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To quote Ricky Bobby, if you ain't first, you're last. Hampshire is a binary place - either you're one of the motivated, pass...
To quote Ricky Bobby, if you ain't first, you're last. Hampshire is a binary place - either you're one of the motivated, passionate autodidacts who came here seeking a new world free from the persecution of a core curriculum...or you're here for an easy ride, and the chance to get a degree for sitting in your incense-laden dorm and smoking ganja. Hampshire's biggest weakness is our consummate lack of school spirit. Little to no investment in the school is manifest by the students, and many community institutions are brittle or simply non-existant. We have a fragile student government, no year book and only one athletic team to speak of (Red Scare, our Ultimate Frisbee team) although we actually have other athletic teams, and could easily form more. The trouble lies in the students, many of whom preach "community involvement" by touting hurricane relief programs or attempting to support local farming efforts, but won't do more than charge a Hampshire College Hoodie at the store to rep their own college. We have a ton of beurocratic red tape, but at times that can be a boon - if you can get your stuff together, and are relatively persistant, you can get what you want from the school, putting your 40,000 dollar education back in your hands. The little blurb at the top here says I should comment on the college town: Amherst rocks. It totally pwns. The food is awesome (Fresh Side, what!) and the town itself is cute. It's a fantastic nexus for the five colleges, and there's a comic book store. The only drawback is that everything closes pretty early - you're hard pressed to find anything open after ten - but I'm told this is somewhat typical of rural life.
Hampshire is with out a doubt the most politically, religiously, racially and economically homogenous community I have ever been a part of. With very few exceptions, we are a far left, wannabe-buddhist, white upper middle class school. Many students are from small towns, and have never been exposed to any kind of diversity. These people make up the majority of the student activist groups, which are probably the most prominant of our social blemishes. They are inept, ill-advised and often work entirely outside the proper process (both administratively and socially) for organizing anything, with the result that most "demonstrations" are ragtag cliques of attention seekers banging on pots and pans and playing inscrutable music from their boomboxes. Their level of preparation and structure call seriously into question the legitimacy of their devotion to whatever cause-of-the-week is stirring up trouble. Hampshire students are also, by and large, isolationist. They want little to do with the other five colleges, believing at least UMass and Amherst to represent the invented monsters of their childhood: "jocks" and "preppies." While I'm sure some Hampshire students (like everyone else in the world) have experienced some unmerited bullying, it cannot justify the abhorrance they hold towards any alien subculture. Hampshire students are generally an intolerant, opinionated and often ignorant lot, but we have a few real gems, and could certainly use more. Bottom Line: If you're brilliant, love to think (or love to do any one thing, really), capable of navigating social and administrative byways, and open-minded, you will find a place to fit in here.
Ken Burns, possibly our only famous alumn besides Danny Tamberelli, once referred to Hampshire as "the perfect American place." Nuff said.
To an extent. The wannabe-hippie culture is in full force at Hampshire, and many other students could be accurately described as belonging to the hipster subculture. The idea that Hampshire students are generally more unique or creative in some way than others is complete croque. The majority of students certainly represent bungled attempts at non-conformity. That said, there are plenty of extremely intelligent, motivated and creative individuals at our school (you just have to look for 'em), and we could always use more.
Hampshire's application form is exemplary of (the latter parts of) its pedagogic program: the essays permit you to give detailed responses, and represent yourself in a nuanced manner, which is probably for the best. The school, at least in the admissions phase, takes a great deal of interest in the individual student, and the student as an individual. Once you're in, you begin a career in Division One (the distribution requirement section of the program; a constant work in progress and arguably the weakest link in Hampshire's curriculum), then move to Division Two (which is more like a self-desigined major. For this section you select a committee of two faculty, theoretically involved in your chosen field, who help you pick your courses and guide you career wise) and finally Division Three (a giant project of your own design. You have a committee again, and it's a lot like a senior thesis at another school, except with fewer limitations - Blades of Glory status, if you can dream it, you can do it. Hampshire is unequivocally a phenomenal research college. Our professors are, by and large, pretty good, and you cannot match us for the amount of time they spend in direct contact with the undergraduates. Independent studies and tiny, specialized classes permit a virtually one-on-one learning environement, and your professors often become more like career-mentors. There are requirements, which Hampshire will try to hide from you before you get here, but they're not hard to deal with, and once you're out of Division One (at the time of this writing anyway - June, 2008) your only real requirements are that you fulfill a certain amount of community service (easy to do by working for a Div III, or TAing, or volunteering in Amherst), do some kind of multicultural perspectives thing (which is as vague as it sounds: you could take a Spanish immersion course for a month or you could go to Papua New Guinea for a year), get twelve courses related to your subject completed during your Division II (these are more heavily regulated for our most popular majors: studio art and music) and to complete two "advanced learning activities" during Division Three (anything from mentoring a noob in your subject to taking a 300 level class). Our course catalogue is spotty and heavily politicized - we have some really strong programs in what would generally be considered fairly random subjects (we are one of the best schools in the nation for animal behavior, for example) but are almost devoid of basic curricula items (like econ courses. We have like two, and they're both about the middle east). However, the presence of the five colleges makes up for this paucity in a lot of ways. You can (relatively) easily take a course at Smith, Holyoke, Amherst or UMass, and it will count in full (we don't actually have official credits) towards your Hampshire education. At the end of the day, a Hampshire Education is what you make it. Building the right program takes endurance, initiative and some blind stumbling, but if you can figure out how to fit yourself for it, you're guaranteed a personally tailored college education, with the full faith and resources of the institution at your back.
I hate to continue in such a negative vein, because Hampshire College really is awesome, and if you find the right people you can live it up pretty unfettered, but community and student life really are not our strong suites. There are a fair number of student organizations, and it isn't hard to start one. Most of them are political, some are special-interest (like manga clubs, anime clubs, japanese illustration clubs...) others are academic (like the right proud Hampshire Animal Behavior Group) and these permit upper classmen to help lower classmen arrange their programs, or keep posted on events, internship opportunities and the like. You can learn a lot from other students...provided you find the right ones. Students are generally pretty trusting, a byproduct either of our college's small size or its "hippie" nature. Doors are left open and most people are approachable. There are virtually no activities, with the exception of Hampshire Halloween (which is sick-nasty, and you should go even if you don't wind up at Hampshire), which encourage the student body to congregate in full. The party scene at the school is weak at best, and essentially a lot of New England Prudes Turned Hippies dancing in small circles by themselves, never touching a member of the opposite sex. This dismal report is not universally the case, however. Some parties are legitimately awesome. Again, it's a matter of finding people you like. Off-Campus events are a better bet. Whether it's a concert in Northampton or an Amherst event, you may be able to find your fragment of the five college community in their natural environment.
The obvious one; the Scooby canard, is that we represent the Shaggy element of the five college consortium. As such, we're supposed to be wannabe-hippies, stoners and hipsters. We have a reputation for being irresponsible layabouts, and for "thinking outside the box."
With very few exceptions, yes. Those few who come to Hampshire and are not such things, mostly drop out of college. Some t...
With very few exceptions, yes. Those few who come to Hampshire and are not such things, mostly drop out of college. Some transfer - but many of them say, whatever Hampshire has wrong with it, other colleges will have thrice so. So they leave school entire. Some very few of us remain, because it requires so little of our time and energy to secure a diploma that we may as well take the room&board. If only there were more of us in this latter group, we might be able to create for ourselves a learning community.
That we are all homosexuals. That we all smoke cigarettes. That we never leave our rooms. That we are all antisocial in general. That we are all stoners, & pursue intoxication beyond the intellectual and into the hedonistic. That we are poor test-takers. That we do not play well with others. That we are all desparately insecure. That we are unexceptionally intelligent. That we are all rich, & utterly disinterested in money. That we LOVE ANIMALS!
Hampshire is going through a very transitional time. It boasts small class size, and the flexibility to do independent work,...
Hampshire is going through a very transitional time. It boasts small class size, and the flexibility to do independent work, but these factors don't always turn into fact for every student. Every year Hampshire is accepting more and more first year students, but they are not increasing the faculty size. This means, more students per class, and less opportunity (especially in the first 2 years) for independent studies. In my opinion, this also means less student support, and a high first year drop out rate. I don't actually know the numbers, but I can tell you that at least 4 people left school during the first semester off my 10 person hall, my first year. That is a pretty huge number. On the flip side, many students choose to look at this as the weeding out process. My advice...If you are coming to Hampshire because you think it sounds easy, look else where. Just because there are no grades and tests, doesn't mean there is no work. In the average semester, I probably write over 100 pages. But, a Hampshire education is only as good as what you put into it.
Campus is extremely liberal. I have more often heard negative comments directed towards meat-eaters or conservatives than towards homosexuals, or people of color. With that said, Hampshire being the liberal institution that it is attracts many students who want social change. The breakdown occurs when students don't know the best ways to communicate their ideas. Anti-Racism has been a hot topic on campus this past year. Many students came away from the discussions quite offended, not because they disagreed with the principles of what the students were fighting for, but more because they disliked the way the students were "fighting." Socially, there tends to be something for just about everyone, especially when you look at the 5 colleges. The only students I have ever seen not fit into to Hampshire socially were 2 students who left my first year. They were both quite "preppy" and felt very out of place. the only other person i know who left for that reason was a spring transfer student. She told me that it was hard for her to find friends because everyone had already established their social groups, and no one was interested in expanding them to welcome her. Not being a transfer student myself, I can't vouch for this from personal experience, but social groups at hampshire are usually formed first year in the dorms and last all four years.
Hampshire boasts the freedom to study anything. This is true to some extent, but your studies are still limited by what your committee (Hampshire college faculty) can advise you in. Just because Hampshire has a department, dosn't mean that it's quality instruction. I study education, and have found the education department at Hampshire's to be seriously lacking. Some of the worst courses i have ever taken where through education professors at Hampshire. But, I still have the freedom to take courses off campus. Hampshire politics are also sticky and difficult to navigate. If you have a problem, there is probably a solution, you just may need to spend half of your time trying to figure out who to talk to in order to fix it. There is also an increasing feeling on campus that Hampshire cares more about future students than current students. It should also be noted that financial aid decreases after your first year. If you are not on work study, it is extremely difficult to get an on campus job. There are not a lot of on campus facilities. No great performance space, no student center, not a lot of dining choices on campus. Things like that.
Yes and no. The campus is mixed pretty 50/50. Half of the students are there because they love the independence a hampshire education provides, and the other half takes advantage of the no grades, no tests policy. There are drugs on campus, but there are also easy ways to avoid them. Many hampshire students are talkative and personable, but they tend to fall into the latter fifty percent. Many Hampshire students are a bit wierd or socially awkward, but this is pretty standard for most liberal arts colleges. Hampshire kids tend to be the nerdy kids in high school, so nerd culture is quite cool on campus, as is everything that goes with it.
Hampshire classes tend to be discussion based, and on a very narrow topic. The brilliance of Hampshire, is that you have the 5 colleges to draw from. Generally, I take most of my courses off campus. I have had some really great Hampshire classes, and some really horrific Hampshire classes. It's a small enough campus that you can generally find out what professors are good and which are not. Hampshire professors tend to be overloaded with work, so if you don't make an effort to become acquainted with them, and you are doing well, they wont make the effort either. As far as class discussion goes, again, it depends on the class. Hampshire kids try really hard for the most part to participate in discussion and make comments that are constructive, but it doesn't always work. Generally, with first years, there is a learning curve to this. Rarely have I seen a first year come in and engage in discussion at the same level as most of the older students, but that is o.k., so long as they are able to take constructive criticism. Hampshire is set up so that if you want to better yourself, for the most part, you have the resources to do so, but you have to take the first step.
Frizbee and circus tend to be the most popular activities. Circus is great. It's mostly a bunch of nice sub free kids who like to juggle and hang upside down. There are no frats etc on campus, but there are still parties. Housing at Hampshire is set up so that half the students live in dorms and the other half live in on campus apartments called Mods. The parties tend to be in the mods. Personally, i dont like to party, but i never have a hard time finding stuff to do. There is always something going on at one of the colleges. College clubs are usually open to students from all colleges, so if there is a club that you want to participate in, and Hampshire dosn't have it, one of the other colleges probably does.
They are pot smoking hippies. They are talkative and personable. They are wierd/socially awkward. They are self motivated.
A very liberal campus. Pretty homogenous in terms of race, but no more so than other schools like it. There was a big movemen...
A very liberal campus. Pretty homogenous in terms of race, but no more so than other schools like it. There was a big movement about race last semester, which got a lot of the student body involved and led to limited (some would say disappointing) changes. Financial backgrounds are more varied than I expected from such an expensive school. Big LGBT presence. All bathrooms are co-ed, even in classroom buildings. A lot students from the Northeast, but also a wide variety from all over the US and some international presence too. Clothes are pretty much anything goes, but there isn't much of the preppy style-- thats more Amherst. Salvation army is really popular. Quite a few 'hipsters.' Students as a whole are not as politically active as I expected-- there's a lot of apathy towards action, although just about everyone has an opinion. Politically active people can definitely get themselves heard, though, if they're motivated. A wide variety of interests & a lot of intellectual conversation outside of class. People are quite friendly although there is some separation between first years and everyone else, mostly because first years are concentrated in the dorms. Social groups definitely emerge, but I don't see them as competitive or particularly exclusive.
It really varies. There are a lot of drugs around, but once you get past orientation week (when smoking seems to be a big social activity) no one cares about what you do or don't do substance-wise. Definitely people who don't bathe, but very few 'hippies'-- more people who like to pretend they're hippies. Students are NOT lazy if they're working on something they're interested in-- in fact, normally they go way beyond expectations, especially with creative projects and work. Essays do get turned in late by some people.
5 colleges are key, both for courses (you get a break from the academic style of Hamp), more resources (more libraries and departments) and some social escape from Hampshire. 5 college teachers tend to love students who cross-register. Some teachers can be too lax for my liking, but there are plenty of tough teachers too-- Michael Lesy's literary journalism class is incredible if you like his teaching style. Teachers learn your name but you need to take the initiative to establish a relationship with them-- signing up for office hours, etc. If you do, they're happy to oblige you. Division one can be a little bit too focused on requirements and courses instead of the personalized, independent learning that Hampshire promises. They're working on reforming it, though. I want to work in the writing department, which is very popular and too small for the size of the demand. Courses are hard to get into during signup. But, like all Hampshire classes, persistence will get you a long way. Definitely geared toward and education on the student's own terms, that is, for learnings sake rather than a job. They're very open to students who have been on or will end up on unusual life paths.
Students are lazy and don't do anything on time. Tons of drugs, especially cigarettes and pot. Some acid. "Dirty Hippies."
The best thing about Hampshire is the freedom that you get. Unfortunately, some people are not self motivated and need more g...
The best thing about Hampshire is the freedom that you get. Unfortunately, some people are not self motivated and need more guidance and are therefore kind of disadvantaged by the structure. If I could change things at Hampshire, it would be many things, but Hampshire does not have a large endowment. Though everyone gets their own room at Hampshire, there is still housing shortages. I spend most of my time on campus in my room or friends' rooms. Usually people complain about things like food and housing and the number of professors per department, but it all really comes down to Hampshire not having a lot of money- which is unfortunate. The Hampshire administration seems to be non-existent. I don't know where to begin if I have a problem with something, and even then, no one is very helpful anyways. Hampshire is very fend-for-yourself.
Hampshire students are very accepting because they are all different in their own way. I find that people living in the dorms do not really interact with people living in the mods, which is unfortunate because first year students don't get to really form relationships with second-fourth year students. Students are very liberal and very outspoken and very active in their opinions and beliefs. They come from all different financial backgrounds, though most hate capitalism even though it pays for them to go to college. I find that Hampshire is admitting more people who I feel don't belong at Hampshire and are simply attracted by the fact that Hampshire has no grades. These are the people who are not intellectually curious, who do not care about thinking, and who are more interested in discussing how to seduce the hottie down the hall rather than Ionesco's use of existentialism in his absurdist plays. These are also the people who come to Hampshire for the drugs and who use drugs incorrectly. I find that generally Hampshire college students don't so much care about how much money they'll be making one day, but how much they will be able to change the world.
Hampshire is amazing, but not for everyone. You either love it or you hate it; it's either precisely for you, or not for you at all.
They are accurate in the sense that there are noticeable amount of these populations present, but Hampshire is also a collective of many different types of people who can usually be categorized as being individual and eccentric.
I really disliked Division I, I think that it keeps students from studying what they want to, even though they came to Hampshire to do exactly that. Hampshire has very interesting classes that approach subjects not necessarily from a textbook angle, but very theoretically and in ways that trigger your thinking, which I find wonderful. If you participate in class, professors will know you. If you don't, they probably will know you as well. Students are not very competitive in terms of academic performance, but they are very proud about their ideas and their opinions. This can result in some controversy in the class room, but always an interesting discussion. Hampshire students, from my experiences, also have intellectual conversations outside the classroom, which I believe that many colleges lack. Though Hampshire has no grades, it is extremely academically invigorating because it really makes you think and by the end of your second semester you think writing a 12 page paper is easy.
There are no frats or sororities, which is wonderful. People do leave their dorms open, for better or for worse. There is little athletics at Hampshire, let alone athletic events. The dating scene is normal, people find people and that's that. I met my closest friends sharing a cigarette with them. If I'm awake late during the week (ie: 4am), which I usually am, I'm doing anything from work to talking to smoking to painting. On Saturday night without drinking you can go out to eat at the local towns (Northampton, Amherst, Hadley, etc), you can go to concerts, which there are a lot of, or you can just hang around with friends and stay sober. There are also a lot of parties in peoples' dorms and mods (on campus apartments), which are sometimes busted by Public Safety but whatever.
The stereotype about Hampshire is that it's full of drug addicts, stoner, hippies, and hipsters.
Hampshire has created its own little left-wing commune in the middle of nowhere. The majority of the student body is incredi...
Hampshire has created its own little left-wing commune in the middle of nowhere. The majority of the student body is incredibly radical, and life at Hampshire doesn't even come close to reflecting life in the real world. The majority of the students stay in the area even after graduation. A big issue with Hampshire is the lack of money. The Smith College greenhouse has a bigger endowment than all of Hampshire College, and so Hampshire has had to resort to cutting back on staff and student activities, and they send out letters not only asking alumni for donations, but also current students. At the same time, Hampshire wastes the money that it does have on things that are unnecessary like the building of a new pavillion, the addition of a large screen television to the cafeteria, etc.
The Hampshire student body is incredibly radical and intolerant of dissent. If your opinions deviate from the norm, you will most likely feel personally attacked, or you'll just learn to keep your mouth shut. We apparently used to have a Republican club (which had a total of 2 memebers) which was eventually intimidated into disbanding (though I don't know all of the details of this story). Overall, though, the student body is pretty laid-back, and they are generally more open to meeting new people and far nicer than the students at many other schools. If you are looking for diversity, though, don't come here. The majority of the student body is white, and from either a farm, the suburbs, or New York City.
For more information about the college, go to youtube and search Hampshire College, or go to google and search "Action Awareness Week"
To a certain degree, yes. The student body is incredibly radical (I have a friend who claims that she'd work at Planned Parenthood, but its just not liberal enough), but at the same time, you have to do actual classwork. Many students are weeded-out (so to speak) in their first year because they think they can sit around and smoke all the time. That, and there are a great deal of students who are substance free.
Hampshire makes you think that your education is entirely up to you, and then you get there and realize that you've got a lot of requirements which essentially eat up at least one semester. While Hampshire has fewer requirements than most other schools, you will be stuck in at least one class that you really don't like because of the Div I distribution requriements. That is why there is a movement on campus to eliminate these requirements. Class participation is generally pretty big depending on the class itself. Obviously, literature classes are more discussion based than science classes, but the overall academic atomosphere is generally more hands-on and project oriented than most other schools. The classes teach you how to conduct your own research, complete your own independent projects, and generally will prepare you for a job more than most other schools. For example, I took a biology course called "Gene Cloning" and in one semester I got more lab experience than most undergrads, and am now going to spend my summer working at a lab conducting cancer research. The main issue with classes is that if you think about them enough, you tend to realize that a lot of what the professors teach is actually total BS. I've actually had textbooks which explain the differences between "lesions" and "pathologies" and I've met students who in their fourth year still didn't know what the sixth century was. Though at the same time I know students who have applied to grad schools only to be told that they already know enough to go straight to working on a PhD after leaving Hampshire. Really, your education is what you make of it. If you work hard, it'll pay off, but to a certain extent you can slack off for four years and still get a degree.
Any group you want to exist, you can work to start it. Theres everything from bellydancing, and live action roleplaying, to any social justice issue you can imagine. Sports is practically non-existant (soccer, basketball, and frisbee are the only teams I've heard of), but there are a lot of political speakers, and theatrical performances. Theres always something to do or someone to hang out with. I've gone for walks at 4 AM on a weeknight and have found kids hanging out. The towns nearby generally close down pretty early, with the exception of some pizza shops, and so many complain that there is nothing to do.
There is an overall image of Hampshire students as unwashed, radical, pot-smoking, hippies who never do any work.
Hampshire has money issues. We are a tiny new school with no dead alumni (yet) and have a 39 million dollar endowment (read: ...
Hampshire has money issues. We are a tiny new school with no dead alumni (yet) and have a 39 million dollar endowment (read: no endowment). This creates many problems - we can never get enough faculty, we don't have a student center, and the administration raises tuition at least 5% a year. The school also has problems keeping up the financial aid it gives to students. I have heard too many stories of a student who got a great package first year, then got increasingly more screwed over in years following. BUT if you can hang onto those scholarships and loans, Hampshire can be cheaper than a state school. The school has issues with race, with class, with sexuality, with identity, and with funding important things on campus. Basically all the issues that every college and university faces all the time. But at Hampshire, nothing ever seems to get done about these issues. Maybe it's because we are less than forty years old, perhaps it's because the school is desperately trying to reform itself every four years. Whatever it is, there is always A LOT of talk and not much action. But hey, at least we talk about this stuff. At Princeton, shit just doesn't get said and those disenfranchised groups just keep getting screwed because it is all written in stone (literally). Little Hampshire was forged in some brick and vinyl siding that gets rebuilt every couple years because it's falling apart...better to be locked into hundreds of years of tradition and be at a standstill or to be in a constant cycle of rotting and rebuilding? I don't know.
Some are awesome, some are not. We have everything from jocks to hippies to nerds and cool kids, but everywhere does. You will find someone you love to their toes, and you will find someone else you want to hip check off a cliff. Hampshire students are (again) full of extremes: a great many are very politically and environmentally conscious, but a great many are also apathetic to the core. The campus on the whole is very liberal.
As in almost all stereotypes, there are parts that hold true for some of the students on our campus. But all-in-all, I would say the stereotype is pretty far off, at least past first year. After first year students realize that Hampshire is a place where you have to be extremely self-motivated, you have to know what you want, and you have to be willing to work for it. Why else would we have a 62% retention rate? Some people come into Hampshire believing the stereotype, expect a free ride, then get dumped on their asses when they can't keep up.
Academics at Hampshire are up to the individual. I have seen everywhere on the spectrum: a stoner dude who doesn't do anything all four years, bullshits a Div III and passes, and never does anything with his life to a gifted scientist who works her ass off all four years, takes incredible advantage of not only Hampshire but the whole five college community and is now off to get her masters and Ph.D. at an Ivy. Anything can happen. I suppose the most important thing about Hampshire academics is that you can do anything you want. There are extremely motivated people, and there are not-so motivated people. Some students are super competitive, and others don't care at all. Learning at Hampshire is purely for learning. We are there to ask questions, find answers, and ask questions. And students and faculty totally hang out after class.
Political groups are very popular at Hampshire. Some groups: Students for a Free Tibet, Students for Justice in Palestine, Civil Liberties and Public Policy (mostly focused on reproductive freedom), a chapter of Amnesty International, Building Awareness Across Bars (focused on civil liberties of those incarcerated), the Feminist United Collective, and the Union of Progressive Zionists. We also have the less intellectually intense groups: Hampshire College Climber's Coalition, the Connoisseurs Club (meet and eat fabulous things), Hampshire College Red Scare (communist frisbee team), Spinsters Unite (spinning/yarn club), and The Society for the Creative Realization of a Weirder You (SCREWY...who knows...). There are no frats or sororities, but parties happen all the same. I would say there is probably a good dance party once a month, and people host everything from soirées to beruit tournaments. There are a lot of drugs, a lot of drinking...but these things can be avoided if you so choose. Also, there is a lot of sex.
There are bound to be stereotypes about college students - we need simple concise ways to put people in boxes and try to understand them. Hampshire is no exception. The school was founded during the sixties in a rural area to complement the four existing schools in the area (Smith, Mount Holyoke, Amherst, and UMass). So the stereotype most common about Hampshire kids is that they are pot-smoking, tree hugging, do-nothing liberals who are not smart enough or motivated enough to get in/do the work anywhere else.
The best thing about Hampshire is the people. In general, they're smart, fun, and very creative. You will most likely not get...
The best thing about Hampshire is the people. In general, they're smart, fun, and very creative. You will most likely not get bored talking to a Hampshire kid. The worst thing about Hampshire is the ambiguity: since there is a lot of freedom in the curriculum, faculty will tell you to do one thing, while people in the advising office will tell you to do another, while your individual advisor will tell you to do another! That can be pretty frustrating. BUT, since it's Hampshire, if you argue hard enough, you can convince all of the adults guiding you to let you do whatever you want :). Hampshire is a pretty small place. You get to know most people pretty quickly. However, a very high percentage of Hampsters transfer out of Hampshire after their first year, so I have gotten to know some people only to find that they're leaving :(. The reason many people transfer out is not because Hampshire is a bad school--it's because many people can't handle all the freedom and ambiguity. We have some guidelines at Hampshire: for instance, in your freshman year, you are required to take 1 course in each of Hampshire's five "schools of thought." But within those schools of thought, you can choose whatever courses you want: this is the freedom that many people can't handle. They want someone telling them what to do, but this hardly happens at Hampshire. Hampshire isn't in a "college town," but buses come right to campus and take you to other "college towns," Amherst and Northampton, where Amherst College and Smith College are. Amherst and Smith, along with Mt. Holyoke, UMass Amherst, and Hampshire, are part of the Five College Consortium, so as a Hampshire student you can take classes at any one of these five schools. This has been a lifesaver for me, since, for example, Hampshire currently offers no Music Composition classes, so I took Music Comp. at Amherst.
People try not to openly display their wealth here, so it seems like Hampsters don't really have money, but in reality, in order to afford Hampshire, you either have to be on scholarship(s) or you have to have a lot of money. Everyone at Hampshire interacts with everyone else: people are nice and friendly. However, at the same time, people of certain backgrounds do tend to band together. For instance, black students tend to stick together, as do international students. But in general, as I've said, people are friendly and welcoming.
My favorite Hampshire classes have been creative writing classes--Intro to Writing and Intermediate Poetry Writing. These were both basically writing workshops, so you could get feedback from your classmates and give them feedback on their work. Also, both professors for these classes, Will Ryan and Paul Jenkins, had some helpful, insightful things to say. My least favorite Hampshire class was probably Western and Alternative Medicine, not because the professors were bad, but because in that class I was required to dissect empirical scientific articles and summarize them. I was reading about specific experiments and looking up complex scientific terms, but I had little to no understanding of the basic scientific concepts behind the experiments. This is a downside at Hampshire--professors will throw you into the water whether you can swim or not. They will not guide you along too much....so, if you're already talented at something, then it's great, because you can go full speed ahead. For instance, since writing is one of my strengths, I enjoyed my writing classes. Therefore, I would suggest focusing in on your strengths as soon as possible once you come to Hampshire. Two more important aspects of Hampshire academics: Hampsters do not take tests, and they do not get grades. Not gonna lie--I have had to take some quizzes, but only in areas like Spanish and Music Theory, where there is really no other way you could display your knowledge without taking a quiz. And these are not heavy-duty tests; they are just quizzes. For the most part, Hampsters do big projects and write papers. This is a lot of work, but it's definitely rewarding. Also, getting evaluations is rewarding because you can see what specifically you should be proud of and what you need to improve on.
People do a lot of drugs here, but there are also many fun events that happen on campus and at nearby campuses. You will not have trouble finding fun things to do at Hampshire, whether you do drugs or not: and I speak from experience, since I am one of the few drug-free Hampsters.
Most people haven't really heard of Hampshire, but when I tell them there are no grades or tests they think it's a major joke...
Most people haven't really heard of Hampshire, but when I tell them there are no grades or tests they think it's a major joke. Then I explain that I transferred from one of the new 'ivy league' schools, and that I found Hampshire MUCH more challenging. Everything is put on the students, its their responsibility to finish work... You get what you put in.
Well there's definately a big hippie population, and although it's not substance free...I wouldn't say everyone is a pot head and everyone takes their work very seriously. I transferred into Hampshire (spent half of my first year of college at a seperate university) and was a bit worried about the stereotypes. Students are self-motivated and know when they need to complete their work, however they don't let it rule their lives (well except maybe Div III's).
The top three stereotypes about Hampshire students would have to be that they are hippie pot heads that don't care about their school work.
I love the size of Hampshire. The last school I went to in Texas was huge and had over thirty thousand students. At Hampshire...
I love the size of Hampshire. The last school I went to in Texas was huge and had over thirty thousand students. At Hampshire, you really get a chance to know people. Of course, small communities do have a lot of gossip, but that hasn't been a problem for me. Hampshire has a great campus, its beautiful. You look around and see trees, mountains and fields. I love it. Its farmland. One of the best aspects about Hampshire is that its part of the five colleges in Amherst/Northampton. The bus system is great and you can always get off campus for a change. You can take classes at any of the other schools too. Some people think its great when I tell them that I go to Hampshire, but other people think that I am just a crunchy hippie. This is not a bad thin to me, but I can see how some Hampshire students could be offended by this. Also, just because you are a so called hippie, doesn't mean that you aren't a good student and a hard worker. To be a Hampshire student can be difficult. Because you have to gather a committee and get to know faculty well, you have to be very motivated and independent. For some people its hard to take the initiative to do so. Also, because there are a limited number of full time faculty, it can be tough to get a committee together. One of my favorite things about Hampshire is that when you finish your Division III, you get to ring the bell in front of the library whenver you walk by it. I cannot wait to ring that bell!
There is a wide variety of LGBT students at Hampshire. It seems to me, as Hampshire is a private school there is a majority of students from a wealthy or well-off background. I have met a lot of Jewish students. Even though many Hampshire students have money, it is not a preppy school. People are not stuck up. Many Hampshire students are from the East coast or California or Washington state. Students at Hampshire dress any way they like. It is one of the great things about the school. No one looks at you funny if you wear a wacky outfit. Many people, including myself, go barefoot everywhere, including to class.
Hampshire has compost!!! Its a great thing. There are recycle sheds all around campus. Every mod has a compost bucket and students are committed to composting and recycling. Every college campus should have compost! There is compost in the dining hall. Also, the dining hall offers vegan options. There is themed housng on campus too, such as vegetarian groups or substance free housing.
Yes and no. Like every college that I've seen, there are drugs and there are people who take a lot of drugs. Many people do smoke marijuana. Hampshire courses can be similar to courses at other colleges. However, being a transfer student, and having taken courses at various schools (all public schools), I don't feel that Hampshire classes are any easier or harder than others. It all depends on the professor, in my opinion. Evaluations can actually be more discouraging yet more critical and useful than grades. When you get an evaluation, its never perfect. Its not like getting an A. There is always something you can improve. Its more real than a grade, more informative. Hampshire does have an amazing community. Most people are very welcoming and friendly. When you are at Hampshire people smile at you as you pass by them. People want to get to know you. People at Hampshire really care. Hampshire does tend to have cliques though. Coming in as a transfer student, I have especially noticed this. Unlike other schools though, Hampshire cliques are pretty interested in letting new people in. All of the friends I have made have happilly introduced me to their groups of friends and have been extremely friendly.
Hampshire is not a very competitive school. This has pros and cons. Outside of class, Hampshire students definitely have intellectual conversations. Its great to just discuss real issues with your friends or learn something new just by listening to student outside of class. I always feel like there are smarter, more informed people than myself at Hampshire. This makes me happy because it makes me want to strive and work harder at what I'm doing. Classes at Hampshire are really small. Usually a lot of participation is required. Professors know most people's names, especially if you are proactive and speak to them after class or if you participate in class. Students call professors by their first names always. Hampshire has very unique classes. There is a class offered called kitchen ecology where you learn everything about cheese and the making and tasting of cheese.
There are a lot of traditional events that happen at Hampshire like Hampshire Halloween, Keg hunt, Drag ball, etc. These type of events are popular and people from the five colleges like to come to Hampshire for these. It is most convienient at Hampshire to hang out with people that you live near. I met my closest friends by living with them. I was placed with them randomly since I came in as a transfer student. Students in the dorms usually are very open, people in the same halls are all close friends, generally speaking. People who live together in the mods are also usually close. There are sub-free living areas on campus and there are students who are committed to being substance free. They have their own events and parties. There are no fraternities/sororities. There is drinking and parties with drinking. The biggest and best parties are usually on Friday nights.
Hampshire students are hippies. Everyone at Hampshire smokes weed and does drugs. Hampshire classes are easy because there are no grades, only evaluations. Hampshire has a strong community feel.
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