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Hampshire College

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Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Yes

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Some people smoke pot, but if you don't want to then it's completely avoidable and there's very little social pressure. Definitely no more pressure than you would get to drink alcohol at a normal school. As far as the wealth of the student body goes, Hampshire is a young school and so it does not have a very big endowment. It cannot afford to give away a huge amount of scholarship money. However, there many people there are on partial scholarships and a few are there on full scholarships. More importantly, there is an elitist ethos there such as you would normally associate with rich kids. Even if people are trust fund kids, you would never know because almost no one wears expensive clothing and quite a few people run around wearing clothing they could have gotten in middle school. There is a very liberal attitude on campus and so you never hear people complaining that if poor people would just work harder they'd be fine. Everyone makes great efforts to be PC. To the charge of artsy-fartsiness, I can only say that Hampshire does attract very creative people, but it also tends to weed out people who aren't serious and diligent about their art. The professors will not tolerate perpetual flakes or people who do not consider their craft thoughtfully. That said, the great thing about Hampshire is that it's easy to have your studies and participate in dance, music, etc. extracurriculars, sometimes quite seriously. They don't make you choose between your interests; you're encouraged to incorporate all of them into your college experience. Also, there are plenty of people there who major in the sciences and never go near a dance show. Hampshire does attract more than its fair share of anarchists, but they are still a small percentage of the student pop, and certainly make poli-sci discussions interesting. Idealism runs rampant on campus, but its oddly wedded to a studied cynicism. Let's change the world, but isn't that so typical. The student body tends to believe that big changes are needed, but students vary, to all extremes, in their confidence in possibility of making a difference. As to the charge of slackerdom, I refer you to my artsy-fartsy answer. Hampshire has a very open door policy and admits many people do not necessarily look good on paper (people who did not take the SATs, or graduate from high school). Often times, these people end up being great students, but this wide net policy means that the school winnows the slackers from the freshman class pretty aggressively. Not that the school actively kicks people out all the time. A lot of the time people realize that they really are going to have to do work and leave. Don't think that our lack of grades means we get a free pass.

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There's a little trush in most sterotypes. This school is NOT like other colleges. We DO have the power to and responsibility to crete our own courses of study. I chose "creative writing" from that dropdown option, but what I do here isn't just cretive writing. I's studying history and they ways in which the voices that usually go unheard in our society can be creatively nurtured to relate shared histories and create solidarity. That's not exactly the "real world" major most parents want their kids to have... I'm not just in "communications" hoping to get somewhere but unsure of where,. I know exactly what I want to do and who i want to work with. I'm taking control and creating a niche in the world that fits me and that supplies an outlet for a need. That real to me. But there are totally people at EVERY college who'd rather be high than be smart. I think at Hampshire, there are less people who think in such a binary. A lot of people get high. A lot of people are self motivated, self educated, and extremely driven. And more times than not, those people belong to both groups. But not everyone fits into either category. A lot more than half of the students here can afford to and do pay full tuition. there are a LOT of people here with a LOT of money. But that also makes space and opportunity for students who aren't as secure financially to take advantage of the same opportunities. We're not all a bunch of lazy rich kids. I'm not rich, I'm not lazy. Furthermore, this school is NOT camp. It's so funny to hear people say that. I take classes at Amherst and U Mass (we're permitted to take courses at Amherst College, Smith College, Mt. Holyoke College and the University of Mass, as well as Hampshire classes) to take a break from Hampshire academics. Students here think much more critically, take advantage of outside sources of knowledge, and participate in classes WAAAY more than at they other schools I've taken courses at (all but Mt.Holyoke so far). There's more reading here and more writing. We don't take tests, but you are asked to prove yourself intellectually. You have a committee of professors advocating for you and they'll hold you just as accountable as your other professors...if not more. Hampshire's not right for everyone, and the students ready to be actively engaged in their own educations will thrive here. Those willing to take a backseat and let college happen to them will have a great time somewhere else, but will most likely hate it here.

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- We do some of the most exciting, challenging, extensive, deep and analytical independent research/writing/production in the Five Colleges. The Division III is likened to a small-time masters thesis and for good reason. Occasionally there are jerk-offs who get away with murder, like at any institution. We just get pinned for it more than most. - We do plenty of drugs, some of them legal (for example, everyone smokes cigarettes) but no more so than other colleges. Important note: People don't binge nearly as much as at the college town I'm from. Then again, I am from Wisconsin. - We all like to think that being liberal/progressive/leftist/etc. means this. It doesn't. Very few acknowledge their privileges and blind spots. People seem to take the view that being at Hampshire, which means thinking about whatever you want to think about (academically) means not having to think about anything you don't want to think about (sociopolitically.) Combine this with an 85% mostly wealthy white majority of kids whose parents mostly went to college and it can be just disasterous for people who don't fit into those groups to live in the community. - We place extremely high in terms of graduate school placements and jobs.

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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.

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Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, this is true. And, in my opinion, it's impossible to answer a question like this because sure, I'm sure there are some students at Hampshire who have been sitting around for the last three years doing nothing but smoking pot and avoiding classes. But I think that the reputation that Hampshire has as a drug school with lazy students who don't actually do work is undeserved and outdated. I'm a drug free student who's worked extremely hard the four years I've attended this school. I've never gotten below an A in any of the classes I took off campus, and I've made a huge number of friends here, all of whom are also drug free. College is college - there are going to be students there who waste their money and the college's resources by doing drugs and slacking off. But the stereotype that Hampshire is a drug school with unmotivated students is inaccurate. It's also extremely common, so I am prepared to have to go through the rest of my life trying to set the record straight about what Hampshire's REALLY like.

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It is true that Hampshire does not believe in the traditional system, thus instead of grades, Hampshire students recieve "evaluations," in which the professor writes a lengthly evaluation of the student's strengths and weaknesses regarding class participation and written work. It is also true that quizes/tests/exams are NOT adminisered at Hampshire. Hampshire students DO choose a specific area of study, but it is called a "concentration" instead of a "major." 90% of Hampshire students DO smoke cigarettes. In essence, the stereotypes surrounding Hampshire are accurate to some extent, it is a quirky place!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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