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!

speeding up your reading

Speeding Up Your ReadingOn Wednesday, October 1 from 12-1PM in the FPH West Lecture Hall, 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 delicious 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, staying focused while reading, and the need to read more effectively in a shorter amount of time.

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:

  • 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 lsanders@hampshire.edu. 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 Thursday, October 2 from 3:30-4:30PM in FPH 101. 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 newtohamp@hampshire.edu for more information!

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 11:59 p.m. 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. Ready? Okay!

If you could arrange a concert with any three musicians or groups (current or past) to play on the same bill, who would you invite?

win this week’s care package!

Care Package FrontHappy Friday, friends! It’s time for the first care package giveaway question of the semester!

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 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, September 21 to be included in the drawing for this week’s care package. The winner will be chosen randomly from all of the respondents on Monday. Ready? Okay!

If you could make a sequel to any movie you’ve ever seen, which one would it be?

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!

get involved in game development!

Interested in game development at Hampshire? The Five College Game Jam is coming up this Saturday, September 13, and Ira Fay, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Game Design reached out to share some details about how to get involved in game development at Hampshire, which we wanted to be sure to share with you. Read on for lots of great information!

Getting in Touch
The best way for students to be informed about game development related activities is to join the GameDevelopment e-mail list at http://lists.hampshire.edu/mailman/listinfo/gamedevelopment. There are also a number of activities listed on the CEL-1 site already, so make sure to stop by and learn more about ways to get involved AND log hours towards the CEL-1 requirement.

Upcoming/Ongoing Events

Five College Game Jam
Make a game in 5 hours! Free food!
Saturday, September 13, noon – 5 p.m.
Find it on the CEL-1 site: https://campusengagedlearning.hampshire.edu/?&CEL_m=RE&CEL_aid=536

Game Gatherings
Play and analyze board and card games.
Thursdays, 1 – 3 p.m., Library (Basement, Chris Young B9 room)
Find it on the CEL-1 site: https://campusengagedlearning.hampshire.edu/?&CEL_m=RE&CEL_aid=539

Game Dev Lunchtime Talks
One hour presentations from famous game devs. Free food!
Thursdays, noon – 1 p.m., Library (Basement, Chris Young B9 room)
Find it on the CEL-1 site: https://campusengagedlearning.hampshire.edu/?&CEL_m=RE&CEL_aid=540

Game Analysis: Magic the Gathering League
Explore game design concepts within the newest release of the popular card game Magic: the Gathering. No experience necessary. Cost: $25 (and possibly some free spots)
Join the MagicLeague e-mail list for more info and to enroll: https://lists.hampshire.edu/mailman/listinfo/magicleague
Find it on the CEL-1 site: https://campusengagedlearning.hampshire.edu/?&CEL_m=RE&CEL_aid=538

Game Analysis: D&D Miniatures (DDM) League
Explore game design concepts within the D&D Miniatures (DDM) game. No experience necessary. Cost: $25 (and possibly some free spots)
Join the DDMLeague e-mail list for more info and to enroll: https://lists.hampshire.edu/mailman/listinfo/DDMLeague
Find it on the CEL-1 site: https://campusengagedlearning.hampshire.edu/?&CEL_m=RE&CEL_aid=537

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

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!

places you should go: favorite campus hangouts!

Written by summer orientation assistant Morgana Smith 08F

There are few things more beautiful to me than Hampshire College in the autumn; our somewhat stark-looking, late-60s buildings are offset by fiery leaves and twining ivy, and it’s just cool enough to wear a light sweater and sip tea outside. This is a perfect time to start the school year, and the perfect time to allow new students to discover some of my personal favorite spots on campus.

The Hampshire Tree: Set back in a field, you can only get to this tree by a small jaunt along a wooded path, and then a subsequent scuttle through felled rows of corn. I was taken here my first year by an older student, but then found myself coming back at times when I needed to be alone with my thoughts. I never had an easy time navigating the Hampshire woods, so the Tree remained my own little slice of nature that was relatively quick to find.

KissinLlamasThe Farm: In October, there is the annual Fall Farm Fest, where the folks who work down at the farm press apples into cider, sell kettle corn and our own Hampshire honey, host live music (performed by Hampshire students), and bring out some of the animals – llamas, sheep, cows, chickens. But outside of the festivities, the Farm is another wonderful place to walk around at any time of year, and a great place to take visiting guests! The llama is particularly fun to hang out with.

The Goodread Library: This is a little gem of a place that I didn’t discover until much later in my career as a student – a library based entirely on the honor system (take a book, read it, bring it back for someone else) and located in the middle of Greenwich Donut 1. Though there is some foot traffic as people go to and from their mods, this is a relatively quiet space, ideal for getting some writing or reading done. Besides, it’s lots of fun to browse through the titles and find books you never knew existed! (By the way, the bookshelves in the Merrill and Dakin Living Rooms work on the same system – there are lots of books to be found on this campus!)

The Greenwich Swing: Not too far from the Goodread is an unassuming swing. It’s another lovely place to sit and contemplate or do some reading (apparently, I led an extremely introspective life as a student). It’s probably worth mentioning that there’s a Dakin Swing, as well as a few others around campus.

DivIII Studio 1The Arts Barn: While it’s easily not the most beautiful building on campus, the Arts Barn is very much a second home to me. Since many of my classes after first year were arts-related and my advisor was a sculpture professor, I spent a lot of time here. I even had a studio during my Div III! Whenever I come back, I know it’s a place where I’m welcome and where there will be people I know. It’s a lot of fun to walk through and see what students are working on, and I always recommend that folks take an art class at some point, even if that’s not what they’re interested in studying. In my experience, our art classes are engaging and fun, and students are never made to feel as though they need to live up to some artistic ideal. Right outside the Arts Barn is the Graffiti Wall, which is constantly changing as students create art pieces on top of each other in perpetuity.

To be honest, there are very few spots on campus I don’t like, but I could talk about Hampshire all day. I know that some of you will find these places and love them as well, but I also hope that you find other places that are meaningful to you, places where you can study, relax, hang out with friends, have a meal, create something, or just get lost in thought.

Have questions? Want more information? Contact 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!

people you should know: morgana smith!

Photo on 2014-06-02 at 11.20 #2June is finally here, and as all of you lovely incoming students get ready to wrap up your final year of high school, I’m just beginning my summer adventure here in New Student Programs as the summer orientation assistant. Looks like we’re all going to have an exciting few anticipatory months ahead of us!

Even though I started at Hampshire way back in the fall of 2008, I can easily recall the mixed emotions many of you are feeling now – the excitement, the anxiety, the suspense of the unknown. Change can be difficult, but Hampshire has been a wonderful, comforting place for me ever since I first set foot on this campus as a student.

Though I came in with the intention to study creative writing, I soon found myself drawn to the studio arts and to circus. My studies involved combining these two areas in the form of mask-making and clowning. I spent a semester abroad in Italy studying the masked theatre form known as commedia dell’arte. My time spent in the country my grandparents grew up in rekindled my passion for Italian history and folk culture, this time as viewed through the lens of feminism, and with a greater understanding of politics and poverty.

My Div III was a circus show that took place in South-Central Italy during the Fascist era, and my goal was to highlight some of the issues that my grandparents had to face: strict social rules for women, a war that the uneducated Southerners didn’t fully understand, and having a responsibility to your family beyond all others. Div III was a challenging year, but it was also a wonderful opportunity for me to bring my own perspective, skills, and identity into something important and often overlooked.

But Div III is still far away for all of you, and there is plenty of time to explore your passions. And as important as academics are, I hope that you all are able to meet lots of amazing, inspiring people and get truly involved with this campus. Student groups are one of the best ways to do this; I was involved with Hampshire’s circus group, Circus Folk Unite!, for all four years of my college experience, and it was one of the most important and influential aspects of my life here (and in some ways, it still is!).

Even though the bulk of my duties will be logistical stuff pertaining to your upcoming orientation experience, I want each and every one of you to know that I’m happy to answer your questions, chat about Hampshire, and help you ease into this next phase of your life. Beyond everything else, Hampshire is a community, and one that you will be able to help shape in the coming years.

Congratulations, and welcome!

~Morgana, 08F