Written by program assistant Nina Gunther-Segal 13F
The 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.
Still have questions? Email us at email@example.com. We’re happy to help!