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!

what’s the deal with the housing lottery?

Adapted from a post from April 2014 by a former NSP program assistant!

IMG_5523The housing lottery is approaching, and we’ve heard lots of new students expressing confusion about the process. Since everyone wants to have some control over where and with whom they live next year, we spoke to the HOO to get a summary of what first-years should know about figuring out housing for next year. Feeling confused about the lottery? Have questions? Read on for more details!

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 on April 20, 2 days before the lottery starts on April 22. 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 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 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 in many years the HOO has gone 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 and identity based mods, which have applications here (due Friday, April 3). There’s info about intentional housing communities here, and identity based mods here, with descriptions of all the spaces and their applications.

Still want more information? All of 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 packet under their doors (note: if you do not want these printed materials, please return them to your area office or the HOO so they can be recycled for other students’ use). 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 RAs, 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.

We hope that this is helpful! Still have questions? Email us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu!

people you should know: laura melbin!

Written by program assistant Kaylie Vezina 14F

LauraI have to admit, I was a little bit nervous to be walking into CASA, (The Center for Academic Support and Advising) but as soon as I walked into Laura Melbin’s office and saw her kind smile, all of my worries melted away and I felt comfortable. This is Laura’s third year as the Assistant Dean of Advising, where she works closely with Division I students, and her seventh year with the College. Needless to say, Laura knows a lot about the divisional process and has seen many students go through it successfully.

Sometimes, though, the divisional process may seem challenging or overwhelming, especially as one enters it for the first time. If you ever find yourself feeling that way, Laura is the person you want to talk to. In the most basic sense, Laura’s job is to work with first-year students by providing them with moral support and assistance as they work their way through the first year of their college experience. Some of the main aspects of Laura’s job include:

  • Helping new students negotiate academic programs — Laura can help you plan an academic schedule that works for you. She can also help you with pre-registration, as well as figuring out your portfolio.
  • Making sure you have the resources and support you need — By talking to Laura you can figure out who to talk to based upon your needs. She’s able to advise you on academic and enrollment matters in a way that is comfortable and supportive. Laura can also point you in the direction of faculty who work in your area of study so that you can begin conversing with them.
  • Helping new students stay organized and prioritized — I think it’s safe to say that most of us have found ourselves in places where we seem to be swimming in piles of work or other activities, not knowing where to start because we haven’t stayed organized, and that’s okay. If you need or want help staying organized and prioritized, Laura can help you with that.

Laura Melbin is here to help you, as is the rest of the CASA staff. They can help you with things like communicating with your advisor, to just getting used to life on a college campus. Just remember that this resource is here for you, and if you need assistance in any way don’t be afraid to ask!

Feel free to schedule an appointment with Laura by calling CASA at 413.559.5498. Not sure you need an appointment? Send Laura an email at lmelbin@hampshire.edu.

preparing for winter break!

Campus Residences close for winter break Friday, December 19th at 9 p.m. What do you need to know and do for shut down? Read on (and click on the checklist below) for more details!

F14 December closing FLYER

DON’T FORGET TO TAKE IMPORTANT STUFF… KEYS, PASSPORT, ID, TRAVEL TICKETS, MEDICATION, ETC!
Staff can’t access your room after shut down. Remember to bring room keys and ID back to campus with you when you return. If you’re worried about losing your ID over break, you can leave it in your mailbox and it will be waiting for you when you get back to campus. Questions? Ask at the post office for more information.

ROOMS WILL BE INSPECTED
Staff make sure your room and common area are safe and secure. Violations will be noted and illegal stuff confiscated.

Don’t forget to shut and lock windows, close shades and curtains, remove trash, unplug alarm clocks and other electronics, and lock doors.

RETURNING FOR JAN TERM?
Houses reopen on January 4th at NOON. Early arrival is not possible, so please plan ahead!

Questions? Feel free to get in touch with the Housing Operations Office (HOO) at housing@hampshire.edu. Enjoy your break!

getting it done!

Written by program assistant Kaylie Vezina 14F

Getting It DoneOn Wednesday, November 5 from 2-3 p.m. in the FPH Faculty Lounge, Asha Kinney and Alana Kumbier gladly shared their “getting it done” knowledge with some eager students. Asha works in IT, specifically with educational technology, and Alana is a research librarian who works mostly with CSI classes. If you’re interested in getting an overview of what happened at this workshop as well as what tactics were introduced, read on:

What Happened
While the participants in the workshop enjoyed some delicious snacks, Asha and Alana gave an overview of what was going to happen during the hour. The workshop’s intent was to decrease stress and increase flow, which basically means turning your “bad” stress into “good” and more productive stress. (Good stress, it’s a thing!)

What We Learned
Asha and Alana outlined a strategy for keeping your work organized and lists some good tools and techniques. Slides and notes from this workshop are here.

What if there’s not enough time?! Have no fear! Sometimes it just isn’t possible to get everything done. If this is the case: Know what you’re not doing, be able to articulate why you’re not doing it, sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures. We aren’t perfect, and that’s okay!

Don’t have time to read a whole article/book? Try reading the intro and then every topic and concluding sentence of each paragraph/section. Doing this should give you a pretty solid idea of what you’re reading. When you’re reading a book, try skimming over every sentence and seeing what sticks with you if you don’t read too deeply into what you’ve read.

Need help staying off certain websites while trying to work? Try http://selfcontrolapp.com. Selfcontrol allows you to block yourself from visiting certain websites at certain times.

AND REMEMBER… physical activity is good for the brain. If your work is getting to be too much, take a walk, jump up and down, take a dance break. It’ll be good for you, I promise.

Get In Touch:
If you’d like to reach Alana or Asha, here is their contact info:

  • Alana Kumbier—akumbier@hampshire.edu—413.559.5704
  • Asha Kinney—aakLO@hampshire.edu—413.559.6238

Want more great tips? Check out this Student Toolkit for the End of the Term, provided by Information Technology!

Have questions? Need help? Email us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu!

super helpful tech tips from IT!

Written by program assistant Kaylie Vezina 14F

Hey! Are you having trouble staying organized? If you are, check out these fabulous videos created by Asha Kinney in Information Technology to learn about some great ways to keep your life in order. Links to each video appear below, along with a brief description of different resources!

Evernote (Watch Here!):
Evernote is a website and downloadable application where one can take personal notes. These notes are stored in notebooks which include individual notes that can contain pictures, sounds, files, links, and text. The notes are saved through your online Evernote account, and can be accessed on multiple devices. Evernote is not ideal for sharing notes.
Google Drive (Watch Here!): 
Google Drive has a multitude of features, such as the ability to create spreadsheets, presentations, and drawings, among other things. Work created in Google Drive is saved through the cloud which makes it a wonderful tool for group projects, as work is so easy to share.
Trello (Watch Here!):
Trello is a fabulous website used for organizing to do lists and managing projects. With Trello, one is given a board where they can create lists of classes/reoccurring events/etc. Within these lists, one can add cards that indicate items that need to be done. Trello is a good resource for organizing group projects, as one can assign specific cards to specific people.
Google Calendar (Watch Here!):
Similarly to Trello, one can use Google Calendar to organize their work and life. Google Cal can remind you of events, and one can even invite friends with google accounts to events they are attending. Google Calendar also has a “tasks” feature, where one can add a task to their calendar and check it off when they are done with said task.

Can’t get enough of these great tips? Join us for Getting It Done, special workshop on Advising Day, Wednesday, November 5, at 2 p.m. in the FPH Faculty Lounge. Asha Kinney from IT and Alana Kumbier from the Library will be on hand to share lots of tips and tricks to help you tackle the rest of the semester. Don’t wait until it’s too late — get organized before finals begin!

Have questions? Need something? Email us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu. We’re happy to help!

taming your reading dragons

Written by program assistant Kaylie Vezina 14F

Taming Your Reading DragonsOn Wednesday October 22 from 3:30-4:30 p.m., presenters Asha Kinney and Alana Kumbier gladly shared their reading expertise with a bunch of eager students. Asha works in IT, specifically with educational technology, and Alana is a research librarian who works mostly with CSI classes. If you’re interested in getting an overview of what happened at this workshop and what resources were introduced, read on!

What Happened?

Participants were given a handout with a list of topics that were to be reviewed during the workshop. Alana and Asha began the workshop by asking participants if they had any specific questions or had any particular things they wanted to focus more closely on during our time together. They went on to provide participants with tons of useful information, beginning with low-tech options (reading and distraction-avoidance strategies) and finishing with more high-tech options like text-to-speech and dealing with PDFs.

What We Learned:

Low-Tech Tips:

  • The SQ3R reading method: SQ3R is here to help you build a framework to understand your reading assignment. It’s really helpful for retaining and digesting the information you are given. SQ3R is broken down into five steps:
    • Survey: Look over your reading, look at headings, general structure and content before you dive in. Ask yourself what you’re dealing with, and then find out.
    • Question: While surveying, ask yourself questions. Write them down. Turn the title, headings, and/or subheadings into questions. Ask yourself what the instructor said about the chapter or subject before it was assigned. Ask yourself what you already know about the subject.
    • Read: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Just go ahead and read—do it as you normally do, but consider structuring your understanding with your prior surveying/questioning. Note any vocabulary that you may not know or understand.
    • Recite: After reading a section, go back over the content and tell it back to yourself or another person.
    • Review: Step away from what you read, and then come back to it.
  • Don’t have time to complete all of these steps? Try looking at something for no more than twenty minutes, after this time is up, ask yourself if reading the article or chapter in full is worth your time.
  • Create an index for yourself. Keep notes of important concepts and save them for later.
  • The Pomodoro Method: This method is here for you if you need help staying on task. The Pomodoro Method allows you to break up your work into incremented amounts of time so that the task at hand seems less daunting. Give it a try:
    • Pick a task to accomplish.
    • Set a timer for 25 minutes, or what ever increment of time works best for you.
    • Work on the task without any diversion for 25 minutes, or until the timer rings. If anything else comes up, write it down and do it later.
    • When the timer rings, take a five minute break.
    • After this break, repeat!

High-Tech Tips: 

  • Making text in a PDF recognizable to your computer: If you want or need to be able to select blocks of text or use text-to-speech, your computer needs to recognize it as text. robobraille.org allows you to upload a PDF and change it into recognizable text; you can also pick what kind of file you want it to be converted into.
  • Text to speech: Hearing something as well as reading it can be helpful for truly understand what you’re learning about. You can do this through robobraille.org by having the PDF converted into a mp3 file. Mac users can select a block of text in TextEdit and convert it to an iTunes mp3. You can also download NaturalReader if you have an iPad/iPhone/Android.
  • Beeline Reader: Go to beelinereader.org to have the color of your text change in a subtle gradation in a way that keeps your eye flowing. It may sound weird, but it’s super helpful.

A Final Note: 

Asha and Alana noted the importance of having a backup method for documents. Hard drives die, and no matter how terrible that is, it would be even more terrible if they contained all of your work and other important files. There are several ways to backup your work such as dropbox.com or Google Drive.

Get In Touch:

If you’d like to reach Alana or Asha, here’s how to find them!

Can’t get enough of Asha and Alana? Join them next week for Getting It Done, a special Advising Day workshop full of organizational and time management skills to help you tackle the rest of the semester. The workshop will take place on Wednesday, November 5 from 2-3 p.m. in the FPH Faculty Lounge, with free snacks provided. Read on, dragons!

writing mid-semester self evaluations

photo-3Fall 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 Wednesday, October 8. 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 lmelbin@hampshire.edu or adownes@hampshire.edu, respectively.

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

how to approach faculty

Written by former program assistant Cat Guzman 10F

Welcome, new students! Now that the semester is underway, you’ve probably realized that one of the best things about Hampshire is the accessibility to faculty. You may have lots of questions, and there are so many potential sources to give you the answers. But do you ever feel intimidated, hesitant, or just plain shy in approaching faculty? During this time of transition to college life, social adjustment can feel tricky in and out of the classroom. Knowing how to approach faculty members is a necessary skill in advocating for yourself and maintaining a successful academic experience. Here are some tips to building these important relationships:1. Keep in touch with your advisor! During your first meetings, be sure to talk about classes, review your strengths and weaknesses, and share your future goals. Remember, advisors are a tremendous resource at Hampshire—there are here for you.

2. If you’re ever feeling confused, lost, overwhelmed or concerned in the classroom or about certain course material, don’t wait—communicate with your professor! There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Plan your questions, and approach them after class to discuss them. In my experience, this is the best way to get quick questions answered!
  • Sign up for office hours! Some professors are busier than others, and are therefore a bit harder to reach. Signing up for their office hours (usually posted on your course syllabus, their office door, and/or their Hampedia page) ensures one-on-one time with them, and is especially helpful when you’re looking to have a thoughtful conversation.
  • You can also contact them through email and their course website to try and find a time to meet outside the classroom. Just remember: faculty inboxes can sometimes be filled the brim, so if you’re waiting for a reply, it may be best to actually follow up in person with your professor. Note: when writing an email to faculty, make sure to include a greeting, provide a clear overview of what you’re writing about, and don’t forget to sign your name! The more information they have, the easier it will be for them to respond to you.

3. Teacher’s Assistants (or TAs) are older Division II or Division III students who help professors throughout the semester. They’re great conduits between you and faculty, so use them well!

4. The Deans of the Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA) are also available to help make connections. CASA’s expert tips helped to provide the framework for this blog post, and they have lots of great information to share. Don’t hesitate to visit their office, located in the Lemelson Building, or call them at x5498.

5. As with all campus communication, please make sure to check your Hampshire email regularly. Faculty, staff, community members, and other students will use this email address to reach you, and you are expected to follow up on email communication through this account throughout your time at Hampshire.

Faculty are always willing to help, but they can’t read minds, so it’s crucial for you to take the first step in approaching them. Introducing yourself and keeping in regular contact is a great way to start the year and to stay on top of your progress in class.

Best of luck with the semester!

Questions or comments? E-mail us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu. We’d love to hear from you!

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!