[ top of page ]
excerpt from [ Hampshire's web site ]
Hampshire College was created in 1965 as an alternative to traditional liberal arts education where talented students would be free to shape their own course of learning. In 1970 Hampshire's first class of students and faculty set out on a journey of educational inquiry and discovery that over the years has led to some of the most influential ideas in higher education. Hampshire offers a rigorous program in the liberal arts. Its students are given the flexibility of a multidisciplinary curriculum, the opportunity to work closely with faculty to design their own programs of study, and the responsibility to make decisions about their education.
A touch of trivia from A History of Student Activity and Achievement at Hampshire:
"With two consecutive victories over Goddard and Franconia Colleges in Vermont, the Hampshire soccer team secures an undefeated championship in the New England Cosmically Ordained Soccer Conference, which also includes experimental Marlboro College."
Excerpt from Peterson's Profile,
...Hampshire's distinctive academic structure offers every student the benefits of small classes, close contact with faculty members, individualized programs of study, and multidisciplinary learning. Students complete three divisions of study, rather than the traditional freshman–senior sequence.
In Division I, Basic Studies, students explore their interests by taking courses and pursuing research or creative projects across Hampshire's schools. In Division II, the Concentration, they gain mastery of their chosen field through continued course work and independent study, internships, or study in other countries. Students are also expected to study some aspect of the Third World as part of their Division II work and to perform community service.
In Division III, Advanced Studies, students complete a major academic or creative project—a written thesis, artistic exhibition or performance, or scientific experiment. Division III students are also required to participate in an interdisciplinary seminar with other advanced students or assist a faculty member in teaching a course.
Students at Hampshire receive extensive written evaluation of their work instead of traditional letter or number grades. Passage from one division to the next is marked by a final meeting in which a faculty committee reviews the student's activities and accomplishments. A transcript portfolio consisting of evaluations of course work and independent projects, as well as grades for Five College courses, provides a detailed record of the student's Hampshire education...
...students at Hampshire serve with faculty, administrators, and staff on all of the College's governing bodies. Seven students serve on the College Senate, which approves the curriculum, academic calendar, degree requirements, and academic standards. Seventeen students are elected to Community Council, which oversees the quality of student life and manages a large student activities budget. The Judicial Council, which interprets the Hampshire Constitution and considers cases involving infractions of College regulations, includes 3 student members. Hampshire is one of the few colleges where students play a central role in the promotion and reappointment of faculty members. As members of Hampshire's schools, they also help determine curricular development and academic policy...
Excerpt from National Crosstalk
Emphasis on Innovation
...what really set Hampshire apart, however, was its approach to education: an individualistic system without majors, requirements, examinations or even departments, successfully forestalling interdepartmental competition for courses, students and resources...
In their first two years, a period known as Division I, Hampshire students do work in at least three of the five schools, by either taking courses or conducting independent research, in something similar to the core requirement of other liberal arts colleges.
Division II, which normally begins in the second year, represents the start of the “concentration,” roughly equivalent to a major. The student selects two professors to serve on his or her concentration committee, and drafts a “concentration statement,” or plan of attack, for the following two or three semesters, when he or she will write papers or compile a portfolio relating to the concentration
Division III, the final year, is often a more in-depth look at a specific aspect covered in Division II. It consists of advanced courses, seminars, assistant teaching, field research and a project, which can be a written paper, a film, an art exhibition, a performance or some other final product.
Students also are expected
to do community service, which can range from participating in the college’s
governing council to volunteering in a nearby mill town. There is also
something called a “third-world expectation” (soon to be renamed the “multiple
cultural perspectives expectation”) under which students show that they
have studied a third world or minority issue...
[ top of page ]
excerpt from [ Marlboro's web site ]
Marlboro was founded in 1946 by men returning from fighting in World War II who wanted to participate in the structuring of their education. They worked with a handful of faculty and staff members to rebuild two Vermont dairy farms into classrooms, dorms and a dining hall. At the same time they created a college in which the students work closely with faculty to tailor an education to their own interests and needs, a college in which each student, faculty and staff member has an equal vote on issues affecting the community, a college whose community life is inseparable from its academic life.
Excerpt from Colleges That Change
MARLBORO COLLEGE, nestled in one of Vermont's scenic hills near Brattleboro, has fewer than 300 students. They design their own programs--a poor idea for most collegians--but if I had $100 million I'd give a third of it to endow this school. There is no other college experience like it. The rest would go to Antioch and Hampshire, where students also design their own programs. Reed and St. John's--where they don't--would be included if they were as needy...
...the founders provided for a self-governing community modeled on the New England town meeting, with everyone on a first-name basis and, as at St John's, with no faculty ranks. The basic tenet is that academic learning is inseparable from the community in which it occurs. Students, faculty, staff, and administration all are equal voting members. The town meeting can even vote down faculty decisions on academic policy, but the faculty can override by a two-thirds majority.
Excerpt from Peterson's Profile,
...Marlboro's Plan of Concentration, more than any other academic component, sets the College apart from other liberal arts institutions. Undertaken by all Marlboro students in their junior and senior years, the plan is a two-year pursuit, focused, often cross-disciplinary, culminating in a project that is designed by the student and carried out with close guidance from one or more faculty sponsors. Final evaluation of the student's plan is conducted by a faculty committee and an outside examiner, usually a recognized expert in the student's field.
...Marlboro College, tucked away in the foothills of the Vermont Green Mountains, is unlike any other college in the country. Liberal by nature, Marlboro's rigorous, self-designed liberal arts curriculum is taught in small classes and advanced one-on-one instruction, called tutorials, that emphasize creative and independent thinking by mature, self-motivated students. Marlboro's goal is to teach students to think clearly and learn independently, develop a command of concise and correct writing, and aspire to academic excellence, all while participating responsibly in a self-governing community. The College's 7:1 student-faculty ratio sparks dynamic exchanges between students and faculty members both in and out of the classroom and fosters a close-knit community in which academic work is respected and ideas are appreciated. About 60 percent of all Marlboro students go on to graduate study.
...Marlboro's intimate advising system takes the place of formal distribution requirements. Freshmen and sophomores are advised to take a wide range of liberal arts courses. Increasingly, as students progress within fields of particular interest, they take individual tutorials that make it possible to work one-to-one with faculty members of their choice.
...Operating under the assumption
that clear writing and clear thinking are inseparable, Marlboro requires
each student to pass a Clear Writing Requirement, usually by the end of
the freshman year. Expository writing assignments, tutorials, and a variety
of designated writing courses distributed throughout the curriculum help
students meet the requirement.
[ top of page ]
Simon's Rock College of Bard
excerpt from [ Simon's Rock web site ]
Simon's Rock College of Bard is the nation's only college of the liberal arts and sciences designed expressly for students of high school age. Most students enter Simon's Rock after completing the 10th or 11th grade, and follow programs leading to the Associate in Arts and Bachelor of Arts degrees in liberal arts.
In 1979 Simon's Rock became a part of Bard College and Dr. Leon Botstein became its fourth president. Under his leadership Simon's Rock has been renewed and enhanced while the college has retained its separate identity. The essential elements that characterize the Simon's Rock B.A are an emphasis on interdisciplinary study, small seminars, tutorials and independent studies, close, individualized work with faculty members, and the senior thesis.
Excerpts from Peterson's Profile,
Simon's Rock College of Bard
...the academic program at Simon's Rock combines a substantial and coherent required core curriculum in the liberal arts and sciences with electives and extensive opportunities for students to pursue their own interests through advanced courses and independent study...
...the senior thesis is the focus of each B.A. student's final year. A thesis project carries 8 credits and is expected to take a full academic year to complete. Drawing on the skills in analysis and synthesis acquired during the previous three years, students devote themselves wholeheartedly to the project and to learning, which has been personally defined and developed. Recent theses have taken many forms: critical studies in literature, sociological research, musical compositions, creative fiction, translations, scientific experiments, mathematical problem solving, artistic exhibitions and performances, and various combinations of these forms...
...students wishing to stay
at Simon's Rock for a B.A. must apply for admission to a major through
a process called Moderation. At a formal conference, a faculty Moderation
Committee and the student review the student's accomplishments and together
plan the remainder of the student's education program. Students suggest
and are advised of junior- and senior-year opportunities. These traditionally
include advanced seminars, independent study involvement in faculty research
projects, specialized tutorials, internships, courses at Bard, and a possible
semester or full year of study abroad...
[ top of page ]
wind chimes by Jeb Bush, photo by Morgan Ackerly