Do not go to this school! Apparently the professors really hate when you miss class, even if you tell them that you had to go to the hospital. Two of them failed me because of it, and another gave me 24 hours to resubmit a brand new 25 page final paper or I'd fail that class too, resulting in withdrawal. When I contacted the administration to complain about how ridiculous that is, they accused me of "plagiarism" and kicked me out anyway. At Hampshire, what the professors say goes. And if you protest, they make something up as an excuse.
Best Things About Hampshire - The open curriculum, accessible professors, The Lemelson Center for Design, narrative evaluations
Worst Things - Food (SAGA is terrible, but you only have to put up with it for a year or two), ugly buildings
Amherst and Northampton are both close by, so when campus gets boring, or you need to eat something other than SAGA food, they're just a short bus ride away.
Professors and the administration are easily accessible. Most professors are happy to talk after class or during office hours and students are encouraged to regularly check in with their advisors. The president of Hampshire holds regular meetings with the students, including a weekly breakfast and other scheduled events.
The Lemelson Center is great for developing real-world skills. With a variety of machine tools, experienced instructors, and innovative classes, students are given a chance to make things, from swords to electric cars. As an industrial design concentrator, I spend a lot of time here, between classes and student groups, which include the Design Conspiracy and the Blacksmiths' Guild.
People (especially parents) tend to worry about Hampshire's lack of grades and majors. Instead of grades, students are given narrative evaluations, which seem to work out pretty well. They allow professors to explain exactly what students did in their courses and to explain the quality of the student's work. Instead of majors, Hampshire has concentrations and contracts, drawn up with a panel of advisors. After Division I (first year), students select an advisory committee for their Division II (second and third years), during which they pursue their selected concentration. After Division II, students start their Division III, which is a yearlong project that represents the capstone of their academic work. This all adds up to a strong educational program that gives students a path to do what they care about and a way to measure their progress towards that goal.
The best thing about Hampshire? The Five College Consortium.
I don't mean this out of disloyalty. Provided the opportunity to attend any other college in the nation - given a free ride to Harvard - I'd turn the opportunity down to remain at Hampshire. What I mean in answering that the Consortium is the best of Hampshire is that the discursive purpose of Hampshire was the Consortium - we constituted the corporation and we have the most agency to use the resources. We don't have to consider credits in selecting courses; because of this, we need only be accountable to ourselves in perusing 5,300+ options in the course catalog each year. You can genuinely study anything at several institutions. I used to rip off UMass dining halls every Tues/Thurs before my Commonwealth honors seminar - where I was welcomed as a Hampshire kid with a differing perspective. Most people in the U.S. can't win - at Hampshire it's hard to lose. You are your own bureaucracy. Even your committee [team of advisers] is entirely of your choosing; they aren't administrators, they're the professors who inspire you.
Amherst and Northampton are a couple of the best college towns in the nation. Students flood these communities every fall and we're welcomed by an already booming economy - this area is "one of the best kept secrets in America" (as a random guy once told me on a plane). I quite one job two weeks ago and got another with an email and a phone call yesterday; while housing and groceries are expensive, this area is an obscene location of wealth. Besides that, this community has all the features forming what oughtn't be your reasons to attend college - a stupid number of parties, youth and debauchery, frats at UMass, bars and breweries, herbs...Jesus Christ herbs...herbs in spirit of Humboldt. The towns also have such a collection of restaurants competing to attract students that I can't begin to offer a description - from the best three buck slice of pizza you'll ever have to a Hibachi dinner that'll make you feel like an exec.
I certainly have my complaints to. Hampshire can be polarizing politically, it can be emotionally overwhelming, it can turn you into an alcoholic - this all depends upon who you are, what your stress-levels are, etc. You might also be of that privileged class of kid who needs to attend college because mommy said so, and who might prefer to do this 'stoned' (not spiritually elated, but 'stoned'). If this is the case, don't bother; you'll ruin your parents pension for petty purposes. While this tends to be the sort of kid with money, but without ambition, they still tend to be accepted - whatever, they ultimately fund this school anyways.
Hampshire is one of those places that is either your Nirvana or your own personal hell. There is very little gray area. Why? Hampsters can be very intolerant of political ideas that diverge from their own. There are a lot of ueber-politically correct anarchists who hate white privilege. Then again, if that's your jam, you'll fit in perfectly. I think the most common misconception about Hampshire is that you can do whatever you want. I mean, sure, you can practically take a hit in the quad and blow it in Pub Safety's face with no repercussions. However, Hampshire has way more academic structure than they originally let on, and you have to file for every next step you take as well as forming a committee. Don't expect to come to Hampshire and major in hacky sack, because that BS will not fly.
Hampshire is very white and upper class. Students of color will find a great group of people of color to support and encourage them here, and there are a lot of white allies, but racism is real and quite pervasive at Hampshire. The location is nice. We're close enough to Boston and NY that people hitch rides to those cities all the time or take the peterpan bus, which comes onto campus to pcik students up. the five college atmosphere is great, it's so wonderful to be able to take advantage of the benefits of five excellent schools, each with it's own personality. People at Hampshire don't come in one style. Sure, there are hippies, there are waaaay more hipsters, some preppy kids, city kids, gamers, students who don't really fit into a category. There are those hampshire students riding the bus without shoes, with big dredlocks, ripped pants and homebrewed Kombucha that every says "that kid goes to hampshire". There are a lot of us, however, that are constantly mistaken for being a UMAss student of a Smith girl, and Amherst kid, or a townie... we are really not at all a school full of one type of person.
The best thing about Hampshire? The students, the atmosphere of enthusiastic scholastic enquiry, the professors. Everyone here is allowed to study what they want to study and so they tend to be interested in what they're doing and thus interesting themselves.
If I could, I would give Hampshire a huge wad of money. We need better facilities and more teachers. Most student complaints, about the scarcity of scholarships, the decrepitude of the dorms, and the small size of some departments, are linked to the problem of funding.
One of the things I love about Hampshire is the lack of overt school pride. There are no rallies here for the Ultimate Frisbee team and God willing there never will be. That said, there is a very strong sense of Hampshire community and a powerful campus ethos, probably because the school is so small and everyone there makes a deliberate choice to seek a different kind of education.
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.
Good size, near Amherst and Northampton which are great college towns. Pretty loose in terms of requirements. Good bus schedule, and you can take classes at 4 other schools. Professors are mostly really cool. Dining sucks but you only have to deal with it for one year. A lot of activism and things on campus regarding race and class. A lot of passionate people. sometimes too passionate.
Hampshire is small, but there are definitely some people you will never meet. Hampshire has no grades, so your education is what you make of it, some people take this and do really amazing things, others just fuck around for four years and smoke a lot of weed. Pretty much every one is left-leaning, it just depends how far left. Recently the administration was attacked for issues of institutional racism, because the campus is almost entirely white, and the curriculum is inherently geared towards white upper class students. However, more of an effort is being made to be actively anti-racist. People spend a lot of time hating on Hampshire, and if you don't like it, you don't like it, but if you make it work for you, it is an amazing experience or self-growth and learning.
Hampshire is a nice community. It is very expensive which sucks. And the school has like no $ to spend because it is a brand new college with no endowments. But, basically you are paying to be who you want to be and do what you want. There is no one telling you what to do, the education is self guided. When i tell people i go to hampshire, they immediatly want to talk about hampshire halloween or easter keg hunt.
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
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
it's not for everyone. if you don't like arguing, the general spirit of activism, the smell of marijuana, really smart people who do too many drugs and manage to write insanely good essays anyway, or woodland creatures, and if you do like a whole lot of direction in your academic work, you'll be better off elsewhere. there are a lot of problems, mainly bureaucratic ones. we have no money. but the idea of a self-guided education is kind of addictive.
First off, I am madly in love with Hampshire, so be aware that I'm pretty biased. No other school would allow me to do what I'm doing (my course of study resembles a lot of my friends' grad school plans, and I'm only two years into my undergrad), and I am incredibly grateful for that. That's not to say the school doesn't have its problems- it is frequently highly bureaucratic, and many levels of that bureaucracy border on the tyrannic. I've been lucky in avoiding most of that (having a Dean as my first-year advisor definitely assisted too), but a lot of my friends have been burned by that difficult bureaucracy. If you're willing to dig through the red tape, though, you can get just about anything you want from Hampshire, especially if you have a faculty member on your side (and most Hampshire profs are genuinely excited about student work, and really eager to help you).
Hampshire's got just shy of 1500 students, and, in my opinion, that is a perfect size. It's a lot smaller than my high school was, so that worried me a bit at first, but I've come to really appreciate being able to at least recognize a large proportion of the campus on sight. Classes are really small (I've had multiple classes with only 5 or 6 people, and they've been the best- my biggest Hampshire class had just over 30 people), which means you get a lot of chance to engage in discussion, which most professors encourage. The small size is also pretty great socially, especially in those first few weeks of college when everyone is so eager to get to know everyone else- you don't have to worry that you'll never see the person you had that great conversation on the bus with again, because they will definitely pass you at the dining hall or post office later. If you get stifled by Hampshire (and some people do), you still have the rest of the 5 colleges- together, over 30000 other college students to hang out with. I've found that Smith and Hampshire are particularly inclined to hang out together, but I've got friends at all 4 other colleges, and there's usually at least one 5 college student in all of my Hampshire classes.
Because there are so many colleges around, "college town" seems almost too weak a word to describe the Valley community. Amherst and Northampton are the two towns that are the center of off-campus life, and they both definitely have their own non-college vibe (Northampton more so), but 30000 college students are bound to make an impact on the area. There are a ton of great concerts and restaurants and bars to be enjoyed, plus amazing indie shopping and lots of pretty cool cultural events. Amherst and Northampton are pretty unique places- there are barely any chains to be found (there is a mall with all your national chain-store/fast food needs that's pretty accessible by bus, though) and lots of great local flavor. The best part, in my opinion, is the fact that there's a really good bus service running throughout the whole area that is 100% free to 5 college students. Once you learn how the buses work, you can get almost anywhere you want to be (and Hampshire's a very rural campus) with a minimum of trouble.
Hampshire has a very politically aware student body, and the only real difference is in how far left the students are- a conservative on this campus would probably be considered a left-moderate anywhere else. This doesn't mean that Hampshire students agree with each other, and there are definitely frequent controversies on campus over touchy issues. This past year, there was a lot of heated discussion over Israel/Palestine issues- Hampshire has a very vocal pro-Palestine (and anti-Israel) group, and a rather large Jewish population, and the debate got very tense for a month or so, focusing especially on issues of Hampshire investment in Israel. That debate got lost in a much larger action, however, when a group organized a week of protests to make Hampshire become actively anti-racist. Race and racism are problems that Hampshire has to deal with every few years as a new crop of students comes through and needs new education- unfortunately, because Hampshire is a small and expensive school, the student body is predominantly white, and usually upper-middle-class, and various student groups are constantly working to address the problems associated with that privilege. Hampshire probably doesn't do enough to address bringing race and diversity into the classroom, and, with its small endowment, isn't able to attract many faculty of color, or award very much financial aid to students of lower class backgrounds. Hampshire has been working to increase diversity on campus, and has programs in place to try to bring students of many backgrounds together and make them all feel comfortable, but there is a lot of work to be done, and Hampshire students and administrators have been engaged in a very intense dialog about the way that should proceed.
It's how the world should be. As long as people are comfortable with themselves they aren't judged for things the outside world might ridicule them for. People are open and passionate. You do have a lot of freedom academically but there are more restrictions than they let on.
Hampshire is not a place to attend if you want a great deal of people to know what school you go to. Very often you will hear "you go to school in New Hampshire?" However I think that the number of people who have not heard of Hampshire is dwindling due in part to the great success of its alumni. I have a very love-hate relationship with this institution. It has almost infinite potential, and yet so often it makes almost unforgivable mistakes. It has a struggling first year program that distracts many students from what they really want to do, delays any independent work and often causes a great deal of disenchantment with education at large. However this is also something that the administration says that they are working hard to change. Despite sometimes being weak the academic advantages often outweigh the disadvantages. One such instance is the opportunities that I have had to work with two or three other students and a professor for an extended period of time on research projects. As far as I can tell such an experience is almost unheard of for a second year undergraduate outside of Hampshire. The professors though range from absolutely excellent to poor at best, as some of them seem themselves to have lost faith in the program of teaching at Hampshire, and with the administration taking the school in directions that they believe (possibly very rightly so) are incorrect.
The area is beautiful my favorite that I have seen so far, especially in the fall. Two great college towns are a short free bus ride away, as well as four other college campuses. Also it is in a great location for road trips as well, Vermont is very close, Montreal a little further, Boston only a couple of hours and New York City about 3 or four. It is a great area to go camping or hiking rock climbing and biking. All of this though can be very distracting from academics.
The social life is great although often very clickey and somewhat incestuous. I once read a quote from a previous student that it was the worst place to go if you wanted to be able to avoid embarrassing ex's and that is incredibly true. There are however a lot of great people on campus, and their is always a very open air about it, I have never seen someone openly rejected. It is a great place to dress however you want, and not be harshly judged. Cologne make-up fancy jewelry and hair are comfortingly rare at Hampshire.
The biggest complaints on campus are in order of frequency heard:
1) The cost of attending
2) The quality of everything versus the cost of attending
3) The buildings are in terrible shape
I don't think that I know enough to have a knowledgeable comment on the first two but the buildings are often in terrible shape. For only having I think 11 buildings on campus there is around a 30 million dollar backlog in maintenance. I find that amazing. There is no student union on campus, and the area that is the closest, leaks water frequently. The dorm buildings are ok, but the "Mods" (student apartments on campus) are often disgusting, usually with mold, and insects, as well as other general issues. And for a large part these issues are not the fault of the occasionally uncleanly student that inhabits them.
The first thing you need to know about Hampshire is that the reality of the school doesn't add up to what is advertised. Look at any of the material and you'll find oratories on student driven work, endless opportunity, and a legacy of independent thinking. The reality, is that its incredibly hard to do independent work because of the unfourtunate lack of professors and the insane amount of beauracracy and opportunities are available, but funds simply do not allow for the endless amount advertised. Hampshire was founded to be at the cutting edge of alternative education, but unfourtunately these days its closer to slightly left of the normal liberal arts education. That being said, Hampshire does have one fantastic quality that I feel makes up for all the false advertising, I truly feel that I have been challenged by the academics to a level I never thought possible and I feel that the level of critical thinking that I have been forced to attain has allowed me to view the world from a truly unique perspective. I feel that my cognitive abilities have truly improved by leaps and bounds since coming to Hampshire. If you're serious about Hampshire, come here for the professors and readings, not for the falsely advertised package.
It gets really annoying explaining Hampshire to people, especially because the academic experience is so personal and people have a tendency to not care to listen to long descriptions unless it is indicative of the money you could potentially make in the future. It's in a good college area, the administration has things to work out. Racism is an issue, as it is everywhere. I don't feel like writing in this box anymore.
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.
I love that I can do what I want, without having to go through general education. When I tell people that I go to Hampshire, they usually don't know what it is or they write it off as a hippie school. It is nothing of the sort. I work really hard there, and get the profits from it as a result. The area around it is really nice, there are 4 college in 10 miles and everything is connected, so even though its a small town, there is plenty to do. One thing I would change is the fact that if you are not sure of yourself when you begin school there, you get very lost. The kids are a little too convinced that their way is the only way. Being liberal does not always mean open minded. Everything is unusual about Hampshire. We are constantly looking at each other and laughing about the fact that we found a utopia, and whereas all of our friends from high school are working to pass English 101, we are taking trips to Peru to study shamanism.
The best thing about Hampshire is definitely the eclectic, tight-knit community. The small student population (around 1500) in conjunction with the fact that upperclassman live in the mods (on-campus apartment-style housing) rather than off campus, leads to a very close community of students that aids in both meeting people, making friends, and getting help. There are so many interesting people with great stories to hear, and there's always something going on, ranging from circus practice to social justice conferences.
If that wasn't enough, the campus is absolutely gorgeous- all the empty space makes for great places to picnic, read outside, or play a game of frisbee- whether it's the Yiddish Book Center garden or the library lawn, it is very easy to find a beautiful place to hang out.
The best way to summarize Hampshire in a nutshell would be to say that it is a thriving environment that is so full of life, care, and fun. Overall, I think it's safe to say that both students and faculty alike love being a part of the school.
To quote Ricky Bobby, if you ain't first, you're last. Hampshire is a binary place - either you're one of the motivated, passionate autodidacts who came here seeking a new world free from the persecution of a core curriculum...or you're here for an easy ride, and the chance to get a degree for sitting in your incense-laden dorm and smoking ganja.
Hampshire's biggest weakness is our consummate lack of school spirit. Little to no investment in the school is manifest by the students, and many community institutions are brittle or simply non-existant. We have a fragile student government, no year book and only one athletic team to speak of (Red Scare, our Ultimate Frisbee team) although we actually have other athletic teams, and could easily form more. The trouble lies in the students, many of whom preach "community involvement" by touting hurricane relief programs or attempting to support local farming efforts, but won't do more than charge a Hampshire College Hoodie at the store to rep their own college.
We have a ton of beurocratic red tape, but at times that can be a boon - if you can get your stuff together, and are relatively persistant, you can get what you want from the school, putting your 40,000 dollar education back in your hands.
The little blurb at the top here says I should comment on the college town: Amherst rocks. It totally pwns. The food is awesome (Fresh Side, what!) and the town itself is cute. It's a fantastic nexus for the five colleges, and there's a comic book store. The only drawback is that everything closes pretty early - you're hard pressed to find anything open after ten - but I'm told this is somewhat typical of rural life.
Hampshire is going through a very transitional time. It boasts small class size, and the flexibility to do independent work, but these factors don't always turn into fact for every student. Every year Hampshire is accepting more and more first year students, but they are not increasing the faculty size. This means, more students per class, and less opportunity (especially in the first 2 years) for independent studies. In my opinion, this also means less student support, and a high first year drop out rate. I don't actually know the numbers, but I can tell you that at least 4 people left school during the first semester off my 10 person hall, my first year. That is a pretty huge number. On the flip side, many students choose to look at this as the weeding out process. My advice...If you are coming to Hampshire because you think it sounds easy, look else where. Just because there are no grades and tests, doesn't mean there is no work. In the average semester, I probably write over 100 pages. But, a Hampshire education is only as good as what you put into it.
The best thing about Hampshire is the freedom that you get. Unfortunately, some people are not self motivated and need more guidance and are therefore kind of disadvantaged by the structure. If I could change things at Hampshire, it would be many things, but Hampshire does not have a large endowment. Though everyone gets their own room at Hampshire, there is still housing shortages. I spend most of my time on campus in my room or friends' rooms. Usually people complain about things like food and housing and the number of professors per department, but it all really comes down to Hampshire not having a lot of money- which is unfortunate. The Hampshire administration seems to be non-existent. I don't know where to begin if I have a problem with something, and even then, no one is very helpful anyways. Hampshire is very fend-for-yourself.
Hampshire has created its own little left-wing commune in the middle of nowhere. The majority of the student body is incredibly radical, and life at Hampshire doesn't even come close to reflecting life in the real world. The majority of the students stay in the area even after graduation.
A big issue with Hampshire is the lack of money. The Smith College greenhouse has a bigger endowment than all of Hampshire College, and so Hampshire has had to resort to cutting back on staff and student activities, and they send out letters not only asking alumni for donations, but also current students. At the same time, Hampshire wastes the money that it does have on things that are unnecessary like the building of a new pavillion, the addition of a large screen television to the cafeteria, etc.
Hampshire has money issues. We are a tiny new school with no dead alumni (yet) and have a 39 million dollar endowment (read: no endowment). This creates many problems - we can never get enough faculty, we don't have a student center, and the administration raises tuition at least 5% a year. The school also has problems keeping up the financial aid it gives to students. I have heard too many stories of a student who got a great package first year, then got increasingly more screwed over in years following. BUT if you can hang onto those scholarships and loans, Hampshire can be cheaper than a state school.
The school has issues with race, with class, with sexuality, with identity, and with funding important things on campus. Basically all the issues that every college and university faces all the time. But at Hampshire, nothing ever seems to get done about these issues. Maybe it's because we are less than forty years old, perhaps it's because the school is desperately trying to reform itself every four years. Whatever it is, there is always A LOT of talk and not much action. But hey, at least we talk about this stuff. At Princeton, shit just doesn't get said and those disenfranchised groups just keep getting screwed because it is all written in stone (literally). Little Hampshire was forged in some brick and vinyl siding that gets rebuilt every couple years because it's falling apart...better to be locked into hundreds of years of tradition and be at a standstill or to be in a constant cycle of rotting and rebuilding? I don't know.
The best thing about Hampshire is the people. In general, they're smart, fun, and very creative. You will most likely not get bored talking to a Hampshire kid. The worst thing about Hampshire is the ambiguity: since there is a lot of freedom in the curriculum, faculty will tell you to do one thing, while people in the advising office will tell you to do another, while your individual advisor will tell you to do another! That can be pretty frustrating. BUT, since it's Hampshire, if you argue hard enough, you can convince all of the adults guiding you to let you do whatever you want :).
Hampshire is a pretty small place. You get to know most people pretty quickly. However, a very high percentage of Hampsters transfer out of Hampshire after their first year, so I have gotten to know some people only to find that they're leaving :(. The reason many people transfer out is not because Hampshire is a bad school--it's because many people can't handle all the freedom and ambiguity. We have some guidelines at Hampshire: for instance, in your freshman year, you are required to take 1 course in each of Hampshire's five "schools of thought." But within those schools of thought, you can choose whatever courses you want: this is the freedom that many people can't handle. They want someone telling them what to do, but this hardly happens at Hampshire.
Hampshire isn't in a "college town," but buses come right to campus and take you to other "college towns," Amherst and Northampton, where Amherst College and Smith College are. Amherst and Smith, along with Mt. Holyoke, UMass Amherst, and Hampshire, are part of the Five College Consortium, so as a Hampshire student you can take classes at any one of these five schools. This has been a lifesaver for me, since, for example, Hampshire currently offers no Music Composition classes, so I took Music Comp. at Amherst.
Most people haven't really heard of Hampshire, but when I tell them there are no grades or tests they think it's a major joke. Then I explain that I transferred from one of the new 'ivy league' schools, and that I found Hampshire MUCH more challenging. Everything is put on the students, its their responsibility to finish work... You get what you put in.
I love the size of Hampshire. The last school I went to in Texas was huge and had over thirty thousand students. At Hampshire, you really get a chance to know people. Of course, small communities do have a lot of gossip, but that hasn't been a problem for me.
Hampshire has a great campus, its beautiful. You look around and see trees, mountains and fields. I love it. Its farmland. One of the best aspects about Hampshire is that its part of the five colleges in Amherst/Northampton. The bus system is great and you can always get off campus for a change. You can take classes at any of the other schools too.
Some people think its great when I tell them that I go to Hampshire, but other people think that I am just a crunchy hippie. This is not a bad thin to me, but I can see how some Hampshire students could be offended by this. Also, just because you are a so called hippie, doesn't mean that you aren't a good student and a hard worker.
To be a Hampshire student can be difficult. Because you have to gather a committee and get to know faculty well, you have to be very motivated and independent. For some people its hard to take the initiative to do so. Also, because there are a limited number of full time faculty, it can be tough to get a committee together.
One of my favorite things about Hampshire is that when you finish your Division III, you get to ring the bell in front of the library whenver you walk by it. I cannot wait to ring that bell!
I believe Hampshire College is the most unusual, interesting, wacky, suprising, evolving college in the country. The most unique component to Hampshire is the educational pedagogy - as a Hampshire student, you design your own curriculum and indepenently complete a final project (thesis, documentary, performance, traditional, non-traditional) in your fourth year that is the culmination of your studies. I believe "DYI" (Do It Yourself) is the mantra at Hampshire - students live in single dorm rooms, do independent studies, design their own curriculum. Hampshire is TINY - 1,400 students - and although the college over enrolls each year, the size remains a constant because the drop-out/transfer/field study/defer/travel/ect. rate is very high. The reason for this overturn is because of the aforementioned "DYI" mantra - most 18 year olds are not ready to be self-motivated, driven, living on their own, choosing what courses they need to take to develop their studies, ect. At Hampshire, the quality and the rigour of the education you recieve correlates to the amount of effort and heart you put into your studies. Advice to prospective students: critically examine your study habits, self-efficacy, self- motivation, and relationships with teachers - if you are organized, know how to manage time effectively, are highly motivated to learn and know what you want to study, and are comfortable expressing your needs and goals with teachers - you can succeed at Hampshire.
Hampshire College is an "alternative" school. Unfortunately, most of the student body seems to think that this means the Hampshire College is politically or socially "alternative." With that said, the school is often the home of loud political/social "protests" (which are rarely well thought out, almost always rash and reactionary and often leave as soon as they come). Hampshire College was designed to be a school where things were taught differently. It has become a place where different things are taught. These "different subjects" occasionally turn out to be taught and executed exceptionally well. Often, though, they are unbacked, subjective nonsense that students take to be 100% true.
Hampshire College exists on a good amount of land, most of which is undeveloped. There are two dormitories, Dakin and Merrill, which houses most of the first years and a sizable number of the second years (although with a little luck, a second year can move up to the mods). These mods are on-campus apartments and are named Prescott, Enfield and Greenwich. The former of the three is often thought to be the place to go for parties, and while this was true at the beginning of the semester, it became less so as the year moved on. Enfield is generally more suburban-looking, with buildings designed to form very open communal areas. The social life of Enfield takes advantage of these areas, and is often the home to more environmentally-conscious and socially-active folk. There's even a Greenhouse mod. Greenwich, originally designed to be temporary housing, is made of relatively isolated "pods," and is the physical counterthesis to Enfield. The people in Greenwich are, from what I've experienced, less loud than the other two communities, both physically and figuratively. Currently, renovations are taking place for Greenwich.
The architecture of Hampshire College is in the late '60s Brutalist style, which some view as prison-like, but I found to be rather nice. Not all of the buildings are well-designed, none are very inviting to students (classrooms are hard to find sometimes), but you live with what you can.
The student body of Hampshire College is medium size, about 1400 kids. There is considerable separation, not by grade but by living area. People in the dorms tend to hang out exclusively with others in the dorms, and the same goes for the mods. Nonetheless, it is easy to have everyone caught up in everyone else's business. Hampshire is definitely more difficult to handle for those with a misanthropic or introverted bend. With that said, most people spend their time anywhere where other (preferably intoxicated) people are. And those locations are easy to trace.
Hampshire is seriously hindered by the current administration. It is lacking in funding, and what money we do have is often mismanaged. Housing is suffering, as are a lot of worthwhile programs. Hampshire has become increasingly tied up in politics and top-down bureaucracy - if someone were ambitious enough to combat that there would be endless potential.
The surrounding area is nice. Northampton is a thriving old town where you can find just about anything you'd like. Amherst is good for a quick bite or a run to CVS. There is a plethora of worthwhile hiking and sightseeing in the valley and weekend trips to the coast or up to vermont are a welcome break from the Hampshire 'bubble'.
With such a small student body, and most people living on campus, it really is a bubble. Especially within your set living area. Especially if you live in the dorms and have to go to saga for all your meals. Good luck avoiding someone.
Probably one of Hampshire's best features is the five college program. Being able to get off campus and take classes elsewhere is the only thing that makes Hampshire plausible. Again, its also a relief to leave campus sometimes. Hampshire students are very into taking advantage of all the opportunities offered through this program.
I came to Hampshire mostly because of its unique academic program. Hampshire is definitely not for everyone, but it is perfect for some students.
Hampshire's a pretty small school, but that's fine with me. The campus has a peaceful, rural feel - lots of trees, views of the mountains, etc. But it's also a short bus ride from both Amherst and Northampton, which are small but cute towns with some interesting shops and lots of good restaurants.
Most of the dorm rooms are single rooms, so you're likely to get a room to yourself even as a first-year (unless you request a double). Most students move to the "mods" (apartments) after their first or second year.
Hampshire only has one dining hall. Students refer to the dining hall as "SAGA," after the company that used to provide the food. (The food is now provided by Sodexho.) SAGA food is not the best food in the world, but there is a good variety of options, including a salad bar, a sandwich bar, a stirfry bar, a waffle maker, and meat, vegetarian, and vegan entrees at every meal. There is also ice cream available at every meal, including a soft serve machine. Many students who live in mods cook for themselves, but students living in the dorms are required to be on the meal plan. If you eat in SAGA every day, you will probably get sick of SAGA food. As I said, it's not the best food in the world. But it could be a lot worse.
The best thing about Hampshire - and everyone will tell you this - is the freedom (which exists more after first year) to do what you want in school. That being said, there are a lot of kids who want to go to college without working, and these kids most frequently end up leaving after a few months. Hampshire is an academically serious place, and it is not easy. The worst thing about Hampshire is the way the school is run from the administration down. Aside from classes, there is very little organization in the school, and hence simple tasks like signing up for classes, renting equipment, or securing a place to live are transformed into complex and frustrating ordeals.
Hampshire is very small, and by your second or third year you will know almost everyone in your class, and recognize most people around campus. Love it or hate it.
Most of my time on campus is spent outside with friends when the weather permits it, otherwise in the dorm buildings or in the library. It is a very social place, and most people leave their doors open whenever they are home.
Amherst, Northampton, and everything in between is literally crawling with college students. It is actually jarring to leave the valley for vacation and to see more people over thirty than under.
Hampshire's administration is poorly organized, more talk than action, but somehow effective as evidenced by the fact that the school has lasted this long (which isn't really very long). Administration is constantly under fire, and this past year was no exception, as students of color collectively demanded that Hampshire draft active anti-racist policies. There can be no doubt that Hampshire is a politically driven school.
Hampshire students are not competitive enough to have school pride, just a contentment in knowing that they are in the right place. But, to be certain, it is not right for everyone.
Hampshire is a pretty small school (around 1400) surrounded by a lot of farms and beautiful woods. If you're a city dweller, this is not the place for you. The majority of the students live in apartment style housing which is arranged into three little 'villages' on campus, which makes for a nice sense of community. Hampshire has a full farm (complete with goats, sheep, cows, pigs and even a llama!) which is staffed by students. You can sign up to receive fresh produce from the farm to share with your house mates or take a walk to go visit the baby sheep (soo cute!). Some kids make an effort to get off campus a lot and visit the neighboring small-ish college towns of Amherst and Northampton, although many kids just hang out at hampshire. There are many hikes and mountain bike trails right on campus which are beautiful!
There is a lot of pride, those who dont like it leave or transfer. Hampshire has its difficulties and not enough endowment, but overall i am very happy it is a place that stimulates creativity and new ways of looking at things. Everyone is into something and often willing to help or collaborate.
The best thing about Hampshire is its flexibility. Staff, courses, majors, the administration are extremely flexible and willing to work with you to get the results you desire. It is a great school for people who are willing to take a cut on the brand name school benefit for a greater, integrative learning experience.
I absolutely love Hampshire College. My favorite thing about Hampshire is definitely the people. The majority of Hampshire students are friendly, hip, and smart, and the quality of the professors is way above average. My least favorite thing about Hampshire is the food, but if that's my biggest complaint then that means Hampshire is a terrific school. Plus, only first year students have to be on the meal plan, so it's basically a moot point.
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.
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.
When I tell people I go to Hampshire College, I am first asked if I smoke pot. The next question is "are there really no grades? so, you can't fail?" to which I then have to explain how while there are no letter grades, I can still pass or fail and that I do at least as much work as any other college student. Overall, the reactions vary from pomp, subtle disgust or complete awe.
So basically Hampshire was designed to give students more freedom concerning their area of study, and to allow them to work (kind of) at their own pace. At first I guess there was a lot more wiggle room, but Hampshire is expanding at a pretty good rate. By good I mean fast. Most of the classes are discussion based so it's important that the class sizes remain small. Last year people had to stay at hotels.
The campus needs a lot more funding... some of the mods (on campus houses) are being renovated each year, but others havent been touched since the 70s and are pretty much falling apart.
Lots of school pride... and people lovvve Amherst. It's a pretty cute town, and Northampton is right next to it.
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.
While I dont regret my choice to come to Hampshire, I have found several negetives to balance the core positive trait: large degrees of acedemic freedom.
1) Red Tape. There is an unbelievably convoluted system to everything at hampshire. Even professors who have been here for 20+ years dont know all the seemingly illogical twists and turns.
2)Division I. Hampshires answer to traditional college structure. Take 5 courses, at least 3 of which you won't need, want, or put any effort in to. I, a Genetics major, had to take Creative Writing and a Welding course. A waste of my and many students time and money.
3)Odd requirements. Others schools require calculus. Hampshire requires "Multicultural Perspectives" and 30 hours volunteer work. Only students majoring in these feilds find these worthwhile (and will riot, complain, and shut down buildings to maintain these). Most students pay only the thinest of lip service.
The school is too small. You see everybody all the time. It is nice in a sense because you feel known and everywhere you go you see someone you know and can talk to. It also sucks because no matter where you go there is someone you would rather avoid. You are never alone unless you go deep into the woods which fortunetly is not that hard to do. Good luck studying in the library....it is more a social junction than an academic stronghold.
The best thing about Hampshire is that gone about the right way, you can do almost literally whatever you want to do academically and socially. If I could, I would change the academic system to be more rigorous. I would insitute not grades, but reading quizzes and some sort of system to chart knowledge gained in students. No one does the readings and for discussion based classes there are always only two or three kids with anything to say and half of these kids didn't do the readings either and are just talking out of their butts about something their brothers ex-girlfriends brother told them once.
My friends think my school is a joke.
I spend most of my time on campus hanging out with my friends that haven't dropped out yet and sleeping. I find most of the happenings on campus to be too radical and change oriented for me. When I am not sleeping and doing non-school related readings and research I am getting drunk and watching tv on the internet.
I hate the town of amherst. The last thing that I find appealing is being surrounded by 50,000 of my peers. I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet a ton of people and make great friends but no, umass kids are assholes, amherst college students are pretentious, smith is full of militant lesbians and mt. holyoke full of those girls who wished that they were cheerleaders in high school. Awesome. Sure those are stereotypes but honestly, I am not generalizing far from the truth.
The pioneer valley is abosolutely breathtakingly gorgeous. Everyday I am surpriesed that I still remark everyday about how beautiful the mountains and the fields are.
Hampshire's admistration will ignore you until you become so annoying that they must pay attention to you or until you find a professor to harrass them for you. If you have any sort of financial hold on your account I wish you the best of luck registering for class and functioning within the community. Hampshire has surprise kicked out my same friend twice. Every year she has a financial hold and every year she gets an email tellling her to pack her things and be off campus within two days.
The biggest recent controversy is over nooses hung around campus. Students made a list of demands and asked Hampshire to follow the demands and to become actively anti-racist. The administration side stepped fufilling the list by providing distracting, ineffective students of color only housing. The students think that the administration doesn't care and won't listen and the administration thinks that the students are being extreme and irrational.
I will always remember when my friend got caugt growing several marijuana plants in her room and got off. She wasn't placed on housing probation and her parents didn't even get a letter home. If I can say one thing about Hampshire, their greatest strength and weakness lies in how laid back they are.
I think the best thing about Hampshire is the freedom that it allows undergraduates. There are close to no requirements, at all, nothing. After my Division One everything that I do is dictated by a contract that I make with a committee of faculty members that I choose. In my second year I will be spending most of the year in New Orleans researching and writing about Katrina's affect on the public school system. That's just awesome.
Most people have not heard about Hampshire College. They don't get it when you say that you don't have a major, so just pretend that you do.
It is really really rural. We have a farm on campus and all of our neighbors are either farms or woods. But what is nice about being in the middle of nowhere is that we have a bunch of woods that are ours but we don't do anything with, so you can just go and have bonfires and do whatever you want in the woods without worrying about being on someone's property.
The biggest recent controversy was about race discrimination at Hampshire. Yes, it is a very aware campus, but racism comes in all shapes and sizes and close to nothing goes unspoken at Hampshire.
First off, sometimes you do feel as though you go to the school that all the slackers go to. But once again, this all depends on just who you run into. I met amazing people at Hampshire, and am really happy about my choice of school. However, as a student of color, sometimes it does get a bit over whelming with the school being currently 87% white, and there are many stereotypes that people will hold about you, but this can be said about any college. About the class sizes, they are just right, for me though. They generally are about 15-20 people, some classes are even smaller. However, this means that it is very discussion based, and you NEED to speak up and have the professor notice you if you wish to have a good evaluation.
If you choose this school, just get ready to meet RICH people, and people who say that they poor, but just don't really know what that term truly means.
When you tell people you go to Hampshire, you get one of three response: 1) "Hamster?" 2) "That's that hippie school with no grades or tests, right?" or 3) "Hampshire is that really innovated self structured school".
With a new President, Hampshire has been moving away from its hippie roots and moving more mainstream making it more accessible for general America to accept Hampshire's unorthodox academics. And Hampshire's reputation continues to grow in a positive way. Being young, established in the 1970s by the 4 other colleges in the area (Amherst, UMass, Holyoke, and Smith), Hampshire had some great infant years, got past the terrible toddler years, and is growing up into a respectable college with an innovated academic structure.
Even though it is a small school with a student body of around 1400 (and rising each year with its growing popularity), Hampshire is located in Amherst, a true and lively college town, with over 30,000 college students in the area due mostly to UMass's large student body. Plus, the city-like Northampton is just around the corner thanks to the free bus systems that connects all the schools and top hot spots. There is plenty to do, plenty to eat, and plenty of people to meet.
My favorite thing about Hampshire is the lack of tests and grades and the freedom of educational choices. I am a terrible test taker. I just don't do well and I freeze up, thus having classes that are evaluated instead of tested and then stamped with a letter grade works really well for me. Evals can tell you and the real world full of careers just where weak or really strong points are unlike one single B or D etc.
I get really frustrated with some of the requirements and the lack of communication here however. One of Hampshire's biggest selling points is the "create your own major" idea. THAT part is completely true. You can basically do whatever you want, but what they don't tell you is that you have to take a LOT of classes that can frequently feel like a waste of time. There's a lot of red-tape and bureaucracy at this school that can be easy to work with as long as you ask a LOT of questions. Even if you don't know what to ask, just talk to your adviser or the people in Central Records about requirements and what needs to be done when. With this self-motivating school comes a lot of responsibility.
I really enjoy the size of the school. There are approx. 1,300 students which for me is perfect. I came from a 500 student high school so this is great.
Amherst and North Hampton are nice towns, but there isn't always a lot to do... You kind of have to do some searching and find out what you enjoy in the area. There's a mall and some plazas, some parks, out door mini-golf and driving range (but that's seasonal) and North Hampton has a nice feel with a lot of fun, trendy stores. There's also different stuff in the surrounding areas (the Holyoke Mall, for example, is massive).
Hampshire is a giant farm that happens to be close to the two most amazing towns in Western Mass - Northampton and Amherst. It's fantastically small in that you know everyone. Bad in that you see everyone. It seems to me like everyone makes a big deal out of nothing, primarily because there's very little to worry about (e.g. Div I, race). There also seems to be this ridiculous feeling that "radical" and "open-minded" are synonyms. That said, Hampshire is an awesome school with a LOT to offer.
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.
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