keeping up with your reading

Keeping Up With Your ReadingOn Thursday, October 24 from 12-1PM in the FPH Faculty Lounge, Lise Sanders, associate professor of English literature and cultural studies, presented a special reading skills workshop to an audience of staff and students. Couldn’t make it? Need a recap? Read on for more information about what you missed, and how to get a hold of the resources that were shared in this session.

What Happened:
While participants enjoyed a free lunch, Lise invited students to share what brought them to the workshop, and what obstacles they most frequently face with regard to completing all of their reading. Common themes in the room included retaining information for class discussion, identifying the most important pieces of information to absorb, how to prioritize reading tasks, and the need to read more effectively in the time allotted for a specific task.

Sound familiar?!

With these concerns in mind, Lise went on to to introduce a variety of different techniques to address these issues, keeping participants engaged with one another through reading, paired sharing, and other activities. Lise shared a number of handouts with the group, and offered participants the opportunity to ask questions after discussing a variety of techniques.

What We Learned:

  • In order to read more effectively, you must commit to being an active and engaged reader. Read with the firm intention of deducing the author’s main point, not just to get through the right number of pages. Your focus will aid your success.
  • Keep in mind that you may need to use different reading tactics for different types of texts, and approach assignments accordingly. Lise shared this handout on reading critical arguments, which provides a step by step overview of how to approach this particular type of text.
  • It’s okay to ask ahead! When you receive an assignment, consider speaking to your professor about what areas of the reading you’ll be focusing on in class discussion. This will help to guide your reading and make you more prepared to participate. If you have concerns, talk to your professor. They may have specific tips to help you maximize the effectiveness of your reading time, particularly with regard to the text at hand.
  • Approaching an entire page of text can be difficult to do. Train your eye to focus on the line you’re reading by using something to mark your place on the page. In the workshop, students used four fingers to guide their eyes across lines on the page, in a technique called long smooth underline. With practice, this can become a mechanical technique for training your eye to move faster.
  • You can diagnose your own comprehension and retention of your reading by pausing from time to time to verbally summarize what you’ve read. Participants engaged in pair sharing of these “tellbacks” to assess their own comprehension in the workshop, but this is also something that you can do on your own, or even record and play back to yourself. By summarizing aloud, you can move the knowledge you’ve gained into deeper memory.
  • When reading nonfiction, you can and should feel free to read the conclusion first. There’s no point in keeping the conclusion a secret from yourself, and reading in reverse can help you to better seek the features that will allow you to identify the main points of the text. Look up terms after your first review so you won’t have to continually stop while you’re trying to read.
  • Remember that as a reader, you have a unique critical perspective. Consider your own arguments and critical engagement with the text while you read — this will help you to gauge your own retention and comprehension.

Really Good Advice: Good Brain Time vs. Bad Brain Time*
Think about the times of day when you’re most “on”. For some of us, it’s first thing in the morning, while for others, it’s very, very late at night. Do you know when your own good brain time is? If so, use it! Prioritize your reading and other tasks based on when you’re most “on” — you’ll likely read and absorb more during your good brain time. Wondering what to do with your bad brain time? Save tasks that require less thinking for these periods. Once you’ve identified your own rhythm, you’ll be able to accomplish more.

*Lise attributes this concept to Lauren Berlant, one of her graduate advisors at the University of Chicago.

Use These Resources:

  • Have questions for Lise? Want to learn more about reading techniques? Get in touch with the workshop facilitator, Lise Sanders, at She’s happy to help!
  • Can’t get enough of these great academic skills? Join us for another workshop! Our next workshop, Life Management 101, will be held on Monday, November 4 from 3:30-4:30PM in the FPH Faculty Lounge. Learn how to manage your time and improve your organization, all while enjoying some free snacks. See you there!

Questions? Did we miss something? E-mail us at for more information!

win this week’s care package!

Care Package Front

Happy Thursday, 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 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, just in time for Hampshire Halloween!

If you could host a Halloween party in any existing interior space in the world, where would you have it?

eight great reasons to visit the prescott tavern!

Haven’t been to the Prescott Tavern? Wondering what’s there? The Prescott Tavern offers a combination late-night study and recreational space with activities such as foosball, pool, and board games all week long. Bring your own mug and buy a cup of organic coffee, tea, or cocoa for only 50¢. Assorted snacks are also available for purchase to satisfy your sweet or salty craving at midnight. The tavern is also home to the TavernArt gallery, a fabulous student gallery on campus. If you’re interested in exhibiting your work, email the coordinators at

Still not convinced? Check out these eight great reasons to visit the Prescott Tavern!
(click on the image below for a better view)

Eight Great Reasons

Still have questions? Need more information? Email us at We’re happy to help!

win this week’s care package!

Care Package Front

Happy Thursday, 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 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 any single writer from history write your biography, which one would you choose?

people you should know: jordan perry — director of wellness promotion!

Written by program assistant Xavier A. Torres de Janon 12F

Jordan PerrySomething that I’ve learned during my time at Hampshire is that before any commitment or academic demand, taking care of yourself matters the most. We all need space for self-care; without it, our physical, emotional and/or mental stability can be at stake. Last week, I visited Jordan Perry, our new Director of Wellness Promotion. She can help you in achieving holistic health and wellness in your life, something essential for your success at college.

A North Carolinian at heart, Jordan has been working at Hampshire for more than a month now. She is passionate about challenging commonly held misconceptions on what the ‘college experience’ really is. “We get a lot of messages from the media and from each other about what the college experience is ‘supposed to be’, but that isn’t true for everyone, ” argues Jordan. “You might be surprised to hear that most college students drink alcohol moderately or not at all. It’s actually a minority of students who engage in the risky behaviors we see so often in movies like Old School. Shockingly, there aren’t a whole lot of college movies about moderate drinking or safe, consensual sex.” She loves her new job at Hampshire College, as she sees a lot of structural support for her work and an approachable administration and staff. Jordan also appreciates the amount of room for growth and flexibility that is given to her, as well as the emphasis Hampshire College has in cultivating social justice in its students.

As the Director of Wellness Promotion, Jordan oversees the Wellness Center and all its activities. Located in Enfield, next to the basketball court, this student life center offers fantastic resources and support to our students. Its Relaxation Club gives free, drop-in 15-minute massages from Monday to Friday, between 3 and 8 p.m. It also has delicious warm drinks and healthy snacks (I had this delicious maple & brown sugar oatmeal after my visit with Jordan). Additionally, the Wellness Center can provide you with a diverse array of free safer sex supplies, and with information regarding substance use, healthy relationships, safe sex, stress management, mental health, and physical well-being. And as an added bonus, the Wellness Center has a sun room with light boxes that you can use there or check out and take with you. These tools can help you confront the rough New England cold and fight off Seasonal Affective Disorder (you know where to find me next JanTerm!).

Jordan says that she and the Wellness Center can give new students relaxation, something extremely important for you during your first year at Hampshire. She also hopes to serve as a friendly liaison between you and our Health & Counseling Services. In terms of the work she is doing right now, Jordan is promoting consent culture and figuring out how the Wellness Center can best meet students’ needs. If you have ideas, let her know!

Something that really struck me from my visit to Jordan Perry was her commitment to challenging misconceptions of college life. She sees as one of the most problematic ones the strange sleep culture embraced by college students. “Getting little to no sleep has become a sort of badge of honor,” she says. The less you sleep, the more bragging rights you seem to have. But the reality is that just like we need to breathe and eat to survive, our bodies cannot function without sleep. “Imagine you had a lot of work to do one night,” proposes Jordan. “You would never say: ‘Okay, I’m going to stop breathing for two hours to get my work done.’ But we give up sleep so quickly.”

Jordan and the Wellness Center have a lot to offer to you. Don’t hesitate to stop by whenever you’re feeling stressed, if you feel like you just need a break or a massage, or if you have an idea for the Wellness Center or Jordan herself. She’s always happy to talk with students, and she’s more than willing to share her experience and knowledge of public health. Jordan can be reached via e-mail at

And remember: Breathe, eat, and sleep!

Still have questions? Let us know! E-mail us at for more information.

people you should know: laura melbin — first-year advising dean!

Written by program assistant Xavier A. Torres de Janon 12F

Laura MelbinYour first year at Hampshire will be full of learning experiences, challenges and multiple academic demands and expectations. Mid-semester is here, which means that your classes will burst with assignments, deadlines and projects. Fortunately, there are a number of resources here on campus to support you and your academics. Laura Melbin at the Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA) is one of them.

Laura has been working for Hampshire six years now, so it’s no understatement to say that she’s seen hundreds of students pass through Division I and the divisional system successfully. The main aspects of her job include:

  • Negotiation of academic programs for students— She helps you plan an academic schedule and experience in your first year that works for you
  • Making sure students progress well during their first year at Hampshire— Laura will help ensure that you’re on the right track to successfully managing your Division I, and will intervene if and when you need academic help this year (this includes anyone considering withdrawing, transferring, or taking a leave from Hampshire)
  • Management of the Peer Academic Resource Center (PARC) — located in the Johnson Library at the end of the Info Bar, PARC is co-managed by returning, knowledgeable Hampshire students and, among other perks, offers a cool resource library that allows students to look at sample divisional contracts and portfolios
  • Direction of the First-Year Mentor Program— Run by CASA in collaboration with New Student Programs (that’s us!), this new Hampshire initiative connects incoming students with First-Year Mentors who serve as a link to the more social and cultural aspects of our college

I asked Laura how she would summarize Div I in one word. Her response: “Foundation.”

She sees Division I as a strong base for an education at Hampshire College, as it provides a wide array of tools for students. Although a lot of us might struggle completing Division I requirements, or may complain about how ‘I don’t do numbers’, ‘I am not artsy’ or ‘I don’t want to study this’, Laura sees them as a fantastic and much needed experience. “A lot of students come thinking that they know exactly what they want to study,” says Laura. But in most cases, the opposite is true. In her years at Hampshire, she has seen how our interests and true academic passions evolve and narrow down throughout our Hampshire education; Division I is a key element in this process.

Remember: Laura and the CASA staff are here for you! In Laura’s words, CASA is a “safety net.” It will prevent you from falling through Hampshire’s experimental education system. They can help you from communicating with your advisor and professors to adjusting to college life. Don’t wait until you’re desperate. The resource is there for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

You’re free to schedule an appointment with Laura by calling CASA at 413.559.5498, and she also welcomes drop-in visits to her office. Have a question, but not sure you need an appointment? Feel free to e-mail Laura at She’ll also be collaborating with us at New Student Programs throughout the year, so stay tuned!

win this week’s care package!

Care Package Front

Happy Thursday, 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 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…Set…Go!

If you had to pick the best meal you’ve ever eaten, what would it be?

writing mid-semester self evaluations

CalendarFall semester is nearly half over. Can you believe it? In the world of new students, that means a few things. One — October Break is almost upon us! And two — it’s almost time to write your mid-semester self evaluations.

Mid-semester self evals are due on TheHub on Thursday, October 10. For your first two semesters at Hampshire (yes, even if you’re a transfer student!), you’ll need to complete one for every course that you are taking. Wondering what to include? The parameters of your self evaluations will depend on each of your professors, so if you haven’t already, you should connect with all of your professors to find out the specifics of what they want you to include. Generally speaking, a mid-semester self evaluation is a paragraph that talks about where you were when you started, where you are now, and what is working (and not working) for you in the class. Again, you should plan to be in touch with your faculty for more information about what they expect, but we’ve included an example of a (slightly long) one below:

At the beginning of the course, I found that the articles were dense, hard to parse, and that it was taking me a really long time to get my brain into the mode necessary to read and understand the theory. It was refreshing to know that when I came to class, the ideas we had read about would not only be discussed, but also graphically demonstrated. As far as my academic performance in the class… I have a tendency to talk too much, and some days I am better than others at reigning it in. I don’t want to talk at the expense of the other students’ contributions, but I think that happens occasionally, and I am trying to pay better attention (again, with varying success).  That being said, I am really enjoying the learning! The class is vibrant and most of the students are engaged and articulate, with multiple perspectives that I find very interesting. I am less than confident about the originality of my ideas and the clarity of my writing. I feel a certain self-awareness about the lack of polish, and again, vocabulary in my academic writing.  I had a really easy time coming up with topics for the first two blog posts but a harder time with the third. I am looking forward to my research topic, but am anxious about the quality of what I see as being my pretty unsophisticated academic writing (especially when I read some of the other blog posts!). I see room for improvement, and am excited about the work.

Still have questions after speaking with your professors? Feel free to contact the friendly folks in CASA at 413.559.5498 and ask to speak with Laura Melbin (for first-years) or Anne Downes (for transfers). Laura and Anne can also be reached via email at or, respectively.

As always, don’t hesitate to contact us at with any questions, concerns, really great ideas, or good stories. We’d love to hear from you!

life management 101

Life ManagementOn Tuesday, October 1 from 3:30-4:30PM in FPH 101, Joel Dansky, disabilities services coordinator and academic support skills specialist, presented a special time management workshop for an audience of new and returning students. Did you miss it? Need more information? You’ve come to the right place! Read on for details on what happened, how to find support, and further time management resources.

What Happened:
While participants enjoyed some delicious snacks, Joel presented a brief Powerpoint which addressed the many challenges that students face with regard to time management, and offered strategies to help students to plan ahead, make the most of the unstructured time between classes, and work more efficiently. Joel then introduced a three part system for organization,The Big Picture,” “The Weekly Grind,” and “The Daily Plan,” which led to an interactive portion of the presentation. Through the use of a variety of different handouts related to these models, participants had the opportunity to create a color-coded, visual representation of their weekly and monthly schedules, and identify pockets of valuable time that they didn’t realize they had!

What We Learned:

  • Procrastination, distraction, and perfectionism are the three enemies of effective time management. Think you do best under pressure? The work you produce isn’t likely your best work, just the best you can do with the limited time you’ve allotted. Planning ahead can help to alleviate stress, no matter your reasons for waiting until the last minute. By creating small, manageable goals and structuring your time more effectively, you’ll accomplish more and yield better results!
  • The “Big Picture” is a useful tool for mapping an entire semester, and is available in hard copy in the Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA) each semester. Participants received an 11″x17″ academic calendar for this activity, but you can do it yourself with a planner or a regular calendar. At the start of the semester, gather your syllabi and mark down all of the important dates and deadlines for each course on your calendar. Once you have a full picture of what you’ll need to complete and when, you can identify key steps and work backwards to create small goals for yourself. This will help you to start things ahead of time, and avoid the confluence of too many deadlines all at once.
  • The Weekly Grind” allows you to create a visual representation of what a typical week looks like for you. Participants mapped out their regular schedule on a weekly calendar in an effort to identify blocks of time between fixed appointments, classes, and other obligations. What did they notice? They have more time than they think they do, and you might too! Take these chunks of time and specify what you’d like to accomplish in each, and give some structure to the larger periods of free time (long weekends, etc.), making sure to vary the types of work you do each day. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish!
  • Find a daily planning system that works for you. One calendar that you look at every day is better than several that you don’t, so find something that is portable, visual, and spacious enough for a to-do list, and keep it with you throughout the day. Don’t overload yourself, but do keep your planner as up to date as possible with class, work, and meeting times, as well as appointments, deadlines, and fun things.
  • Do you write best in the morning? Can’t get any work done in your room? Consider what times of day and where you do your best work, and plan accordingly!
  • The best system is the system that works for you, so feel free to try a few things as you work to get yourself organized. No system works 100% of the time — keep yourself open to new ideas and ways of planning. Don’t hesitate to reward yourself for accomplishing particular tasks. There are lots of different ways to get motivated!

Use These Resources:

  • Want hard copies of the workshop handouts? Interested in some personalized time management support? Get in touch with the workshop facilitator, Joel Dansky, at He’s happy to help!

Questions? Let us know! E-mail us at for more information.