Hampshire College

As of right now, Hampshire is one of my top choices. It’s a tiny bit of a reach for me, but having gone to a middle school that didn’t have letter grades and an alternative high school that focused on experiential learning, I feel that this program would be a great fit for me.
I am unable to visit due to its distance and the costs of traveling. From the colleges I have visited, I’ve learned that the feelings you have towards a school can be greatly impacted once you get a feel for it in person.
I’ve done as much research as I could find on the internet about this school, but like most, the reviews are all over the place. Both students and college reviewers have either praised this to be the best thing ever, or warn others to not even apply. I guess that although I’ve loved what I’ve read from the website, the best way to get a feel for the college is to talk to the people who have actual experience with it.
Has anyone on here ever attended Hampshire or know of anyone who has and would you be able to describe your experiences? Is it difficult to find a job or get into graduate school coming from one of the only schools in the country that opts out of using the country’s standardized grading system? What are the classes, professors, dorms, and social life like? Do you regret your experience? Are you excited to go to your classes everyday and return from holidays? Is there are strong sense of community there?
Any information or personal opinions of your experience with Hampshire is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

We toured Hampshire this summer. I think my biggest disappoint (as a parent) was the physical campus. I expected inspiring architecture and beautiful buildings that foster and inspire creativity. The art building felt like a series of shipping containers welded together. Dorms were all fine, but not beautiful by any stretch. That said, the outdoor spaces are lovely and serene. I also got the sense that students have a lot of access to professors and resources. It’s not the right fit for my kid - which he knew before the tour. Hope they raise some $ for some facilities upgrades to bring the dorms and other buildings into the modern era.

Both of our kids graduated from Hampshire, and I think that it was a wonderful experience for them. They both grew so much and really became the independent adults that they are today. Who can really say that Hampshire made a big difference in where they ended up? I do know that our daughter was exposed to opportunities in the field of drama and theater education that would rarely be offered to college undergraduates. She took full advantage of those opportunities and was immediately employed at Broadway theaters and education programs, in part because she could show so much more experience than the typical new college graduate. Today, only 5 years after graduating, our daughter is an administrator and adjunct faculty member at NYU Tisch School of Drama.

Our son was also afforded tremendous opportunities to pursue his interests in International Development. He learned so much, in part from taking courses at other 5-College schools. He participated in programs for working on projects in African countries. In the end, these experiences caused him to become cynical about Americans supplying aid to developing countries, and to re-evaluate his interests. He also became an involved activist in gender politics. After working as a pre-school teacher for a couple of years, our son earned a Master’s degree in Education, and now teaches in the Seattle Public Schools. So, it took him a while to find his way, and I don’t know if Hampshire helped or hindered him on his path. I do know that in his graduate program, many of our son’s colleagues bitterly complained about the amount of writing they were required to complete each week as part of their assignments; our son considered these assignments a, ‘walk in the park’, after all of the writing that he did in Hampshire classes.

If you asked our daughter, she would be an unabashed Hampshire booster. If you asked our son, he would probably state some reservations. I think that both of our kids entered Hampshire as mediocre (IMO) writers, and emerged as confident and competent writers. They are both also strong critical and analytical thinkers, something that appears to be in short supply these days. Finally, they both also made strong friendships that will probably last the rest of their lives.

As noted in the previous message, most of the building on campus are unimpressive. This is primarily a product of the age of the college, as most buildings were constructed in the 1970s, not a period notable for architectural innovation. Hampshire is not financially well-endowed, so it will take time to fully renovate all the buildings. Substantial work has been done on the Enfield and Greenwich residences, and an impressive classroom and office building was just completed in the central quad. I would add that although some of the buildings are uninspiring, the overall setting in the Pioneer Valley is quite beautiful.

Hampshire is great!

@ mrp1027, I am a Hampshire grad also. What is it you are interested in studying? What are you passionate about learning? That would be helpful to know so I can talk to you with more insight.