cel-1 reflection

Have you completed your CEL-1 hours? Are you preparing to pass Division I at the end of this semester? If you answered yes to either of these questions, now is the time to begin reflecting on your CEL-1 experience! On Thursday, April 19 from 12-1PM in the Dakin Living Room, Nell Arnold, assistant professor of fiction writing, presented a CEL-1 reflection workshop to an audience of first-year students. Ivana Staiti, community engagement and collaborative learning coordinator, joined the workshop as a special guest, and to respond to technical questions regarding the CEL-1 website, verification, and other related topics. Did you miss it? Wondering what happened? Read on for an overview of the workshop and some helpful hints from our facilitators.

What Happened:
While participants enjoyed a free lunch, Nell Arnold distributed a list of CEL-1 Freewrite Prompts to supplement those that are listed in the reflection section on the CEL-1 website. These questions, which are more specific in nature, can help enhance your focus as you prepare your written reflection. The questions on the CEL-1 website are fairly broad, so Nell suggested using these prompts to break apart the big questions and to help participants to think more deeply on what was most meaningful for them as they completed the requirement. Nell guided participants through a number of these prompts, and those in attendance had the opportunity to share more about the opportunities that they took on and how they fit into their overall Division I experience.

Some Sample Questions:
A PDF version of the CEL-1 freewrite prompts is linked in the paragraph above, but here are a few of our favorite prompts to get you in the mindset for CEL-1 reflection.

  • Did your CEL-1 activity bring a “community” into being? If so, how?
  • Did you meet new people? Did you find common ground with them? Did you find that your views and expectations differed? If so, in what ways?
  • Did the CEL-1 give you any opportunities to teach someone else or give anyone advice about how to do something?
  • If you could change something about your CEL-1 experience, what would it be? How would you advise a first-year student, next year, about how to have a successful and enjoyably challenging CEL-1 experience?

What We Learned:

  • Completion of the space in the reflection section of your chosen activities on the CEL-1 website is not a requirement, but it does provide a good starting point for identifying what pieces of your CEL-1 reflection you want to include in your Division I retrospective. Spend some time reflecting on each of your activities ahead of time. It will make the CEL-1 portion of your retrospective that much easier to complete.
  • The CEL-1 is an academic requirement, and you’re encouraged to consider what you’ve learned outside of the classroom that you can bring inside the classroom in your future work. By framing it in this way, you may make some surprising discoveries about how the CEL-1 will influence your future academic experiences at Hampshire.
  • It’s okay to admit when things didn’t go as planned. Capitalize on your learning experiences as you reflect!
  • If you’re focusing on one primary activity through which you completed your hours, feel free to make mention of the other ways in which you were involved on campus too. We want you to focus on what was most meaningful, but there’s no reason not to share the fullness of your involvement experience in your retrospective.

Use These Resources:

  • For general information about the CEL-1 requirement, visit the CEL-1 website or check out our two prior blog posts on the CEL-What? workshops in October and February.
  • Still have questions about reflection? Send a note to cel1@hampshire.edu. They’re happy to help!

Did we miss something? Need more information? E-mail us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu.

creating your division I portfolio (as told by a div II)

Written by program assistant Cat Guzman 10F.

So, you know what you’ve got to do to pass, but are you still wondering how to do it? I know I was about a year ago, and I remember wishing I had an older student with personal experience help explain the process to me. The Division I portfolio is essentially the culmination of your whole first year at Hampshire—a testament to the things you’ve learned and the best work you’ve done. Reflecting on the year and creating your portfolio now may seem daunting (especially with final deadlines around the corner), but it doesn’t have to be! It’s a time for personal reflection and assessment, and it can actually help you better understand your experience and development thus far as a Hampshire student. If you’ve satisfied all your requirements, the portfolio is really the only thing standing between you and passing Division I. Ready to create it?

Here’s what you want to do:

First, get a 3-ring binder (about 1-2” in size) and some section dividers. You can also use the clear binder that CASA gave you at the start of the year — that’s what it’s for! Create the following labels for the pieces of the portfolio you need:

  1. Table of Contents
  2. Division I retrospective essay (2-3 pp. recommended length)
  3. Copies of all evaluations and grades you’ve received so far.
  4. A list of courses you’ve completed (indicate which ones satisfy four out of five distribution areas: ADM, CHL, MBI, PBSJ, & PCSJ)
  5. Documentation of your CEL-1
  6. One section for each of the cumulative skills
    1. Independent Work
    2. Multiple Cultural Perspectives
    3. Quantitative Reasoning
    4. Writing and Research

Next, gather the easy pieces: the Table of Contents page, your printed course evaluations and grades (include all that you have up to this point), a list of your courses that will satisfy Division I, and documentation of your CEL-1.

Then, find a free chunk of time to look through all of the evaluated work you’ve saved up until now and pick your best examples that apply to the each of the four cumulative skills — these pieces will ultimately go into your portfolio. This doesn’t require a day’s worth of work; it can be done in a couple of hours in your room. And if you feel at all confused about what should or shouldn’t go into the portfolio, don’t hesitate to ask your advisor for some helpful advice, like I did. (Note: all of your favorite work may not fit into your binder, but don’t let that stop you from including it in your portfolio! For my Div I portfolio, I decided to include a photography project that consisted of 12 large matted prints. It wasn’t a part of my binder, but my advisor appreciated my choice to present it anyway in my final meeting.)

If you want some company while assembling your portfolio, make sure to stop by the Portfolio Making Party on Monday, May 7 at 7PM in the Dakin Living Room. New Student Programs staff will be on hand to offer advice, supplies, and plenty of snacks. Stop by and spend some time with fellow soon-to-be Div II students!

Writing Your Division I Retrospective:

The retrospective is ultimately a reflection essay — a chance to tell the story of your first year at Hampshire. When writing, consider how you began the year and your expected academic interests. Talk about the academic challenges you faced and the steps you took to meet them, along with the “high points” of your year, including what interested you, what new ideas or topics surprised you, and what you enjoyed the most. Write about your participation and experience in the Hampshire community for your CEL-1 activity. And with the cumulative skills in mind, think of what you learned about each of them along the way.  As you prepare, you may also want to consult your advisor to see if there’s anything specific that they want you to include. The main goal is to provide a clear picture of your progress as a student and member of the community during your first year at Hampshire.

I’d recommend you write it in a quiet and empty space where you can truly focus, whether that’s in your room or in the main gallery of the Liebling photo building. Give yourself the time to re-read it all, re-visit your experiences, and think about why it all mattered. If the assignment seems scary, I promise you it’s easier than it seems! Looking at your best work over the course of your first year at college (all of those written pages, creative projects, research, etc!) is a pretty amazing feeling. You’ll be able to draw conclusions about your work and about yourself. Ultimately, you should feel really proud of all you’ve done and learned so far, and this should definitely help motivate you to finish your portfolio. You’ll want to include a hard copy of your retrospective in your portfolio, but don’t forget to complete the passing process on TheHub as well. You’ll be able to copy and paste your retrospective into the passing form after you’ve finished writing.

…And when you’ve completed all the pieces, get ready to present your work to your advisor in your final Div I meeting!


1. These are guidelines to help you better navigate the process of creating your portfolio—don’t feel obligated to work in this exact order, just get it done before the deadline in the best way you know how.

2. Your portfolio and retrospective are what you want them to be. This was the most important lesson I learned last year and the best piece of advice I can pass forward.

Division I is what YOU make it—your overall experience at Hampshire is what you make it. Keep this in mind when you’re creating your portfolio, and enjoy the process!

I hope this helps you—best of luck 🙂

As always, contact newtohamp@hampshire.edu with any questions, comments or concerns. We’re happy to listen and help!

how to pass division I (in a nutshell)

Written by Program Assistant Cat Guzman 10F

Around this time last year, I remember stressing over my Division I portfolio. I had met all of my requirements, so I was (technically) ready to pass, but I felt overwhelmed and mentally unprepared. The urgent e-mails that flooded my inbox sometimes added to the pressure instead of motivating me, and with finals just around the corner, the process felt so daunting that I ended up waiting until the beginning of my second year to do it.

Looking back, I realize I probably would have saved myself the extra pressure to pass if I had just done it when I was first ready. What I needed was to see the process from a different and simpler perspective.

Let’s break it down into individual steps:

1. First, courses! Take one course in four of these five distribution areas (totaling four courses):

  • Arts, Design, and Media (ADM)
  • Culture, Humanities, and Languages (CHL)
  • Mind, Brain, and Information (MBI)
  • Physical and Biological Sciences (PBSJ)
  • Power, Community, and Social Justice (PCSJ)

Take three elective courses (these are courses that don’t necessarily hit a distribution area, and are totally determined by YOU).

So, a grand total of SEVEN courses will comprise your Division I portfolio. And along the way, make sure you’ve progressed in these cumulative skills:

  • Progress/proficiency in analytical writing and informed research practice
  • Progress/proficiency in quantitative skills
  • Engagement with multiple cultural perspectives
  • Progress/proficiency in the ability to successfully undertake independent work

2. Complete at least one CEL-1 (Campus Engaged Learning) activity, totaling 40 hours. Your retrospective essay will include reflection on your CEL-1 activities, so be thinking about how they fit into your overall Division I experience.

3. Write a retrospective essay on your academic experience thus far (more on this in a future blog post).

4. Create a portfolio of your best work over the course of the year (more on this soon too!).

5.  Set up a final meeting with your advisor, and submit your Division I portfolio.

By this time, you’ll be wrapping up your courses and CEL-1 activity for the year, so the actual portfolio (including the retrospective) is the only thing that stands in your way of passing and becoming a Div II! Theoretically speaking, you could pass next semester—but who wants to dwell on officially passing their Division I over the summer? Save yourself the pressure, and get it done now if you can!

Feeling like you might be ready to pass Division I? Here’s a suggested timeline:

  • April: Make an appointment with your advisor for Progress Review Week. You’ll be expected to give your advisor your Division I portfolio, including your retrospective essay (more on these items in an upcoming blog post!). By now, you should be completing your CEL-1 activities. Remember that you need to complete the online passing process in addition to meeting with your advisor!
  • May: If you’ve completed all of your Division I requirements, you will be expected to pass your Division I now. Complete the online passing process: you will be asked to select your Division I courses, post your Division I retrospective essay (which includes your CEL-1 reflection, check for guiding questions on TheHub), and complete an online Division II Intent form. Meet with you advisor for your Division I passing meeting. If you have not completed all of the requirements for Division I, you must still meet with your advisor and agree upon a plan for the completion of Division I.
  • September: Happy School Year! Passed Division I in May? You can begin to draft your Division II contract on TheHub now.

I hope this helps put things into perspective, but if you find yourself still feeling lost or overwhelmed, stay tuned for my next blog post where I’ll break down the steps of creating your Division I portfolio, including writing your retrospective!

Good luck, and don’t hesitate to contact us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu with any questions or concerns!

finding the right sources

With less than a month left of classes, deadlines for final papers and projects are fast approaching. Wondering where to start? You’re not alone! On Wednesday, April 4 from 12-1PM in the FPH Faculty Lounge, the research librarians held a special workshop on finding the right sources to help you complete your work. Couldn’t make it? Wondering what you missed? Read on for lots of great information!

What Happened:
While participants enjoyed a delicious (and free!) lunch, research librarians Bonnie Vigeland, Rachel Beckwith, and Caro Pinto guided attendees through the library website, highlighting important resources to make their research more successful. Each librarian spoke about different databases, how best to use them, and techniques for identifying and refining research topics. At the end of the session, participants had the opportunity to ask questions about their specific research needs, and the librarians guided them through various options for finding relevant resources.

What We Learned:

  • Hampshire subscribes to multiple databases that can help with your research, which can help you yield text, video, audio, and image results that you won’t be able to find in normal internet searches. These databases are designed to help you find scholarly sources (in manageable quantities!) that will aid in your research process. For instance, a search of “California” and “immigration” in JSTOR will offer 54,000 results, as opposed to Google’s 169,000,000. You can save yourself valuable time by going straight to the databases when starting your research.
  • Do you know about LibGuides? LibGuides are subject-based database lists that are created and maintained by the research librarians for each subject area. Already know that you’re planning to research something related to architecture? Let the Architecture LibGuide be your starting point. Have a question for the research librarian in a particular area? The contact information for the librarian who maintains each LibGuide is docked on the right side of the page. Ask away!
  • Think you need a definitive topic for your paper or project before you can start researching? Think again! If you have a vague idea of what you might like to explore, you can do some preliminary research to see what others in the field are talking about. Found an article that’s exactly what you’re looking for? Use the search keywords in the article listing to help you find more sources like it. Better yet, check out the bibliography of the initial article to further refine your results.
  • When conducting research through Hampshire’s databases, the more common problem is finding too much. You don’t need 50 articles for a 10 page paper. Continue to refine your searches to yield the best results, and to develop a manageable list of sources to guide your work.
  • Want to browse the comprehensive list of databases to which the Hampshire library is subscribed? If you’re looking for a specific database, the A-Z listing can be a good place to start. Looking for something very specific? Try the full-text article finder.
  • There are databases for images too! Looking for an image of a specific work? Use the ARTstor database to find high resolution, precisely catalogued images. You’ll find better (and more accurate) results than with an internet search.
  • Are you using Zotero? Zotero is a free Firefox extension that allows you to track searches and save sources from multiple databases, all in one place. When it comes time to complete your bibliography, Zotero uses your saved information to format and generate it for you. The librarians are happy to help you install and navigate this useful tool. All you need to do is ask!

Advice from the Librarians:

Research shouldn’t be a solitary process, nor should it take forever. As you begin your research, reach out to faculty, classmates, and friends to talk about what you’re interested in, and let them help you develop a better sense of where to start. Collaboration can be a very good thing! The research librarians are happy to work with you too, so feel free to contact them with any questions, concerns, or to learn more about the resources available to you at Hampshire.

Want some one-on-one time with the research librarians? Join us for the next session of Ask the Experts, a drop-in workshop on Tuesday, April 24 from 7-9PM in the Johnson Library, 1st Floor. Stop by, get your questions answered, and enjoy some free snacks. We hope to see you there!

Questions? Did we miss something? E-mail us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu. We’re happy to help!

using the consortium

Written by program assistant Cat Guzman 10F.

With pre-registration looming, you’re probably in the process of assembling your schedule for next semester. You may have your eyes already set on a full schedule’s worth of Hampshire courses, but have you considered studying at the other colleges? You have the entire Consortium to your advantage! Feeling overwhelmed, or just plain curious about the process? On Monday, April 2, New Student Programs sponsored “Using the Consortium,” a panel event in which older students shared their experiences, gave advice, and answered questions about studying off campus. Missed it? Don’t worry, here are some pieces of advice from the panel:

The Benefits of Using the Consortium:

  • Getting off campus! Want a break from Hampshire? Taking a Five College course is an excellent way to start exploring and meeting new people.
  • Meaningful and formative experiences! Aside from learning in a new environment, studying at different schools exposes you to different ways of learning, with different kinds of people.
  • With five colleges worth of courses you choose from, you’ll have the opportunity to develop a schedule that fits your unique needs. Want to study a particular topic from a specific perspective? Take advantage of the resources of the consortium and find the courses that you really want.

Some Helpful Hints:

  • Wondering how to find courses at other schools? Talk to your advisor for course and faculty suggestions specific to your interests. They’ll most likely have contacts across the consortium, so take advantage of their help. Use the Five College Course Catalog! It’s a great and simple search system for finding specific courses and faculty members by their schools, subjects, and names.
  • Plan your schedule wisely! This means not only making sure that classes don’t conflict, but taking travel time into account before making any course decisions. The PVTA is a free and convenient system, but don’t be a stressful commuter. Be realistic about your availability and flexibility, and don’t over-exert yourself.
  • Reach out to Five College professors that interest you, introduce yourself, and keep in touch — especially if it’s a course you really like or is really popular.
  • Go to the first day of your Five College courses. Some courses can be competitive, so showing up is crucial. And if for some reason you can’t, make sure to contact the professor to explain the situation.
  • Five College faculty aren’t required to write evaluations for you, but it never hurts to ask. Make sure to ask early in the semester so that the professor can prepare to evaluate you fully at the end of the term, should they agree to do so.
  • If you’re planning to take classes off campus, make sure you still have a mix of Hampshire and Five College courses in your schedule. This will allow you to continue to cultivate relationships with faculty here at Hampshire and remain engaged in the community. The advice of Hampshire faculty will be invaluable as you continue to choose courses, and you’ll likely want to include many of them on Division II and Division III committees!

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • You can request a Five College course on TheHub, but this does not mean you’re automatically registered. The registration process can take some time and isn’t always guaranteed until after classes begin!
  • You don’t have to take courses to be involved at other schools. You can experience the culture of other schools in different ways such as joining a club or going to campus events. These are opportunities where you meet new people and gain networking experience. Wondering how to find out what’s happening on other campuses? Make sure to check out the Five College event calendar, an excellent resource for curious students.

Hampshire alone offers so many different courses for students, and considering what the rest of the consortium offers can kind of be like opening the floodgates. Don’t limit yourself! Using the consortium can be a very rewarding experience, and can really help shape your experience as a Hampshire College student. It’s worth the effort!

Use These Resources:

Wondering how to register for Five College courses? The Central Records office offers a slew of great resources for students who are just getting started. Check out the Course Registration Tips fact sheet, or view screenshots of the Five College course request process on TheHub. Still have questions? E-mail Central Records at centralrecords@hampshire.edu, or stop by their office on the first floor of Cole Science Center. We’ve also featured the Central Records staff right here on the blog, so feel free to visit their post to learn more.

Questions or comments? E-mail us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu. We’re happy to help!