Best Kept Secrets Page 3

Top 10 schools that fly under the academic radar - but shouldn't

By Explore Editor

What the students are saying about:

Hampshire College

Hampshire College

Hampshire College has built its reputation on going against the grain. “The best thing about Hampshire is the freedom that you get.” Most students create their majors themselves, then select the classes that would suit that major. The school, for its part, stays true to its original mission of discouraging letter grades, encouraging student-led discussions, and championing its unique brand of education. A senior Environmental Studies major explains: “Hampshire's learning is geared towards whatever your mind is geared towards. The rules are more like guidelines than rules. If there is a rule, there is an acceptable way to break it.” As for the students, universal weirdness seems to be what ultimately unites and defines them. A theater major says, “There's this saying on campus that Hampshire is made up entirely of kids who were the outcasts in their high school, which I think is pretty spot-on. It's strange, because everyone is so unique individually, but when you see us all together, we all look the same.” The off-kilter quality makes Hampshire a welcoming haven for students who, before coming to college, might never have thought they’d fit in. One junior sums up Hampshire’s overall experience like this: “If you DON’T like arguing, the general spirit of activism, the smell of marijuana, really smart people who do too many drugs and manage to write insanely good essays anyway, or woodland creatures … and if you DO like a whole lot of direction in your academic work, then Hampshire isn’t for you.” Another interesting fact: despite the lack of cohesive structure at Hampshire, its students have one of the highest graduate-school acceptance rates in the country.