win this week’s care package!

Care Package Front

Happy Friday, friends. It’s time for this week’s care package giveaway question!

All first and second semester students are eligible to win a care package – just post an answer to the following question in the comments before the end of the day Sunday to be included in the drawing for this week’s care package. The winner will be chosen randomly from all of the respondents Monday morning. We hope you win!

If you were to win any existing public award, which would it be?

everything you wanted to know about division II but were afraid to ask

Written by program assistant Nina Gunther-Segal 13F

Everything You Wanted to KnowThe end of the semester is fast approaching, so first years are beginning to start thinking about passing Div I and moving on to Div II. To help us gain an understanding of this process, on Monday, March 31st in the FPH Faculty Lounge, Ernie Alleva from the Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA) held a workshop about Division II for a group of Division I students.

Passing Div I
The first step in figuring out Div II is passing Div I. The bottom line for finishing Div I is talking to your advisor, so try to set up a meeting as soon as possible — it can only help! When you finish with your academic requirements for Div I, you’ll assemble a portfolio; talk to your advisor about this, because many ask for slightly different things, and they can tell you what specifically they’re asking for. The portfolio generally includes a retrospective essay, course evaluations, representative samples of your work, etc. Once you’ve assembled your portfolio, schedule a final, roughly half-hour meeting with your advisor to discuss the year: what’s gone well, your strengths and weaknesses, what you’re looking forward to, and so forth.

What’s the timeline for this? It depends. People will be finishing Div I from early May to early-mid February 2015. It’s possible to finish in May, but some will and some won’t — it depends on what requirements you’ve completed, and what you still need to do. Some people will have additional work in the fall semester. However, you won’t be able to officially pass Div I until June 15th, the deadline for faculty spring semester evaluations. Although you can’t officially be filed for Div II until you’ve passed Div I, you can get going on Div II pretty much anytime. You might even have done work the first year or before you pass Div I that can count towards your Div II.

What’s a Div II?
Div II is organized differently than Div I — for one thing, it has no distribution requirements, there’s no official number of courses required, and it’s not on any kind of course credit system. That said, you’ll hear faculty members throwing around numbers regarding what you need for your Div II — some faculty members will say “If you want me on your committee, you have to take X number of courses,” but it depends. The reason that there’s no specific number of courses required is because your Div II can vary significantly — it can include internships, independent research, research assistantships and teaching assistantships, among other valuable learning experiences. Division II portfolios upon completion will have at least 14-15 academic courses in addition to learning activities, internships, etc.

Now, other information about the content of your Div II — It’s all about your planning the trajectory of your studies yourself — it’s self-designed, in conjunction with faculty members. The goal of Div II is not to focus narrowly, but to give you a general set of skills in areas that interest you. This lack of a template makes Div II possibly more challenging, but it can also be a lot more interesting: for instance, it leaves open the possibility for interdisciplinary work. Div II is roughly equivalent to a major, minor or concentration, but there aren’t traditional departments; instead, you assemble a faculty committee.

Filing Div II
You need to come up with a proposal for Div II, which will eventually become your Div II contract. The first task is putting something down on paper–come up with a description, including things like ideas, problems, questions, materials, and techniques you want to work with. Make it so someone who doesn’t have a clue about you can understand; get something down as a basis for conversation with faculty about your goals. Ultimately, your contract will be an agreement between you and your committee regarding what you’ll do. In addition to stating the possible content of your Div II, talk about how you’d like to go about pursuing that; this can include what kinds of courses might be relevant (actual or hypothetical), as well as pursuits like  internships, study abroad/exchange programs, and research assistantships. Be prepared to tweak things as a result of conversations with faculty members; you will do one revision of your contract before you complete Div II so that what you actually did is reflected in its content.

Your next step is to contact prospective faculty members who might be good for your committee. The committee typically has two people (or sometimes three), an advisor/chair and a committee member. The distinction between members and chairs isn’t a very important distinction (officially, it has to do with who checks you off for things on the Hub) — the exact roles played by each depends on faculty availability and what you prefer. In addition to having one or two people who are knowledgeable about what you’re working on, the most important thing has having people that you want to work with. Take some time to talk to students and faculty members about who might be good for your committee. And it’s not unusual for people to have faculty on their committee with whom they haven’t yet worked, so that shouldn’t be an impediment to your reaching out to people. As for when to do this? Sooner is better because as students ask them, faculty will fill up their quota — definitely start talking to faculty by the fall, and don’t wait until February. There’s no cost to waiting till next spring for Div II as long as you already have a committee, but the final deadline is mid-February — if you don’t do it by then, Zena Clift and Ernie Alleva from CASA will start hounding you, and you might eventually have to spend another semester in Div I.

In addition to filing your Div II contract (having the final version on the Hub and signed off there by your committee), for students in high-demand programs at Hampshire, there’s a separate application process. These programs include creative writing, theatre, studio art, film/photo/video, and game design. If you want someone to be on your committee in connection with those programs, you have to file a separate application, the aim of which is primarily to provide fairness in the distribution of faculty on committees.

More about the specifics of Div II
Although the prospect of narrowing down your interests might be an intimidating one, note that not everything you do in Div II has to be a part of your focus. There might be things in there that are unrelated — for instance, if you’re focusing on painting, you might take a physics course. You just need a core of work that explores and develops your focus. You can also modify your Div II and committee if you change your mind–the contract is not set in stone, and sometimes people radically revise it.

Div II has different requirements than Div I. Instead of CEL-1, it has CEL-2, which stands for “Community Engaged Learning”. This can’t usually be satisfied by OPRA; instead, you work with organizations, work with other students on projects, etc. The bottom line is that it’s decided by the committee what can count towards CEL-2; you need to have someone (your supervisor, a co-worker) write you an evaluation, and typically, it should add up to at least 40 hours of work. In addition, there’s also the multicultural perspectives requirement, which you have to document in your final portfolio; sometimes your committee will also ask you to write a self-reflection; and again, the bottom line is that your committee decides what you need and what can qualify for this.

Toward the end of Div II, in addition to revising the contract, you’ll put together a portfolio–much larger than the Div I portfolio, but with a similar overall structure: a retrospective essay of about 8-20 pages, representative samples of your work, evaluations/self-evaluations, and related activities (talk to your committee about what to include). You’ll also schedule a final meeting towards the end of or after your sixth semester, to spend an hour talking about your progress, what else you want to do and the process of moving on to Div III.

Need more info?
Contact the folks at CASA — Ernie Alleva (ealleva@hampshire.edu) or Zena Clift (zclift@hampshire.edu). You can also make an appointment with one of them by calling 413-559-5498.

Still have questions? Email us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu. We’re happy to help!

what’s the deal with the housing lottery?

Written by program assistant Nina Gunther-Segal 13F

IMG_3515The housing lottery is approaching, and I’ve heard lots of first-year students expressing confusion about the process (myself included). Since everyone wants to have some control over where and with whom they live next year, I’m here to explain how the housing lottery works. I spoke with Assistant Director of Residence Life Amy Parker, and received a summary of what first-years should know about figuring out housing for next year.

Most people already know that the housing lottery functions based on points. Individual students get a point for every semester enrolled (so a minimum of 1 and maximum of 11). You’ll find out how many points you have from a letter in your mailbox, which will be distributed the day before the lottery starts on April 22nd. Most first year students have 2 points. Students form groups, pooling their points and attempting to “buy” a mod. You can only try for a mod that’s the same size as your group — for instance, a group of four people can only go for a four-person mod (you can’t go for a bigger mod and hope to fill empty beds later). The housing lottery progresses from smallest to largest mods — one mod size goes up every day, from four-person, to five-person, to six-person, etc. The results of the lottery are announced the day groups submit applications, so if you don’t win the first time, your group can take the 24 hours to find a new person and re-enter. This means that strategically, it makes sense to start smaller and go bigger.

So how do these registration packets work? Everything’s done on paper in absentia, and groups get to rank their preferred mod selections. Even if you put it last, if you rank a particular mod space you are committing to living there, so if you don’t want to live somewhere, put a big X through it. Note that the most common reason that people don’t win mods is because they choose not to rank them. You win your highest rank mod that another group with more points hasn’t won. The packet of forms are due every day at 1:00 p.m. at the latest — anytime after is too late, so be sure to try and get your packets to the HOO as early as you can to avoid a stressful, last-minute rush. If you want to drop them off while the office is closed, you can use the mail slot located at knee height in the inner door.

There are also alternative ways to get housing for next year. Instead of participating in the housing lottery to try and get a mod, groups can try and get dorm halls. For dorm halls, you have to have a group of five, but no one is required to sign up for a double. You can also skip the lottery altogether and sign up for an individual dorm room; this method also gives you the option of putting yourself on the mod wait list to fill vacancies as they arise over the summer. Vacancies are very common, and last year the HOO went through everyone on the mod waitlist, so this is a viable option. Also, the mod waitlist form allows you to narrow down the parameters of the room you’d want; for instance, you can say you only want to be placed in an Enfield single (but the stricter your parameters, the harder it’ll be to get in). There are also intentional housing communities, the selection window for which has technically passed, though you can certainly email the HOO at housing@hampshire.edu for more information. There’s info about intentional housing communities here, with descriptions of all the spaces and their applications.

Still want more information? All this info and lots more is already on the Hampshire website’s housing lottery page. All first-year students have also received a housing lottery informational booklet in their mailboxes. The HOO does all of their communication with students through their Hampshire email accounts, both during the year and over the summer, so keep checking your email to stay in the loop. Students are also free to stop by the HOO, ask their interns, or write to housing@hampshire.edu with questions. And if you found this process confusing even with all of these resources, the HOO is always looking for feedback about how the process went, so they’ll send out a survey sent after the lottery.

I hope that this is helpful! Still have questions? Email us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu!

win this week’s care package!

Care Package FrontHappy Friday, friends. It’s time this week’s care package giveaway question!

All first and second semester students are eligible to win a care package – just post an answer to the following question in the comments before the end of the day SUNDAY to be included in the drawing for this week’s care package. The winner will be chosen randomly from all of the respondents Monday morning. Ready? Okay!

If you could have the world’s largest collection of one thing, what would it be?

win this week’s care package!

Care Package Front

Hey, you’re back! And the week is almost over! It must be time for this week’s care package giveaway question.

All first and second semester students are eligible to win a care package – just post an answer to the following question in the comments before midnight on SUNDAY to be included in the drawing for this week’s care package. The winner will be chosen randomly from all of the respondents Monday morning. Got it? Great!

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

win this week’s care package!

Care Package Front

Are you ready? It’s time for the last care package giveaway question before break!

All first and second semester students are eligible to win a care package – just post an answer to the following question in the comments before midnight TONIGHT to be included in the drawing for this week’s care package. The winner will be chosen randomly from all of the respondents tomorrow morning. Ready? Okay!

If you could win an all expense paid trip to anywhere in the world for spring break, where would you go?

win this week’s care package!

Care Package FrontHappy Wednesday, friends! It’s time for a special mid-week installment of our care package giveaway. All first and second semester students are eligible to win – just post an answer to the following question before midnight TONIGHT to be included in the drawing for this week’s care package. The winner will be chosen randomly from all of the respondents Thursday morning. Here goes:

If you could be the current world champion in any one sport, which sport would it be?

get to know summer@hampshire!

Written by program assistant Nina Gunther-Segal 13F

summerprograms-mainWondering how you’re going to spend the summer? Looking for a way to immerse and educate yourself in a particular area of interest? Lamenting the fact that in only a few months the school year will end, and you’ll have to leave campus? Then Hampshire’s Summer Academic Programs are for you!

I had a conversation with Abby Ferguson, an expert on the Summer Academic Programs, who told me what first-year students might want to know about them. They’re a series of programs designed to reflect Hampshire’s strengths during the academic year, and a time when Hampshire opens up course offerings to students from all over the country. They’re primarily undergraduate programs (although there is one pilot high school program this year) and because the programs are rooted in academics, they provide transfer credit. Abby made a point of letting me know that they’d really love first-year students to look into the programs — it’s an incredible opportunity to participate in a variety of hands-on, uniquely Hampshire activities (experientially-focused, interdisciplinary) that you won’t get at other schools.

Here’s some more specific info about the individual programs:

Food, Farm and Sustainability: This is Hampshire’s flagship summer program, now in its third year. It’s six weeks long, from June 2 to July 11. Participating students will have the opportunity to work on the farm and with Natural Sciences faculty to look at sustainable agriculture from a variety of perspectives. It’ll include lots of hands-on learning activities: communal meal preparation, working at a variety of local farms, and enjoying the beauty of the Pioneer Valley in the summer while integrating work and education. Partnerships with local farms are deeply rooted in the curriculum, and the immersive program really gets at the root of sustainable agriculture.

TESOL Teacher Training Course: This program, during the month of June, allows students to delve into the coursework of teaching English to speakers of other languages, gaining a TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certificate in the process. It’s strongly connected to the Fulbright Program — many students go on to get Fulbright scholarships after taking this course; it also opens up incredible opportunities, globally.

Creative Media Institute: This is Hampshire’s summer film studies program, for four weeks at the end of the summer. Every year it has a different focus–this year’s is non-fiction media, and will be an opportunity to get inside documentary filmmaking in an immersive way. Not only is it open to students, but also to practitioners and filmmakers, who can come and take the course alongside students. This is particularly cool because it allows different learning communities to communicate, learning side-by-side and from one another. Students are encouraged to bring their works in progress to the program. The program involves lots of screening and responding to films. It will have several guest faculty and artist visitors, among them two Hampshire alums: esteemed filmmakers Ken Burns and Brett Morgen.

Institute for Curatorial Practice: This one’s brand new, and the summer programs organizers are very excited about it. It’s a five-week program that examines the practice of curation from all sorts of disciplines. The education provided is cutting edge, attempting to take museum studies into the 21st century. This is a program that takes full advantage of the Five College Consortium, firmly rooting its education in the collections, archives and exhibitions of the area. There will be many field trips and museum visits, and as part of the course, students will get to use what they learn to create digital exhibitions in groups.

Designing Social Impact: Hampshire students can’t take this one, because it’s a high school program, but if you know of any high schoolers (age 16+) who might be interested in experiencing the unique things Hampshire does, let them know! This is a design-focused program that takes advantage of the fact that Hampshire is one of the first liberal arts colleges with a fully-functional fabrication shop. Students will get to work in the Center for Design with faculty to innovate and develop their own projects.

Interested? Apply online — go to summer.hampshire.edu and click on the program that interests you to find an application. It’s a relatively simple process, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis. The priority deadline is April 14, meaning students are encouraged to get their application materials in by then — this is the last date by which spots can be guaranteed in the programs. As students apply, faculty will meet to review applications and make admissions decisions. Hampshire students are eligible for federal aid for the programs’ cost (if so, indicate your interest on the application form). Students can also take more than one program, because they’re staggered throughout the summer.

This is an amazing opportunity to see the college from all sorts of areas! You can talk to your advisor or a faculty member about how to apply it to your coursework and the overall trajectory of your Hampshire education.

If you have any more questions, email Abby Ferguson (afPR@hampshire.edu) or summer@hampshire.edu. And for more information about all the programs, check out the official Summer Academic Programs page.

win this week’s care package!

Care Package Front

Are you ready? It’s time for our weekly care package giveaway question!

All first and second semester students are eligible to win a care package – just post an answer to the following question in the comments before midnight TONIGHT to be included in the drawing for this week’s care package. The winner will be chosen randomly from all of the respondents tomorrow afternoon. Got it? Good!

If you could share a meal with anyone from any period in history, who would you choose?

taming your reading dragons

Written by program assistant Nina Gunther-Segal 13F

Taming Your Reading DragonsOn Tuesday, February 25 (after some scheduling issues due to snow!) Asha Kinney and Alana Kumbier shared their reading expertise with a group of interested students. Asha works in IT, specifically with educational technology, and Alana is a research librarian who works mostly with CSI classes. If you’re interested in getting an overview of what happened at this workshop and what resources were introduced — if you, too, would like to learn to tame those reading dragons — read on!

What Happened:
Participating students received a handout with a list of the topics that would be covered at the meeting, their brains fueled by the multitude of delicious snacks provided (seriously, Trader Joe’s has the best snacks). Alana and Asha started off by giving participants the opportunity to ask to focus on specific things with which they might have needed help. They went on to provide participants with tons of helpful information, starting with low-tech options (all-purpose reading and distraction-avoidance strategies) and then ramping up to higher-tech ones (dealing with PDFs, text-to-speech, etc.).

What We Learned–Low-Tech Tips:

  • The SQ3R reading method: This is a prescribed process for reading that really helps with retaining and digesting the information you encounter. It’s broken down into five steps:
    1. Survey – Go over the chapter, looking at headings and its general structure and content, before you dive in more deeply.
    2. Question – While surveying, ask questions about what you’re seeing (i.e. turn headings into questions).
    3. Read – This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but basically just do what you’d normally do when reading, structuring your understanding with your prior surveying/questioning.
    4. Recite – After reading a section, go back over its content and tell it back to yourself (or another person). Reproducing the content in your own words can be especially helpful if you need to write a paper on the topic and want to assimilate the information to avoid reciting it verbatim.
    5. Review – Step away from the chapter and then come back to it over a period of several days to better assimilate it.
  • Reading three times: Don’t worry–this doesn’t mean three times as much work! Instead, try this:
    1. Skim the reading (look at the headings, intro, and conclusion).
    2. Read more deeply — add annotations, and attempt to contextualize the information in the overall study of your class to figure out what’s most important to retain.
    3. Go back and note whatever is most important after class discussion of the reading.
  • Pomodoro Technique: This entails working in 25-minute increments (or however long works best for you) to accomplish a task. So many of us don’t even start a task because it’s too daunting, so breaking it down and having an end in sight makes it more psychologically manageable. Here’s how this works:
    1. Pick a task to accomplish.
    2. Set a timer for 25 minutes (here’s a helpful one: pomodoro.me).
    3. Work on the task without any diversion for 25 minutes, until the timer rings (if anything else comes up, ignore it and write it down to do later).
    4. Also helpful is keeping track of how many increments you’re doing for a task, to get a sense of your general pacing for various tasks (i.e. to read a certain number of pages); this allows you to plan the timing of your future work.
  • Miscellany:

    1. If you’re reading and you come across words or concepts you don’t know, take note of them and skip them, then return to them later–this helps prevent breaking the flow of your focus.
    2. A speed-reading technique that helps with visual focus is placing your fingers below the line you’re reading and following along so that only that line is visible. You can increase the speed of your hand’s movement to encourage yourself to read more quickly without losing track of your place on the page.

Higher-Tech Reading Tips:

  • Making text in a PDF recognizable to your computer: If you want to be able to select blocks of text or use text-to-speech, your computer needs to recognize it as text — the text in PDFs often appears to your computer as an image (especially if it’s a scanned book), but there’s a way to fix this! Robobraille.org allows you to upload a PDF and change it into recognizable text; you can also pick what kind of file it’s converted into (i.e. document, mp3 audio, Braille, e-book).
  • Adobe Reader annotations: Adobe Reader 11 (if you don’t already have it, it’s available for free download) has various tools for annotation. These include sticky notes, highlighting in different colors, recording audio, and drawing shapes. You can also search the text content of your notes for particular terms, making it a lot easier to find your notes on a particular subject. Preview also has similar features for annotation.
  • Text to speech: Hearing as well as seeing a reading can be helpful for understanding, and help keep focus. You can do this through robobraille.org, by having the PDF converted to mp3 audio. Mac users can select a block of text in TextEdit and convert it to an iTunes mp3 (and even change the voice and its speed in System Preferences > Speech > Text to speech). You can also download NaturalReader for free. And if you have an iPad/iPhone/Android, there’s the VoiceDream app, which has better voices than usual and a perfectly serviceable free version.
  • BeeLine Reader: Go to beelinereader.org to have the color of your text change in a subtle gradation, in such a way as to help keep your eye flowing. It sounds weird, but is actually really helpful.

A Final Note:
Asha and Alana noted the importance of having a backup method for documents. Hard drives die, and as terrible as that is, it’s even more terrible if they contain all your work and you lose that, too. There are several ways to do this, and an added benefit is that they make your work accessible from multiple computers (as well as iPhones and other devices):

  • Dropbox: It’s a free service that gives you plenty of remote storage in a folder on your desktop. Sign up and download it here: https://www.dropbox.com.
  • Google Drive: Allows you to create documents, presentations, spreadsheets, etc. and keep them all in one place on your Google Drive account, organized by folder. (drive.google.com)

Get In Touch:
If you’d like to reach Alana or Asha, or want more information on the workshop handouts, here’s their contact info:

Questions? Comments? You can reach us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu.