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it's not for everyone. if you don't like arguing, the general spirit of activism, the smell of marijuana, really smart people...
it's not for everyone. 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, you'll be better off elsewhere. there are a lot of problems, mainly bureaucratic ones. we have no money. but the idea of a self-guided education is kind of addictive.
it's an expensive hippie school. there's a lot of talk about privilege and white guilt. but fundamentally hampshire students mean well; there are very few i've encountered who were simply nasty or unpleasant people. like any college, the students are deeply wrapped up in themselves, but that doesn't mean all of them are narcissistic, but rather dedicated to their own causes - which may not be yours.
occasionally. there's a handful of folks who truly DO conform to those stereotypes and a whole lot more who have certain aspects of them. but you don't get a whole lot of two-dimensional folks at hampshire.
classes are small and intense. come prepared to argue. likely enough you will not leave hampshire with any life skills whatsoever, but we have one of the highest graduate school acceptance rates in the country. students are not competitive, because there's no grades, no curve, no percentages, no rankings; everyone is studying something just a little bit different. hampshire students are just as likely to talk passionately about their work while smashed at a party as they are in class or while studying with friends...
there's something for everyone. really.
birkenstock-wearing, pot-smoking, fanatically vegan trustafarians on one end and coke-snorting hipsters pseudo-intellectuals on the other
First off, I am madly in love with Hampshire, so be aware that I'm pretty biased. No other school would allow me to do what ...
First off, I am madly in love with Hampshire, so be aware that I'm pretty biased. No other school would allow me to do what I'm doing (my course of study resembles a lot of my friends' grad school plans, and I'm only two years into my undergrad), and I am incredibly grateful for that. That's not to say the school doesn't have its problems- it is frequently highly bureaucratic, and many levels of that bureaucracy border on the tyrannic. I've been lucky in avoiding most of that (having a Dean as my first-year advisor definitely assisted too), but a lot of my friends have been burned by that difficult bureaucracy. If you're willing to dig through the red tape, though, you can get just about anything you want from Hampshire, especially if you have a faculty member on your side (and most Hampshire profs are genuinely excited about student work, and really eager to help you). Hampshire's got just shy of 1500 students, and, in my opinion, that is a perfect size. It's a lot smaller than my high school was, so that worried me a bit at first, but I've come to really appreciate being able to at least recognize a large proportion of the campus on sight. Classes are really small (I've had multiple classes with only 5 or 6 people, and they've been the best- my biggest Hampshire class had just over 30 people), which means you get a lot of chance to engage in discussion, which most professors encourage. The small size is also pretty great socially, especially in those first few weeks of college when everyone is so eager to get to know everyone else- you don't have to worry that you'll never see the person you had that great conversation on the bus with again, because they will definitely pass you at the dining hall or post office later. If you get stifled by Hampshire (and some people do), you still have the rest of the 5 colleges- together, over 30000 other college students to hang out with. I've found that Smith and Hampshire are particularly inclined to hang out together, but I've got friends at all 4 other colleges, and there's usually at least one 5 college student in all of my Hampshire classes. Because there are so many colleges around, "college town" seems almost too weak a word to describe the Valley community. Amherst and Northampton are the two towns that are the center of off-campus life, and they both definitely have their own non-college vibe (Northampton more so), but 30000 college students are bound to make an impact on the area. There are a ton of great concerts and restaurants and bars to be enjoyed, plus amazing indie shopping and lots of pretty cool cultural events. Amherst and Northampton are pretty unique places- there are barely any chains to be found (there is a mall with all your national chain-store/fast food needs that's pretty accessible by bus, though) and lots of great local flavor. The best part, in my opinion, is the fact that there's a really good bus service running throughout the whole area that is 100% free to 5 college students. Once you learn how the buses work, you can get almost anywhere you want to be (and Hampshire's a very rural campus) with a minimum of trouble. Hampshire has a very politically aware student body, and the only real difference is in how far left the students are- a conservative on this campus would probably be considered a left-moderate anywhere else. This doesn't mean that Hampshire students agree with each other, and there are definitely frequent controversies on campus over touchy issues. This past year, there was a lot of heated discussion over Israel/Palestine issues- Hampshire has a very vocal pro-Palestine (and anti-Israel) group, and a rather large Jewish population, and the debate got very tense for a month or so, focusing especially on issues of Hampshire investment in Israel. That debate got lost in a much larger action, however, when a group organized a week of protests to make Hampshire become actively anti-racist. Race and racism are problems that Hampshire has to deal with every few years as a new crop of students comes through and needs new education- unfortunately, because Hampshire is a small and expensive school, the student body is predominantly white, and usually upper-middle-class, and various student groups are constantly working to address the problems associated with that privilege. Hampshire probably doesn't do enough to address bringing race and diversity into the classroom, and, with its small endowment, isn't able to attract many faculty of color, or award very much financial aid to students of lower class backgrounds. Hampshire has been working to increase diversity on campus, and has programs in place to try to bring students of many backgrounds together and make them all feel comfortable, but there is a lot of work to be done, and Hampshire students and administrators have been engaged in a very intense dialog about the way that should proceed.
With only 1500 students, Hampshire can be very limited, diversity-wise. Students of color are under-represented, although Hampshire tries to recruit as many as it can. The LGBT community is, however, incredibly visible- I've heard that over 40% of Hampshire students self-identify as queer, and I'd bet that number is low. Hampshire is one of the most trans-friendly schools around- we have a completely gender-blind housing policy (only 10 percent of our rooms are doubles, but roommates can be of any gender whatsoever) and almost all of our bathrooms are gender-neutral. Hampshire also has one of the few openly gay Presidents in the country, which of course ensures that Hampshire will continue to be incredibly queer-friendly. As a matter of fact, straight students often complain of feeling somewhat marginalized on campus. Race is an issue that can be very divisive on campus, as there are many very vocal anti-racism groups, and some students who aim to provoke intense discussion on these issues. Hampshire tends to have a few weeks of really intense race-related activity every few years, as new students constantly need to be educated on issues of white privilege and the racist underpinnings of society. Most Hampshire students are the misfits and outcasts from their hometowns and home high schools, and that creates an interesting atmosphere- Hampshire kids tend to arrive priding themselves on their "unique" hobbies and interests, only to find that there's already a sizable contingent of students with the same interests. Ultimately, this creates a great freedom- Hampshire students can wear whatever they want without raising much of an eyebrow. There's a sizable hippie population, a sizable hipster population, and a lot of students in between. There's also a very visible geek/gamer scene, and plenty of Hampshire students who are comfortable moving between different groups. The first semester of Hampshire is a time of intense socialization- everyone wants to be everyone else's friend. By Div II, most people have settled into a small, very close group of friends, and those groups can come to resemble cliques, although most Hampshire students don't want that to happen. Hampshire students are usually very friendly to each other. Geographically, Hampshire represents most of the US, although the majority of students come from New England or California- I have friends from all over, though, and, truthfully, geographic backgrounds don't mean much at Hampshire- the length of our flights "home" doesn't usually have a lot of bearing on our everyday lives. Hampshire students are very much left of center. "Center," as a matter of fact, is somewhere near socialism on the Hampshire campus. A Republican, or even a relatively moderate-by-national-standards student would probably feel very out of place on Hampshire's campus. Social conservatives will be horrified- in addition to being super-queer-friendly, Hampshire is very sex-positive (we hand out condoms instead of candy on Hallowe'en, the biggest party of the year) and hosts a huge Reproductive Rights conference every year. Fiscal conservatives may be able to survive, but Hampshire's been called a commune, and most students are definite proponents of at least democratic socialism (the Frisbee team, the only major sports team, is called the Red Scare). Hampshire students like to try to ignore money- those that come from more money are able to do this quite well, and those that have to struggle to keep their financial aid obviously have more trouble. Hampshire is a young school with alumni who tend to go into non-profit or other socially conscious work (i.e. low-paying) and thus has next to no endowment- a fact students are very aware of, as it translates into buildings that aren't maintained as well as they should be, and a very high (and ever rising) tuition, with financial aid a frequent point of contention. Hampshire students are definitely not out to get rich themselves, though- one of our cliches is that every Div III/class/club/party must have the phrase "for Social Change" added to the end of it, and we know that there's no money in Social Change.
While there are definitely Hampshire kids who fit the stereotype, there are a lot more who don't. And Hampshire's definitely not easy- we write a ton of papers, we're expected to read a ton and be really prepared for class discussion, and making up your own concentration is a lot harder than completing someone else's checklist of classes. Because of this, successful Hampshire students (the ones who stick around) have to be pretty driven- it might take an awful lot of slacking off to get kicked out of Hampshire, but it also takes a lot of work to make Hampshire worthwhile. As far as the cookie-cutter hippie stereotype, it definitely only applies to a minority of students. There are plenty of people who eat meat, most of us bathe regularly, and there's even a definite sub-free community. The one thing that Hampshire kids really have in common is that they're likely to be the ones who don't fit in so well anywhere else- at Hampshire, though, there's nothing you can do that's so weird that someone else isn't doing it (or something stranger), because we're all that weird, kinda awkward (or really awkward) kid who long ago gave up trying to fit someone else's mold.
First off, Hampshire has a very different educational structure from most other schools. There are no grades- instead, professors write evaluations of student progress at the end of the semester- usually one to three paragraphs' worth, detailing the work you've completed, your progress on course objectives, and the like. There are also no pre-planned concentrations or majors: every student is required to assemble a faculty committee and create his/her own program, with the committee's advice and approval. Progression towards graduation goes in 3 Divisions- Div I usually lasts the first 2 or 3 semesters, and simply requires that a student take 8 classes across the 5 schools of thought (we also have no departments- all classes are sorted only into "Cognitive Science," "Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies," "Interdisciplinary Arts," "Natural Science," or "Social Science." This leads to a lot of great interdisciplinary classes, and many classes are even cross-listed over 2 or 3 schools.) and get to know the Hampshire system, with an assigned advisor. Sometime in the second year, a student begins Div II, which requires pulling together a committee of 2 or 3 faculty members and setting up a plan to complete 12 learning activities- usually classes, but also independent studies, internships, community service projects, and the like- anything that relates to the concentration you've designed and that your committee approves of. Div II usually lasts through the second and third years, and then comes Div III, which is a lot like a thesis- you assemble a committee, which may or may not include the same people as your Div II committee, and plan and carry out a very substantial year-long project. Div IIIs complete 2 learning activities- usually an upper-level class or seminar and a TAship. The Div III is almost the defining feature of the Hampshire education- it is a capstone of everything the student has done before. Because Hampshire requires faculty committees for every student, student-faculty relationships are usually very good. Students have to get to know faculty well enough to know if they'll be able to work together, and, once they've entered Div II, need to meet with their committees to make sure that their education is proceeding in a way that makes sense. Professors have to know students well enough to be able to write an evaluation about them at the end of the semester, although some are quite guilty of relying very heavily on student self-evaluations. I've had great relationships with most of my professors, and usually take advantage of opportunities to go to office hours and talk about my final projects/papers- because we don't take tests, we usually do significant projects at the end of each class, often relating the class to our own concentration and interests, and these projects can sometimes require a lot of consultation. I've also taken quite a few 5 College classes, and find that I also spend a lot of time talking to 5 College professors, trying to tailor their class to my personal needs- something most of them aren't expecting, but something Hampshire professors encourage. I've had really amazing classes with less than 10 students- classes where a reading assignment is given, and the class time is spent discussing it. These classes have really expanded my critical and analytical abilities, and probably encourage the level of discussion that spills outside of class- I've been known to linger over dinner for hours, debating gender theory or talking about history with my friends. Hampshire students are very intellectual, often pretentiously so, and love to talk about the things they're passionate about. When Hampshire students slack off, it's obvious, and there are definitely times when class discussion suffers for it. When the class is really into the topic, though, fascinating discussion can result, and most professors don't spend the whole class time lecturing- they want to hear what students have to say. Without grades, there's no such thing as GPA or rank at Hampshire, and it makes the atmosphere delightfully non-competitive. Hampshire students rise and fall by their own willingness to do the work- if someone's doing "better" in a class than you, it's likely because you aren't really putting as much effort out. Hampshire professors tend to be pretty understanding about things like deadlines and attendance, and will almost never make you write a paper on something you don't want to write about- there is always a way to tailor an assignment so that you're actually interested in it. Because everyone is so busy doing their own thing, looking for something that they really love and want to do, the atmosphere is pretty supportive- I love hearing opinions from other disciplines on the topics I'm interested in. Hampshire is definitely not for everyone, academically. You have to be pretty self-motivated: because Hampshire professors are often pretty lax on deadlines, you have to be able to force yourself to complete your work on time- people have failed out because they just aren't motivated to ever finish their final projects. You have to be willing to go out and get what you want- Hampshire is small and doesn't offer that many classes, and, because we hate prerequisites, it's very easy to get caught in a loop of very similar near-introductory classes. A Hampshire student has to be motivated enough to make his/her work for a class be at the right level, and most Hampshire students are going to have to design some sort of independent study. Div III is obviously also a very daunting task, and not for the weak of heart or will. Those skills- the skills in self-motivation and making the world work the way you want it to- are pretty useful in the Real World, I've been told. As for the actual topics you study at Hampshire- probably not. Most Hampshire students get pretty esoteric with their concentrations, which is great for Academia, less for "real jobs."
Hampshire has a lot of people with varied interests, and it is very easy to start a club- 3 students as signers is all you need to get a budget for one year. The most popular groups include the two a cappella groups (a third all-female group has recently started), the two improv troupes, the incredibly talented Hampshire Circus, the Frisbee team (the Red Scare, and our only serious sport, although we have other teams that come and go- all sports are of the informal, anyone-can-join, intramural variety), and groups that organize some of the bigger events on campus- Drag Ball is run by the Queer Community Alliance (which is a pretty active group in general), Deathfest is a huge Dungeons & Dragons-based tournament (most of the characters and rules changed to reflect Hampshire culture) run by Mythos (they also organize weekly Capture the Flag games). There's a campus newspaper, the Climax, and there's a magazine, the Omen (it publishes anything submitted to it, and is thus frequently a point of great controversy). The Dean of Students has a knitting circle that is a Hampshire Institution. Most Hampshire groups, however, are short-lived, but there are always a lot to choose from, and, if no one's doing what you want, you can just grab two friends and start your own. Hampshire housing tends to create a unique community as well- we have two buildings of traditional dorms, and the rest of the housing is in what we call mods- basically 4-10 person apartments, with a shared kitchen and common space. The dorms are mostly single rooms, which means that you are nearly guaranteed a single your first year. Most mods have one double room. Mods are usually filled with close friends, and mod culture and dorm culture are different. Students in the dorms eat in the dining hall and have more chance to see other students. Some students who live in the mods get more insular- rarely leaving their own mod or grouping of mods, and others spend a lot of time in other people's mods and hanging out with friends who aren't modmates. The mods are definitely the site of the most parties, and each of the 3 mod groupings has a different reputation- Prescott is known for hipsters, wild parties, and drugs. Greenwich is usually the home of 2nd and 3rd years, and often the quietest of the mods, although it attracts a wide range of people. Enfield is considered the most desirable housing, and often has mostly Div IIIs, who host a lot of parties early in the year, when their Div IIIs are still in infancy, and and at the very end of the year, when they've finally finished. In between, it's an area that fluctuates- never as wild as Prescott, but usually not as quiet as Greenwich. Each mod can differ greatly based on who is living in it, of course. The dorms are the domain of first and second-years almost exclusively, and the social scene reflects that- the dorms aren't usually the site of many parties, though. Hampshire students have a lot of social options, in spite of the small size of the campus. If you don't want to party, it's not hard to find friends who are similarly more interested in quieter evenings. The Gamer Hall (another Hampshire institution) has at least 3 consoles going at almost any hour of the day or night, keeping its population busy. Hampshire students are inclined to have dinner parties, tea parties, board game nights, or any manner of other amusements. Just like in our academic life, we really have the opportunity to make our social life exactly what we want. There are no fraternities or sororities on campus, and most Hampshire students like it that way. If you crave Greek parties for some reason or another, UMass has a pretty active Greek life- in fact, the 5 College community ensures that if, for some reason, nothing you want to do is going on at Hampshire, you can probably find it at one of the other schools. Hampshire theater is one of the hugest "departments" at Hampshire, and there are always more shows a semester than there is space for- you could see a Hampshire-produced play every week if you wanted. The shows are usually pretty good, and there are also a ton of Hampshire students who are in bands, or do dance performances, or the like, in addition to the incredibly talented performing arts groups of the other colleges. Hampshire has 2 really big events each year- Hampshire Halloween (legend by this point) and Drag Ball. Halloween is the kind of even that actually closes down campus- anyone who isn't a Hampshire student has to be personally invited by a Hampshire student to be there. Every band on campus performs, the circus performs, the belly-dance troupe performs. Every House has events, and the event is known for very prevalent drug and alcohol use, although it is definitely possible to enjoy it without substances. Drag Ball happens in the spring, and is also hugely popular- Hampshire students perform in drag (and we have some very talented drag kings and queens in our student body), almost everyone comes in costume, and proceeds to dance their hearts out while seeing how amazing or ridiculous everyone else they know has managed to look.
In the 5 College Consortium (so that's UMass Amherst, Amherst College, Smith and Mount Holyoke in addition to Hampshire), there's this idea that we're all represented in the 5 characters in Scooby Doo. Hampshire is Shaggy, and that's probably one of the easiest ways to think of the stereotypical Hampshire student. Laid-back, smokes a lot of weed. Hampshire's also known for being a hippie school- one assumes that Hampshire kids are vegans and wear hemp clothes and are involved in multiple activist organizations, the farther left, the better. The school itself, as a more alternative place (no grades, no majors, and the like) is often stereotyped as pretty easy- without grades or tests, people assume there's no real work to be done, and this would allow the above-mentioned students to spend more time smoking weed and attending protests.
It's how the world should be. As long as people are comfortable with themselves they aren't judged for things the outside wor...
It's how the world should be. As long as people are comfortable with themselves they aren't judged for things the outside world might ridicule them for. People are open and passionate. You do have a lot of freedom academically but there are more restrictions than they let on.
only on a small scale
I've had amazing teachers and terrible teachers. Some are boring but brilliant. Others are Incredibly interesting. Students aren't competitive with each other.
Most people leave their doors open. Its warm, inviting. There is great theater, lots of people interested in film and photography. Lots of gay dating, less straight dating.
dirty hippies or stoners
Hampshire is not a place to attend if you want a great deal of people to know what school you go to. Very often you will hear...
Hampshire is not a place to attend if you want a great deal of people to know what school you go to. Very often you will hear "you go to school in New Hampshire?" However I think that the number of people who have not heard of Hampshire is dwindling due in part to the great success of its alumni. I have a very love-hate relationship with this institution. It has almost infinite potential, and yet so often it makes almost unforgivable mistakes. It has a struggling first year program that distracts many students from what they really want to do, delays any independent work and often causes a great deal of disenchantment with education at large. However this is also something that the administration says that they are working hard to change. Despite sometimes being weak the academic advantages often outweigh the disadvantages. One such instance is the opportunities that I have had to work with two or three other students and a professor for an extended period of time on research projects. As far as I can tell such an experience is almost unheard of for a second year undergraduate outside of Hampshire. The professors though range from absolutely excellent to poor at best, as some of them seem themselves to have lost faith in the program of teaching at Hampshire, and with the administration taking the school in directions that they believe (possibly very rightly so) are incorrect. The area is beautiful my favorite that I have seen so far, especially in the fall. Two great college towns are a short free bus ride away, as well as four other college campuses. Also it is in a great location for road trips as well, Vermont is very close, Montreal a little further, Boston only a couple of hours and New York City about 3 or four. It is a great area to go camping or hiking rock climbing and biking. All of this though can be very distracting from academics. The social life is great although often very clickey and somewhat incestuous. I once read a quote from a previous student that it was the worst place to go if you wanted to be able to avoid embarrassing ex's and that is incredibly true. There are however a lot of great people on campus, and their is always a very open air about it, I have never seen someone openly rejected. It is a great place to dress however you want, and not be harshly judged. Cologne make-up fancy jewelry and hair are comfortingly rare at Hampshire. The biggest complaints on campus are in order of frequency heard: 1) The cost of attending 2) The quality of everything versus the cost of attending 3) The buildings are in terrible shape I don't think that I know enough to have a knowledgeable comment on the first two but the buildings are often in terrible shape. For only having I think 11 buildings on campus there is around a 30 million dollar backlog in maintenance. I find that amazing. There is no student union on campus, and the area that is the closest, leaks water frequently. The dorm buildings are ok, but the "Mods" (student apartments on campus) are often disgusting, usually with mold, and insects, as well as other general issues. And for a large part these issues are not the fault of the occasionally uncleanly student that inhabits them.
Again not diverse, but often a great group of people who are often very engaged and independently driven to a great range of interesting goals. After talking to people at Hampshire's it is hard to leave because you never will get as good of an answer when you ask a student what they do. Since the majors are all independent the students are very excited to talk about what they study why they study it and what they want to do with there life. This is actually why I attended Hampshire. At all the other schools people would say something along the lines of: "Ahhh i dunno, my major is physics but I don't like it that much". They all seemed to be at college because it was the next logical step after high school. At Hampshire people seem more to have found it as their ideal place to go. Many came after taking a year of to figure out what they wanted to do, and realized that Hampshire was the place most able to make that happen. It is also not uncommon for Hampshire students to take a break from their studies and do something else that interests them for a semester a year or more, and the things that they do are often fantastical, things that you only read about, until you attend Hampshire. If examples are needed: I knew a couple of people who took a year off to bicycle all over Europe. Someone else went and worked at a bike factory learning how to weld titanium frames together by hand. I personally have taken the past semester off to build a boat and sail it down the Ohio to the Mississippi.
The administration is often terrible. Many things are poorly planned or thought out well on campus. Money is always an issue Hampshire never has enough of it, and seems to be going more and more into debt. Again the first year program is terrible (although it is kind of a grab bag, next year it may be tolerable). The academics are not nearly as radical as they once were. People can sneak through the whole system without ever having really worked or learned a thing. That said other people work incredibly hard make a lot of progress and get little recognition for it. Hampshire has a trend of slowly dropping financial aid from year to year. Since classes taught at Hampshire have little credit elsewhere, they essentially trap you by saying you have to pay 10 thousand more dollars this year, or you will have to re do your first two years at another college. It happened to me and I have heard of it happening to many others. Someone I talked to had a name for it Hampshire-cised (like ostracized). Groups are often overly clickey and dramatic. My love/hate relationship with Hampshire is not uncommon amongst the student body.
Yes but they are all part of a bigger picture. Drug use is high but mostly it appears that way because it is done more openly than at other schools. It is also a very small school spread out over a large area so this makes drugs easy to use and hard to get caught at. However I think that since other schools it is so stringently repressed, the real figures are depressed, although in reality drug use is not unusual either at Hampshire or other schools. One of the nice things about drugs at Hampshire though is that you don't often encounter very hard drugs, from who I have talked to at other schools there is a lot of cocaine and heroine and meth etc. whereas at Hampshire it seems to stick to the less addictive/life threatening drugs like marijuana, and hallucinogens. 2) Diversity is a real issue on campus as the vast majority of the student body and even teachers/ administrators are white. Apparently there have been some actions over the past year that have brought these issues into a more open discussion, and since I have not attended Hampshire for the past year I am unable to speak about them. Also Hampshire seems to have to try very hard to bring diversity to campus, and as such the diversity feels very planned and tends therefore to stick to itself. It is very rare to witness a group of close friends that is diverse within itself at Hampshire. Personally I think that is not that many people on campus are close minded or racist (at least not intentionally) but that the policies set forth by the administration, do not promote diversity and in fact keep people separated. 3) Hampshire students are very independent, and this is greatly promoted by the college and the method of teaching. Independent curiosity and drive is greatly rewarded not only from the faculty but from within the students who for the most part seem to drive each other to follow independent and fantastic paths.
The academics at Hampshire are all over the place. I mostly study science so that is what the following comments will be pertaining to. The professors (as stated earlier) range from awful and bitter to by far the best teacher that I have ever encountered in my life. Some of them are very bitter and refuse to fully teach science because after all it is a liberal arts education that we attend for, and so the only reason (in some of their minds) that we could be there is to be getting a requirement out of the way. The science department lacks good funding as well as instruments/materials, but the other colleges in the area are open to letting us use their state of the art equipment (most times). The class sizes are very small (especially in the science department) I have had one class with I think five students one with three, and a great deal of lab time with two to three other students. This is however not as good as it always seems. Although the upsides are a very personal relationship with your professor, which breaks down the barriers to asking questions outside of class, the downsides are sometimes catastrophic. In many instances it only takes a few bad students complaining about how quickly the professor is teaching to greatly slow down the entire class, or distract from the lecture, or ask repeated and annoying questions. The lack of tests or grades seems to often have a negative impact on students drives which in turn makes their studies plummet. Outside of class the professors are often much more engaged and energetic. It is my experience though that I have been refused help more often then I would have thought at such an independent place. Independent studies are hard to convince professors to do with you at times which is at least disheartening.
Hampshire has a fantastically active social life. One that is so great it often distracts people from their studies. But a party at Hampshire, makes any frat party you will attend in the future incredibly dull shallow and depressingly sexist and desperate by comparison. The people are great and excited, and conversations and arguments break out all over the place. The only "party's" to advoid at Hampshire are those thrown by the res life interns, which all tend to be incredibly awkward, like high school dances, would be if only 5 people showed up. The frisbee team is great (and the only serious sports team on campus) but is often very clicky and the most jock-like group on campus. Guest speakers are almost non existent, although if desired they can be seen at other colleges. The art scene is fantastic and leaves something to be desired for all art outside of Hampshire. That said there is also a lot of terrible art there... The music scene is great, and people are always dancing with it. Also there are always a lot of great campfires. Easter keg hunt is great, drag ball is great. Apparently trip or treat (Halloween) used to be great until the administration started organizing it. Also as stated above it is a great area to hike, bike rock climb, canoe, any outdoor activity really. I however wouldn't recomend road biking, the drivers are terrible, the shoulders narrow and the roads riddled with pot holes. Off campus there are not as many great activities. Also it is an incredibly safe campus, I have rarely heard of anyone having anything stolen (and almost everyone leaves their doors open) and when things have been it is almost always by people who aren't students.
1) A lot of pot smokers/ drug use 2) Not diverse 3) Independent
The first thing you need to know about Hampshire is that the reality of the school doesn't add up to what is advertised. Loo...
The first thing you need to know about Hampshire is that the reality of the school doesn't add up to what is advertised. Look at any of the material and you'll find oratories on student driven work, endless opportunity, and a legacy of independent thinking. The reality, is that its incredibly hard to do independent work because of the unfourtunate lack of professors and the insane amount of beauracracy and opportunities are available, but funds simply do not allow for the endless amount advertised. Hampshire was founded to be at the cutting edge of alternative education, but unfourtunately these days its closer to slightly left of the normal liberal arts education. That being said, Hampshire does have one fantastic quality that I feel makes up for all the false advertising, I truly feel that I have been challenged by the academics to a level I never thought possible and I feel that the level of critical thinking that I have been forced to attain has allowed me to view the world from a truly unique perspective. I feel that my cognitive abilities have truly improved by leaps and bounds since coming to Hampshire. If you're serious about Hampshire, come here for the professors and readings, not for the falsely advertised package.
Hampshire students can give the feeling of being entirely homogenous and of being intensely individualistic. They are generally very left leaning, although not as much as they like to claim. They are mostly from a white-upper-middle class background, something which is a very controversial issue on campus. The students have a reputation for being politically active, but often don't live up to it, although sometimes they'll suprise you. I would say that the Hampshire community has a very bizarre dynamic in that most, if not all, of the students were outcasts at their highschool. What this leads to is a place where you have to be "enough." I've had many discussions with friends who identify as an LGBT individual, however they feel outcasted from the LGBT community at Hampshire because they don't want their LGBT identity to be the defining characteristic of their life. This is not an isolated feeling, many individuals feel outcasted from a community that they indentify as because they don't want that identification to be their sole indentification.
Hampshire has lots of problems; no endownment, false advertising, bureaucracy up the wazoo, falling apart housing, lack of office space, flaky students, the list could go on forever. However, I truly think that despite it all, Hampshire is a fantastic place to be. The classes are fascinating and I've learned far more than I ever could have imagined, the people are the most interesting and unique people anyone could meet, great surrounding towns, and there is almost always something worth doing at a given moment. Ultimately, Hampshire is the perfect place for someone who is interested in learning for learnings sake and loves meeting highly unique people. It is a gilded ivory tower, absolutely, but its a tower that's got a great view.
Look, those students exist, absolutely, but these days the average Hampshire student is more of an uber-post-modern hipster who knows far more about the indie band that has four followers than they know about how to boil water and who think that the world is beyond sincerity and reality. Although, those aren't the only students, there are also the self-proclaimed geeks, the activists, the literary folk, and the students who are just unclassifiable. However, none of this is to say that Hampshire breaks down in a typical Middle School cafeteria breakdown, because the truth is that while Hampshire definitely has cliques, there is a truth to the saying that every Hampshire student is really an individual. It seems to me that once you sit down with most Hampshire students, the reality is that you find a student who is passionate about their work and who mostly would love to talk about anything so long as it's an engaging conversation.
I often get teased by my friends at other schools because I don't get grades here at Hampshire. In their minds not getting a grade must automatically equal a slacker education and a lack of serious academics. However, I can tell you that I have a significantly stronger theoretical and critical background than any other student I've meet outside of Hampshire. I also can say that I've just taken more interesting classes over all. I've taken classes as interesting and varied as "The Politics of Pop Culture", "Sex on the Brain", "Politics, News, and Irony", and "Psychoanalytic Approaches to Psychotherapy with Children". Classes at Hampshire are almost always fascinating and often the readings in the classes are worth the class alone, although overall the professors are some of the most brilliant and fascinating people I've ever met. If you don't like reading or discussion, Hampshire is definitely not the place for you, but if you do than its a paradise.
Their are tons of student groups on campus, but very few of these groups have large numbers. There is a community here, its just not anywhere near as focused as almost anyother school. Because Hampshire is self-driven many students become engulfed in their individual studies and their small cliques largely definied by living space. Hampshire also has a drug reputation, which if you chose too, it can be lived up too. However, it is possible to be sub-free here although I honestly don't think you meet as many people that way (being mostly sub-free myself). Overall, Hampshire people are friendly, fascinating people who tend to get wrapped up in their course of study or pet group/activity.
THE stereotype of the Hampshire student is a pot-smoking, Birkenstock wearing, peace-loving White, Upper-Middle class hippie. The stereotype is of a student who concentrates in Frisbie and does nothing except write cliched folk songs and drugs.
It gets really annoying explaining Hampshire to people, especially because the academic experience is so personal and people ...
It gets really annoying explaining Hampshire to people, especially because the academic experience is so personal and people have a tendency to not care to listen to long descriptions unless it is indicative of the money you could potentially make in the future. It's in a good college area, the administration has things to work out. Racism is an issue, as it is everywhere. I don't feel like writing in this box anymore.
There are students...that make up a body.
There are hippies...and people with hippie-esque behaviours...but those who are labeled "hippie" generally wouldn't say they are hippies. People just generalize hampshire as a hippie school because folks tend to stray off normative paths, and anything "counter-culture" obviously equals hippies. Because it still the 60's, obviously. It's easy to say you are liberal, because no one wants to admit to being conservative. But actually, a lot of people just have their foot in thier mouthes and like the liberal title.
Your academics are what you make of it. You can easily get by and not do much, but that would be a waste.
Hampshire Big Picture: a place where there is no money, and where the renovations are few and far between, and where the prof...
Hampshire Big Picture: a place where there is no money, and where the renovations are few and far between, and where the professors are paid shit. However, the other students are amazing, unique, and strangely talented. The professors care about teaching the students, one on one, and about being mentors and forging understanding. If you want to learn, with a capital L, then come here. If you want good grades and a good education from a good school and then go on to have a good job and a good life then don't come here at all. We offer none of that. But if you're interesting and intend to stay that way, come here.
People here are incredibly liberal. Please, more moderates, come. Love of God, please come. Raging debates happen often, as well as stupid social movements (in my opinion, sorry). It is an incredibly self-conscious campus. We're so liberal, we protest ourselves. However, I've never had a problem making friends (in fact, the best way to make friends is to complain about how liberal everyone else is. Turns out, everyone thinks that). Different people often interact. It's hard to stay completely unknown. My advice is be friendly and join some type of on-campus community. Oh yeah, many people smoke, so if you love smoking or if you hate smokers, come here. Both will earn you lots of friends. Same goes for vegans.
Occasionally. Hampshire is for people who think outside the box, absolutely. So no matter what department you're in, you'll find strange, wacky, and often beautiful ideas. I've never been anywhere else where the people are half as interesting.
I call all my professors by their first name, and they call me by mine. They are involved in my personal life, and some of them are good friends. Class participation is incredibly common and most classes are basically just discussions. The cognitive science program rocks, and the natural sciences represent, to quote a recent alum, "all that is good about Hampshire College." It is especially in the sciences where collaboration and mutual discovery take place, and fankly, I haven't been impressed by the social science department (or, for that matter, the humanities department). It seems fragmented and bitchy. The NS (natural science) is a school with absolutely no resources, just ingenuity and enthusiasm. Oh yeah, you can also take courses at Amherst College, UMass Amherst, Smith College, Mt. Holyoke. All are good schools, and the PVTA lets you ride at an amazing schedule between them (av.g ride is 15 mins). So you get a GPA (from other schools) on top of your written evals. (oh yeah, no grades at Hamp, just evals. A blessing and a curse.) Oh yeah, and if you want to do some weird shit (I do neurophysiology and creative writing), it is completely possible and even encouraged. Professors love that kind of thing, and will support you.
JOIN A GROUP. meet people. Here are some examples of awesome groups on campus. The Hampshire EMTS (of which I am one). We hang out at odd hours, holding radios and eating junk food, and then run places to help hurt people. The Ultimate Frisbee Team. The Circus (rocks). Video clubs, geeks, ubber-hippies, fucking hipsters (you all know who you are, and of which their are so many), scientists, philosophers, druggies, straight-edged vegans, pre-meds and pre-laws.
Hampshire College students are often hippies and strange, with odd ideas about education, the social system, science or philosophy. They can be considered harmless due to general inaptitude, or dangerous due to their liberalism. Earch-child, flower-power, and pot.
I love that I can do what I want, without having to go through general education. When I tell people that I go to Hampshire, ...
I love that I can do what I want, without having to go through general education. When I tell people that I go to Hampshire, they usually don't know what it is or they write it off as a hippie school. It is nothing of the sort. I work really hard there, and get the profits from it as a result. The area around it is really nice, there are 4 college in 10 miles and everything is connected, so even though its a small town, there is plenty to do. One thing I would change is the fact that if you are not sure of yourself when you begin school there, you get very lost. The kids are a little too convinced that their way is the only way. Being liberal does not always mean open minded. Everything is unusual about Hampshire. We are constantly looking at each other and laughing about the fact that we found a utopia, and whereas all of our friends from high school are working to pass English 101, we are taking trips to Peru to study shamanism.
Everyone is very accepting. In fact, they are so accepting that if you don't accept everything there is, you won't be accepted. Political Correctness is a pain in the ass there. There are cliques that go along with the issues. There are major class problems there, as some of the kids have more money than God and others are struggling to get by. There is a group of kids who are so obsessed about race and the horror of white privilege that sometimes I find them racist themselves. You are not going to be able to escape race fights on campus, they won't let you. And if God help you, you are straight, white, and male, prepare to feel guilty for the worlds sins for the next four years.
In spite of some of its faults, such as the fact that it is poor, there is a lot of hypocrisy, and you have to pull out your Political Correctness Dictionary anytime you are in a discussion, Hampshire was the best decision I have ever made in my entire life. I come from Richmond Virginia, where most kids stay in state and then live in Richmond when they grow up. I was always the odd one out in high school. I walked onto Hampshire Campus and never looked back. I have never felt more accepted in my life, because everyone was the odd one out. They all understand. I always had anxiety during tests. Not having to worry about that has changed the way I perform in class. I feel that I have increased my learning abilities and outcomes exponentially. Hampshire also allows me to study Naturopathy and Childbirth in ways that I couldn't imagine anywhere else. Internships and Abroad programs are countless, and I am very fortunate for that. Basically, if you were the odd one out in school, you excel when you are allowed to be completely self sufficient, and you feel that you can take the strong opinions around you and use them to make yourself more you, then Hampshire should be your home. You are the kind of person who will be smiling with us when we laugh in disbelief about how incredible our college years are.
Not at all. Hampshire is the most active place I've ever been to. There is drug use, but that does not define the college whatsoever
You call the professors by their first name. You email them weekly. They have you over for dinner at their house. Because of our division and committee system, you spend a LOT of one on one time with the teachers. It couldn't be better in that sense. There is no such thing as class ending. Most of the classes are discussion based and usually intense, so there is little chance that you are going to leave class and stop talking about the discussion. The requirements are interesting. The division system where you design your own major is incredible, but if you do not make it a point to badger anyone who can help you, you are going to be in the dark.
You don't go to Hampshire if you are not active outside of academics. Everyone is active in everything, its incredible. The atmosphere is very open and friendly usually. Most kids are gay or open to it, so the dating scene can be kind of confusing. There is no greek life. If you say the word fraternity, the students will give you directions to Umass Amherst and tell you not to come back.
That they sit around all day and smoke weed.
The best thing about Hampshire is definitely the eclectic, tight-knit community. The small student population (around 1500) i...
The best thing about Hampshire is definitely the eclectic, tight-knit community. The small student population (around 1500) in conjunction with the fact that upperclassman live in the mods (on-campus apartment-style housing) rather than off campus, leads to a very close community of students that aids in both meeting people, making friends, and getting help. There are so many interesting people with great stories to hear, and there's always something going on, ranging from circus practice to social justice conferences. If that wasn't enough, the campus is absolutely gorgeous- all the empty space makes for great places to picnic, read outside, or play a game of frisbee- whether it's the Yiddish Book Center garden or the library lawn, it is very easy to find a beautiful place to hang out. The best way to summarize Hampshire in a nutshell would be to say that it is a thriving environment that is so full of life, care, and fun. Overall, I think it's safe to say that both students and faculty alike love being a part of the school.
When I tell people I go to Hampshire College, I am first asked if I smoke pot. The next question is "are there really no grades? so, you can't fail?" to which I then have to explain how while there are no letter grades, I can still pass or fail and that I do at least as much work as any other college student. Overall, the reactions vary from pomp, subtle disgust or complete awe.
In terms of the student body, Hampshire is certainly a mix of all different types of people- from race to religion, sexual orientation to socio-economic status, we range between all possible extremes. In terms of groups on campus, I have found that they are extremely passionate and active and we strive to make everyone more aware about both the struggles and accomplishments of all types of people. Hampshire's campus is incredibly open to all types of people and all types of activities, and if you enter it as a close-minded individual you can rest assured that you'll either experience a change or feel pretty uncomfortable. This is shown on a large scale by all the various events on campus, but can also be seen in day-to-day life- you don't see many fake tans, ugg boots, baseball caps, or starbucks coffee cups- people are always sporting unique clothing and hairstyles- from parachute pants to dredlocks. In terms of financial backgrounds, most students are upper-middle class- tuition is an issue for many people here, and most people are on some sort of financial aid and/or have a work study job. Politically, the majority of the student body is active and are predominantly to the left of the political spectrum.
Not exactly. It is true that there's a lot of alternative style in the students, the majority of them are vegetarians and vegans, and a large part of the student body is passionate about things that may be considered "hippie" by the general public, and while it's safe to say that the campus is full of unique characters (and yes, people who have smoked weed in their life), the stereotype is certainly an exaggeration. In terms of doing work, there are no letter grades and typically no tests/quizzes, but almost any student would agree that we read and write much more than the average college student does. Basically, you give what you get at Hampshire- students put in the work that they want to, making everyone on campus happy to be there and passionate about their work.
Academics at Hampshire are split up into three Divisions, and it's set up a lot like grad school. Division I is your first three semesters- you take about four classes a semester and take anything that interests you- there's not a set of core classes that one has to take, though there are a few requirements that one must fulfill to pass their Division I. During Div I you have to take at least one class in each of the five schools of thought (humanities/arts/cultural studies, social science, natural science, cognitive science, and interdisciplinary arts (there is also a 6th, optional outdoor/recreational school)), and you have to satisfy all 7 learning goals (reading, writing, project work, presentation, multicultural, quantitative, and creative expression) through these classes. It sounds like more of a hassle than it really is, and still allows you to take the classes that really interest you. Next, Division II is where you start focusing on a specific interest and taking the right classes for that interest, while also performing community service of some sort. There are no set majors, so this period is a little challenging, as one has to choose what he or she wants to study- for some it's easy to combine their interests, for others it's a little harder. Finally, there's Division III, where you spend your time working on your final, big independent study project (that relates to the work you did in Div II). The Div III project is much like a final thesis in that the completion of it is what allows you to receive a degree. While all this work sounds like a difficult thing to handle, there's always plenty of help available and you work with either an advisor or a committee the entire time. The professor's at Hampshire are great- they are always eager to help or provide you with extra information, and they typically try to avoid treating the class as if it was theirs or as if they are in charge. Classes at Hampshire range in size from about 13 to 25 people and professors typically know your name after about two weeks. In terms of interests, there is something for everyone and you're given plenty of opportunity to explore academically- last year I took class about aliens! Classes are typically discussion based, so participation is always a huge factor. Intellectual conversation does not end outside the classroom- with all of the activities, speakers, and conferences going on, it's hard not to find someone who wants to have a serious talk about something, and you're guaranteed to learn something new every day.
People at Hampshire are typically very friendly and most students leave their doors open and are always open to a conversation or an adventure. It's very easy to get involved and meet people either through living with them, through classes, or through the tons of clubs you can join. In terms of having fun and partying, week days are pretty tame, though the smell of pot is pretty much always prevalent throughout the dorm halls. The weekend starts on Thursday, the low-key part of the weekend, and it usually involves drinking or smoking pot with small groups of friends in dorms (the doors DO get closed at this point, unless you want to get caught by an intern). Fridays and Saturdays are more high energy- there's always parties in the mods, and always at least one crazy-themed dance party. Of course, all the partying requires some relaxation- weekend brunch at the dining hall is always full of unkempt, tired-looking students who are nursing hangovers with tatertots and water. In terms of large-scale events, we have about three major traditions that happen every year. First is Hampshire Halloween- a huge halloween party with the slogan "trip or treat" that's full of dance parties, fireworks, and crazy costumes- it's the biggest and best party of the year. Next is Easter Keg Hunt which is pretty self explanatory. Kegs are hidden by upperclassmen throughout the woods on campus and people wake up incredibly early to go find the kegs- most people are trashed by noon. Last is Spring Jam, a fun outdoors event that's full of moon bounces, carnival food, and great, live music. It's a nice, relaxed time to hang out with friends and chill out before spring finals start to get too heavy. As for other events, athletics aren't really a big thing- our basketball and frisbee teams get small audiences during games, and we don't have greek life. There are plenty of other clubs and music groups on campus that get a lot of attention, though. Campus can get a little small sometimes, and there are plenty of things to do off campus- there's plenty of restaurants, shops, cinemas, and venues within a 15 minute radius, and tons of great places to explore on weekends in the surrounding towns. The PVTA bus (which is totally free!) takes you anywhere from Amherst center to Northampton, and if you can find a car, there's plenty to explore in the surrounding towns- from the butterfly conservatory in Deerfield to the Bookmill in Montague.
The most-heard stereotypes about Hampshire are that it's a hippie school full of crazy, rich stoners that don't do any work.
While there are plenty of people who do experiment with pot, the stereotypes are by no means true.
At Hampshire, all of the professors know your name two weeks into the class tops. In terms of
The stereotypical Hampshire student would be best described as a pothead, a crazy hippies, or a rich stoner who's parents are paying for them.
they are not as lazy as most people think, everyone I met there has been spectacularly intelligent.
they are not as lazy as most people think, everyone I met there has been spectacularly intelligent.
pretentious, lazy, potheads
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