The academics are challenging in the fact that it is so self focused. For final projects the teacher will say, write a 15 page paper that has something to do with what we studied. It is great to have but alos daunting. The class are small and you have to participate. I love my class on the idea of the black dancing body in contemporary concert dance and writing the urban experience. The professors actually care, and the 5 college consortium is great. The dance dept. has alot of wonderful people and a lot of class choices. It is very modern based, i would not come here if i did not want to be a modern dancer, there is ballet but hampshire is more about creativity and modern.
NO TESTS!! I took a science class at Hampshire and learned nothing because I wasn't required to memorize anything, but for other classes that are especially writing intensive it is great. The professors that I have had are mostly in it to make you a stronger student-- not just academically, but in the way that you see the world and yourself. After my first year I took most of my classes at Smith because they have more to offer, but still worked very closely at Hamp with my advisor to cater my studies to my needs. It is however pretty typical that people graduate and end up working in the Hampshire mailroom or dining hall, or poor on the streets of Noho or New york.
Out of the 9 classes that I've taken, I've only disliked one, and I still learned a great deal in that class. The professors are amazing; they are intelligent, friendly, caring and passionate. I've managed to have a personal relationship with most of my professors, and all except for one have been helpful outside of class. Classes are typically discussion based, and the discussions are usually interesting, and intellectual conversations happen all the time outside of class. My concentrations are media studies and linguistics, and while both departments have few faculty members, the professors I have had from these departments have been absolutely amazing.
We have a number of great teacher, whom students can work very closely with. The Arts, social science and Humanities schools are overcrowded and contain the usual mix of brilliant students and pretentious masturbatory fluffheads. Cognitive science has a mix of brilliant and boring teachers, with very dedicated students. Natural Science is far and away the most student friendly, productive and academically rigorous of the schools. It is the only school to have weekly meetings to discuss school-related events and projects, and has somehow been both the most progressive in its educational policies and the most reasonable.
Every professor will know your name. My classes have been invited to my professor's house for dinner twice. It is all a choice if you study or not. You can get by without studying in many classes, but most students don't do that. At a place where we can choose what we want to study, usually almost everyone in a class will want to do the reading anyway. Class participation is very common, almost too much at times. Hampshire students are always having intellectual conversations outside of class. Everything is worth a discussion and people are more than inclined to disagree with you and talk about it.
I have had a good relationship with my professors, who all have wanted me to call them by their first name. Many professors have the idea that students have good thoughts to contribute to discussions and that their opinions are truly valuable. This works really well and has given me a lot of confidence to express myself. Still class participation have not always been as good as they could have been. I myself do not talk that much because often I do not understand the material as well as I should. There is a responsibility to ask, so that other students who feel the same understand as well.
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...
The relation between the student and the professor is one of the most distinguished aspects of Hampshire academics. The structure of the degree allows the student to work closely with the faculty and to obtain continues attention from them . Furthermore, students are allowed a large degree of space in regard to the topics which which the deal throughout their academic degree. This exposes the student to a variety of new topics that bear large influence on the trajectory of his/her academic degree.
I have good, personal relationships with many proffessors. Instead of 5 minute office meetings they will often take you to lunch (or for a drink if you're old enough). They have often spent time outside of work hours or the semester, helping me with my research. This is one of my reasons for staying here. In my second year I was given a co-authorship on a paper. Few if any other schools can offer this kind of proffessor-student interaction.
Hampshire students have plenty of intellectual conversations outside class. It can be hard sometimes, because there aren't a ton of professors available for any given concentration. Luckily there's the five college consortium, though. Literature people should definitely take a class with Polina Barskova. Hampshire classes are very discussion-based, for the most part, although lectures play a role as well.