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.
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.
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.
Hampshire is okay. I have been there for three years and it is truly a love/hate relationship. I have tried to transfer a few times but other schools do not accept Hampshire credit. I was told that after two and a half years of college that I would enter a lesser university as a first semester freshman. If you are thinking about Hampshire I only suggest that you fully understand what you are getting yourself into. Learn as much as you can about the divisional system. Talk to students that do not work at admissions. Spend the night. Read some division III projects off the school's website. If you are not self-motivated with a lot of strong interests, I would suggest you go to a school with a set of core classes, requirements and set majors. Hampshire is a very hard school to find your place, feel comfortable and know what you're doing and if it even makes a difference.
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.
Hampshire College doesn't have lettered or numbered grades. So, really, there no grades at Hampshire. Instead, a students performance is recorded with a Narrative Evaluation. A Narrative Evalution is a document your professor gives you after the course has ended, and it is a through written work describing how the prefessor believes you performed in their class. Narrative Evaluations aren't always good, and they're not always long. To fail a course at Hampshire, is not receive an Evaluation. I chose Hampshire because I believed my work is better reflected in words than a number.
Hampshire is inspiring for those who want to be inspired, and it provides a drug full lazy zone for people who want to be lazy and do drugs. You get what you want to get here, you will learn how much you want to and have as much fun as you want to. you need to be self-motivated to come here! There are many other tempting events and stuff going on at all hours and all days. You have to be disiplined!
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.
Part of 5-college consortium with Smith, Mt. Holyoke, UMASS, and Amherst colleges. Narrative evaluations in place of letter grades. Non traditional structure, meaning more control over what you study and how you go about it such as courses, etc. Senior year students only take 2 advanced classes, and spend 80-90percent of their time working on a singular project of their own design.
I love Hampshire, but unless you're a very motivated ans self-driven person, you may struggle here. My last year, I had little direction from my advisers, which was fine, because that works for me. But many people fall through the cracks because there's too much freedom to get lost in.