Hampshire College Top Questions

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Brittney

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.

Kelly

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.

Sasha

They are not at all. Students at Hampshire are very interested and self motivated individuals who really care about what it is they study and believe in. Many do not smoke pot, and others who do are just as interested and motivated as the next person. Many students are apathetic and have been completely alienated by the political culture at the school, leaving them uninterested in joining and aligning themselves with different groups. Just because you go to Hampshire, doesn't mean that you're so open minded.

Leigh

about 60%

Rose

Yes

Gene

Well. A lot of Hampshire kids do a lot of drugs, but a lot dont. The majority smoke pot. Hallucinogens are in plenty. The school is NOT a bunch hippies, which i was very disappointed about. You will definitly find some, but the majority is like emo kids. Or just kids which are unique to themselves. You will meet people that you never thought you would be friends with.

Anna

- 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.

Terry

occasionally. there's a handful of folks who truly DO conform to those stereotypes and a whole lot more who have certain aspects of them. but you don't get a whole lot of two-dimensional folks at hampshire.

Andy

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.

Andrea

only on a small scale

Alexander

Yes but they are all part of a bigger picture. Drug use is high but mostly it appears that way because it is done more openly than at other schools. It is also a very small school spread out over a large area so this makes drugs easy to use and hard to get caught at. However I think that since other schools it is so stringently repressed, the real figures are depressed, although in reality drug use is not unusual either at Hampshire or other schools. One of the nice things about drugs at Hampshire though is that you don't often encounter very hard drugs, from who I have talked to at other schools there is a lot of cocaine and heroine and meth etc. whereas at Hampshire it seems to stick to the less addictive/life threatening drugs like marijuana, and hallucinogens. 2) Diversity is a real issue on campus as the vast majority of the student body and even teachers/ administrators are white. Apparently there have been some actions over the past year that have brought these issues into a more open discussion, and since I have not attended Hampshire for the past year I am unable to speak about them. Also Hampshire seems to have to try very hard to bring diversity to campus, and as such the diversity feels very planned and tends therefore to stick to itself. It is very rare to witness a group of close friends that is diverse within itself at Hampshire. Personally I think that is not that many people on campus are close minded or racist (at least not intentionally) but that the policies set forth by the administration, do not promote diversity and in fact keep people separated. 3) Hampshire students are very independent, and this is greatly promoted by the college and the method of teaching. Independent curiosity and drive is greatly rewarded not only from the faculty but from within the students who for the most part seem to drive each other to follow independent and fantastic paths.

Sarah

Look, those students exist, absolutely, but these days the average Hampshire student is more of an uber-post-modern hipster who knows far more about the indie band that has four followers than they know about how to boil water and who think that the world is beyond sincerity and reality. Although, those aren't the only students, there are also the self-proclaimed geeks, the activists, the literary folk, and the students who are just unclassifiable. However, none of this is to say that Hampshire breaks down in a typical Middle School cafeteria breakdown, because the truth is that while Hampshire definitely has cliques, there is a truth to the saying that every Hampshire student is really an individual. It seems to me that once you sit down with most Hampshire students, the reality is that you find a student who is passionate about their work and who mostly would love to talk about anything so long as it's an engaging conversation.

Dale

There are hippies...and people with hippie-esque behaviours...but those who are labeled "hippie" generally wouldn't say they are hippies. People just generalize hampshire as a hippie school because folks tend to stray off normative paths, and anything "counter-culture" obviously equals hippies. Because it still the 60's, obviously. It's easy to say you are liberal, because no one wants to admit to being conservative. But actually, a lot of people just have their foot in thier mouthes and like the liberal title.

Brett

Occasionally. Hampshire is for people who think outside the box, absolutely. So no matter what department you're in, you'll find strange, wacky, and often beautiful ideas. I've never been anywhere else where the people are half as interesting.

Grace

Not at all. Hampshire is the most active place I've ever been to. There is drug use, but that does not define the college whatsoever

Katy

Not exactly. It is true that there's a lot of alternative style in the students, the majority of them are vegetarians and vegans, and a large part of the student body is passionate about things that may be considered "hippie" by the general public, and while it's safe to say that the campus is full of unique characters (and yes, people who have smoked weed in their life), the stereotype is certainly an exaggeration. In terms of doing work, there are no letter grades and typically no tests/quizzes, but almost any student would agree that we read and write much more than the average college student does. Basically, you give what you get at Hampshire- students put in the work that they want to, making everyone on campus happy to be there and passionate about their work.

Torry

they are not as lazy as most people think, everyone I met there has been spectacularly intelligent.

Andrew

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.

Ryan

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.

Tate

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.

Kelly

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.

Alena Natalia

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.

Alicia

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.

Madison

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.

Kristin

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).

Shelby

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.

Julia

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!

Colin

Let's say that the average Hampshire student tries to be one or all of those things. Success is a different story.

Elizabeth

Almost everyone is hippie. If not, the majority are hippie friendly. Class is what you want to make of it. It depends on the professor whether you need to attend or not; often, you do. Almost everyone smokes pot. Even more people are cigarette smokers. Hampshire Halloween is cool if you are tripping - its not what it once was.

Amy

The stereotypes are accurate to some degree. It is fairly common to see dreadlocks and guys with long hair. There are a fair amount of rich students because Hampshire's tuition is high, but not everyone is rich. Many students use marijuana, but there are also sub-free students. A lot of students are very PC, but there are also students who get annoyed about others being so PC. Probably a lot of us didn't fit in in high school, but there might be some who did... And of course there's more to every school than its stereotypes.

Ashur

The stereotype exists here, but does not make up the majority of the student body. The majority of students are intensely creative and motivated in multiple areas of both academic and extra-curricular learning.

Cary

There is a lot of pot (and other drugs) on hampshire campus, but it's not all we do. It is certainly possibly to do nothing, but isn't that possible at any school? Some of the most creative, driven, and hard working people I've ever met go to Hampshire.

Devin

No. People here are genuinly engaged in studies they are interested in. The pot use is not any more than any other school. Having no grades is actually more difficult.

Mel

For the most part.

Greg

Some Hampshire students are potheads, but most slackers drop out of Hampshire after their first semester.

Bobby

Hampshire is full of alot of hippies, and pot is pretty prevalent on campus, however, I doubt it's any more popular on our campus than it is on any other campus. And the workload at Hampshire is pretty intense. Because we don't test, we write ALOT of papers, and just because we don't get grades, doesn't mean we get off easy when our work is crappy.

Miranda

Intense drug use isn't really common and there is actually a really large sub-free population. It is true that Hampshire is essentially entirely rich white kids and hipsters and hippies certainly outweigh any other look.

Katy

While there are plenty of people who do experiment with pot, the stereotypes are by no means true.

Ruthie

There are indeed many "hippies"..... but they are all unique. Some do drugs, some don't. Some are vegan, some carnivores. There's really a huge range. And actually I'd say there are far more hipSTERS than hippies. You know, the people who listen to really obscure music and film. Lots of artistes. And then there are the studious kids, the kids who get drunk every night, the gamers. Awesome school to go to if you're a people watcher.

Noah

You can find a fair number of people who fit these stereotypes. However, they are far outnumbered by self motivated, passionate people who are really involved in changing the world.

Madison

For the most part, yes. However, as part of hampshire sciences department, I can say that there is good wor being done outside of art and social sciences. There arn't many of us, but we are a close knit and dedicated group.

Samantha

Hampshire's stereotypes are not there because people hate Hampshire. They are there becaues people have met and interacted with the students and have visited the school and seen people run by streaking a tour group while smoking a joint, screaming about social change and how they are going to change the world but not until they come down off the mushrooms.

Gene

Not at all. Although you will run into some people who are VERY (I mean, VERY hippie-like) this isn't true about everyone. There are some people who don't shower, but by no means is this everyone, its a very laid back school. However, this doesn't mean that the people here don't work hard. Generally, the people who don't do anything, and just party/be hippie-like Xcore, get kicked out. Get ready to write LONG (we're talking 10-15 page) papers.

Rachel

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.

Vinny

Hampshire is a very liberal school, but it is a real school. No grades and no tests means you are evaluated on the work you produce. If you don't produce work or lousy work, you get a bad evaluation. If you do work your work, if you try your best, your hard work will be reflected in your evaluation. An evaluation says more about you than a simple letter grade. Yes we have potheads, but I challenge you to find a school that doesn't. We also have hipsters, preps, and even republicans.

Molly

It's a college. You're going to find people of all types here. Yes for the most part there are a lot of very liberal individuals, there are some drugs on campus, but that's unavoidable period. Overall most people here are pretty friendly and you're going to meet people like you at any college. It attracts all kinds.

Matt

Most are. There really aren't so many 'hippies' per se, but there is a lot of weed. What most kids don't realize is that there's as much drinking and partying at Hampshire as any other school. Everyone is extremely lazy, so you have to learn to take it upon yourself to be productive. And not everyone's a liberal, but moderate or conservative views are not accepted.

Cameron

for the most part, yes. there aren't many down-to-earth, fun people here. there are many, many very, very egotistical people here. there's a lot of intellectual bullshit, and people can be very judgmental.

Anders

We have a good portion of crazy liberal students.

Hannah

no. only the first years embody these stereotypes because they haven't yet figured it out. hampshire relies on self-motivation, but it certainly has some structure. it's easy to succeed if you work hard and are independent, and the successes experienced by hampshire students are usually more informed and full-bodied. hampshire students become excellent, driven members of their fields.

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