Hampshire Brings Choice to an Increasingly Conformist Higher Education Landscape

Marcus spoke with students, professors, College President Ed Wingenbach, and others about Hampshire’s past, present, and big plans for the future.

“There is an ethos around Hampshire that attracts a certain kind of student, one that is interested in both experimentation and risk-taking, but also interested in dramatic change. They want to make the world better,” Wingenbach said. He added that students “don’t see a lot of [other] places like that.” Indeed, Hampshire is organized in a way that’s different from any other college in the world and those radical distinctions set Hampshire apart for students seeking a meaningful education where they can be more than just a “cog in the machine” as current student Liam Studer 21F put it.

“There is an ethos around Hampshire that attracts a certain kind of student, one that is interested in both experimentation and risk-taking, but also interested in dramatic change. They want to make the world better.”

Ed Wingenbach

It’s evident that these differences are exciting new applicants and in spite of the events of 2019, Hampshire is taking big strides towards full enrollment. This year, more than 2,000 prospective students have applied for fall 2022, twice as many as at this time last year. The bar is high for more than just enrollment numbers, Hampshire has set a goal of raising $60 million by 2024 and alumni and supporters have so far raised $33 million.

Hampshire is not alone in the pursuit to offer an alternative to the progressively more and more conformist higher education landscape. Others mentioned in the piece include, Mills College, Sweet Briar College, and Antioch College. As Antioch President Jane Fernandes said on the topic of keeping small colleges open and independent, “we’re not just fighting for Antioch College. I believe we’re actually fighting for the future of democracy.”

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Portraits by Sophie Park for The Hechinger Report

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