They're bullshit. You learn next to nothing in your classes, and if the professor doesn't like you they can do whatever they want.
Every professor I've ever had at Hampshire has been brilliant, helpful, and flexible. The Five Colleges also have a wealth of amazing, world-renowned professor. That said, classes can get bogged down by flaky, metaphysical discussions on the students' part, and some students get by only doing the bare minimum. There is always that one kid in your class who never does the reading yet still insists on ruining really great discussions by veering off into incomprehensible weirdness. Plenty of intelligent, hard-working students exist, though.
MORE READING A WRITING THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE. Seriously. Think of the most you'd be willing to do in highschool and tripple that. The application to Hampshire has like sceighty-eith essays...that's just the beginning folks.
One of the great things about Hampshire is the individual attention you get from teachers. Everyone has office hours and they are very willing to go the extra mile to help you. Classes are small - usually around 15 students, so you will not get lost in the crowd. My favorite class, On Terror, was wonderful in that the texts we read for each class were wonderfully diverse: an article about postmodern poetry, the movie "Brazil," a scholarly article on the conflict in Israel, a series of articles written for magazines about 9/11. All building a picture of the many meanings of "terror," but an incredibly diverse and multidisciplinary one. A multidisciplinary approach to education represents the best of the Hampshire education.
There aren't really tests at Hampshire, so people don't "study" very often unless they have classes off campus, which they do with some frequency. However, Hampshire is very writing intensive, so people are always working on essays or projects, if they're into the sciences or arts. How much work you have to do depends heavily on which courses you take. Even some 100 level courses can spawn hours of reading every week, but some of them are barely any work at all.
There are no grades at Hampshire, so people aren't very competitive. There's simply no way to compare when everyone is doing there own self-designed major.
Most classes have significant discussion elements if they are not completely discussion based, so class participation is very common. People do continue discussions outside of class, though abstract discussions tend to morph into political ones.
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.
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.
Classes are small, and discussion based. In order to get a really great evaluation, you have to do all the reading, which there is plenty of, and participate a lot. A lot of times, students will be debating teachers and students, and there is a lot of critical thought involved. However, some students don't take their classes seriously, and that thought and dialogue doesn't happen. Philosophy classes tend to be very strong, as well as the arts program. Another great thing about the college is the consortium, where one can take classes at Smith, Mt. Holyoke, Amherst, and UMASS. In my experience, classes tend to be easier at the other colleges in terms of reading and discussion, but you still have to take mid-terms and finals, unlike at Hampshire, where you write 15 page research papers as your final.
Hampshire academics are amazing!!!! small classes, discussion based. no tests. no grades, just evaluations. professors are almost always available to help you outside of class. I have been invited over with my whole class to my professors house.
It's a very challenging program with incredible opportunities if you know how to find them and make them happen. People complain a lot about not being able to take care of business or get good advisors but really you just need a hell of a lot of self-determinism and you can make it work. You need that anyway to get through the program. Div III was the best thing I could have spend tuition on.
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...
First off, Hampshire has a very different educational structure from most other schools. There are no grades- instead, professors write evaluations of student progress at the end of the semester- usually one to three paragraphs' worth, detailing the work you've completed, your progress on course objectives, and the like. There are also no pre-planned concentrations or majors: every student is required to assemble a faculty committee and create his/her own program, with the committee's advice and approval. Progression towards graduation goes in 3 Divisions- Div I usually lasts the first 2 or 3 semesters, and simply requires that a student take 8 classes across the 5 schools of thought (we also have no departments- all classes are sorted only into "Cognitive Science," "Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies," "Interdisciplinary Arts," "Natural Science," or "Social Science." This leads to a lot of great interdisciplinary classes, and many classes are even cross-listed over 2 or 3 schools.) and get to know the Hampshire system, with an assigned advisor. Sometime in the second year, a student begins Div II, which requires pulling together a committee of 2 or 3 faculty members and setting up a plan to complete 12 learning activities- usually classes, but also independent studies, internships, community service projects, and the like- anything that relates to the concentration you've designed and that your committee approves of. Div II usually lasts through the second and third years, and then comes Div III, which is a lot like a thesis- you assemble a committee, which may or may not include the same people as your Div II committee, and plan and carry out a very substantial year-long project. Div IIIs complete 2 learning activities- usually an upper-level class or seminar and a TAship. The Div III is almost the defining feature of the Hampshire education- it is a capstone of everything the student has done before.
Because Hampshire requires faculty committees for every student, student-faculty relationships are usually very good. Students have to get to know faculty well enough to know if they'll be able to work together, and, once they've entered Div II, need to meet with their committees to make sure that their education is proceeding in a way that makes sense. Professors have to know students well enough to be able to write an evaluation about them at the end of the semester, although some are quite guilty of relying very heavily on student self-evaluations. I've had great relationships with most of my professors, and usually take advantage of opportunities to go to office hours and talk about my final projects/papers- because we don't take tests, we usually do significant projects at the end of each class, often relating the class to our own concentration and interests, and these projects can sometimes require a lot of consultation. I've also taken quite a few 5 College classes, and find that I also spend a lot of time talking to 5 College professors, trying to tailor their class to my personal needs- something most of them aren't expecting, but something Hampshire professors encourage.
I've had really amazing classes with less than 10 students- classes where a reading assignment is given, and the class time is spent discussing it. These classes have really expanded my critical and analytical abilities, and probably encourage the level of discussion that spills outside of class- I've been known to linger over dinner for hours, debating gender theory or talking about history with my friends. Hampshire students are very intellectual, often pretentiously so, and love to talk about the things they're passionate about. When Hampshire students slack off, it's obvious, and there are definitely times when class discussion suffers for it. When the class is really into the topic, though, fascinating discussion can result, and most professors don't spend the whole class time lecturing- they want to hear what students have to say.
Without grades, there's no such thing as GPA or rank at Hampshire, and it makes the atmosphere delightfully non-competitive. Hampshire students rise and fall by their own willingness to do the work- if someone's doing "better" in a class than you, it's likely because you aren't really putting as much effort out. Hampshire professors tend to be pretty understanding about things like deadlines and attendance, and will almost never make you write a paper on something you don't want to write about- there is always a way to tailor an assignment so that you're actually interested in it. Because everyone is so busy doing their own thing, looking for something that they really love and want to do, the atmosphere is pretty supportive- I love hearing opinions from other disciplines on the topics I'm interested in.
Hampshire is definitely not for everyone, academically. You have to be pretty self-motivated: because Hampshire professors are often pretty lax on deadlines, you have to be able to force yourself to complete your work on time- people have failed out because they just aren't motivated to ever finish their final projects. You have to be willing to go out and get what you want- Hampshire is small and doesn't offer that many classes, and, because we hate prerequisites, it's very easy to get caught in a loop of very similar near-introductory classes. A Hampshire student has to be motivated enough to make his/her work for a class be at the right level, and most Hampshire students are going to have to design some sort of independent study. Div III is obviously also a very daunting task, and not for the weak of heart or will. Those skills- the skills in self-motivation and making the world work the way you want it to- are pretty useful in the Real World, I've been told. As for the actual topics you study at Hampshire- probably not. Most Hampshire students get pretty esoteric with their concentrations, which is great for Academia, less for "real jobs."
I've had amazing teachers and terrible teachers. Some are boring but brilliant. Others are Incredibly interesting. Students aren't competitive with each other.
The academics at Hampshire are all over the place. I mostly study science so that is what the following comments will be pertaining to.
The professors (as stated earlier) range from awful and bitter to by far the best teacher that I have ever encountered in my life. Some of them are very bitter and refuse to fully teach science because after all it is a liberal arts education that we attend for, and so the only reason (in some of their minds) that we could be there is to be getting a requirement out of the way.
The science department lacks good funding as well as instruments/materials, but the other colleges in the area are open to letting us use their state of the art equipment (most times).
The class sizes are very small (especially in the science department) I have had one class with I think five students one with three, and a great deal of lab time with two to three other students. This is however not as good as it always seems. Although the upsides are a very personal relationship with your professor, which breaks down the barriers to asking questions outside of class, the downsides are sometimes catastrophic. In many instances it only takes a few bad students complaining about how quickly the professor is teaching to greatly slow down the entire class, or distract from the lecture, or ask repeated and annoying questions. The lack of tests or grades seems to often have a negative impact on students drives which in turn makes their studies plummet. Outside of class the professors are often much more engaged and energetic. It is my experience though that I have been refused help more often then I would have thought at such an independent place. Independent studies are hard to convince professors to do with you at times which is at least disheartening.
I often get teased by my friends at other schools because I don't get grades here at Hampshire. In their minds not getting a grade must automatically equal a slacker education and a lack of serious academics. However, I can tell you that I have a significantly stronger theoretical and critical background than any other student I've meet outside of Hampshire. I also can say that I've just taken more interesting classes over all. I've taken classes as interesting and varied as "The Politics of Pop Culture", "Sex on the Brain", "Politics, News, and Irony", and "Psychoanalytic Approaches to Psychotherapy with Children". Classes at Hampshire are almost always fascinating and often the readings in the classes are worth the class alone, although overall the professors are some of the most brilliant and fascinating people I've ever met. If you don't like reading or discussion, Hampshire is definitely not the place for you, but if you do than its a paradise.
Your academics are what you make of it. You can easily get by and not do much, but that would be a waste.
I call all my professors by their first name, and they call me by mine. They are involved in my personal life, and some of them are good friends. Class participation is incredibly common and most classes are basically just discussions. The cognitive science program rocks, and the natural sciences represent, to quote a recent alum, "all that is good about Hampshire College." It is especially in the sciences where collaboration and mutual discovery take place, and fankly, I haven't been impressed by the social science department (or, for that matter, the humanities department). It seems fragmented and bitchy. The NS (natural science) is a school with absolutely no resources, just ingenuity and enthusiasm.
Oh yeah, you can also take courses at Amherst College, UMass Amherst, Smith College, Mt. Holyoke. All are good schools, and the PVTA lets you ride at an amazing schedule between them (av.g ride is 15 mins). So you get a GPA (from other schools) on top of your written evals. (oh yeah, no grades at Hamp, just evals. A blessing and a curse.) Oh yeah, and if you want to do some weird shit (I do neurophysiology and creative writing), it is completely possible and even encouraged. Professors love that kind of thing, and will support you.
You call the professors by their first name. You email them weekly. They have you over for dinner at their house. Because of our division and committee system, you spend a LOT of one on one time with the teachers. It couldn't be better in that sense.
There is no such thing as class ending. Most of the classes are discussion based and usually intense, so there is little chance that you are going to leave class and stop talking about the discussion.
The requirements are interesting. The division system where you design your own major is incredible, but if you do not make it a point to badger anyone who can help you, you are going to be in the dark.
Academics at Hampshire are split up into three Divisions, and it's set up a lot like grad school. Division I is your first three semesters- you take about four classes a semester and take anything that interests you- there's not a set of core classes that one has to take, though there are a few requirements that one must fulfill to pass their Division I. During Div I you have to take at least one class in each of the five schools of thought (humanities/arts/cultural studies, social science, natural science, cognitive science, and interdisciplinary arts (there is also a 6th, optional outdoor/recreational school)), and you have to satisfy all 7 learning goals (reading, writing, project work, presentation, multicultural, quantitative, and creative expression) through these classes. It sounds like more of a hassle than it really is, and still allows you to take the classes that really interest you. Next, Division II is where you start focusing on a specific interest and taking the right classes for that interest, while also performing community service of some sort. There are no set majors, so this period is a little challenging, as one has to choose what he or she wants to study- for some it's easy to combine their interests, for others it's a little harder. Finally, there's Division III, where you spend your time working on your final, big independent study project (that relates to the work you did in Div II). The Div III project is much like a final thesis in that the completion of it is what allows you to receive a degree. While all this work sounds like a difficult thing to handle, there's always plenty of help available and you work with either an advisor or a committee the entire time.
The professor's at Hampshire are great- they are always eager to help or provide you with extra information, and they typically try to avoid treating the class as if it was theirs or as if they are in charge. Classes at Hampshire range in size from about 13 to 25 people and professors typically know your name after about two weeks. In terms of interests, there is something for everyone and you're given plenty of opportunity to explore academically- last year I took class about aliens! Classes are typically discussion based, so participation is always a huge factor.
Intellectual conversation does not end outside the classroom- with all of the activities, speakers, and conferences going on, it's hard not to find someone who wants to have a serious talk about something, and you're guaranteed to learn something new every day.
Hampshire's application form is exemplary of (the latter parts of) its pedagogic program: the essays permit you to give detailed responses, and represent yourself in a nuanced manner, which is probably for the best. The school, at least in the admissions phase, takes a great deal of interest in the individual student, and the student as an individual. Once you're in, you begin a career in Division One (the distribution requirement section of the program; a constant work in progress and arguably the weakest link in Hampshire's curriculum), then move to Division Two (which is more like a self-desigined major. For this section you select a committee of two faculty, theoretically involved in your chosen field, who help you pick your courses and guide you career wise) and finally Division Three (a giant project of your own design. You have a committee again, and it's a lot like a senior thesis at another school, except with fewer limitations - Blades of Glory status, if you can dream it, you can do it.
Hampshire is unequivocally a phenomenal research college. Our professors are, by and large, pretty good, and you cannot match us for the amount of time they spend in direct contact with the undergraduates. Independent studies and tiny, specialized classes permit a virtually one-on-one learning environement, and your professors often become more like career-mentors.
There are requirements, which Hampshire will try to hide from you before you get here, but they're not hard to deal with, and once you're out of Division One (at the time of this writing anyway - June, 2008) your only real requirements are that you fulfill a certain amount of community service (easy to do by working for a Div III, or TAing, or volunteering in Amherst), do some kind of multicultural perspectives thing (which is as vague as it sounds: you could take a Spanish immersion course for a month or you could go to Papua New Guinea for a year), get twelve courses related to your subject completed during your Division II (these are more heavily regulated for our most popular majors: studio art and music) and to complete two "advanced learning activities" during Division Three (anything from mentoring a noob in your subject to taking a 300 level class).
Our course catalogue is spotty and heavily politicized - we have some really strong programs in what would generally be considered fairly random subjects (we are one of the best schools in the nation for animal behavior, for example) but are almost devoid of basic curricula items (like econ courses. We have like two, and they're both about the middle east). However, the presence of the five colleges makes up for this paucity in a lot of ways. You can (relatively) easily take a course at Smith, Holyoke, Amherst or UMass, and it will count in full (we don't actually have official credits) towards your Hampshire education.
At the end of the day, a Hampshire Education is what you make it. Building the right program takes endurance, initiative and some blind stumbling, but if you can figure out how to fit yourself for it, you're guaranteed a personally tailored college education, with the full faith and resources of the institution at your back.
Hampshire classes tend to be discussion based, and on a very narrow topic. The brilliance of Hampshire, is that you have the 5 colleges to draw from. Generally, I take most of my courses off campus. I have had some really great Hampshire classes, and some really horrific Hampshire classes. It's a small enough campus that you can generally find out what professors are good and which are not. Hampshire professors tend to be overloaded with work, so if you don't make an effort to become acquainted with them, and you are doing well, they wont make the effort either.
As far as class discussion goes, again, it depends on the class. Hampshire kids try really hard for the most part to participate in discussion and make comments that are constructive, but it doesn't always work. Generally, with first years, there is a learning curve to this. Rarely have I seen a first year come in and engage in discussion at the same level as most of the older students, but that is o.k., so long as they are able to take constructive criticism. Hampshire is set up so that if you want to better yourself, for the most part, you have the resources to do so, but you have to take the first step.
5 colleges are key, both for courses (you get a break from the academic style of Hamp), more resources (more libraries and departments) and some social escape from Hampshire. 5 college teachers tend to love students who cross-register.
Some teachers can be too lax for my liking, but there are plenty of tough teachers too-- Michael Lesy's literary journalism class is incredible if you like his teaching style. Teachers learn your name but you need to take the initiative to establish a relationship with them-- signing up for office hours, etc. If you do, they're happy to oblige you.
Division one can be a little bit too focused on requirements and courses instead of the personalized, independent learning that Hampshire promises. They're working on reforming it, though.
I want to work in the writing department, which is very popular and too small for the size of the demand. Courses are hard to get into during signup. But, like all Hampshire classes, persistence will get you a long way.
Definitely geared toward and education on the student's own terms, that is, for learnings sake rather than a job. They're very open to students who have been on or will end up on unusual life paths.
I really disliked Division I, I think that it keeps students from studying what they want to, even though they came to Hampshire to do exactly that. Hampshire has very interesting classes that approach subjects not necessarily from a textbook angle, but very theoretically and in ways that trigger your thinking, which I find wonderful. If you participate in class, professors will know you. If you don't, they probably will know you as well. Students are not very competitive in terms of academic performance, but they are very proud about their ideas and their opinions. This can result in some controversy in the class room, but always an interesting discussion. Hampshire students, from my experiences, also have intellectual conversations outside the classroom, which I believe that many colleges lack. Though Hampshire has no grades, it is extremely academically invigorating because it really makes you think and by the end of your second semester you think writing a 12 page paper is easy.
Hampshire makes you think that your education is entirely up to you, and then you get there and realize that you've got a lot of requirements which essentially eat up at least one semester. While Hampshire has fewer requirements than most other schools, you will be stuck in at least one class that you really don't like because of the Div I distribution requriements. That is why there is a movement on campus to eliminate these requirements.
Class participation is generally pretty big depending on the class itself. Obviously, literature classes are more discussion based than science classes, but the overall academic atomosphere is generally more hands-on and project oriented than most other schools. The classes teach you how to conduct your own research, complete your own independent projects, and generally will prepare you for a job more than most other schools. For example, I took a biology course called "Gene Cloning" and in one semester I got more lab experience than most undergrads, and am now going to spend my summer working at a lab conducting cancer research.
The main issue with classes is that if you think about them enough, you tend to realize that a lot of what the professors teach is actually total BS. I've actually had textbooks which explain the differences between "lesions" and "pathologies" and I've met students who in their fourth year still didn't know what the sixth century was. Though at the same time I know students who have applied to grad schools only to be told that they already know enough to go straight to working on a PhD after leaving Hampshire. Really, your education is what you make of it. If you work hard, it'll pay off, but to a certain extent you can slack off for four years and still get a degree.
Academics at Hampshire are up to the individual. I have seen everywhere on the spectrum: a stoner dude who doesn't do anything all four years, bullshits a Div III and passes, and never does anything with his life to a gifted scientist who works her ass off all four years, takes incredible advantage of not only Hampshire but the whole five college community and is now off to get her masters and Ph.D. at an Ivy. Anything can happen. I suppose the most important thing about Hampshire academics is that you can do anything you want. There are extremely motivated people, and there are not-so motivated people. Some students are super competitive, and others don't care at all.
Learning at Hampshire is purely for learning. We are there to ask questions, find answers, and ask questions.
And students and faculty totally hang out after class.
My favorite Hampshire classes have been creative writing classes--Intro to Writing and Intermediate Poetry Writing. These were both basically writing workshops, so you could get feedback from your classmates and give them feedback on their work. Also, both professors for these classes, Will Ryan and Paul Jenkins, had some helpful, insightful things to say.
My least favorite Hampshire class was probably Western and Alternative Medicine, not because the professors were bad, but because in that class I was required to dissect empirical scientific articles and summarize them. I was reading about specific experiments and looking up complex scientific terms, but I had little to no understanding of the basic scientific concepts behind the experiments. This is a downside at Hampshire--professors will throw you into the water whether you can swim or not. They will not guide you along too much....so, if you're already talented at something, then it's great, because you can go full speed ahead. For instance, since writing is one of my strengths, I enjoyed my writing classes. Therefore, I would suggest focusing in on your strengths as soon as possible once you come to Hampshire.
Two more important aspects of Hampshire academics: Hampsters do not take tests, and they do not get grades. Not gonna lie--I have had to take some quizzes, but only in areas like Spanish and Music Theory, where there is really no other way you could display your knowledge without taking a quiz. And these are not heavy-duty tests; they are just quizzes. For the most part, Hampsters do big projects and write papers. This is a lot of work, but it's definitely rewarding. Also, getting evaluations is rewarding because you can see what specifically you should be proud of and what you need to improve on.
Hampshire is not a very competitive school. This has pros and cons. Outside of class, Hampshire students definitely have intellectual conversations. Its great to just discuss real issues with your friends or learn something new just by listening to student outside of class. I always feel like there are smarter, more informed people than myself at Hampshire. This makes me happy because it makes me want to strive and work harder at what I'm doing.
Classes at Hampshire are really small. Usually a lot of participation is required. Professors know most people's names, especially if you are proactive and speak to them after class or if you participate in class. Students call professors by their first names always.
Hampshire has very unique classes. There is a class offered called kitchen ecology where you learn everything about cheese and the making and tasting of cheese.
- Five College Consortium: Hampshire courses are highly specific, thus Hampshire would not exist without the Five College Consortium, which includes Hampshire, Mt.Holyoke College, Smith College, University of Massachussets, and Amherst College. You can take classes at any of the five schools! Buses run every 10 minutes, thus it is very easy to take 1 or 2 classes off-campus. The five college consortium is the most amazing feature, for it allows students to supplement their designed curriculum with courses from the five college consortium. For example, even though I am a Hampshire student, I am recieving my Teacher's License from Mt. Holyoke College.
Class size: ranges from 10-24 depending on the nature of the course
Requirements: In your first year ("Div I"), you must take 1 course in each of the 5 schools of thought (Humanities & Arts, Natural Science, Social Science, Cognitive Science, IA (language). After "Div I,"
Curriculum: Design your own curriculum in 3 stages, called Divisions. "Div I" is completed in your first year, "Div II" is competed in your second and third years, and "Div III" is completed in your fourth year.
Class participation: students are loud, ask questions, argue, talk about themselves, ect.
Competetiveness: non-existent because there are no grades
In essence: You are learning to learn, not to set yourself up for a high powered job. However, with the DIY, you can make your academics whatever you want them to be!
Academics at Hampshire are, allegedly, not what they used to be.
If you are looking for a place that puts education over the classroom, come to Hampshire 20 years ago.
If you are looking for a place that puts education anywhere on its top-10 list, come to Hampshire 20 years ago.
Hampshire, I've been told, started as a place where students would work on individual work, take classes that were pertinent, and come to class when issues arose that made their own work particularly difficult. With the removal of individual work by current "re-vamping" of the First Division, classes have become more mandatory. The problem is that with an attempt to maintain "discussion-based classes," a lot of teachers rely on students and do not help with discussions as well as they could. This would be great if the students themselves did not come to Hampshire looking for a way to get out of "real class work." This creates a lot of silence during classes, or dominance of discussion by one or two students.
Hampshire students are very good at saying "everything's relative." And they mean it. So truth is hard to muster out of classes.
With this mentality in the student body, intelligence is easy to feign on the Hampshire College Campus. Most students try to be a lot smarter than they actually are. Be careful, if you aren't paying too close of attention, you might actually believe what they are saying.
As for the academic system, that deserves a say or two, seeing as it has put Hampshire on the map.
Hampshire's program to graduate consists of three Divisions. The first is taken in the first three semesters (although it can be completed in two). The second covers the Sophomore and Junior years generally and the third is a Senior's thesis-like program.
Div I: This Division takes up the first year of your life at Hampshire. It has been changed a lot recently (for better or, more frequently, worse). Students must complete one class from each of the five schools (Interdisciplinary arts, IA; Humanities Arts and Cultural Studies, HACU; Cognitive Science, CS; Natural Science, NS; and Social Science, SS.) and three electives of one's choice. IA classes can be fulfilled by language classes at one of the other 4 colleges in the area, but all the others must be taken at Hampshire. One class in the first semester is a tutorial class, which is exclusive to first years. The teacher of that class is your advisor, so pick it well (a ratemyprofessors search might be in hand before choosing). At the end of Div I, you have to write a retrospective outlining what you did and how it might help you in...
Div II:! Division II is what some would call "the major" of Hampshire. Here you focus your studies to one self-created field. You can take whatever classes you want, but generally have to justify them with your "committee," which consists of two professors (Hampshire or otherwise) that have something to do with your field of study. Also Community Service must be completed in this time. Div II is meant to be the bulk of your studies to prepare you for...
Div III: Division III is where students bunker down and create a physical manifestation of their previous three years. Generally students write long thesis-length papers, but others choose to do scientific research, large scale building and design projects etc. Basically, this is the time when you prove you've actually learned something (hopefully). You stay with your committee, who guides you through. Normally Div III students will take only one or two classes and focus on finishing their project. When they do finish, they literally ring a bell that announces to the student body (and anyone living within a mile or two) that they have graduated.
To pass a course at Hampshire, a student receives an "evaluation" from a teacher, which is a paragraph or two summary of the student's progress and performance in the classroom. These are generally very honest and helpful, although often hung over the heads of students much as grades are in high school. Some teachers are hard-asses about them, some are real laid-back.
To finish: Although most students come to Hampshire to get away from math and sciences, NS is really the only school that sticks to the heart of Hampshire: good project-based classes, no administrative bullshit, student-involvement, pursuit of knowledge. I have met some of the most amazing professors in that building, whereas others have been borderline-miserable.
Professors almost always know there students names.... its sometimes student who don't know there professors names. Hampshire kids, at least at entry, seem not to be to involved with academics. Drugs and hanging out often draw more attention than classes. Procrastination is popular. Oh, also, Div I sucks. If you can make it to Div III I hear good things about it, but surviving three years is tough. Paying for those years is even tougher.
However, if you are into school work, the NS professors are outstanding. Though the school (as do most) lacks funding. The teachers are ambitious and creative and really involved in awesome hands on projects. You will actually do science (or math) - from day one in a Hampshire classroom.
A lot of Hampshire students are pretentious - which gets mistaken for intellectual by those who don't know better. Many enjoy a dinner time or class time debate on anything from racism, feminism, foreign policy, or art - often one subject after another.
Hampshire has a very unique academic program consisting of three divisions. Division I, generally completed in the first year, consists of taking basic courses and fulfilling distribution requirements. In Division II, the second and third years, students develop a self-designed concentration (the closest thing Hampshire has to a "major"). During their fourth year, Division III, students undertake a major independent project. The divisions are commonly referred to as "Div I," "Div II," and "Div III."
Hampshire classes have no tests, quizzes, or exams (with a few exceptions, such as some language courses). There is usually a final project or paper in place of a final exam. Instead of grades, students recieve written evaluations from professors, as well as writing self-evaluations.
All classes at Hampshire are small. The biggest class I had this year was about 25-30 students, and it was my first year. Class participation is expected and encouraged. Most classes are discussion-based. Professors lecture occasionally to clarify certain points or provide background information, but rarely for an entire class period. Most courses involve a lot of reading and writing.
Relationships with professors are very important. Professors have to get to know every student in each of their courses well enough to write a written evaluation of his/her work. On Advising Days, there are no classes so that every student can meet with his/her advisor. First year students have to take a tutorial course in their first semester, and the professor of the tutorial becomes their advisor for the first year. For Division II, students are advised by a committee of two professors, and students in Division III have weekly meeting with their Division III committees. Although I have never personally been invited to a professor's house, I know other students who have.
Hampshire has a lot of interesting courses. Since it's a small school, you might not find every course you need or want for your specific course of study. But there is also the Five College Consortium. Hampshire students can enroll in courses at Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst for no additional charge. There is a free bus system that provides access to all of these other colleges, and the longest bus ride (to Smith) is only about 20-25 minutes. Most Hampshire students end up taking some classes off campus, and some students even take most of their classes off campus.
Some students come to Hampshire knowing exactly what they want to study, but others, like myself, explore different areas in their first year to find out what area(s) most interest(s) them. Since the concentration is student-designed, it is possible to combine different interests in ways that wouldn't be possible at a more traditional college.
Hampshire's academic program is not for everyone. Hampshire students need to be self-motivated. They must be able to deal with a relative lack of structure; no one is going to tell you exactly what classes you should take and when. Hampshire has a fairly high transfer rate. However, some students (myself included) love Hampshire. While it isn't for everyone, Hampshire is perfect for some people.
Hampshire classes are the basic pillar which makes this school special. Hampshire classes are consistently small, most under twenty students, and almost all are structured in a class-conversation style. Professors will typically strive to learn the names of all their students early on in the semester, and with a little effort you can get to know them well. This is indispensable in progressing through Hampshire, as you will need professors for your committees, but you'll figure all that out.
Class discussions frequently spill out of the classroom and into public conversations, and when students are engaged in class, discussions can be intensely rewarding.
Hampshire is continuously revision their first-year requirements, as this is their most-oft attacked program, yet from all sources I have heard that after first year academics are a joy.
Hampshire kids are rarely in career-oriented programs, and few are even engaged in career-friendly academics. Thats why many go on to grad school. For me, this is one of my greatest concerns at this point in time, but I'll let you know how it turns out.
Hampshire does not give grades, learning is very self directed, and there are no pre-set majors. It's easy to slack off if you're not self motivated. Classes are small and largely discussion based. Many people have very close relationships with there professors. The most popular areas of study are creative writing, film/photography, and studio arts. The science department is great and has a lot of great professors, who are eager to help you study whatever it is that interests you. If you are interested primarily in the sciences you will probably have to take classes at one of the other five colleges, which is very easy. Science students in their last year of college design and carry out their own hands on project in an area that interests them.
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.
The academics at Hampshire, are for the most part, poor. The teachers expect little from students, and thus hard-working students are often treated the same way as lazy students. Without grades, it's hard for Hampshire to reward outstanding work. On the other hand, the professors are extremely nice, forgiving about missed assignments, and passionate about their subjects. It's not uncommon to have lunch with your professors, and they know everybody by name. In general, there is a great disparity between high-level courses and other courses when it comes to academics. Some higher level courses demand a lot of reading and writing and are challenging to keep up with. Many classes are project-based, and Hampshire students are particularly creative with their projects.
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.
The student-to-teacher ratio at Hampshire is really wonderful. I know alot of professors, and they know me by name, even if I don't have classes with them. Class sizes are really small, so it's incredibly important to do the readings because everyone is expected to participate in class discussions. Alot of times class discussions turn into out-of-class discussions; I can't say how many times I've stayed after to continue talking to my professor or have walked with classmates to the Bridge to keep on talking. Hampshire is really unique because, since you create your own program and since there's no testing, the drive to learn and excel doesn't come from competition, but rather, it comes from the desire to learn and excel.
At Hampshire, all of the professors know your name two weeks into the class tops. In terms of
Since the student is allowed more freedom, in terms of choosing classes and designing a unique concentration, he or she must also assume a lot of responsibility.
The first year is a good introduction to the types of classes offered, as the student must take one course in each of the 5 "schools". All of the courses I chose were similar in that they required much reading and writing and discussion in class... even the natural science courses. I am not sure the leniency concerning the completion of assignments is necessarily beneficial in a science course.
The professors are, for the most part, very helpful and always willing to chat after class or during scheduled meetings. I wish I had taken advantage more often.
During the 2-4 years, students are expected to work closely with a committee of carefully chosen faculty members. It was a bit difficult to find professors that were understanding and supportive of what I wanted to do, but once I did it helped me immensely.
One thing to be wary of: Hampshire students are given a lot of freedom, and rarely is a professor consistently nagging at you. You are treated as an equal, usually. As a result, a lot of the professors are just as lazy as the students, and you might end up having to nag at them.
Having said that, know your teachers... know their limits... and don't just expect to slack off. There are plenty of professors who won't necessarily scold you for slacking, but will give you the surprise of your life when they write you a way critical evaluation.
You can get away with doing very little. Most work really hard at what they're interested in. Professors are very approachable. I wish that core requirements were less arbitrary and allowed for more flexibility. Sometimes, first year courses seem like useless hoops to jump through.
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.
My professors know my name but they don't know me. They never call on students and simply rely on the consistent two people to comment on the readings and to answer their questions. Most students never study and a few students study all the time. It depends on what kind of person you are. Personally, I rarely do the lecture readings but then spend a huge amount of time on my research projects. Hampshire is whatever you want it to be. If you want it to be a joke it is, if you want it to be an academic challenge that forces you to grow as a person it's that too.
The academic divisional system is a good idea but terrible in practise. A student's experience is hugely dependant on their advisor and I had a terrible advisor. I didn't know when I was supposed to pass division I and file division II and so I was a fifth semester division I student when I talked to a different professor who immediately took me in and straightened out my divisional system. You are supposed to be in division I for one year and division II for two. Thanks to my original advisor I was in division I for two and a half years and division II for only one semester.
Hampshire's learning is geared towards whatever your mind is geared towards. If you are job oriented you will reasearch and study things you need to know to be successful in that field. If you are idea and fact oriented you will spend your time learning theory and concepts. Hampshire is what you want it to be and what you make it be.
The rules at Hampshire are more like guidelines than rules. If there is a rule there is an acceptable way to break it.
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.
At Hampshire, let me tell you that yes, there are no grades. However, this can work with you, or against you. If your the type of person who needs motivation, and needs to see a letter grade to indicate just how you are doing, this isn't the place for you. Get ready for a million red marks on your paper, which, isn't a bad thing at all. The professors here just want you to progress as the semester goes by. Also, just because there are no grades, don't think that you can slack off. Professors do give extensions, but that better be one hell of a paper that you are writing. Get ready to work hard on the four papers you will have in one class, and to do intensive research. About the classes, they have very unique names, and so far, I have enjoyed every single one of my classes. When looking at classes, keep an open mind about what they are, since the names are anything but typical college class names. For some people this works, for others, it doesn't.
About the professors, they know your name. Every single class I have gone to, they knew my name within a week. Which means, if you want to skip class, bad idea. If you like to skip, this is reflected in your final evaluation, which looks, well, bad. But the classes are all engaging, there is no real lecturing, although I heard that some professors do, it just really depends on who you choose. In terms of meeting with you, the professors are great with talking to you in person, but, sometimes e-mail isn't the best way of communication with some.
I absolutely love Hampshire's academic system. We use a different system than most colleges, called the Divisional system. As a Division I student (during your first year), you take courses in each of the five schools of thought at Hampshire (Natural Science, Cognitive Science, Social Science, Interdisciplinary Arts , and Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies). As a Division II student (during your second and third year), you take courses that relate directly to your interests, and your completed coursework creates a concentration. As a Division III student (your final year), you do a year long project (often of completely original work) that explores an aspect of your concentration.
Hampshire professors are amazing. The entire college is on a first named basis, and I have actually seen professors get angry when referred to as "Professor" instead of by their first name. Because of the Divisional system, students really have to work closely with professors and interact with them, in terms of both finding professors to agree to be on their committee for Div II or Div III, and working with the professors who are on their committees. Professors make themselves available to students all the time, both in and out of the classroom, and act as both resources and friends to the students. And professors can be a large presence outside of class, as well: I attended an end-of-semester party for a class once, and the professor for that was there, with his students and the other party goers, sitting on a couch with a beverage in hand, telling his life story and giving career advice to his students.
Students are supportive of each other because everyone's doing something different. Class discussions can be heated and professors almost never lecture. And if Hampshire doesn't have a class you're looking for, one of the other colleges in the Five College Consortium will.
Student and professor relationships are very intimate and on a first name basis. Because class sizes are small and it's easy to request one on one face time with a professor, it is nearly impossible to hide in the back of the class, mainly because their is no back. Most Hampshire classes take place in seminar form, seating situated in a circle, encouraging the exchange of ideas.
Most of the classes at Hampshire deal with topics that are very sensitive and/or controversial leading toward polar views on the issues discussed. This creates heated but constructive debate in classrooms that then make their way to the library lawn and dining commons.
Many don't understand how a college or academic environment works without grades or tests, but Hampshire students flourish in the educational setting that forces you to present yourself, your thoughts, your work. Hampshire college students are competitive in a more well rounded sense then those students who are simply competing for the best grade. Even though Hampshire students are evaluated on paper by their professors, students most constructive and passionate critiques come from their peers. This respectful peer to peer critique enables students to encourage only the best work from each other.
Professors here for the most part, are fantastic. Almost every teacher I've had has been very personable and interested in YOUR work and how you're doing in classes. I refer to all of my teachers by first name and it's easy to get close with them. Most classes are generall 10-15 students in size, but rarely you'll find a class with (at MOST) 35-40 people. My smallest class had 6 students in it and it was a theatre design class so the small size made our discussions great and indepth.
Hampshire doesn't really have generic classes. Because we don't have to fulfill things like "psych 101" or "writing 101" we have really odd classes to fulfill requirements. In the first year 8 classes need to be taken. 3 can be extracurriculars, but the other 5 need to be one social science, one cognitive science, one natural science, one interdisciplinary art, and one humanities arts and culture course. So we have weird classes like "Little Course of Horrors; The Psychology of Humor and Horror in Theatre."
The requirements can be a big pain. Some of them are without a doubt a GIANT waste of time, but they're not going to change too soon so it all depends on how dedicated you are. One of the biggest issues people have with Hampshire is Division I. That's your first year where your education (and 5 requirements) are meant to let you explore so you can really narrow down what you want to do. First years have the highest drop out rate because of the set up. Personally I feel like it's really been worth it. I'll be starting my Division III project next semester and I'm really excited to be doing MY own work without classes in the way.
Classes are intimate and fascinating. You'll call professors by their first name, and generally you'll find an easy time forming relationships with them. There are no grades, only evaluations. Although this gives you more room to screw up, it also gives you a lot more room to learn. Hampshire courses are VERY challenging; don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It's only a question of whether you can motivate yourself to learn. If you can, the end result will be an absolute wealth of knowledge. If you can't, you'll have a lot of free time.
the only reason i'm here is because of the film program...it's good, i really have genuinely liked all of my professors in the area. learned a lot. they're raising money to expand it right now. people do good work in the field, we have some alums who've done some great things in the industry. since it's small, you can actually get into the classes (anybody who tells you otherwise is just whining and not trying hard enough...it's EASY to get into ANY class at hampshire, just be persistent, you might have to wait another semester, but just e-mail the goddamn professor and they'll keep you in mind for the future). If the film program wasn't enjoyable and inspiring, i'd be fucking out of here.
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.
This is a great school to do whatever you want, as long as you know what you want to do. The Five Colleges and Division III project are the most appealing aspects of the Hampshire academic life.
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