cheering on your friends at a coffee house, 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.
“Putney outdid itself – I had the best summer I could have imagined. I loved that there was always something interesting to do, from swimming at Puffer’s Pond to surfing, rock climbing, stargazing, or exploring the darling town of Amherst.There’s this constant spirit of adventure that follows you wherever you go at Putney, and even after you leave it’s infectious, it stays with you, it makes you want to do things you’d never done before. It’s magic and wonderful and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
- Sonya Bessalel, Sidwell Friends School, Bethesda, MD
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 rustic hiker’s lodge! The cost of this excursion is included in the Excel 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 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, the Freedom Trail, or Salem. On Sunday you can visit a locally famous flea market in Hadley, MA, visit 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.
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’ 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.
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.
Cuisine • Students take most meals in the Amherst College cafeteria, which provides a wide range of hot and cold entrees, salads, healthy desserts, and vegetarian selections. Cook-outs, picnics, and restaurant meals in-town provide an occasional change of pace.
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 greatest accomplishment was working on my dance from the World Dance class and performing it in front of the entire program. It was such a rewarding experience because we had worked so hard on it throughout the whole summer. I learned that it is okay to mess up, and that you should keep trying until you get the dance move, or the answer to a question.”
- Caroline Weisstuch, Mamaroneck High School, Larchmont, NY
The Excel 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 programs in Dominica and at Amherst College. Maggie coordinates Putney programs in India, 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.