creating your division I portfolio

Written by former 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 three 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. 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 29 at 7PM in the FPH Faculty Lounge. 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!

Remember:

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!

win this week’s care package!

Care Package Front

Happy 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 had to choose the worst song ever written, which one would you pick?

how to pass division I (in a nutshell)

Written by former program assistant Cat Guzman 10F

Around this time three 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 submit your portfolio to pass Division I. Complete the online passing process: you will be asked to select your Division I courses and post your Division I retrospective essay (which includes your CEL-1 reflection, check for guiding questions on TheHub). Make an appointment to review your portfolio and have a passing meeting with your advisor during progress review week (May 5-9). You can’t officially pass Division I until all of your evaluations are in, so your advisor will probably check the box on TheHub to indicate that you’ve passed sometime between the end of June and early September. 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? 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 29 at 7 p.m. in the FPH Faculty Lounge. 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 newtohamp@hampshire.edu with any questions or concerns!

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?