At Hampshire, each student designs their own unique course of study. There are no pre-designed majors; students can opt to follow a more traditional track (pre-med, pre-law, a typical major-style history concentration, etc.) but most choose to create their own inter- and multi-disciplinary 'majors.' There is a broad distribution requirement which asks students in their first year to take one course in each of our five 'schools of thought' (we do not have traditional departments): Cognitive Science, Natural Science, Social Science, Interdisciplinary Arts, and Humanities Arts & Cultural Studies, plus three electives. Beyond that, students work closely with their advisers (the first year adviser is also the professor of the student's tutorial class, thereby automatically meeting with them 2-3 times weekly in addition to any outside-of-class meetings planned; from the second year on the student hand-picks at least two faculty to serve on their personalized committee) to choose which courses at Hampshire and within the Five College Consortium, of which Hampshire students can take full advantage, make most sense for their unique course of study. Study abroad at Hampshire is particularly exciting because in addition to our 13 signature programs (the most popular of which are to Hefei, China, and Havana, Cuba--we are one of 3 schools in the country to go to Cuba!) and the 130+ programs available through a nation-wide consortium, students at Hampshire can design their own study abroad opportunity with help from their advisers--this means that students are not limited to enrolling in a local university abroad, they can instead complete independent research, field work, and community involvement wherever they want.Quality of Life
Housing at Hampshire is nice because in addition to traditional dorm-style housing, there are Mods, which are on-campus student apartments that include full kitchens and living room spaces. Students living in the Mods can opt to get off of the meal plan, and usually buy into our C.S.A. (Community Supported Agriculture) program with our on-campus farm--this lets them pay up front in order to pick up a big box of beautiful, fresh, organic, super-local produce weekly! Hampshire is a very safe campus; we have the blue-light system in place but I have never heard of it being used. Bikes that are left unlocked tend to get 'borrowed,' but other than that I don't hear about a lot of theft.Admissions
Hampshire uses the Common Application with a unique supplement. There are a few (4-6) short-answer questions, as well as an analytical essay that are required as part of the supplement. The analytical essay is usually one that the prospective student has already written for a class, and is just used to gauge the applicant's ability to think critically. We offer merit aid in addition to need-based aid. These scholarships range from $2,000-12,500 per year and are awarded based on students' academic performance, community service and involvement, success in the sciences, etc.Level
Academics at Hampshire are divided into three Divisions over a four-year period. A key feature of this system is that all students must design their own course of study, with help from their advisors of course. This system plus the narrative evaluations instead of grades really allows us to know ourselves well as learners and learn how to create our own paths.Admissions
The admissions process prides itself on accepting students based on their "fit" with the Hampshire style of education. The supplemental questions to the Common App help admissions officers to gauge a student's fit. To any student applying to Hampshire: take special care with all written materials as admissions officers tend to pay attention to the aspects of the application to get a sense of who a student is. Hampshire admissions officers are aware that a student that will thrive at Hampshire might not be the student who was at the top of her class in a more traditional academic setting.Level
We don't have requirement, we don't have majors, and we don't have grades. We run on an evaluation system in which students are engaged in peer review by their professors. Rather than majors we design concentrations, which follows a divisional system.
Division I is the first year, it's a time to explore Hampshire and the surrounding colleges and find what you're really interested in.
Division II is the middle to years, where students work with two faculty mentors to create a curriculum drawing from Hampshire, the rest of the five college consortium, and the world in general. I will have studied abroad three times before I graduate, once in Spain, and twice in Senegal.
Division III is a year long independent project, much like a masters thesis. Students do all sorts of things for this, I have applied for grants to travel in Senegal doing research about community accountability within the NGO sector in that country.
Class sizes are small, run in a socratic dialogue, and relations with professors is what gets us through the process. There are no limits to studying abroad. If you find a program, or design your own if you can convince your faculty advisors to let you go, you can do it!Quality of Life
We are a residential college. We have a ton of land, which means in nice weather I can go biking climbing, and then have big bonfires in the woods when I'm done. Most of us live in on campus apartments, that we call mods, they all have different quirky architecture, and are all in various states of disrepair. We're a little wierd village in the woods, but we're also very connected with the rest of the Pioneer valley. The towns around are wonderful.Admissions
Hampshire has all of the standard application processes. early action, early decision, regular decision etc. We're on the common application but there are several supplemental questions every year. Because we have such a different pedagogical approach and sense of community this is important to tell if students are a good 'fit' for the school. We are also SAT optional. You can send your scores in if you want to, but if you don't like your scores, or don't believe in them, don't send them.Level
It is a very unique academic system. The school is split up into three divisions instead of the typical freshman, sophomore, junior, senior. Division One is spent exploring the different schools of thought. A student has to take eight courses to pass Division one including one from each academic school. Division Two is when you begin to concentrate on what you are really interested in and takes up two years of your college experience. During this time you can go abroad, take any class that interests you, and work with faculty members of your choice. Division Three, which is like a senior thesis takes up the entirety of your last year. Here the student works on a cumulative project that incorporates the concentration from Division Two, but goes so much more in depth. Class sizes are small. Professors are really accessible, I know so many on a personal level and we email each other all the time. We also do not have letter grades or GPA's or class rank s competitiveness is at a minimum, this allows you to really focus on your studies. Instead we have narrative evaluations where the professor speaks of your cumulative performance throughout the course and of specific assignments. Its a lot better than traditional grades because it helps you improve academically. The workload is pretty intense and most students here desire a rigorous academic environment.Quality of Life
The facilities were built in the seventies and eighties and are not in great condition, but almost everyone lives in a single on campus and the student body is really nice. Once a student gets involved on campus either in groups, government, sports, the arts, or activism the campus really feels like a home. The campus is very safe I have never heard of a serious incident on campus. You don't need a car and most people do not have one. There is a free bus service that brings you to the other colleges and the surrounding towns so you do not feel very isolated even though the location is rather rural.Admissions
There is a common application with a Hampshire supplement. I also had an interview with a local alum that was very useful. In my application that I sent to admissions I included a supplemental art book that showed some of my drawings. I also came for an overnight visit that after I was already accepted.Level