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FAQ: For Parents and Families of Prospective Students

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ACADEMICS

LIFE AFTER HAMPSHIRE

FINANCIAL AID

CAMPUS LIFE

 


 

ACADEMICS

I know that Hampshire has a different structure; how does it work?

  • Hampshire has a three-stage divisional system that develops students’ ability to meet the high expectations that we (and the world after college) will have of them:

    Division I (First-Year Program) begins with clear expectations: students complete a minumum of seven courses or projects that emphasize inquiry, including study in four out of five different academic distibution areas. Students take 100-level classes meant to help them develop the skills needed for higher-level work at Hampshire, while being closely mentored by classroom professors. Through the portfolio review process at the year’s end, both students and faculty advisors reflect on the student’s academic growth and direction and goals for the next phase of Hampshire.

    Division II (The Concentration) requires students to develop a rigorous academic concentration guided by their interests and goals rather than departmental rules. Frequent meetings with faculty mentors and a written contract help students to stay focused while making good use of Five College resources. The concentration may include independent studies, internships, field work, and study abroad. In Division II, students develop the depth of knowledge, direct experience, and skills necessary for the original work of their final year. A second, more extensive, portfolio review further develops each student’s ability to understand issues across disciplinary lines and to become a more self-aware learner.

    Division III (Advanced Studies) students make their education their own, putting the insights, skills, and knowledge developed over the past three years to use in a major independent project of their own design--much like a graduate thesis--adding dimensions of learning to their undergraduate experience. Again, they work very closely with at least two faculty members. If the first year can be viewed as a bridge from secondary school to the work of Hampshire, the final year can be viewed as a bridge to the independence, initiative, focus, and creativity necessary to accomplish meaningful work in the professional world.
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Why offer written evaluations instead of more traditional letter grades?

  • In order to get the most out of an individualized course of study, students need specific and insightful feedback relevant to their personal goals, something that letter grades can never accomplish. Hampshire graduates find their narrative transcripts to be an asset as they apply to graduate school or seek employment.
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Who will help my child navigate this system, especially in the first year?

  • During the first year, students take a class known as a “tutorial.” One purpose of the tutorial is to provide academic counseling to new students, as well as to acclimate students to Hampshire’s expectations of them in the classroom. The professor of this tutorial becomes the student’s advisor. With only 12 students in the class (and designated advising days), the professor and the student are in frequent contact and get to know each other quite well.
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Without grades, how do you know how a student is doing?

  • The specific feedback provided in Hampshire's evaluations gives a much better sense of how a student is doing than traditional grades. In addition, the advising system ensures that students are on the right track. Regular meetings between students and faculty advisors are at the heart of advising at Hampshire. The Center for Academic Support (CASA) also monitors students’ academic progress and helps students and advisors plan and achieve academic goals.
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What resources (besides the advising office) are available?

  • There are many academic and campus resources for students. To name a few, Hampshire has a Career Options and Resource Center (CORC) to assist students with internships and employment, the Community Engagement and Collaborative Learning Network, global education office, Cultural Center, Writing Center, and PARC (Peer Advising Resource Center) where newer students can see samples of divisional forms, contracts, and portfolios. Counselor advocates are students trained to help students with concerns of all sorts, academic included. Housing interns (Hampshire’s version of RAs) are available to help with everything from homesickness to choosing classes.
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How often do students take advantage of the Five College consortium?

  • Students take an average of six off-campus classes during their tenure at Hampshire. The Five College library system, which holds approximately 9 million volumes, is indispensable. In addition, students attend lectures, performances, sporting events, and get-togethers at the other schools on a regular basis.
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What is the study abroad program like?

  • Hampshire offers a number of study abroad programs to such diverse places as China, France, Central America, Cuba, Germany, India, and Mexico. Students can also choose from hundreds of programs offered by other colleges, universities, and organizations. A trip to the global education office on campus can help to get a student on the right track.

    Hampshire tuition, room and board, and financial aid awards may cover the costs of these programs (including travel). The global education office and faculty advisors, as well as the financial aid office, can provide specific information about arranging for the financial aspect of study abroad programs.
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Is it difficult to transfer in or out of Hampshire?

  • As is true at any college, the better you have done academically, the more options you will have if you want to transfer. Hampshire is well known in higher education, and narrative evaluations are useful and recognized. Our students have been extremely successful in transferring to a wide variety of selective public and private colleges. 
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LIFE AFTER HAMPSHIRE

What do graduates do after Hampshire?

  • Able, independent, judicious, and with the hands-on experience of creating their own work and managing deadlines (all within a broad-based and stringent liberal arts program at a prestigious institution), Hampshire graduates are extremely viable in the workforce. More than half of Hampshire alums hold advanced degrees, one in seven holds a Ph.D. or terminal degree in her or his field, and twenty percent of graduates have started their own businesses.
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If my student doesn’t have a major, what will she write on resumes and job applications?

  • Hampshire graduates indicate their “concentrations.” For example, a graduate may write on a job application that she or he concentrated in psychology and child development. Hampshire College awards the bachelor of arts degree.
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How do Hampshire students fare when applying to graduate programs?

  • The divisional system is modeled after a graduate program, and Hampshire students make a natural transition to graduate school. More than half of Hampshire alums hold advanced degrees and one in seven holds a Ph.D. or terminal degree in her or his field.

    Hampshire students’ passion, creativity, and resourcefulness (and narrative evaluations) help them stand out in graduate school admission. In addition, the typical Hampshire student’s transcript usually includes several letter grades from courses taken at the other demanding colleges in the consortium.
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FINANCIAL AID

Can our family afford Hampshire?

  • Approximately 83% percent of Hampshire students receive some sort of financial aid from Hampshire. This means that the cost of attendance varies according to a family’s ability to pay. For 2010, the average financial aid package (Hampshire grant, student loan, and work study job) was $35,800.
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Do you offer merit scholarships?

  • Yes. We offer several different merit scholarships based on achievement, initiative, and service. Awards range from $1,000 to $12,500 per year for four years. There is no separate application process; admissions counselors nominate students for merit awards as they read their applications.
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CAMPUS LIFE

What do students do on weekends?

  • With 30,000 college students in the surrounding area, students are never at a loss for something to do. Lectures, sporting events, and movie screenings are all popular. There are several concert venues in the area, and recent acts include a wide variety of artists, from punk to pop. There are also more than a dozen museums in the Pioneer Valley. Many weekends include some form of academic work, whether it’s writing, research, or attending a relevant workshop. If students wish to go off campus for the weekend, they are only a bus or train ride away from both Boston and New York City.
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Is your campus easily accessible by plane/train/bus?

  • Yes. The closest airport is Bradley International (BDL), which is located between Springfield and Hartford, about an hour away from campus. There are several companies in the valley who shuttle students back and forth to the airport at reasonable prices. In addition, there are bus stations in Northampton and Amherst, as well as a train station in Amherst.
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Where will my child live?

  • Hampshire is a residential college and the vast majority of our students live on campus. First-year students almost always live in a dorm, either Dakin or Merrill House. Each hall has a communal space (the lounge), which houses a television and a refrigerator. (In Merrill House, the lounges also have a kitchenette.) Older students often live in our on-campus apartments, which are known as mods. Living in a mod is more like living in a house: there is a kitchen, a common space, and private bathrooms.
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Are there resident assistants?

  • Each house is staffed by a live-in professional house director, supported by student residential staff whom we call interns. Each hallway and on-campus apartment is assigned an intern. Interns organize activities and help foster community. They also serve as a direct link between students and the professional housing staff. Each housing area also has a “house office” where students can get cleaning supplies (including vacuums), submit work orders, or hang out over coffee or hot chocolate.
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Are cars allowed on campus? Will my child need a car?

  • Cars are allowed on campus. There is a fee to buy a parking sticker, which will allow your child to park a car in one of our designated parking lots. While having a car can sometimes be helpful, our free bus system will get your child to the other colleges, the grocery store, the mall, and almost anywhere in between.

    Hampshire College has also launched a new partnership with Zipcar Inc., providing the campus with access to the world’s leading car-sharing service. This cost-effective and convenient transportation option is now available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all students ages 18 and older.

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What is security like at Hampshire?

  • Hampshire College maintains a parklike beauty and peacefulness. Like any other campus, however, it is not immune to public safety issues. Public safety is on call 24/7, and an officer is always patrolling the campus. There are walking guards available until midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends to walk students to their destinations if they feel uncomfortable walking alone. There are also trained student EMTs on campus available to respond to medical emergencies.
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