Hampshire's campus is surrounded by beautiful woods, although weather only permits hiking for about 4 months of the year. Amherst and Northampton are easily accessed by the free buses and are both really fun. Hampshire's administration is horrible. If you have to deal with the administration in any way then you can count on it being extremely complicated and stressful. Div I is very structured and completely deviant from Hampshire's original ideals, so all students pretty much hate it. The largest controversy at Hampshire this year was about race issues. A massive percentage of students pressured the administration to become actively anti-racist, with limited results. Hampshire students tend to be very cliquey, but in my experience everyone is very nice and the size of the school provides a comforting intimacy.
student body is a real disappointment and TOO SMALL, after a few years (or months, for that matter) people start hooking up with the same people as their friends (which can cause a lot of drama) cattiness is a problem, rumors are a problem even though most people would never admit that because they think that sort of talk is below them when IT'S JUST AS BAD AS ANYWHERE ELSE...campus can be isolating, saga (the cafeteria) is okay but the food is often boring, campus housing is okay but could be better, there are NOOO frats, sororities, or sports teams (the frisbee team doesn't count...get serious). it's easy to get really fucking bored here, basically. if you are the type of person who needs to stay busy to feel sane, consider somewhere else....or get a job of campus, hang out at the other schools, etc.
Hampshire's administration is completely irresponsible and does exactly the opposite of what it is supposed to do; protect its students. It seems to be trying to get away from the smoker stereotype and become more in line with ivy league schools. This is ridiculous because this is not what hampshire is about. This school is supposed to be alternative, and not worried so much about its reputation. As such, the administration does not stand on issues that it needs to such as racism, sexism and violence against women. There are many cases of sexual assault that are not reported, why? because women know they will not be protected by the administration. This is intolerable, absolutely inexcusable and needs to change.
The best thing about Hampshire is definitely the fact that you can create your own major. You can study 3 different things that normally wouldn't go together, but if you can make a connection, then you can study it. One thing that I'd change is the fact that there really isn't a central hub on campus, which I think can lead to a sense of isolation, especially your first year. But luckily there are alot of student groups to get involved in, and that's a really great way to meet people. There isn't really a college town, but Amherst and Northampton are really close, which are college towns, and I feel like it's actually a perk to have access to 2 really great college towns without being located in one.
It's a really pretty campus, even though the architecture isn't all that great. There are a lot of open grassy spaces and trees, and it smells nice in the spring. There are a lot of really nice people, but there are also some pretentious douchebags; you just need to avoid them. There's isn't a ton to do on campus outside of partying, since there's no town center you can walk to, but Northampton and Amherst center are both bus-accessible. Hampshire is definitely a "hippie school", for better and for worse. It's probably hard to be a republican, right-wing Christian conservative on campus. But on the bright side, you meet a lot of people who are really passionate about what they study.
Hampshire is a very liberal school. It has a very politicized environment. Justice, freedom, equality, and social change are central to the discourses that take place in the school. The curriculum is very interdisciplinary. It provides the student with a very broad framework of study, and it allows him/her to develop a more accurate methodological approaches to the topics in which they engage. Hampshire College is part of the five colleges. This adds new dimensions to the academic experience at Hampshire College. Unlimited amount of recourses (classes, libraries, research and faculty) is available to Hampshire students through the other close by colleges.
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.
Why I decided to go to Hampshire: I was visiting people I new at all of the schools that I was interested in. Everywhere I visited, people seemed totally unenthused about their areas of study. People were good students, but it did not occur to them to talk about a really good class or a new idea from a book with friends. Hampshire was the only place where I found people genuinely excited about their courses of study as well as interested in hearing about other peoples' intrests. People at Hampshire really are passionate about what they do, and aren't afraid to let that show.
cons: tiny community with too much drama and changeover no graduate students to balance out us know-it-all undergrads student body that is mostly super privileged like woah undefeatable bueauracracy and ineffectual administration expensive as hell even with FA shitty housing pros: everyone finds their own pocket of really awesome people amazing funding for student groups the best undergraduate program hands-down for people who actually want to teach themselves things student representation on the board of trustees and administrative groups for each school
Hampshire is small in the scheme of things (especially since it's literally down the street-a few miles-from the University of Massachusetts). It's small in the sense that after a few years you're able to recognize most of the professors' names and most of the students' faces. It's small in the sense that generally you know all of the buildings, where they are, and what's in them. It's small in the sense that it can be very insular. It can be a bubble. A lot of people forget there is an outside world, but there are surrounding communities with a lot to offer.