places you should go: exploring the valley!

Written by summer orientation assistant Morgana Smith 08F

CarleIn just one short week, you will be living in the Pioneer Valley, most of you for the next four years. And while Hampshire College is its own little utopia in many ways, there are lots of places beyond our little school that are worth exploring as well. Here’s a little guide to some places I thought were worth mentioning!

Museums and Galleries:

  • Mead Art Museum: The Mead is Amherst College’s art museum, free and open to the public. Right now it’s open Tuesday – Sunday from 9-5, but it has extended hours during the school year. Not only does the museum host a couple well-known favorite artists like Monet and Bouguereau, it also has some very interesting ancient artifacts, including a huge wall piece from Mesopotamia!
  • Smith College Museum of Art: As the name suggests, the Smith Art Museum is property of Smith College and located on the College’s campus. Admission is free for college students with their student ID. In addition to the exhibits, the museum also has a large print, drawing, and photograph collection that is often used for classes. Admission is free for students with an ID.
  • The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art: Located on Hampshire’s campus, the Carle is a lovely collection of illustrative art works. In addition to a whole room dedicated to both the famous and lesser-known works of Carle himself, there are two galleries of ever-changing exhibits that exemplify the very best that illustration has to offer. Beyond the galleries there is a small reading and play room, which shelves jam-packed full of picture books of all varieties. Admission is free for Hampshire students.
  • R. Michelson Galleries: There are several galleries on Main Street in Northampton, all of which are more than worth perusing. But the R. Michelson Gallery is very special for a couple for reasons. First of all, the building used to be a bank, and inside the old bank vault is an exhibit of Leonard Nimoy’s “Shekinah” photographs. A little beyond the vault is a collection of children’s illustration artwork, including some stunning originals by the one and only Dr. Seuss!

Entertainment/Leisure:

  • Amherst Cinema: What would a college town be without at least one “art” theatre? Amherst Cinemas screens many old classics, foreign wonders, and (my favorite) new Studio Ghibli films! The theatre is spacious, the movies are sure winners, and the business is local. Screenings and events are posted here.
  • Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory: For a slightly more active leisure activity, one might consider Magic Wings. It’s been many years since I went to the Conservatory (I actually visited LONG before I was even thinking about college, around the age of 12), but I distinctly recall being amazed once I set foot inside. The butterflies and moths are left to roam and flit about as they please, touching down on lush, tropical vegetation. This is a must-see for any nature lover.
  • The Fine Arts Center at UMass: For those of you looking for an evening of cultured performance art, the Fine Arts Center might be just the place to look! Students can get discounted tickets for a variety of shows; in the past, the FAC has hosted Pilobilus Dance Troupe, Cirque du Soleil, and the National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China, among others. They currently have a jazz series and an Asian Arts & Culture program in their lineup. For more information on upcoming shows, check out the calendar on their website.
  • The Iron Horse Music Hall/The Calvin Theatre/The Pearl Street Nightclub: All property of the Iron Horse Entertainment group, these three venues mark the impressive musical history of Northampton. Located in a sort of topographical triangle within walking distance of each other, each venue continues to host both established and up-and-coming talents all the time. The Calvin is perhaps the most obvious and prominent of the three, being located on Pleasant Street, and its marquee gives passersby the details on what’s coming. For a full schedule for all three halls, check out the schedule on their website.

There is certainly no way that I’ve covered all of the many activities in the surrounding area. Aside from these, there are myriad restaurants, coffee shops, local businesses, and parks to while away some free time. For trips a little further afield, both Boston and New York City are within driving, busing, or train-going distance.

So remember, even though Hampshire is a beautiful, exciting place to be, it’s important to get out into the world and explore the many possibilities in the Pioneer Valley!

Have questions? Want more information? Email us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu. We’re happy to help!

what’s the deal with work study?

Great question. We’re glad you asked!

If you’re an incoming student with a work study award as part of your financial aid package, you’re probably wondering how (and when) to get started on the process of securing work study employment on or off campus. All work study-eligible students will meet with the Student Employment Coordinator, Janel R. Johnson on opening day and during orientation to review information about securing a work study position. But if you can’t wait to start thinking about employment opportunities, here are a few tips and FAQs to help you get started before you arrive!

Where can I view the available work study positions?
Available on and off campus work study positions are listed on the student employment intranet site, and will be updated more fully in mid-to-late August. These listings are as current as possible for this moment, but will certainly be updated as we move towards the semester. To get a sense of what’s available, you can browse the following sites. (Note: you will need your HampNet username and password to log on to the Intranet.)

When can I begin contacting potential employers?
The student employment office generally recommends that students wait until August to begin contacting campus offices. Many Hampshire offices are closed during the summer, while others operate with limited staffing, so you’re more likely to get in touch with offices once their full staffs have returned for the start of the fall semester (which generally happens around August 1). We’ve heard some stories about students contacting offices sooner than this and having success in doing so, but most offices don’t expect to hear from you until August.

How should I contact potential employers?
Once you’ve identified a few potential opportunities in which you’re interested, you can begin contacting these offices to express your interest, see if the position is still available, and schedule an interview for early in the semester. Email is preferred by most offices, as it is easier to keep track of communication, potential candidates, and interview scheduling. Some listings will indicate how best to contact the office, so feel free to use this as a guide. If you cannot find contact information on a listing, feel free to contact the student employment office for more information.

How many positions should I pursue?
The student employment office suggests that students pick five positions of interest, you should apply to at least one off campus work study position too. Many students have a work study awards as part of their financial aid package, and the more opportunities you pursue, the more likely you are to secure a position.

Are there any forms that I need to fill out?
Once you have interviewed and acquired a job, you will need to fill out a work contract, I-9, W4 and M4 tax forms before you before will be able to be paid for your work. You can obtain the work contract through either the employer or the student employment offices. All work study-eligible students are required to attend the student employment meeting, which takes place on Tuesday, September 2, at which point you’ll fill out your tax forms and learn more about policies and procedures for student employment. It is very important NOT to fill out the tax forms before you come to campus. These are date sensitive and can not be accepted if dated before the student employment meeting during orientation. More information about this meeting will be available in the new student orientation schedule. Please note that you’ll need to have two forms of identification with you in the form of 1) a current passport, a social security card, or a certified birth certificate, and 2) either your Hampshire ID or a driver’s license. Please keep this in mind when packing for Hampshire!

Where can I find more information?
Visit the student employment office page on the Intranet for lots of great links, including information on contracts and a list of FAQs. Janel Johnson, the student employment coordinator, will return to the office in mid-August, but you can certainly send her an email, and she will respond within the business week, jjohnson@hampshire.edu. You can also contact Financial Aid 413-559-5484 with any pressing questions. They’re happy to help.

Still have questions? Curious about anything new student related? Feel free to contact us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu. We’d love to hear from you!

welcome to the newtohamp blog!

photoOn behalf of the office of new student programs at Hampshire College, we’d like to welcome you to the newtohamp blog. Here you’ll find updates on academic requirements, events sponsored by the office of new student programs, tips from current students on navigating your first year at Hampshire, and posts by guest bloggers on all things new students. We don’t want you to miss a thing!

Can’t make it to one of our programs? Check back here for a post-event report with information on what you missed and how to get in touch with presenters. Looking for advice from current students? We’ll have current students posting their best pieces of wisdom from their first year experiences. Have questions, but don’t know who to ask? We’ll cover that too, by introducing the individuals that can help you to make the most of your first year at Hampshire.

Stay tuned!

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?

win this week’s care package!

Care Package Front

Hey, you’re back! And the week is almost over! It must be 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 on 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. Got it? Great!

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

win this week’s care package!

Care Package Front

Are you ready? It’s time for the last care package giveaway question before break!

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 win an all expense paid trip to anywhere in the world for spring break, where would you go?

win this week’s care package!

Care Package Front

Are you ready? It’s time for our weekly 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 afternoon. Got it? Good!

If you could share a meal with anyone from any period in history, who would you choose?