Enjoy your summer while getting a feel for college life on the historic, tree-shaded campus of Amherst College. With full access to the College’s top-notch facilities, Amherst is the ideal location for exploring new subjects and topics of interest to you without the pressure of grades or tests.


  • 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.


Our Campus at Amherst College

At Amherst College, live in residence halls located at the heart of campus, with easy access to playing fields, gym and pool,  tennis courts, and other college facilities, and to the town of Amherst. Rooms are doubles with shared bathroom facilities on the floor. 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 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.  

Pre-College Amherst participants hail from all around the United States as well as international destinations. In 2015, Pre-College Amherst welcomed students from 10 different countries.

Choose Two Seminars

As a Putney Pre-College student at Amherst College, you choose and pursue two areas of interest in small, active seminars. Seminars encourage collaboration and hands-on learning, allowing you to get out of the classroom often for field trips, experiments, performances, college tours, field assignments, and to meet with local experts. Without the pressure of grades or tests, you can enjoy delving into your courses without the pressure that comes along with a traditional classroom.  Seminars are limited to ten students or fewer. Our approach to learning is hands-on and field-based, taking advantage of the resources, local experts, and scenes of the Pioneer Valley.

Afternoons and Evenings

In the afternoons and evenings, choose between many options to make the most of your summer and of campus life. We might have a soccer 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.  Whether taking part in an instructional sports clinic or yoga class, volunteering at a local daycare, learning the art of crepe- or sushi-making with one of our international students, jumping into a Zumba workshop, or diving into a 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 African drumming, flamenco dancing, improv, or mountain biking – in a social environment that supports and shares your enthusiasm. Get out and explore the area on a visit to the monks at the nearby Peace Pagoda, sample the unique and delicious ice cream offerings at a local dairy farm, immerse yourself in history at Emily Dickinson’s historic house, or go for a jog on a nearby trail.  Community service opportunities and organized sports and fitness clinics are also available. Every afternoon offers something different and participants are encouraged to suggest activities of interest to them.

For dinner, grab a delicious meal from the dining hall or head into town with a group of friends and staff for a slice of pizza.  Spend the evening hours learning night photography, tear up the quad with a game of glow-in-the-dark ultimate frisbee, attending an outdoor music festival, viewing and discussing an independent film showing at Amherst Cinema, cheering on your friends at a talent show, or engaging in a low-key board game night. Nightly community meetings give you a heads up for activities coming later in the week and allow you to check in with friends and staff. There is time before bed to shower, do laundry, and prepare for the upcoming day.

College Visits

On 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, Columbia, and Trinity Colleges, as well as Harvard, Tufts, Brown, Wesleyan, Boston, and Yale Universities. Visits are typically led by our faculty who are alumni of these colleges.


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 paddleboarding, 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, swimming, or hiking in the hills and streams surrounding campus. Students may also opt for a day trip to New York Cityto see some of the sights and explore the Big Apple.

Final Night

The program culminates with a final day of presentations and performances, allowing you to showcase your many accomplishments and share your work 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 or speech 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 your classmates, instructors, and this amazing campus.

Physical Challenge Level

Our programs are active. Days are filled with movement — playing a pickup game of soccer with new friends, walking to downtown Amherst with your seminar, or enjoying a swim in a local swimming hole. For those interested, we have access to a basketball court, gym with pool, and soccer field at our accommodations. Dance, swimming, yoga, and Pilates classes are regular occurrences. Pick-up games of frisbee, or basketball, or a running group can be organized by leaders and students.


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