creating your division I portfolio

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 two years 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, PBS, & 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 Tuesday, April 30 at 7PM in the Dakin Living Room. New Student Programs and CASA 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 with any questions, comments or concerns. We’re happy to listen and help!

win this week’s care package!

Care Package FrontHappy Thursday, 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 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 have the world’s largest collection of one thing, what would it be?

how to pass division I (in a nutshell)

Written by Program Assistant Cat Guzman 10F

Around this time two years ago, 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 (PBS)
  • 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 a future blog post where I’ll break down the steps of creating your Division I portfolio, including writing your retrospective! Also, mark your calendars for this year’s Division I Portfolio Making Party, which will be held on Tuesday, April 30 at 7 p.m. in the Dakin Living Room. Laura Melbin from CASA will be in attendance, and we’ll provide lots of snacks and portfolio-making supplies!

Good luck, and don’t hesitate to contact us at with any questions or concerns!

win this week’s care package!

Care Package FrontHappy Thursday, 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 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. Got it? Good!

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

finding the right sources

Finding the Right SourcesWith 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 3 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 (Thea Atwood, the librarian for NS and CS was unable to attend, but is always willing to meet with students!). The librarians 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.

Things to Know:

  • 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.
  • 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 23 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 We’re happy to help!

win this week’s care package!

Care Package FrontHappy Thursday, 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 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. Got it? Good!

 What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten?

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

Everything You Wanted to Know

On Tuesday, March 26 and Tuesday, April 2 in the FPH Faculty Lounge, Ernie Alleva and Zena Clift from the Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA), presented two special Division II workshops to groups of Division I students. Did you miss them? Read on for lots of great information on Division II, and how to begin thinking about academic life after you’ve completed Division I!

The Basics of Division II

  • Division II is a four semester process, with three semesters filed in your concentration with your committee
  • It includes work in your concentration and other additional studies
  • Work in your concentration can include courses, field study in the United States or abroad, and other learning activities (internships, etc.)
  • Your Division II will be directed by a two-person faculty committee, including one chair and one member. Your committee chair becomes your academic advisor in Division II.
  • It includes engagement with the Multiple Cultural Perspectives: Non-Western Perspectives, Race in the United States, and Knowledge and Power
  • It includes 40 hours of Community Engaged Learning (CEL-2)
  • Upon completion of your Division II, it will be documented by a retrospective and portfolio

Filing Your Division II
After your second semester:

  • Fill out your Division II Intent form on TheHub. A brief, clear description of your proposed area of concentration is all that is needed. Also, indicate if you would like to change your Division I advisor before filing your Division II contract. When you file your Division II contract, your Division II chair will become your advisor. This form will be available on TheHub at the end of the spring semester.
  • Begin drafting your Division II contract on TheHub, and talk with potential faculty members about serving as your Division II chair/advisor or committee member.
  • If relevant, submit your application to the Film/Photo/Video, Theatre, Writing, or Studio Art program to be assigned a Division II chair/advisor or committee member from these programs. The deadline for these application is Friday, October 26, 2013.
  • The deadline for filing your Division II so that you can graduate in four years is not until early in your fourth semester, by Thursday, February 13, 2014. You must complete your Division II contract and have both your chair and member sign on to it on TheHub by that date. However, CASA recommends that students file their Division II contract as soon as possible after passing Division I.

Helpful Hints:

  • Can’t wait to file Division II after this semester? Know that you can’t officially file until mid-June, once all of your evaluations have come in and you’ve officially passed Division I. There’s no need to feel pressure to file this quickly, but keep this in mind if you already have plans and a committee lined up.
  • Most Division II committees include only two people (a chair and a member), but you can include a third if you choose. Your third member can even be a five college professor or Hampshire staff member.
  • Although you can wait until your fourth semester to file Division II, it behooves you to get started sooner. Faculty start signing on to Division II committees early on, so you have a better chance of working with particular faculty members if you start reaching out sooner rather than later.
  • You can change your committee at any time, and some students will need to do so if committee chairs or members are on sabbatical or leaves of absence at certain points. You can discuss this with your committee to determine the best course of action.
  • CASA also has a helpful handout with instructions on how to file Division II on TheHub. Access it here!

Use These Resources:

Still need more information? Want to talk to someone about your plans? Feel free to email Ernie Alleva ( or Zena Clift (, or make an appointment with either of them by calling CASA at 413.559.5498. Ernie and Zena work exclusively with Division II students, and are more than willing to help!

Questions? E-mail us at Happy planning!

using the consortium!

Written by program assistant Cat Guzman 10F

Power of FiveWith 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 any of the other four colleges? You have the entire Consortium to your advantage! Planning a schedule with this in mind, however, can sometimes feel like you’ve just opened the floodgates of knowledge. Have you ever felt overwhelmed by this process? Or just plain curious about how to navigate it? Here are some tips on why and how to personalize a successful schedule throughout the Five Colleges:

The Benefits of Using the Consortium:

  • Getting off campus! Ever feel like you want a break from Hampshire? Taking a Five College course is an excellent way to start exploring new places 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 among people with different kinds of perspectives.
  • With five colleges worth of courses to 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 academic area? Take advantage of the various resources the consortium offers, 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 who interest you. Introduce yourself, and keep in touch — especially if they’re teaching a course you really like or you know to be really popular.
  • Go to the first day of your Five College courses. Certain courses may be overcrowded and the competition for enrollment may be stiff, so showing up is crucial. And if for some reason you can’t, make absolutely sure to contact the professor to explain your 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! Check the status of your course requests frequently on The Hub—and be patient!
  • You don’t have to take courses to be involved at other schools. You can experience the culture of other schools in other ways such as joining a club or going to campus events. These are opportunities where you can 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 feel daunting. The process requires a significant amount of time searching, communicating, and planning—but don’t let this turn you away. Using the consortium can be a very rewarding experience, and can really help shape your experience as a Hampshire College student. It’s most definitely 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 their course registration information page, or view screenshots of the Five College course request process on TheHub. Still have questions? E-mail Central Records at, or stop by their office in the Lemelson Building.

Questions or comments? E-mail us at We’re happy to help!