Written by program assistant Xavier A. Torres de Janon
Your first college semester is almost over (can you believe it?), and for Hampshire students, this means three things: final projects, self-evaluations, and course portfolios. Wondering how to get it all done? We’ve compiled some advice and helpful suggestions for you to consider as the semester-crunch kicks in.
Final projects: the tougher sibling of final exams
Think final exams are harder than final projects? Well, any Hampshire student can immediately tell you that that’s mostly false. Final projects are tough, but they are not impossible. As long as you are working on them continuously, not allowing yourself to leave everything until hours before the deadline, you will be fine. Before you know it, you’ll have everything handed in, ready to rest and relax during Winter Break. Of course, writing a college-level 8+ page paper can be intimidating and stressful, so here are some tips that might be helpful:
- Dedicate the time – The quality of an academic project is directly related the amount of time dedicated for it. Trust me, professors can tell the difference between an all-nighter and a thoroughly edited essay. Try to put some work into your finals right now. Your future self will be pretty thankful!
- Faculty are there for you – Your professor will be the one evaluating your final, and so their expectations and requirements matter a lot. If you need guidance or just plain encouragement, reach out to them. Our faculty tend to also be very willing to give you feedback on drafts of your finals. If you feel uncertain of how your project is looking, send an e-mail to your professor. Comments from them can make the difference between a great and an outstanding final.
- Breathe in, breathe out, and relax – Don’t overwork yourself. During finals season, there are a lot things going on at Hampshire to help you with research and writing — including a library workshop called Ask the Experts THIS WEDNESDAY from 7-9 p.m. on the first floor of the library. There’s also plenty of programming put up to help you de-stress, like Library Study Breaks and Wellness Center relaxation events.
Looking back and reflecting: self-evaluations
A big part of a Hampshire education involves reflecting on your own academic work, progress and growth. You’ll probably hear a lot about self-evaluations in the upcoming days. The good news is that you already wrote a short self-eval during your mid-semester evaluation, so you should have an idea of what a self-eval looks like. These are not critiques of the class or its professor, but a personal analysis of your performance in the class. Some faculty have specifics that they want to see in your self-eval, while others allow you to engage with them independently. Self-evals will be read by your professors when they’re writing your final evaluations, so make sure to include things that you’d like to remind or point out to your professor about your engagement with the class.
Honestly, I didn’t enjoy writing self-evals during my first semester. I struggled with them and felt that I was re-writing repetitive information for all of them. However, now I see their usefulness and importance. These are great opportunities for you to write down your evolution of academic interests and passions. What interested you in the class? What do you want to explore more? Would you take a similar class again? For more self-eval advice, specifics and recommendations, check out this previous post on our blog, written by former program assistant Cat Guzman 10F.
“Where did I put that paper?!”: course portfolios
Another unique aspect of Hampshire classes is the demand of course portfolios. These packets (generally submitted in a large manila envelope) contain your classwork throughout the semester and help your professors in providing a fair assessment of your academic performance. There is no formula for a course portfolio, as each professor will want to see different things in them. Overall, though, you should be prepared to provide a compilation of your semester’s work, a self-eval and the class’s final project.
Ideally, the assignments in your portfolio should be the original versions, with faculty comments included. In other words, this is a good time to organize your room, folders, and files to dig up your papers of the semester. That being said, some professors will be flexible in accepting re-printed versions in your portfolio, but try your best to find the originals. If you got the paper back, it’s bound to be somewhere in your life. Spontaneous black holes in your room are, sadly, not a thing yet.
I hope this post will be useful to you. Spread it around to your friends! And as always, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments, questions, or concerns. We’re always happy to help. Best of luck in the next couple of weeks!