cel-1 reflection

Have you completed your CEL-1 hours? Are you preparing to pass Division I at the end of this semester? If you answered yes to either of these questions, now is the time to begin reflecting on your CEL-1 experience! On Thursday, April 19 from 12-1PM in the Dakin Living Room, Nell Arnold, assistant professor of fiction writing, presented a CEL-1 reflection workshop to an audience of first-year students. Ivana Staiti, community engagement and collaborative learning coordinator, joined the workshop as a special guest, and to respond to technical questions regarding the CEL-1 website, verification, and other related topics. Did you miss it? Wondering what happened? Read on for an overview of the workshop and some helpful hints from our facilitators.

What Happened:
While participants enjoyed a free lunch, Nell Arnold distributed a list of CEL-1 Freewrite Prompts to supplement those that are listed in the reflection section on the CEL-1 website. These questions, which are more specific in nature, can help enhance your focus as you prepare your written reflection. The questions on the CEL-1 website are fairly broad, so Nell suggested using these prompts to break apart the big questions and to help participants to think more deeply on what was most meaningful for them as they completed the requirement. Nell guided participants through a number of these prompts, and those in attendance had the opportunity to share more about the opportunities that they took on and how they fit into their overall Division I experience.

Some Sample Questions:
A PDF version of the CEL-1 freewrite prompts is linked in the paragraph above, but here are a few of our favorite prompts to get you in the mindset for CEL-1 reflection.

  • Did your CEL-1 activity bring a “community” into being? If so, how?
  • Did you meet new people? Did you find common ground with them? Did you find that your views and expectations differed? If so, in what ways?
  • Did the CEL-1 give you any opportunities to teach someone else or give anyone advice about how to do something?
  • If you could change something about your CEL-1 experience, what would it be? How would you advise a first-year student, next year, about how to have a successful and enjoyably challenging CEL-1 experience?

What We Learned:

  • Completion of the space in the reflection section of your chosen activities on the CEL-1 website is not a requirement, but it does provide a good starting point for identifying what pieces of your CEL-1 reflection you want to include in your Division I retrospective. Spend some time reflecting on each of your activities ahead of time. It will make the CEL-1 portion of your retrospective that much easier to complete.
  • The CEL-1 is an academic requirement, and you’re encouraged to consider what you’ve learned outside of the classroom that you can bring inside the classroom in your future work. By framing it in this way, you may make some surprising discoveries about how the CEL-1 will influence your future academic experiences at Hampshire.
  • It’s okay to admit when things didn’t go as planned. Capitalize on your learning experiences as you reflect!
  • If you’re focusing on one primary activity through which you completed your hours, feel free to make mention of the other ways in which you were involved on campus too. We want you to focus on what was most meaningful, but there’s no reason not to share the fullness of your involvement experience in your retrospective.

Use These Resources:

  • For general information about the CEL-1 requirement, visit the CEL-1 website or check out our two prior blog posts on the CEL-What? workshops in October and February.
  • Still have questions about reflection? Send a note to cel1@hampshire.edu. They’re happy to help!

Did we miss something? Need more information? E-mail us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu.

creating your division I portfolio (as told by a div II)

Written by program assistant Cat Guzman 10F.

So, you know what you’ve got to do to pass, but are you still wondering how to do it? I know I was about a year ago, and I remember wishing I had an older student with personal experience help explain the process to me. The Division I portfolio is essentially the culmination of your whole first year at Hampshire—a testament to the things you’ve learned and the best work you’ve done. Reflecting on the year and creating your portfolio now may seem daunting (especially with final deadlines around the corner), but it doesn’t have to be! It’s a time for personal reflection and assessment, and it can actually help you better understand your experience and development thus far as a Hampshire student. If you’ve satisfied all your requirements, the portfolio is really the only thing standing between you and passing Division I. Ready to create it?

Here’s what you want to do:

First, get a 3-ring binder (about 1-2” in size) and some section dividers. You can also use the clear binder that CASA gave you at the start of the year — that’s what it’s for! Create the following labels for the pieces of the portfolio you need:

  1. Table of Contents
  2. Division I retrospective essay (2-3 pp. recommended length)
  3. Copies of all evaluations and grades you’ve received so far.
  4. A list of courses you’ve completed (indicate which ones satisfy four out of five distribution areas: ADM, CHL, MBI, PBSJ, & PCSJ)
  5. Documentation of your CEL-1
  6. One section for each of the cumulative skills
    1. Independent Work
    2. Multiple Cultural Perspectives
    3. Quantitative Reasoning
    4. Writing and Research

Next, gather the easy pieces: the Table of Contents page, your printed course evaluations and grades (include all that you have up to this point), a list of your courses that will satisfy Division I, and documentation of your CEL-1.

Then, find a free chunk of time to look through all of the evaluated work you’ve saved up until now and pick your best examples that apply to the each of the four cumulative skills — these pieces will ultimately go into your portfolio. This doesn’t require a day’s worth of work; it can be done in a couple of hours in your room. And if you feel at all confused about what should or shouldn’t go into the portfolio, don’t hesitate to ask your advisor for some helpful advice, like I did. (Note: all of your favorite work may not fit into your binder, but don’t let that stop you from including it in your portfolio! For my Div I portfolio, I decided to include a photography project that consisted of 12 large matted prints. It wasn’t a part of my binder, but my advisor appreciated my choice to present it anyway in my final meeting.)

If you want some company while assembling your portfolio, make sure to stop by the Portfolio Making Party on Monday, May 7 at 7PM in the Dakin Living Room. New Student Programs staff will be on hand to offer advice, supplies, and plenty of snacks. Stop by and spend some time with fellow soon-to-be Div II students!

Writing Your Division I Retrospective:

The retrospective is ultimately a reflection essay — a chance to tell the story of your first year at Hampshire. When writing, consider how you began the year and your expected academic interests. Talk about the academic challenges you faced and the steps you took to meet them, along with the “high points” of your year, including what interested you, what new ideas or topics surprised you, and what you enjoyed the most. Write about your participation and experience in the Hampshire community for your CEL-1 activity. And with the cumulative skills in mind, think of what you learned about each of them along the way.  As you prepare, you may also want to consult your advisor to see if there’s anything specific that they want you to include. The main goal is to provide a clear picture of your progress as a student and member of the community during your first year at Hampshire.

I’d recommend you write it in a quiet and empty space where you can truly focus, whether that’s in your room or in the main gallery of the Liebling photo building. Give yourself the time to re-read it all, re-visit your experiences, and think about why it all mattered. If the assignment seems scary, I promise you it’s easier than it seems! Looking at your best work over the course of your first year at college (all of those written pages, creative projects, research, etc!) is a pretty amazing feeling. You’ll be able to draw conclusions about your work and about yourself. Ultimately, you should feel really proud of all you’ve done and learned so far, and this should definitely help motivate you to finish your portfolio. You’ll want to include a hard copy of your retrospective in your portfolio, but don’t forget to complete the passing process on TheHub as well. You’ll be able to copy and paste your retrospective into the passing form after you’ve finished writing.

…And when you’ve completed all the pieces, get ready to present your work to your advisor in your final Div I meeting!


1. These are guidelines to help you better navigate the process of creating your portfolio—don’t feel obligated to work in this exact order, just get it done before the deadline in the best way you know how.

2. Your portfolio and retrospective are what you want them to be. This was the most important lesson I learned last year and the best piece of advice I can pass forward.

Division I is what YOU make it—your overall experience at Hampshire is what you make it. Keep this in mind when you’re creating your portfolio, and enjoy the process!

I hope this helps you—best of luck 🙂

As always, contact newtohamp@hampshire.edu with any questions, comments or concerns. We’re happy to listen and help!