Amherst, MA
Hampshire College


45 Ratings

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Recent Reviews

Brian
What is your overall opinion of this school?

As a preface, I should inform prospective students and anyone else who reads this that Hampshire College is currently going ...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

As a preface, I should inform prospective students and anyone else who reads this that Hampshire College is currently going through a period of massive change and financial hardship. Although I will give a detailed account of what one can expect from Hampshire, please note that some of its aspects will be different starting Fall 2019 (after this review is complete). OVERALL: As a school, Hampshire College is brilliant in concept; the use of narrative evaluations in the place of grades and essays and projects as opposed to tests are just some of the aspects of Hampshire I applaud. Unfortunately, my underwhelming experience there left me feeling like the school missed its mark when putting its ideas into action (I elaborate on this below). Overall, going to Hampshire may be a wonderful experience for the right person, but if you do not fit in then you will have a very hard time living there. I say this as someone who made close friends with quite a few people on campus, loved my hallmates, and tried to dive head-first into events, clubs, and classes. As I am having a hard time attempting to answer different questions on this website (i.e. overall opinion vs specifically academics vs student body), I separate the different aspects of Hampshire I will address below. I have excluded dining, as Hampshire’s food is going to be completely different starting Fall 2019. ACADEMICS: The academic courses at Hampshire are a perfect example of what I mean with my above statements. On one hand, courses are extremely small, having at most just over 20 students. Thus, professors can get to know students on a personal level and even take attendance each class. Further, they legitimately care about their students and go out of their way to become available or show lenience to those who are struggling. However, very few classes are ever as rigorous as Hampshire advertises. Some classes are more stimulating and challenging, but many of them are easy, plodding, or otherwise dull. There is an attitude at Hampshire in which attendance and deadlines are all viewed as optional. Students arrive to events and classes on “Hampshire Time”, meaning five minutes prior at the earliest and up to ten minutes late. Using the Five College Consortium is a hit-or-miss endeavor; you can be denied a seat if a course is overenrolled or even if a college mistakenly thinks you did not meet the prerequisites. I am told the latter situation is easy to resolve if you have the rubrics for the courses you previously took (I did, but busing to the relevant school to meet with someone and hoping the course has not filled up in the interim gets frustrating). People at Hampshire like to tell stories of students expecting the courses to be easy and being surprised by the difficulty, but they are not always accurate. STUDENT BODY AND CULTURE: The culture at Hampshire College is what prospective students should be most wary of. First, Hampshire has a massive culture revolving around substance use. This may not be bad depending on what a student is looking for, especially since the college does offer substance-free events for those who do not wish to partake. However, people with sensory issues beware: Hampshire students are not nearly as respectful of the needs of their peers as they think they are. Despite the presence of designated smoking areas across campus, students regularly smoke all over the place. Although the most popular spot is the front of the library, one can find people smoking anywhere. Furthermore, Hampshire’s students and faculty have a well-earned reputation for being extremely liberal and a few are outright hostile to those who do not share their opinions (including moderate liberals). It is not an exaggeration to say that politics dominates Hampshire’s culture. Most campus-wide events revolve around and directly prize liberal political and social thought. Students pay the most attention in courses that affirm their beliefs. Professors will occasionally directly endorse these beliefs, leaving it up to question whether or not some classes exist to teach opinions alone. It is astounding how invasive and omnipresent this tendency is. For instance, I was a member of the Chess Club and attended most meetings during my first (and only) year. Almost every discussion that happened in these meetings revolved around social justice, and the club began to feel more like an echo chamber than anything else. Protests and causes seem to appear every semester, and students seem less interested in the cause than in just venting their frustration. During my first semester, the student body raised concerns about the inaccessibility of Hampshire’s campus to people with disabilities. As an autistic (and proud) student, I jumped at the chance to learn what could be done to help address these issues. However, when students met with representatives from CORAL (one of Hampshire’s offices), all they wanted to do was shout, accuse, ridicule and otherwise attack said representatives. There were very few students who were interested in helping make Hampshire more accessible. When I left the meeting, I felt as though a cause that was very personal to me had been ruined in my mind. During the Hamp Rise Up movement, people were talking more about how long the protest was lasting than the actual cause itself, which was disappointing given the importance of what they were fighting for. What makes this fact so unfortunate is that there is quite a bit to love about the people at Hampshire. The environment is, without question, one of the most accepting of gender diversity in the world. Asking for someone’s preferred pronouns is a part of every introduction. Every bathroom I have seen is gender-neutral; the only difference is that some have urinals. There is a massive LGBTQ+ presence. In fact, most people I met identified as LGBTQ+ and were very proud of it. Students from the Five College Consortium have remarked that Hampshire is far ahead of other colleges in this regard; I could not agree more. CAMPUS: To its credit, Hampshire College’s campus is absolutely breathtaking during the right times of the year. The college is very separated from the rest of the world, so almost no traffic passes through campus. Some areas are wide open, and you can see beautiful small fields of grass. The on-campus mods each have unique styles to them and walking around each group of houses feels like its own experience. When snow falls, students are treated to a gorgeous view of flat blankets of snow and trees covered in ice – at least until workers shovel snow off the pathways. Further, one can walk around campus in the middle of the night and generally not worry about anything. That is not to say you cannot be harmed on campus (Hampshire does have some terrible students, like almost every other college), but one of the benefits of Hampshire being so small is that most places you will walk will be close to the center of campus (which I am told by classmates means not a lot happens there). Incidentally, you can walk across campus in ten minutes, depending on your pace. Traveling between two places generally takes less time. HOUSING: Housing at Hampshire is a mixed bag. The only remaining dorm, Merrill, looks and feels almost like a prison and usually smells of marijuana. The floors are all hard tiles, with the only exception being one floor in a closed-off section. If Dakin reopens, I advise staying there – the dorm is a lot more inviting, although you have to move through bathrooms to get from one hall to the next. I myself have never entered the on-campus mods, but according to my classmates what remains of Greenwich has a serious mold problem. I have heard only praise for Enfield and Prescott. SURROUNDING CITY: Thanks to the bus system, finding a restaurant, shop, or theater is fairly quick and easy. Amherst has a variety of different places to eat, all of which have wonderful food (although some places are expensive). For example, Insomnia Cookies is open very late and has some of the gooiest chocolate chip cookies I have ever eaten. Antonio’s Pizza serves huge slices and boasts some of the most unique combinations of toppings imaginable. That is just the beginning! I have been to Amherst alone and with friends and honestly cannot say anything bad about it. My only caution is that if you have an issue with panhandling, it may be best not to go out after the sun sets.

casey
What is your overall opinion of this school?

The Divisional system gives Hampshire its edge. We've got 3 divisions, and to graduate, you've got to pass Div 3 - a final pr...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

The Divisional system gives Hampshire its edge. We've got 3 divisions, and to graduate, you've got to pass Div 3 - a final project that can take any shape or form - that you do under the supervision of your advisors. We don't have grades or majors and each student gets a narrative evaluation instead of a grade. I think Hampshire is a great place, but the students NEED to be more diverse. We've got all kinds of diversity EXCEPT racial diversity, and it's honestly, not fun. I made it all four years at Hampshire and I loved every second of it.

Briar
What is your overall opinion of this school?

It's a pretty good school and students are definitely liberal and politically active. I really wish that microaggressions wer...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

It's a pretty good school and students are definitely liberal and politically active. I really wish that microaggressions were addressed more on campus. The food is also pretty rough if you have allergies, so try to get off of the meal plan if you do. In general, at Hampshire, self advocacy is incredibly important.

Phoenix
What is your overall opinion of this school?

Hampshire College has been a safe and supportive environment for me to explore my interests and find a way to combine them in...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

Hampshire College has been a safe and supportive environment for me to explore my interests and find a way to combine them in order to constructing contribute to the community. With supportive professors who are willing to go above and beyond to support their students and a structure that allows students to be in control of their education while still being provided the support they need, Hampshire students are smart and highly motivated individuals. Hampshire College is not for everyone the lack of grade being supplemented with page long written evaluations for each class (with about 15 students) make you have to work harder, do all your work, show up to every class, participate and really form a working relationship with the professors. Hampshire is really what you make of it, working hard and advocate for yourself and you will get where you wanna go.

Marlon
What is your overall opinion of this school?

The college is a great place to be. The staff is great. Many friendly people around. They even have their own social media pa...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

The college is a great place to be. The staff is great. Many friendly people around. They even have their own social media page to have first year students talk with each other, which I find very useful. It helps you familiarize with the staff and students that will potentially be in the same class as you.

AME
What is your overall opinion of this school?

As a member of the Five College Consortium, Hampshire College is a place where students with their own ideas about education ...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

As a member of the Five College Consortium, Hampshire College is a place where students with their own ideas about education can really direct their undergraduate work. While some students do take all of their classes on campus, this could lead to missed opportunities. Hampshire was really intended to be a college in conjunction with the other four colleges, i.e. you should anticipate taking courses off-campus most semesters. (This is especially true if you're pre-med/pre-vet.) I took at least half of my classes off-campus each semester. I did this not because I don't like Hampshire, but because there are many great course options off-campus, and I appreciate broadening my social circle. Working with professors off-campus also leads to greater, immediate access to off-campus resources. This can be important for students in the sciences, since Hampshire has limited science equipment. Even though Hampshire's resources in the sciences (both equipment and funding) are limited, there is ample access to off-campus equipment and the college provides generous grants for students to attend academic conferences and conduct independent research. Plus, Hampshire has an on-campus summer science program for first-year students, and they're paid a stipend! Getting your foot in the door research-wise can be challenging, so this summer program is great for giving students research experience to put on their resumes while getting paid. Hampshire's classes are usually small. Most courses that I've taken in the sciences have had roughly a dozen students. Sometimes there are closer to 20 students and sometimes there are only four students in a class. Regardless, professors are very, very accessible and are often interested in learning about students' specific interests and how the class assignments can be tailored to those interests. Plus, a lot of Hampshire's classes are research or project-based, which also helps with getting summer internships or getting into grad school. Some of Hampshire's courses are really tough (e.g. organic chem), whereas other courses easier. The difficulty of a course is really determined by both the professor and the students. Sometimes, I wish Hampshire students were more competitive. Hampshire students are typically engaged and interested in class, but Hampshire doesn't have the same competitiveness as, say, Amherst or Smith colleges. In terms of academic support, we don't have as robust of a program as other campuses. We have limited, but existent, out-of-class support for students in the sciences; usually, TAs will be the best resource, and they're often both really interested in the course's topics and are supportive. I will say that our writing help center is easy to access and the people their are supportive. We also regularly have workshops for applying to grad schools, writing resumes, and working on job interview skills. Academic-wise, Hampshire's best attributes are that students get to design their own educations and are heavily encouraged to conduct independent research; independent research is virtually required in your final year. Additionally, professors pretty much always teach topics that they're knowledgeable in or areas that are their area of expertise. (There's nothing worse than taking a class with a professor who's been put in a position to teach outside of their area.) Also, the research that students conduct either independently before their final year or as a part of the final year's thesis is a great selling point for graduate schools. In terms of sports, we have basketball, soccer and frisbee. We also have a lot of outdoor activity trips, e.g. rock climbing, kayaking, skiing. Hampshire offers courses in tennis, karate, and yoga among other activities. We have an indoor pool with limited hours and a weight lifting room. Also, campus is right across from the Mt. Holyoke range hiking area, so you can walk across the street and go for a hike or a dip in the pond. The dining hall's food isn't great, but the food at Kern is; both are expensive though. The Bridge has OK, unhealthy food for a more reasonable price, and healthy food for a less reasonable price. I can't comment on on-campus housing, but can say that there are plenty of off-campus housing options in the area. And, you can get to a bunch of box stores by bus. Hampshire also offers once-a-week van trips to the grocery store, and there's an (expensive) grocery store within walking distance in case you really need something and the college's store is closed. The political climate at Hampshire might be the college's worst attribute. The Hampshire community seems to be hypersensitive to considering/respecting certain groups of people. Hampshire certainly isn't shy of what some would call social justice warriors, both students and faculty/staff. It's not uncommon for professors to make off-the-cuff, liberal remarks, but I've never heard any conservative remarks. This is true throughout the Five College Consortium, not just Hampshire. The Hampshire community could work on being receptive of ideas and beliefs that may be inconsistent with beliefs commonly held among liberal individuals. It should be noted though that not all students are very leftist, and you're more likely than not find people who will respect your beliefs if you look hard enough. Transfer students at Hampshire have it best: While first-year students only get to partake in college-funded "first year student events/trips" during their first year alone, transfer students get to participate in transfer life events for their entire stay. Events usually include good snacks, or trips to go ice skating or bowling.

Meaghan
What is your overall opinion of this school?

I think Hampshire has the potential to be a great school, but I would be lying if I said I felt like it was my home. I feel n...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

I think Hampshire has the potential to be a great school, but I would be lying if I said I felt like it was my home. I feel no sense of community, at least a community that I would like to be a part of. But with that being said, Hampshire College is a college that gives students the freedom to create change and it is susceptible to change. It's gives me insight to topics I didn't really think about before and I feel myself growing as a person and as a future media maker.

Ayana
What is your overall opinion of this school?

I like the school because of the small class sizes and how accepting it is of its students and faculty. I feel welcome and in...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

I like the school because of the small class sizes and how accepting it is of its students and faculty. I feel welcome and included in my classes and I like the professors and my peers. I would more dining options but the one that we have has many options for those with different preferences (i.e. vegan or gluten-free). The reason I came to the school was that it was a nice small campus with a very welcoming feeling. There aren't gendered bathrooms and if someone is different then they are appreciated rather than being forced to fit a certain description. I felt as though they choose people who are smart, friendly, and who want to better the world around them. I like Hampshire College.

Ben
What is your overall opinion of this school?

Hampshire is VERY different now than it was when I was a student there. I can just tell that from reading the responses fro...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

Hampshire is VERY different now than it was when I was a student there. I can just tell that from reading the responses from either current students or recent alums. Some things haven't changed though, and that's definitely that Hampsters are mainly white, from upper middle class to wealthy backgrounds, and will complain and protest anything and everything. I loved how liberal and open-minded Hampshire was, and some (by no means all) students could be so annoying in classes when policing others language to make sure everyone was being PC enough. I was pretty outspoken, being a Jewish kid from Brooklyn, NY, and I arrived at Hampshire with my BS detector built in already. Ergo, there were times I was attacked in class for statements I made, points I was trying to discuss, and as the kid of two Professors, I had NO problems articulating my disdain for "language policing" -- and a lot of students in my on-campus classes didn't like me. And I could have cared less; I wasn't there for them, I was there for myself. I had a lot of friends and acquaintances too (both at Hampshire and the other four schools, as well as in the community (mainly in Northampton), and they liked me for being me, and that's who I tended to gravitate towards (I preferred my social life to extend outwards and be less Hampshire exclusively focused). I had a serious boyfriend in my first year, so although we socialized with others, we tended to spend a lot of time together on our own, which sort of determined my social life trajectory my first year. In the following three years after we split up, my social life at Hampshire was very different. I became more focused on my Div II, left campus a lot for various reasons, including taking a year on Leave, and then the third semester on Field Study, and then came back and finished Div II and filed my Div III. Both of the mods I lived in were pretty awesome, my Div II mod in Enfield, and my Div III mod in Prescott. I still stay in touch with some of my modmates to this day. And I'm part of the Bay Area Hampsters alumni group. Being from NYC, I could see that Hampshire suffered from an acute lack of diversity as soon as I stepped foot on campus. However, this seems to have changed a bit, but most small liberal arts colleges don't have enough students of color or international students, and Hampshire is no different in that regard. As for me personally, I didn't care who the person was as long as they were a real and an interesting person, were friendly and were passionate and intellectually engaged in what they were doing and why. The "hippies" and I really didn't have that much in common I guess -- but I knew a lot of different people at Hampshire, and as a Theater & Film student, I met so many creative people on-campus and got to know people at the other four campuses as well, and also in the communities of Amherst and Northampton; which will absolutely enhance your experience if you leave the "Camp Hamp bubble". I don't believe in cliques, but on a small campus such as Hampshire's, cliques are bound to be a part of the social fabric of the community. This is especially true as you move into the Mods from the dorms (which I did in my second year), and it's cliquish more for reasons of housing than any other. I still had plenty of friends who weren't part of the Mods I lived in, and I worked off-campus in Northampton during my third and fourth years which also greatly increased the number of people I interacted with socially. What I loved most about Hampshire was the freedom and flexibility to design my own education, to work on interesting projects, both my own and others from Hampshire, as well as with students on the other campuses. I was a VERY active member of the QCA, I was a Theater Board member, I worked in SAGA, and for the Hampshire Fund contacting alums by phone and e-mail during my first two years. I did a lot of OPRA activities like Ski/Snowboarding trips, kayaking, and hiking, which was one of the best things about the Valley itself, the areas around campus are truly beautiful with a wealth of outdoor recreational activities to enjoy. Plus, the natural beauty of Hampshire's campus is glorious, and I would constantly get outdoors and go hiking with my modmates and then stop and have Apple Cider donuts at Atkins Farm Country Market (just outside of the back entrance of campus off Rt. 116), you will LOVE this place, I spent a LOT of time here!). They have great organic foods as well, and it's all locally sourced. I also really felt safe as an LGBTQ student at Hampshire which is important, because most LGBTQ students do not feel safe at their schools (there was still a lot of homophobia on campuses back when I was in college in the early to mid-90's), and so if Hampshire is still leading in that regard, there are worse things to be known for institution-wise. I also took two semesters on leave out West, and then did a semester of field study to study at a Theater School in London, which shows how much freedom and flexibility Hampshire gives its students. I almost transferred from Hampshire after my first two years to Reed College in Portland, Oregon, BUT, Hampshire offered me a MUCH better financial aid package to come back and finish my degree. Versus Reed which while accepting me as a transfer student, gave me a paltry financial aid package, but is considered "academically superior" to Hampshire. Hampshire is truly what you make of it. If you are a serious and interested student, you can maximize your potential and get something out of the experience. And the college, in turn, will value you as a student and an individual. I really experienced that on a personal level with getting a better financial aid award to return when I seriously almost transferred. Hampshire can be very generous with merit-based financial aid, and Reed's package was awful in comparison, and they were supposed to be offering "need-blind"aid, yeah, ok. If you utilize the resources and the academic opportunities of the Five College consortium you will get an amazing education. If you lose your motivation and focus, drink and drug too much, and procrastinate -- then Hampshire WILL be a nightmare. I truly do think of it as "graduate school for undergraduates" and if you balance out your academic and social lives effectively, meet deadlines and can engage with your Advisor and the Professors on your Divisional Committees competently, then you'll be just fine. Overall, I have always been proud of being a Hampshire graduate, and would most likely pick Hampshire again (or a school that mirrored the same academic style and programs) as my first choice if I were applying to colleges right now today. I think for the majority of students that apply to Hampshire and end up attending do so because it's one of their top choices. For me, it was my #1 choice out of the ten schools I applied to (I even held out for Hampshire after my second choice school had already accepted me) and I was fortunate that while I was stalling accepting Emerson College's offer of admission, Hampshire then sent their acceptance letter. I think that's probably true for most Hampsters. We're there because we're serious about taking control of our education and learning on our own terms. Hampshire is a good school, but it's definitely NOT for everyone. Finally, what I realized after graduating was that Hampshire has an EXCELLENT reputation among grad schools; I got into EVERY single Master's program I applied to. Including a couple of schools, I didn't get into as an undergrad. Hampshire will prep you really well for grad school, which is kind of the point of even going to college overall right? I had my pick of all six Master's programs I applied to, and The New School in NYC ended up giving me the best Fellowship and Grants package, and I was done in 3 years with my MFA. The New School was a GREAT graduate school to attend after Hampshire because the educational approaches were VERY similar. Not only that, but because of Hampshire's academic freedom and educational structure and reliance on deadlines, divisional committees, and interdisciplinary collaboration, grad school seemed easier than Hampshire, because I already had gone through it structurally as an undergrad. I think the genius of the five college consortium also is that one of the MFA programs I was accepted into immediately was at UMass Amherst (so you can have the distinct advantage of being accepted to graduate school somewhere you've spent at least a semester or a year taking classes as an undergrad). Also, Smith, Amherst & Mt. Holyoke all have graduate programs, which while small, are renowned. So, theoretically, you can go all the way to a Doctorate degree in the Five Colleges if you wanted to. This is an academic richness historically attainable only at Ivy League institutions. The fact that when you're a Hampshire student you can have all that at your fingertips is a pretty amazing dynamic that not a lot of other undergraduate institutions offer. I wouldn't have wanted to go anywhere else. Except maybe to Yale, which I got waitlisted for as an undergrad, and it was one of my reach schools anyway or to Reed College (which I applied to as a transfer student) and didn't transfer to in the end, and returned to Hampshire instead. The Ivy Leagues were NEVER my destiny, and although Yale would have been the best of them for me to go to, I was under no illusions about getting in. It was the only Ivy League school I applied to. And getting waitlisted was honestly impressive enough for me. Sometimes, applying to a school JUST to please the parents is cool.

Rowan
What is your overall opinion of this school?

I love it here. I am very new but I don't have any complaints and everyone I have talked to who went there loved it just as ...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

I love it here. I am very new but I don't have any complaints and everyone I have talked to who went there loved it just as much as I do. I honestly wouldn't change anything about the school. And I wouldn't want to go to any other school. I am very happy where I am.

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  • Enrollment
  • 1,321
  • Tuition & Fees
  • $50,238
  • Acceptance rate
  • 64%

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