What are the academics like at your school?
there's a lot of integration between academics and extracurriculars: clubs often invite professors or guests to give lectures in the evenings, the theme houses put together educational house projects, etc.
Yes, some professors are very active in the campus political and social life. yes, there are research opportunities for undergrads (the school has lots of money, you just have to ask around). there are no grad students, so undergrads get all the attention and money, which is great. there is no core curriculum, which is also great, and one of the main reasons i chose amherst. TAs don't teach classes, they just lead extra review sessions and tutor, so they're very helpful. about 1/3 of seniors complete theses.