Join an international community of high school students for our Pre-College program at Amherst College, one of the most prestigious liberal arts colleges in the country. Choose two exciting seminars to study throughout your time on campus. Take part in engaging discussions and hands-on projects that allow you to explore new interests or dig deeper into existing passions. Get a taste of college life as you become part of an inspiring and supportive community of Pre-College faculty and students from around the world.
The majority of our Pre-College programs are postponed until next summer. Be the first to know when we announce 2021 dates and new programs: Sign up for our newsletter!
Looking for a program this summer? View our Pre-College Vermont program!
Dates: June 28, 2020 – July 17, 2020
Eligibility: Completing grades 9 – 12
Duration: 20 days
- Experience college life on a beautiful and prestigious campus
- Hone your business savvy in an entrepreneurship seminar
- Polish your college essay or a short story in a writing workshop
- Exhibit your photos and drawings at a gallery opening
Arrival • From the moment you arrive on Amherst College’s ivy-covered New England campus, you join a supportive community of like-minded peers and faculty ready to learn, make new friends, and have fun along the way. Fly into Hartford or Boston, take a train or bus to the Northampton, Massachusetts, station, or meet your fellow students on campus. Settle into your dorm and take a quick tour of campus before gathering for a full group orientation on your first night. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.
Campus Life • Consistently ranking at the top of U.S. News and World Report’s leading colleges, Amherst College is the perfect setting for experiencing college life. Amherst’s historic, ivy-covered buildings and the adjacent town common form the center of the “Five College Consortium,” a vibrant academic network that includes Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Hampshire Colleges, as well as the University of Massachusetts. With full access to the college’s top-notch facilities, including, tennis courts, libraries, museums, and sports fields, Pre-College at Amherst is the ideal program for high school students to explore new subjects or dig deeper into known passions. Live in upperclassman dormitories and immerse yourself in local life. Instructors and resident advisors live alongside our Pre-College students, creating a community experience that goes beyond the classroom. Shops and cafés fill the town of Amherst, while rolling hills and rivers surround it, making it perfect for hiking, swimming, and biking.
Seminars • Choose two stimulating seminars—a major and a minor—and explore your chosen subjects in the classroom and in the field. Each Pre-College course is designed to encourage collaboration and hands-on learning, allowing you to get out of the classroom often for field trips, experiments, performances, and field assignments, and to meet with local experts. Without the pressure of grades or tests, you can enjoy delving into your courses within a collegiate environment.
Each seminar works toward a final project—a photo gallery, a business proposal, a scientific presentation, a performance piece, or a dramatic reading, for example—which you present to fellow participants on the final night of the program. Parents and families are welcome to attend this final presentation. Seminars are limited to ten students or fewer. See below for more information on seminars.
Afternoon & Evening Activities • In the afternoons and evenings, choose from a variety of activities to make the most of your summer and of campus life. Join a soccer or volleyball game on the quad, take a salsa dancing lesson, visit a nearby college or university, or head to Puffer’s Pond for a swim. Meet a friend on the quad or take part in an instructional sports clinic (choose among tennis, soccer, or fitness studio) with professional coaches. Pursue new interests such as yoga, African drumming, improv, or mountain biking. Learn the art of crepe- or sushi-making with one of our international students, jump into a Zumba workshop, or volunteer at a local farm. Explore the surrounding area with a visit to monks at the nearby Peace Pagoda, sample ice cream at a local dairy farm, immerse yourself in New England history at Emily Dickinson’s historic house, or go for a jog on a nearby trail.
College Visits • Take the opportunity to visit a number of New England colleges. In past summers we have visited Dartmouth, Smith, Columbia, Williams, and Trinity Colleges, as well as Harvard, Tufts, Brown, Wesleyan, NYU, Boston, and Yale Universities. Visits are generally led by our faculty, who are often alumni of these colleges and, when possible, we arrange a meeting with an admissions director.First Excursion Weekend • Get off campus and experience the iconic beauty of New England. Choose from trips to the White Mountains and Cape Cod.
White Mountains • Explore some of the best-preserved wilderness in the East in New Hampshire’s iconic White Mountains. Scout for moose and other wildlife as you hike in the magnificent Presidential Range or swim and canoe in some of the region’s many lakes.
Cape Cod • Stroll the lively, historic streets of Provincetown, swim or paddleboard on one of the Cape’s pristine beaches, and toast s’mores over a bonfire under the stars. Go whale watching, play beach volleyball, kayak, or play Frisbee with new friends. There is a supplemental fee of $390 for this excursion.
Second Excursion Weekend • During your second weekend, take a day trip to Boston and break into small groups to explore locations like Harvard Square, the Boston Science Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Freedom Trail. On Sunday, visit a locally famous flea market in Hadley, Massachusetts, check out the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA), enjoy biking or hiking in the hills surrounding campus, or relax on the quad with friends. Students may also choose to visit New York City on the Sunday of this second weekend. While in New York, visit Times Square, stroll through Central Park, or check out the Statue of Liberty. College visits are also arranged in both Boston and New York for interested students.
Final Night • Invite family and friends to attend the culminating Final Night Presentation. Celebrate what you have learned in your seminars: perform a concert, present a final project, or host a gallery opening to display your work. Say goodbye to your instructors and new friends from across the country and around the world.
Departure • Staff escort students from the Amherst College campus to the local bus or train station, or airports in Hartford or Boston. Families can also arrange pick up directly from campus. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.
This description represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program. This program is licensed by the State of MA Department of Health.
She got out her comfort zone, branched beyond her newly formed circle of friends, and tried on new versions of herself. She gained a sense of confidence and a wider understanding of the seminar topics she enrolled in. She also gained wonderful memories and a network of friends in many cities. — Renu & Sandeep Kulkarni, Chicago, IL
A Day in the Life: Pre-College Amherst College
Due to the dynamic nature of this Pre-College summer program, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day on the Amherst College campus.
8 AM • Grab breakfast in the college’s dining hall
9 AM • Head to your major seminar
12 PM • Break for lunch in the dining hall or out on the town with friends
1 PM • Convene for your minor seminar
3 PM • Choose an afternoon activity, such as volleyball or salsa dancing lessons
5:30 PM • Enjoy dinner in the dining hall with your Pre-College community
7 PM • Reflect on the day at Community Meeting
7:30 PM • Head to evening activities, such as improv night
10:30 PM • Check-in at dorms for the night
11 PM • Lights out
Choose two Pre-College seminars—a major and a minor seminar—and tap into the incredible resources of our campus and knowledgeable instructors at Amherst College. Seminars are rigorous, focused, and interactive. They get you thinking critically about important topics in today’s world and help you focus your interests as you look ahead toward college.
MAJOR SEMINARS (click on seminar to read the full description)
MINOR SEMINARS (click on seminar to read the full description)
FITNESS CLINICS (click on seminar to read the full description)
What to Expect
Seminars • Pre-College seminars are interactive and collaborative, and take advantage of Amherst College’s facilities and the region’s cultural offerings. You can expect to meet with local and regional experts, artists, entrepreneurs, and guest speakers during the program. Each seminar works toward a final project—a short film, a business proposal, a performance piece, a gallery opening, or a dramatic reading, to give a few examples—which you present to fellow participants on the final night of the program. Parents and families are welcome to attend this final presentation!
Afternoons & Evenings • Outside of seminars, each day on your Pre-College program brings new adventures and a variety of activities from which to choose. Instructors lead activities and often bring in guest instructors or local experts. Students are encouraged to suggest activities and excursions they would be excited to join.
Physical Activity • This is a physically active summer program. You can expect to participate in activities such as hiking, swimming, soccer, biking, and frisbee. Tennis and soccer clinics taught by professional coaches, as well as a fitness clinic that includes elements of pilates, yoga, and aerobics, are available for students who would like structured instruction during the program. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you are excited about trying new activities.
Transportation • You and your family are welcome to meet us on campus at Amherst College, or our staff can arrange pick ups from the local bus or train station, or at nearby Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Connecticut, or Boston’s Logan International Airport.
I love that she was able to get a sense of college, dorm living, and that she traveled to look at other schools. I think she has a sense of what she’s looking for in a college, which is wonderful.
— Courtney Carrera-Ghatan & Saadi Ghatan, New York, NY