Hamilton College Top Questions

What should every freshman at your school know before they start?

Jennifer

Relax about the application process anddon't stress too much because although it's an incredibly hard decision to make, everything will work out for the best and no matter where you are, you will find your way and make the best of it.

Jennifer

During the few short weeks that I have been at Hamilton, I have met many new people and experienced great things. I participated in a week long pre-orientation program called Adirondack Adventure and learned about team work in difficult situations. I really bonded with the people on my canoe trip. After that, regular orientation was also important in bonding with people. Now that school has started, I eat once a week with my Adirondack Adventure group. I love my classes and I am getting to know my professors. I have found that the more I participate in class, the more I learn. It was very valuable to participate in Adirondack Adventure to start to build interpersonal skills and get close to people. Now I still want to get to know my professors and the students around me because I had such a positive pre-orientation experience. The whole Hamilton experience has been valuable so far because I am learning in my courses as well as learning in interpersonal situations. I didn't know anyone else going here, so everyone was new and it has been an adventure!

Cristina

If I could go back in time, I would first congratulate my (younger) self on choosing to attend Hamilton College. My education here has given me countless opportunities: fluency in a foreign language, multiple occasions to perform research with leaders in their fields, study abroad experiences in Beijing and D.C., an internship at the State Department, commitment of my professors to my success, and the opening of countless doors to help me pursue my future. But patting myself on the back for my decision would be neither the most prudent nor the most useful purpose of this conversation. I would rather talk about the second hardest part about the college application process; that is to say, after letters (both big and small) arrive in mailboxes and decisions are made. The "hurry up and wait" phase, that frustrating springtime before graduation, is precisely the time to enjoy the results of hard work without abandoning them to "burn out." I would tell my younger self to make the most of those 2.5 months, because as frustrating as it might sometimes seem, high school is a part of who we are and a foundation for our future selves as well.

Will

If I were to talk to myself as a high school senior, I would first and foremost tell me to get excited for an amazing period in my life. College is a time of transition and excitement. Life-long friendships will be made and much self-growth will occur. Although you will be taking many classes to prepare yourself for the future, this time will present to you lessons that you allow you to learn much about yourself. Have an open mind! People at college come from everywhere and have so many awesome perspectives and ideas. Be willing to live within the larger community of college and the smaller community you will find in your dormitory and room, if you are to live with a roomate. Be open to the tumultuous experience of living with new people. It has its up and downs, but can be such an enriching experience. I am so so so excited for you. College is amazing. Take classes in new subjects, meet as many people as possible, join lots of clubs, volunteer, play intramural sports, go out and again I repeat have an open mind. Get ready for the next stage of your life!

Kelsey

The transition wasn't at all hard to make, but I would advise myself to try overnight stays before deciding to enroll in college, to find out what the social scene is really like.

Tyler

It's going to suck at first, but be outgoing and do as many events as you can at the beginning so you can meet people. Be ready to encounter a lot of smart people and always keep up on the reading. Study hard so you can get your GPA as high as possible when applying to college.

John

Visit every college while it is session to get a feel for what it is like during the school year. If you're going to play a sport, talk to the team members to see if they like the coach and how intense the practices are. Talk to a professor in your intended field of study to see what the classes are like. Sit in on a class. Go to lunch in a dining hall. Stay overnight. Do anything you can to get a grasp on what the college is actually like. If you're going to commit four years of life to a school, take the time to research everything you would ever want to know. Weigh the pros and cons. It's a big decision.

Sara

First of all, you need to visit a college to know whether or not it is good for you. There were plenty of schools that looked great on paper but when I finally visited, I realized it was a terrible fit for me. I suggest when you visit a college, write down what you liked and didn't like so you will get a better idea of what you are looking for. But don't get too caught up in finding the perfect college, because there are many that you would be very happy at as long as you have an open mind and a good attitude. Also, never underestimate the importance of the social life at college, especially if you are planning on living on campus. Even though the college is about learning, you need to be happy and have fun to get the most out of college. Many of my friends decided to transfer just because the social life was too limiting. Look for a college where you can get involved and make friends and find out what students do on weekends. If the college is very isolated, make sure there is a lot to do on campus.

Amy

At the end of the day, you want to find a place where the students, faculty, and staff are friendly. For some, college can be a major transition, but it helps a lot if you don't feel like you are all alone on a big campus. When trying to figure out what size school is best for you, it is important to remember that no matter what size school you attend, you will most likely have about the same number of friends. The thing to focus on for school size is that class size. If you learn well in an enviornment with lots of personal attention, lectures of 500 people are probably not your best bet. Being open-minded is the key to having an enjoyable social life on campus. Be willing and excited to learn about someone's background and interests that are different from your own.

Gurjot

Use your own senses also apart from asking for advices from parents and students. Remember, you have to make your own decision,,nobody else. Once you decide,then don't have any second thoughts...just do it in a focussed way and you will get the desired results. Also, don't waste your time and money...they are precious .

Kerry

Make sure you visit and gather as much information about each college as possible. The best way to make a decision is to be completely informed.

Philip

Do an overnight at all the prospective schools. Compare the experiences. Go where the people are like you.

meghan

visit as many colleges as you can.

Deborah

The main thing I'd have to say is to not go overboard worrying about choosing a school that may be ever so slightly better or a ever so slightly better fit than another school. As long as you narrow down your choices enough to schools that fit your personal interests and strengths, any one of those schools will probably be just right for you. So don't stress about whether one has "better food" or if another school was one position higher on some random ranking, because chances are, either one of those schools will give you the experience of a lifetime.

Elizabeth

Really look into where you are going!

Sarah

You have to be honest with yourself about what you want, about what would be ideal for you in terms of both academia and living enviornment. Don't be afraid to be picky, because you are going to be spending 4 (at the least) very crucial years of your life in the place you choose! Intuition is a large part of it also; choosing a school because it "just feels right" is completely legitimate. Be bold. Try new things. Get involved. It's a list of cliches that works. The more involved you become, the more friends you will make and the better your experience will be.

Elaine

Students need to make the college experience their own. It is normal to feel out of place the first year for some students. Do not transfer because of this as a three year resident advisor I will say that is a normal feeling. I fell in love with my school when I visited as an accepted student. Hamilton was the best place for me. It was small enough to be part of a community, yet large enough to have some privacy. It is normal not to know what major to pick. An overly specialized school is not the best choice because it leaves little space for changing once mind. Parents let your child find their own place yet be there to support and offer advice in a non judgemental way. Students are nervous enough. Both students and parents allow space. Let your child dorm. This will help them prepare for an independent life. Students it is fine to have reservations about leaving but consider it. You do not need to move from the western to the northern united states. Keep in state financial aid in mind. There are ways to be away from home and still be in-state. Goodluck..........

alexandra

make sure you look at a ton of schools - that is the best chance your child has in finding the right school.

Adam

Look at many colleges before you make a decision and truly weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each school. Ultimately though, do not make a decision without visiting the college personally, consulting college guides, and speaking with students currently at the school. Preferably, try and sit in on a class as well, since with all the money being spent, it would be a shame if the school you're going to has a terrible academic program. Yet, no matter where you end up, don't worry and try and enjoy yourself to the fullest. You'll always get into the college you should be in, the college that will most help nurture you into a full-fledged member of working society. Good luck.

Phill

Go VISIT: it is the only way to know if the school is right for you; get INVOLVED: you will imediately have both friends and something to do; embrace CHANGE: it will happen (whether you like it or not!) through what you learn inside and outside of classes and most importantly about yourself.

Dan

I can't believe you pulled this on me on the last question. Unbelievabe.

Joanna

I was fortunate enough to find an excellent job on a year off between high school and college. I worked as a nurse's aide for a wonderful hospital, and I learned what I wanted out of a career and my adult life. With this focus I am able to get the most out of college life and have many contacts willing to help me along the way.

eileen

visit the school and see how it feels to be on campus

Matt

overnight visits are the most important part of finding the right match. If you don't like the people, you won't like the school.

Ellen

Go with your gut

A

Think about the whole experience not just social life or accedemics.

Robert

The best advice I could give to parents and students about choosing the right college is to get a head start. After your Junior year in high school over the summer visit as many campuses and meet as many admissions officers as possible. INTERVIEW INTERVIEW INTERVIEW! I can not stress that point enough! An interview is one of the most important parts of the admissions process. It enables the admissions officers to put a smile and a face to an application. Admissions officers do not just want to READ what you have to say, they want to hear it, to interact on an person to person basis to grasp a sense of your personality. There are ALOT of different colleges in the country to attend. Such as Liberal Arts schools, Universities, and Trade Schools. ASK QUESTIONS! It is important for the parents and students to gain a full understanding about life at each institution. You are not being stingy and annoying by asking questions, remember if you attend that institution you will be paying them! So get out there, do research, and put a face to your application!

Danielle

I always tell a prospective student looking at colleges to narrow the field down to their top three and sign up for overnight visits. This will give the "prospie" a real feel for each campus without the sugarcoated brochures and guided tours. My overnight experiences actually changed my first-choice college pick. Make sure to sit in on a few classes as well as hang out with your host at night to get a sense of the learning environment as well as the social scene!

Mallory

Visit first!

Andrew

visit the schools

Rachel

I'm actually a tourguide and therefore spend a great deal of time talking to parents and students about colleges, and I honestly believe most people are looking at details that don't much matter. The truth is that once you find a college at the academic level you are pursuing, all the colleges are very similar: if you are looking at small liberal arts colleges, for example, they're all going to have a challenging curriculum and great programs. The most important thing you can do is find a place that feels right and where you know you can be happy for the next four years. If a campus seems miserable when you visit, it probably is, and you probably don't want to be there. If you have time, do an overnight so you can actually meet students. Its definitely worth the extra effort- you are going to be there for four years!

Melissa

Really check out the school before you commit to going. But it is not the place, it is what you do when you are there and mark you leave behind once you graduate.

Sarah

Although the location of a college is important, the main thing students should identify is what type of learner they are. Do they benefit more from interactive classrooms? Will they need professors with accessible office hours and flexibility in regards to students' different learning capabilities and needs? Although large schools may seem more exciting, it is not conducive to all learning styles. Conversely, if a student has a certain career track in mind, look for schools in which the location offers many hands-on opportunities to gain experience.

Jenna

Trust your instincts - they're usually right.

Jennifer

Find the college that fits. I applied to Hamilton on a whim and when I got in, I looked at it further. On the internet it seemed great and once I visited, I was thrilled, but it wasn't that way for all colleges though. There was one college I won't name that just made me feel uncomfortable. Also, look for paid visits. Several schools will give a small travel stipend to accepted students. For example, one school paid for airfare, rental car, and hotel room for both my mother and I while I was there. Good luck!

ashlyn

It's probably the cheesiest piece of advice in existance...but it's the truth. Sometimes, picking a college is just like trying on a new pair of sneakers. One pair'll just fit better than any other, and you can't give any viable reason why. That school may have just had a friendlier stray cat roaming about or it's fitness center may have just smelled better. But, one things for sure, whatever that reason may be...when you're visiting colleges, keep your eyes peeled, because you never know what it'll be.

Gabriela

I advise that the student visit the college and stay for a weekend, if they can. It is a good way to get a feel for the campus and the people there. You can audit a class, go to different events, talk to students and faculty. Also make sure that you choose the right college based on what you may want to do and who you want to surround yourself with. You don't want to choose a college where you will miss home or be sad most of the time.

Erin

As the oldest child in my family, my parents were understandably nervous about sending me off into the collegiate world. Their solution was 'The Great College Search'. Beginning my junior year, every family vacation was built around looking at schools. Coming from a large high school, I thought I wanted a similar setting- some type of large university. After seeing a few of these, I realized a small school would better suit my needs and interests. I wouldn't have realized this without going to physically see these schools; talking to students and professors was an incredibly important part of my search process. I am forever grateful to my parents for taking the time to visit schools with me. Their willingness to discuss pros and cons of each school was crucial to the decision I made. Once I enrolled at Hamilton College, I got involved in a variety of activites. I fully encourage students to participate in anything and everything their school offers. Whether it's a sports team, a club, or a volunteering opportunity, activities are a great way to meet people and feel like part of a community. You only have four years- make the most of them!

James

I would say to parents: LET YOUR CHILD PICK WHAT SCHOOL HE OR SHE WANTS TO GO TO. Save yourselves the aggrivation and disappointment when your child decides to transfer from a school that you "suggested" would be the best choice for him/her! You only get one freshman year, and the prospective student should get to pick where he or she feels that they would do the best academically and have the best time socially. My big mistake was letting my father have too much influence in selecting which schools I applied to and what school I ultimately chose to attend. Now, I am unhappy where I am and have no one to blame but myself for not standing up for what I wanted out of my college experience. Let the student choose where he wants to study!

Andrew

I would highly suggest starting early and making a list of all the possibilities. Research them and determine which ones are feasable to visit. Also, consult guidance counselors and teachers opinions towards the institutions you have interest in and see if they think that you will fit and succeed in the given school's environment. But once again, I can't emphasize enough, start early and visit often. The more times you visit, the better you will develop a feel of the school, and not just a facade that can be put on by tour guides. Also, don't be afraid to seek out coaches and professors to talk to. From my experience searching through liberal arts schools, both are usually willing and excited to meet with potential students. This is one more way to get a feel for the school. Those are both good options, but the best is still talking to students. They will be honest and give you the best descriptions of what classes, social life, and the actual school is like.

Joe

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