Questions about Hampshire

<p>I am interested in applying as a transfer student because of the freedom in the curriculum. Although I've heard great things, and wanted to apply as a first-year last year, I also hear a lot of bad things. Can anyone clarify this for me? I know each college has it's cons, but if this college has the same cons as my current one, no need to transfer right? Also, I want more rigor, are the courses rigorous?</p>

<p>Any insights would help!</p>

<p>bumpity bump</p>

<p>What sort of great and bad things do you hear?</p>

<p>In my observations, great things include:
- Consciously multidisciplinary curriculum development means students learn to integrate information and concepts from diverse content areas.
- A faculty committee facilitates your decisions toward developing a program of study that is tailored to your needs.
- Strong emphasis on writing makes all students better writers and communicators
- Most students are extraordinarily creative, creating an exciting learning environment
- Most professors work hard to create classroom settings that are collaborative, resulting in more invigorating classes.
- The 5-College Consortium allows you to meet students from other colleges and explore learning opportunities not normally available to small liberal arts college students.
- The on-campus 'mod' apartments are conducive to building small communities and close friendships
- The bucolic semi-rural setting is beautiful and peaceful</p>

<p>Potentially bad things include:
- The infamous, "Hampshire Bubble", a protective community of like-thinking individuals who sometimes forget that the 'real world' is less idealistic, less forgiving, more pragmatic, less tolerant, and more conservative.
- Less diversity that one might prefer, in terms of socioeconomic status, political views and cultural background.
- The building architecture is uninspiring and dull, and some parts of the infrastructure have not been as well-maintained as one might prefer.
- Some students know how to talk a good game, but are less able to translate their words into useful actions.
- Some students take advantage of the self-designed curriculum and/or lax advisers, which can result in a less-meaningful degree</p>

<p>As to course rigor, I can say with a great deal of assurance that both of my kids have never worked harder in their lives, and they were pressed hard to be more thoughtful and creative. More rigorous than elsewhere? I guess that would depend on what schools and academic disciplines you are comparing.</p>

<p>Hampshire is no Reed, Chicago, or Caltech if by rigor you mean there's no avoiding a challenging academic program that will have you constantly facing your academic weaknesses.</p>

<p>It can be academically challenging, but since students pretty much design their own curriculum with the help of faculty members, the level of rigor depends on the student. </p>

<p>If you're a Lisa Simpson type of student who doesn't procrastinate, is always motivated, etc. then you should thrive at Hampshire. However, if you're like most of us, then you won't be taking full advantage of the academic freedom that Hampshire offers.</p>

<p>I think a major problem with not having exams/tests/quizzes is that the courses can be relatively easy to b.s. You can write essays on just the topics you read, chime in during class discussions on the first 2 pages that you only read, leech off of classmates' insights, etc. Basically, the system at a school like Hampshire is easier to game. </p>

<p>The good news is that you can take advantage of the 5 college consortium, but the slacker, pseudo-intellectual, albeit intellectually curious and enthusiastic environment, might not make it worth it for you. After all, it's a drag when the academic environment doesn't jive with your expectations, and you have to run off to other campuses to find what you're looking for.</p>

<p>OP- where do you attend now?</p>

<p>Hampster- you sound disappointed (slightly angry). Did you graduate from Hampshire?
(BTW who is Lisa Simpson?)</p>

<p>"I'm currently not very employable (BA in philosophy) and I don't want to be in this same situation ever again." You wrote that in 2008 in another thread discussing MBAs. Did you get your BA from Hampshire?</p>

<p>From my family's perspective of Hampshire, although D applied there, H is adamant that she not go if she gets in--for one thing, felt the rundown condition of the campus did not warrant the high costs of attendance which I definitely agree with. College reminded me of a run-down summer camp. Maybe that's why lots of kids like it. D loved the friendliness of the people she met (really very few given we were there last summer) and the course descriptions were terrific. The reputation of a hipster school where grads have a hard time getting jobs doesn't help it. (yes, we have heard all about the amazing few entrepreneurs that come out). For my money, it would be better to attend one of the other colleges in the consortium and take a few classes at Hampshire than pay the high price of Hampshire for such thread-bare and seemingly substandard facilities. </p>

<p>Sorry Alf, I know that you are a proud supporter of Hampshire.</p>

<p>Lisa Simpson is a cartoon character from "The Simpsons" TV show. She is an over-achiever and is extraordinarily responsible, being involved in many extracurricular activities and causes. Of course, she would do well wherever she went to college; that is if she ever grew up. Right now she is perpetually something like 10 years old.</p>

<p>I will admit to being a Hampshire booster, but I am fully aware that it is only good for certain students who are self-motivated, persistent and inquiring. Otherwise, you will not fully avail yourself of the learning opportunities that are offered.</p>

<p>It is also true that you can find colleges with better facilities - I think one of the unfortunate parts of Hampshire is that most of the buildings were built in the 70s, which were not an architectural high-water mark. Some of the 'mod' residences have seen hard use and need renovation; this is occurring now, but at a slow pace. Still, I found virtually all the classrooms and library to be quite functional and useful.</p>

<p>Hi parodox what exactly have you heard that you would like clarified? I live in Amherst.</p>

<p>I didn't mean to come across as "slightly angry." The focus of the post was on the question of academic rigor at Hampshire. This is one area where I feel Hampshire falls short-hence the negative tone of the post. Also, even though I was dwelling on the negatives of Hampshire, I tried to be fair by suggesting what type of student will most benefit from the college. And yup, I'm an alum-one of the few who donates $ to the school each year.</p>

<p>If you have more questions or want clarification, I'm happy to oblige.</p>

<p>I have questions! :)</p>

<ul>
<li>How convenient is it to take classes at Amherst, Smith, MHC, and UMass, respectively? And might taking more off-campus classes help counter the sense of "too much freedom" some students struggle with? </li>
<li>Is it true that there is still smoking on the substance-free halls?</li>
<li>I've also heard rumors of a controversial racial incident of some sort that happened a while ago? Does anyone know the details?</li>
<li>How bad are the dorms and the food?</li>
</ul>

<p>Sorry if my questions are annoying! Haa. I love Hampshire and am waiting anxiously for April 1st. Le sigh.</p>

<p>I have questions! :)</p>

<ul>
<li>How convenient is it to take classes at Amherst, Smith, MHC, and UMass, respectively? And might taking more off-campus classes help counter the sense of "too much freedom" some students struggle with? </li>
<li>Is it true that there is still smoking on the substance-free halls? Do people smoke out in the open? How difficult is it for non-smoking, non-drinking kids to fit in?</li>
<li>I've heard rumors of a controversial racial incident of some sort that happened a while ago... Does anyone know the details?</li>
<li>How bad are the dorms and the food?</li>
<li>How "cliquey" are minority students? Or is there more mixing?</li>
</ul>

<p>Sorry if my questions are annoying! Haa. I love Hampshire and am waiting anxiously for April 1st. Le sigh.</p>

<p>Thanks for all your responses.</p>

<p>I am a bit worried about job prospects, although I feel like I would get a great education since I can design it myself.</p>

<p>My biggest concerns are about classes, and "what you get for your money".</p>

<p>I do want a challenge, similar to Reed, UChicago etc, but I am willing to sacrifice rigor for flexibility and a good "fit".</p>

<p>That being said, Hampshire seems to be way over the top liberal, and I do want to hear an elaboration of the "racial" issue mentioned by girlcanDISCO.</p>

<p>How convenient is it to take classes at Amherst, Smith, MHC, and UMass, respectively? And might taking more off-campus classes help counter the sense of "too much freedom" some students struggle with?</p>

<p>It's very convenient to take 5-college classes-much more so as a Hampshire student than a student from the other schools. Faculty members generally encourage 5-college classes, and even though there is/was(?) an official limit to the number of 5-college courses one can take each semester, I never knew of a student who couldn't take as much as she wanted. Also, there's a free bus system that runs regularly to each of the other 4 schools. </p>

<p>I think taking a bunch of off-campus courses definitely helps in giving you structure and countering the sense of too much academic freedom. One strategy you could adopt would be to ask other students and professors both at Hampshire and at the other colleges what courses are the most challenging/best that they've ever taken and sign up.</p>

<ul>
<li>Is it true that there is still smoking on the substance-free halls? Do people smoke out in the open? How difficult is it for non-smoking, non-drinking kids to fit in?</li>
</ul>

<p>Substance-free halls are smoke-free. That doesn't mean people don't violate the rules, but as a resident of the hallway, you can always file a complaint. When I was at Hampshire, I never witnessed any violations, and as far as I know, residents respected the substance-free policy. </p>

<p>Students do smoke out in the open in designated gazebos. As far as being substance-free and fitting in, you won't have a problem. There are enough substance-free kids and people are very open and accepting, this isn't really an issue. </p>

<ul>
<li>I've heard rumors of a controversial racial incident of some sort that happened a while ago... Does anyone know the details?</li>
</ul>

<p>I think the incident you're referring to occurred in 2002 when some students interrupted an admissions office event to make the point that there's racism even at a place like Hampshire. I don't think it was spurred by any major incidents or events.</p>

<ul>
<li>How bad are the dorms and the food?</li>
</ul>

<p>This may have changed since I graduated so check with Hampshire, but most dorms are singles. The dorms are so-so. As previous posters here have mentioned, the facilities themselves are pretty run down, and the brutalist 70s architecture doesn't help. I would definitely visit the campus if I were you.</p>

<p>The food is okay. It can get old after a year, for which you can choose to live in the mods after your first year, and cook for yourself. If you're taking 5-college classes, you can have your meals at the school where you're taking a class.</p>

<ul>
<li>How "cliquey" are minority students? Or is there more mixing?</li>
</ul>

<p>The minority students get very cliquey, and I think this is mostly self-imposed. SOURCE, the main group for minority students, has its own house and it's one of the best-funded, most vocal, and most powerful groups on campus. I would talk to more students about this to get a wider perspective, but I felt that SOURCE tended to be oversensitive, whiny, and attention-seeking. Of course, it's the modus operandi of the organization to call out racism whether real or imagined. If you're a minority student and you want to "branch" out, it's fairly easy to make friends with students of various backgrounds. </p>

<p>Paradox, as far as Hampshire being overly liberal, I agree if the rest of the college population is your bench mark. However, if you happen to be looking at schools like Reed, Oberlin, Pitzer, Bard, etc. I doubt Hampshire stands out politically from these places.</p>

<p>Thanks for the informative response! And I happened to remember a vague detail of the racial incident I'd heard about and came up with this from 2008:
Hampshire</a> College regrets delayed notice on noose discovery | GazetteNET
From what it looks like it wasn't any major issue.. a little strange, though. Happened at Amherst as well.</p>

<p>Thanks again. :)</p>

<p>There is a rather extensive discussion of substance use in the "800 Pound Gorilla" and "marijuana use and more" threads that you can access by looking at posts older than 3 months ago. </p>

<p>My daughter is a substance-free student and has lived on a substance-free dorm hall, and has been a Residence Intern in a substance-free dorm. The bottom line is that there are plenty of students who decide to commit to not use, or be under the influence, of substances in their dorms. Most students are respectful of those agreements, with the biggest problem being cigarette smoking in rooms and on lounge balconies. </p>

<p>Various students have made allegations of racism or racial insensitivity over the last few years, and some of those allegations have seemed to have at least some merit. It remains a sad fact that some individuals and institutions are not as sensitive as they could be, and those situations tend to be called out in places like Hampshire. I don't think that Hampshire has more racial problems than other colleges, but I do think that there are more activists who bring these problems to the forefront.</p>

<p>As Hampster noted, the food in the cafeteria is OK but nothing to write home about. He also notes that after the first year, many students move into the on-campus 'mod' apartments that have full kitchens. You can then cook all your own meals, which is usually less expensive and you can have more variety. </p>

<p>Hampshire also has an on-campus working farm, and students can purchase a 'farm share' that gives them a share of the weekly harvest. You go into this barn, where your share is written down on a blackboard: "The Share this week is 12 potatoes, 2 bunches of carrots, 2 bunches of kale, 1 head of lettuce", etc. You grab the items in your share and head home. A share costs around $300 per semester, which sounds like a lot, but it will be a fraction of the equivalent amount of produce from a store. Most mods hold between 5 and 10 students, so if everyone chips in to buy the share, the cost per person is low. My son lived in an 8-person mod of mostly vegetarians (i.e. most of them were vegetarians or all of them were mostly vegetarians) and they purchased two shares, which covered all the produce needs for the semester.</p>

<p>wrong thread...</p>

<p>Hey, thanks everyone for everything you've posted- it's all been very helpful and informative. Especially about the farm share system- exciting!</p>

<p>I'd like to ask, what are your experiences with their career services? I know that "entrepreneurs" have found success after Hampshire, but what about people who might just want to get a stable job before/while they get a graduate degree? How well do you think Hampshire prepared you for basic job/interview skills, and how hard did they work to help you find a position that fit you?</p>

<p>Thanks!</p>

<p>snamkrane, I can't add employment stats to the discussion but I did visit Hampshire last week with my son and I was very struck by the confidence and poise of the students who spoke at our orientation session. Because Hampshire students have to proactively choose advisors and put programs together--sometimes appealing to professors at the five colleges to let them into classes that are full, or asking for other types of exceptions--they seem to quickly learn how to advocate for themselves and become comfortable promoting their academic interests and goals. As an employer, I would think that would be a tremendous skill for a new college graduate.</p>

<p>Hampshire has the CORC, Career Options Resource Center (<a href="http://www.hampshire.edu/index_corc.htm%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.hampshire.edu/index_corc.htm&lt;/a&gt;) that is quite busy at setting up workshops, identifying internships, and helping students and alumni with job searches. They were quite helpful to my daughter in successfully applying for Summer internships, but I have no idea about their overall results for graduates. Our son graduated last year and found an assistant teaching position while he evaluates his future grad school plans. We urged him to use the CORC services, but something tells me he never set foot in the door.</p>

<p>^^^^ You can lead a horse to water. ;)</p>