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robertogreco : hampshirecollege   16

White paper: Debt, tuition dependence doom small colleges
"Scholar looks at history of U.S. higher ed and finds that vulnerable colleges, most of them private, tend to close or merge when crisis pushes them "over the cliff.""



"The 2008 recession has heightened the significance of closures, since fewer new nonprofit institutions are arising than at nearly any time in history. That makes each closure matter more, since the total number of seats shrinks.

In the past, colleges have evolved slowly, often from tiny operations into regional and sometimes nationally recognized institutions. She noted, for instance, that the Anna Blake School, which opened in 1891 to offer training in economics and industrial arts, became the Santa Barbara State Normal School after the state of California took it over in 1909. Twelve years later it became Santa Barbara State College, then Santa Barbara College of the University of California. It's now known as UC Santa Barbara.

Likewise for the Pacific Sanitarium and School of Osteopathic Medicine, which opened in 1896. Long story short: it's now the UC Irvine School of Medicine.

Sapiro urges those who would predict hundreds of closures to consider that most colleges have spent “significant parts of their institutional existence teetering on the brink of ruin, deeply vulnerable to having to close.” A high proportion of colleges and universities have survived through troubled financial periods -- even back to Harvard University. Actually, institutions that we think of as elite have often been the beneficiaries of outside aid, either from donors, subscribers or even government largess. She noted that Harvard enjoyed “substantial public support” when it was founded in 1636. The Massachusetts Bay Colony donated the land for its campus and handed over revenues from a nearby toll bridge. “They had a whole bunch of public funds that served as the basis for their success later.”

She also noted that most of the U.S. colleges and universities with roots prior to the 20th century began as academies -- sometimes they began as primary schools, seminaries or even orphanages. That suggests the next great wave of colleges could evolve from very different-looking institutions.

While many observers these days would say that poorly run colleges deserve to close, Sapiro cautioned that a college is not like your typical business. For one thing, managers can't simply make its core product cheaper.

“We’re very confined,” she said. “We’re businesses, but we don’t run our institutions in the way of a for-profit business that buys and sells stuff.”

Colleges and universities that are under threat of closure “have a full range of bad choices to make,” she noted: they can lower standards, defer maintenance, create new programs to generate new students or cut unpopular programs that aren't attracting enough students. All of these, she suggested, are terrible ways to save money or bring in new revenue. A former dean, Sapiro said abolishing even an entire department “doesn’t save money the way you think it does.”

Colleges like Hampshire or Green Mountain, which have sought to provide a niche by focusing on sustainability and ecology, for instance, often find that this simply isn’t enough to differentiate themselves from others. “What Green Mountain found is that not every student who wants to be green and ecological is going to go there,” she said. “Some [students] are going to go to UCSD.”

In a few rare cases, colleges such as Boston University have intentionally planned for smaller entering freshman classes to be more selective -- in the process, she said, BU also increased acceptance of transfers with good records elsewhere (including at community colleges). That helped it become more desirable, while at the same time increasing access across different demographic groups, including first-generation students. “If you become an institution that is more prestigious, that can beat other institutions more at admissions, you win,” she said.

Sapiro also suggests critics pay closer attention to what she calls higher ed's “ecology” -- literally its cycle of birth, death and rebirth. When colleges die, they don’t simply disappear. Their physical assets, as well as their faculty, staff and students, often enrich another, sometimes related, college. “In some way or another, they feed the birth of another institution,” she said.

She noted that Wheelock College didn’t simply disappear in 2017 -- it merged into Boston University, bringing together two institutions with campuses separated by about a mile. The former college now houses the Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development.

Struggling denominational colleges serve another interesting function, Sapiro said: when the religious institution that oversees one finally decides that it's unsustainable, it typically transfers funding to another educational undertaking that is sustainable, much as a holding company might do.

“It’s very sad when your alma mater or your institution goes down -- and it’s bad for the community because of all those business that depend on it," she said. "But very often it feeds the sustainability of another institution.”"
2019  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  hampshirecollege  ucsb  greenmountaincollege  newburycollege  atlanticunioncollege  ucirvine  bostonuniversity  wheelockcollege  2017  niche  virginiasapiro  gregtoppo 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Recommendations for an optimal conclusion to Hampshire College (opinion)
"Hampshire College: Fold, Don’t Merge: Michael Drucker proposes what he thinks would be an ethical conclusion to the experimental college."



"When I say my alma mater is an experimental college, I mean it literally. No grades. No majors. No tests. We are different by design and intention.

My academic adviser would ask me, “What are you curious about in the world?” and “How are you going to find the knowledge you need to answer those questions?” Since we have no majors, we have no list to follow telling us exactly what courses to take to complete our degree. Students must not only study the material in their chosen areas of concentration but also figure out what that will be. Simply being a student at Hampshire College is an act of experiential education.

Hampshire’s educational philosophy asks: What is possible if students are studying for the sake of learning instead of competing for letter grades? What is possible if students are studying not only for the sake of learning but also for innovative, interdisciplinary applications of that knowledge?

Do Not Resuscitate

In January, President Miriam E. Nelson announced the search for a long-term strategic partner for Hampshire and questioned first-year class enrollment. Student activism ignited. Alumni, faculty and staff comments in support and dissent flooded in. A petition calling for shared governance collected thousands of signatures within days. On Feb. 1, Hampshire announced it would enroll only early-decision admits and students who previously deferred.

A partnership, or a merger, could be great if I’m allowing myself to be optimistic. But it’s increasingly difficult to sustain optimism, as my idealism feels more like naïveté with each passing day. Staff layoffs may begin as early as April. Early-decision admits are told a new affiliate will likely control how any diploma they earn will be awarded. Notable alumnus Jon Krakauer writes in The New York Times that in the merger “it is not at all clear how much of the Hampshire philosophy -- to say nothing of the Hampshire soul -- will survive.”

I feel more and more confident that Hampshire’s soul will not survive. If that’s the case, I do not want to keep our institution on life support. I respectfully submit my request to the Hampshire Board of Trustees to consider ordering a DNR for our beloved and complicated alma mater.

Without our educational “soul,” what remains is still something beautiful: a liberal arts campus with provocative course material, progressive ideologies and the harmonious clashing of overlapping countercultures. But that’s something students can find at many other colleges around the world. It’s not enough for me to want Hampshire to continue for the sake of its name living on.

The pedagogical tenets of our educational experiment make us who we are. Without them, we are not Hampshire College. Some might ask if it’s really that bad to have majors, grades or tests. No, it’s not the end of the world, but it is the end of Hampshire.

I’m only 27, and I’ve lost both of my parents. My dad died when I was a third-year student at Hampshire. The day he passed, I was at ACPA’s annual convention with Hampshire student affairs representatives. My first professional mentor was there and consoled me the night I found out. My mom passed in the summer of 2017 -- too young and too soon.

I know what loss, mourning and grief mean. I’ve already begun mourning Hampshire as I’ve done before while preparing myself emotionally for the painful departure of a loved one. I do not want Hampshire to close, but I know that it is an option. My personal experiences make it easier for me to consider it as a viable one. I’m not afraid of it.

My preference for Hampshire to close, rather than merge, is not about me throwing in the towel on a good fight to save our college. It’s about respecting its legacy. It’s about preferring to honor it in memory rather than seeing it diluted in its new form. It’s about thanking Hampshire for what it has been and letting it pass peacefully.

It may be over, but it’s not a failure. We had 50 years of magic. We existed. We were here. It mattered. It will continue to matter.

An Ethical Conclusion

Closing Hampshire College is not as simple as one human being dying (which is, of course, not simple at all). Closing the college would have an immense economic effect on its employees and the local Amherst community. It has four classes of active students to consider. But I would support closing rather than merging if we could spend our energy and resources developing the best conclusion possible. There is potential here for us to truly live out Hampshire’s philosophy until the end.

From what I can gather, however, what is happening right now is not an ethical termination. Amherst College faculty members wrote an open letter to President Nelson criticizing the recent decisions made without adequate faculty input, noting, “No leader in any field can violate long-standing professional norms for long without compromising his or her credibility and losing the confidence of core constituencies.” Hampshire’s Executive Committee of the Faculty authored their own letter declaring that the president’s Jan. 15 announcement considering not accepting an incoming class “turned a financial crisis into a catastrophe” -- in essence making it so that Hampshire then had no choice but to fulfill this self-defeating prophecy and spiral down toward helplessness. The staff, faculty and administrators are now in the midst of learning of layoffs. Those who must leave have only 60 days to prepare; those who stay are headed into the unknown. Either way, there is harm done. It seems the employees and students living and working on the campus right now are being neglected in the shuffle.

Do this, but do it right. Gather all Hampshire constituencies for planning the conclusion of Hampshire in the spirit of shared of governance. Generate ideas, cross over disciplines and break boundaries -- discover the beauty in something tragic. Lengthen the window of time for shutting down. Create a four-year plan for closing up shop. Do everything we want to do in that time.

Provide accurate information to all employees with at least six months' notice, if not more, for changes or termination. Use your remaining resources to financially ease the transition for all your employees.

Let current students grieve and be angry. Offer them what you actually can offer them. Don’t hold out with information you know is inevitable. If current first-years need to transfer to have full college experiences, tell them as soon as possible and help them do it. Learn from other colleges that have closed. Replicate their better practices and learn from their shortcomings.

Last, let’s throw Hampshire the most perfectly Hampshire going-away party we’ve ever seen. Let’s celebrate what we’ve done. Let’s document our innovations and accomplishments. Let’s show others how to resurrect what Hampshire did if the financial and political tides turn. Invite alums back to campus for a weekend of acknowledgment, celebration and community. If we were to lean into this direction now, we have the potential to do something extraordinary.

Before anything, the people making the decisions need to reveal the status of the merger’s development. The board and senior administrators must gamble on showing their cards. It would take a radical amount of vulnerability to show us all what our options are -- and an even greater amount would be to let us all have a say in which direction we go.

The students organizing in Hamp.Rise.Up are demanding just that: a say in what’s happening. It’s not typical for a college to do that in this dire situation, but we’ve never been typical. What would it mean to have a Hampshire-wide democratic vote on the future of our college? Even if we vote to close the institution in light of unfavorable mergers, what could we teach to the rest of higher education by the process through which we got there?

We are a college that lives our motto, Non Satis Scire: “to know is not enough.” So far, we don’t know much, and that is clearly not enough. But given the chance, what could we create?"
hampshirecollege  2019  michaeldrucker  alternative  education  learning  howwelearn  highered  highereducation  maverickcolleges  experience  experiential  grades  grading  ethics 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Hampshire College provides excellent education that should be protected (opinion)
"The Best Education Isn't Cost-Effective: Hampshire’s model provides excellent education precisely because it is not efficient, argues Falguni A. Sheth, and that's why we need to protect it."



"When I first read that Hampshire College’s new president was “inviting a partnership” to keep it afloat, I was startled but not surprised.

Hampshire has been long known as the quirky, hippie, artsy liberal arts college in the western Massachusetts woods. Developed via a consortium of four other colleges (Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College and the University of Massachusetts), Hampshire has always been the poor cousin. Like the New School for Social Research, where I matriculated as a philosophy graduate student, Hampshire has been eternally underfunded and run on a skeletal budget, relying on its faculty and staff’s dedication and commitment to the alternative, progressive pedagogy espoused since the college’s founding in 1965.

I was a faculty member at Hampshire for 14 years. There, I developed my identity as a political philosopher and public writer on national security, the war on terror and Islamophobia. There, I found challenging and supportive intellectual camaraderie among brilliant, committed colleagues who espoused a broad, interdisciplinary curriculum. Hampshire’s list of illustrious and accomplished faculty has included James Baldwin, Yusef Lateef and Jerome Liebling, among many others.

I discovered students who were refreshingly thoughtful, refusing to be satisfied with a conventional education. They were fearless in challenging their faculty members’ and classmates’ presuppositions. This is how my first book came about: from a political philosophy course on the social contract that was continuously challenged by critical students. My students asked about race, colonialism, the absence of recognition for male and female nonwhites, the contradiction between the notion of equal rights, and the fact of slavery. They required me to address these contradictions back when it was unheard-of to do so.

The same questions had occurred to me in graduate school but were afforded little merit even at a progressive place like the New School. Those questions still niggled as I taught my courses at Hampshire, but we -- my students and I -- were afforded an intellectually supportive space to consider them, even as I insisted that my students seek better, more rigorous ways to exhibit their findings.

The distinctiveness of Hampshire’s curriculum needs to be considered carefully: students are required to create their own interdisciplinary concentrations (majors). Hampshire’s approach is predicated on inquiry-based learning where students contend with immediate concerns and long-term objectives, with new ideas and a demand to understand the history of those ideas, while anticipating what the future might look like. This means that knowledge is not merely received but rather explored and digested through various methods: photographic, agrarian, scientific, poetic and dramaturgical, among others. This curriculum requires wrestling with ideas, as well as self-reflection, and anticipation of unexpected obstacles. It cultivates critical thinking and ethical reflection in the deepest sense imaginable.

As an immigrant kid who went to public schools, I was initially skeptical of what seemed to be a fairly self-indulgent education. Yet I knew that many respected academics sent their children to Hampshire instead of elite Ivy League schools. They were in on one of the best-kept secrets of postsecondary education: students were given unprecedented attention from faculty members, nurtured and carefully guided in their intellectual and political interests to become powerfully smart and critically thoughtful, broadly read citizens of the world. Graduates have gone on to become journalists, immigrant rights lawyers, inventors, novelists, scientists, professors, actors, social entrepreneurs, community organizers, doctors and engineers.

Inefficiency, Not Cost-Effectiveness

Yet as remarkable as my time at Hampshire was, my colleagues and I were unrelentingly exhausted. We were encouraged to teach specialized courses and to develop new ones. Students needed faculty members to serve as frequent advisers as they finished the various levels of education, from individual and distinctive interdisciplinary concentrations to the Division III senior capstone project that has been part of Hampshire’s graduation requirements.

Moreover, since its inception in 1965, Hampshire has assessed students’ relevant skills through narrative evaluations rather than grades. Faculty members write such evaluations for students as they progress through the educational tiers to help them reflect on their studies, develop deeper questions and further complicate their thinking and skills. To do justice to each student’s work, those evaluations must have detailed comments on various aspects of the project.

This innovative approach often resulted in extreme workloads. Often faculty members would find themselves writing pages upon pages of course evaluations, concentration evaluations and senior capstone evaluations -- sometimes in excess of 100 to 150 pages each year. This work did not account for the enormous time devoted to faculty-governance commitments or the various extracurricular programming that faculty members would engage in: bringing speakers to campus, raising money for those speakers and taking students on topic-related trips -- whether to The Hague to witness the tribunal for a war criminal; to Cuba to learn about arts, culture and politics; or to the U.S.-Mexico border to learn about immigration patterns.

All of those activities -- intensive interactions between and among faculty members and students, narrative evaluations, fascinating extracurricular programming, vigorous faculty governance -- are crucial to the exciting intellectual, cultural and political environment that gives Hampshire its spirit. But all of this commitment is difficult to sustain on a shoestring budget. It also means scarce resources -- in terms of both time and money -- are available to support the faculty’s intellectual life and research, which are nonnegotiable in this epoch of competition for students.

And therein lies the rub: Hampshire’s model is effective precisely because it is not efficient. Inefficiency -- not cost-effectiveness, in the form of careful attention, reflectiveness and conversations unhampered by time restrictions -- leads to some of the best education in the country. Inefficiency requires more money, not less, but for good cause: nurturing young minds and sustaining the education of worldly and thoughtful citizens, which requires the nurturing of faculty minds and lives, as well.

So, unlike the contemporary trend among postsecondary educational institutions, Hampshire’s incredible educational model flies in the face of a neoliberal, cost-effective business model of education. That latter model measures its economic sustainability through metrics that are designed to assess the pedagogy or curriculum but tell us little about whether students have evaluated their positions critically or understand the world differently.

The other four colleges in the consortium should understand their obligation to uphold Hampshire as a vital intellectual partner, where their own students take classes and flourish. I hope that a merger will not succumb to calls for cost-efficiency, or a “leaner” educational model by paring down faculty and staff members -- and as bad -- curtailing the rich interdisciplinary curriculum.

If it does, then Hampshire will be forced to forfeit its singular gifts and place in the academy, and the world will be much poorer for it. I fervently hope that Hampshire can continue to exist in its distinct way and thrive among sympathetic partners."
hampshirecollege  falgunisheth  2019  alternative  education  highered  highereducation  cost  efficiency  inefficiency 
march 2019 by robertogreco
College of Theseus | Easily Distracted
"A lot of those 1960s institutions have lived on the edge of failure for their entire existence. They were responding to a temporary surge in demand. They did not have the benefit of a century or more of alumni who would contribute donations, or an endowment built up over decades. They did not have names to conjure with. They were often founded (like many non-profits) by single strong personalities with a narrow vision or obsession that only held while the strong personality was holding on to the steering wheel. Newbury is a great example of this. It wasn’t founded until 1962, as a college of business, by a local Boston entrepreneur. It relocated multiple times, once into a vacated property identified formerly with a different university. It changed its name and focus multiple times. It acquired other educational institutions and merged them with its main operations, again creating some brand confusion. It started branch campuses. It’s only been something like a standardized liberal-arts institution since 1994. In 2015 it chased yet another trend via expensive construction projects, trying to promise students a new commitment to their economic success.

This is not a college going under suddenly and unexpectedly after a century of stately and “traditional” operations. This is not Coca-Cola suddenly going under because now everyone wants kombucha made by a Juicero. This is Cactus Cooler or Mr. Pibb being discontinued.

Let’s take Hampshire College. It’s a cool place. I’ve always admired it; I considered attending it when I was graduating high school. But it’s also not a venerable traditional liberal arts college. It’s an experiment that was started as a response to an exceptionally 60s-era deliberative process shared between Amherst, Smith, Mount Holyoke and UMass Amherst. It’s always had to work hard to find students who responded to its very distinctive curricular design and identity, especially once the era that led to its founding began to lose some of its moral and political influence. You can think about Hampshire’s struggle to survive in relationship to that very particular history. You should think about it that way in preference to just making it a single data point on a generalized grid.

Let’s take Green Mountain College. “The latest to close”, as Inside Higher Education says–again fitting into a trend as a single data point. At least this time it is actually old, right? Founded in 1834, part of that huge first wave of educational genesis. But hang on. It wasn’t Green Mountain College at the start. It was Troy Conference Academy. Originally coed, then it changed its name to Ripley Female Academy and went single-sex. Then it was back to Troy Conference. Then during the Great Depression it was Green Mountain Junior College, a 2-year preparatory school. Only in 1974 did it become Green Mountain College, with a 4-year liberal arts degree, and only in the 1990s did it decide to emphasize environmental studies.

Is that the same institution, with a single continuous history? Or is it a kind of constellation of semi-related institutions, all of which basically ‘closed’ and were replaced by something completely different?

If you set out to create a list of all the colleges and universities by name which have ever existed in the United States, all the alternate names and curricular structures and admissions approaches of institutions which sometimes have existed on the same site but often have moved, you couldn’t help but see that closures are an utterly normal part of the story of American higher education. Moreover, that they are often just a phase–a place closes, another institution moves in or buys the name or uses the facilities. Sure, sometimes a college or university or prep school or boarding school gets abandoned for good, becomes a ruin, is forgotten. That happens too. We are not in the middle of a singular rupture, a thing which has never happened before, an unbroken tradition at last subject to disruption and innovation.

This doesn’t mean that we should be happy when a college or university closes. That’s the livelihood of the people who work there, it’s the life of the students who are still there, it’s a broken tie for its alumni (however short or long its life has been), the loss of all the interesting things that were done there in its time. But when you look at the story of any particular closure, they all have some important particulars. The story being told that flatters the disruptors and innovators would have us thinking that there are these venerable, traditional, basically successful institutions going about their business and then suddenly, ZANG, the future lands on them and they can’t survive. At least some of the institutions closing have been hustling or struggling or rebranding for their entire existence."
hampshirecollege  2018  timothyburke  history  disruption  colleges  universities  experimentation  alternative  greenmounaincollege  newburycollege  2019  highereducation  highered  maverickcolleges 
january 2019 by robertogreco
A Response from Hampshire College Faculty, Staff, and Alumnx to Recent Announcements by Hampshire College Senior Leadership
"We, the undersigned Hampshire College staff, faculty, and alumnx, write to express our dismay and deep concern about the recent announcement and decision making process regarding future directions for the College. We call on the senior leadership to admit the fall 2019 first year class and to immediately put in place a process that ensures that faculty and staff will be truly and fully engaged in a transparent and collaborative decision making process that reflects Hampshire’s tradition of shared governance.

Not accepting a fall 2019 first year class has been presented as a strategic, ethical, and economic decision, but this does not necessarily account for the human costs to our current community—among these, layoffs that could destroy the careers and livelihood of Hampshire employees who have dedicated their personal and professional lives to make Hampshire what it is, and the impact on existing students who may feel compelled to leave the college. We are concerned this path forward will exacerbate exactly the budget issues that the Trustees have fiduciary responsibility for, and risks irreparable damage to the educational community in the supposed guise of saving the institution. This decision betrays the trust of the current students, faculty, and staff. If the people and the values and the work that built Hampshire are sacrificed in pursuit of a strategic merger, we no longer have the institution. Instead of creating a possible downward spiral, we need to bring in a new class that has chosen Hampshire for our unique curriculum, and who will work alongside us to forge a new future for the college.

In our boldness in living, learning, and teaching from our values, the people are the most important asset here. The current strategy has not taken into consideration this most precious asset. Yet, there has been a manufactured and false sense of democratic input that violates our open, shared governance covenant. These decisions appear to have been made prior to and independent of the democratic work of the visioning committees and governance committees we are promised. The recent major decisions about us—Hampshire students, faculty, staff, and alumnx—have been made entirely without us.

It is essential that any new strategy for the future of the College includes and prioritizes the retention of current faculty, staff, and students, including our financial and professional protection going forward. We have been told that care for the interests of students, faculty, and staff is a guiding principle informing recent decisions, but these interests are not reflected in the processes and practices we have seen. Without the people who have built Hampshire, against great odds and always with the utmost heart and dedication—the faculty, staff, and students who ARE Hampshire—there is no Hampshire.

We reject any future for Hampshire that treats the mission and vision of the College, as well as the current community of faculty, staff, and students, as collateral damage in the search to secure Hampshire’s longevity in a time of massive change. Those of us on campus, aware of the challenges facing liberal arts colleges, have long anticipated that many changes would be coming. We have always offered our wisdom to support a path forward. We are ready and willing to co-create change with care, courage, and nuance, and we must be part of creating a collective vision of a Hampshire future."
hampshirecollege  2019  highereducation  highered  colleges  universities  alternative  maverickcolleges 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Hampshire College looks for partner, may not enroll freshmen in fall
"Hampshire College, the nearly 50-year-old experiment in self-directed education, facing "bruising financial and demographic realities," looks for a partner."
hampshirecollege  2019  highereducation  highered  colleges  universities  alternative  maverickcolleges 
january 2019 by robertogreco
What one college discovered when it stopped accepting SAT/ACT scores - The Washington Post
"Hampshire College is a liberal arts school in Massachusetts that has decided not to accept SAT/ACT scores from applicants. That’s right — the college won’t accept them, a step beyond the hundreds of “test-optional” schools that leave it up to the applicant to decide whether to include them in their applications. So what has happened as a result of the decision?

For one thing, U.S. News & World report has refused to include Hampshire in its annual rankings. For another, Hampshire officials say, this year’s freshman class, the first chosen under the new rules, is more qualified by other measures than earlier classes.

Hampshire College was founded in 1970 as an alternative private liberal arts college that experiments with curriculum and relies on portfolios of work and narrative evaluations rather than distribution requirements and grades. It is one of the top colleges in the nation in terms of the proportion of its graduates who go on to graduate school.

Here’s an explanation of what the college did regarding SAT/ACT scores and why, from President Jonathan Lash, who is also a director of the World Resources Institute, a D.C.-based environmental think tank, where he previously served as president. He chaired former President Bill Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development and was Vermont’s environmental secretary and commissioner. He holds a law degree and master’s degree in education from Catholic University of America and a bachelor’s from Harvard College.

By Jonathan Lash:

You won’t find our college in the U.S. News & Word Report “Best Colleges” rankings released this month. Last year Hampshire College decided not to accept SAT/ACT test scores from high school applicants seeking admission. That got us kicked off the rankings, disqualified us, per U.S. News rankings criteria. That’s OK with us.

We completely dropped standardized tests from our application as part of our new mission-driven admissions strategy, distinct from the “test-optional” policy that hundreds of colleges now follow. If we reduce education to the outcomes of a test, the only incentive for schools and students to innovate is in the form of improving test-taking and scores. Teaching to a test becomes stifling for teachers and students, far from the inspiring, adaptive education which most benefits students. Our greatly accelerating world needs graduates who are trained to address tough situations with innovation, ingenuity, entrepreneurship and a capacity for mobilizing collaboration and cooperation.

We weighed other factors in our decision:

• Standardized test scores do not predict a student’s success at our college.

• SATs/ACTs are strongly biased against low-income students and students of color, at a time when diversity is critical to our mission.

• We surveyed our students and learned not one of them had considered rankings when choosing to apply to colleges; instead they most cared about a college’s mission.

• Some good students are bad test takers, particularly under stress, such as when a test may grant or deny college entry. Multiple-choice tests don’t reveal much about a student.

• We’ve developed much better, fairer ways to assess students who will thrive at our college.

In our admissions, we review an applicant’s whole academic and lived experience. We consider an applicant’s ability to present themselves in essays and interviews, review their recommendations from mentors, and assess factors such as their community engagement and entrepreneurism. And yes, we look closely at high school academic records, though in an unconventional manner. We look for an overarching narrative that shows motivation, discipline, and the capacity for self-reflection. We look at grade point average (GPA) as a measure of performance over a range of courses and time, distinct from a one-test-on-one-day SAT/ACT score. A student’s consistent “A” grades may be coupled with evidence of curiosity and learning across disciplines, as well as leadership in civic or social causes. Another student may have overcome obstacles through determination, demonstrating promise of success in a demanding program. Strong high school graduates demonstrate purpose, a passion for authenticity, and commitment to positive change.

We’re seeing remarkable admissions results since disregarding standardized test scores:

• Our yield, the percentage of students who accepted our invitation to enroll, rose in a single year from 18% to 26%, an amazing turnaround.

• The quantity of applications went down, but the quality went up, likely because we made it harder to apply, asking for more essays. Our applicants collectively were more motivated, mature, disciplined and consistent in their high school years than past applicants.

• Class diversity increased to 31% students of color, the most diverse in our history, up from 21% two years ago.

• The percentage of students who are the first-generation from their family to attend college rose from 10% to 18% in this year’s class.

Our “No SAT/ACT policy” has also changed us in ways deeper than data and demographics: Not once did we sit in an Admissions committee meeting and “wish we had a test score.” Without the scores, every other detail of the student’s application became more vivid. Their academic record over four years, letters of recommendation, essays, in-person interviews, and the optional creative supplements gave us a more complete portrait than we had seen before. Applicants gave more attention to their applications, including the optional components, putting us in a much better position to predict their likelihood of success here.

This move away from test scores and disqualification from the U.S. News rankings has allowed us to innovate in ways we could not before. In other words, we are free to innovate rather than compromise our mission to satisfy rankings criteria:

• We no longer chase volumes of applications to superficially inflate our “selectivity” and game the U.S. News rankings. We no longer have to worry that any applicant will “lower our average SAT/ACT scores” and thus lower our U.S. News ranking. Instead we choose quality over quantity and focus attention and resources on each applicant and their full portfolio.

• At college fairs and information sessions, we don’t spend time answering high school families’ questions about our ranking and test score “cut-offs.” Instead we have conversations about the things that matter: What does our unique academic program look like, and what qualities does a student need to be successful at it?

• An unexpected benefit: This shift has saved us significant time and operational expense. Having a smaller but more targeted, engaged, passionate, and robust applicant pool, we are able to streamline our resources.

How can U.S. News rankings reliably measure college quality when their data-points focus primarily on the high school performance of the incoming class in such terms as GPA, SAT/ACT, class rank, and selectivity? These measures have nothing to do with the college’s results, except perhaps in the college’s aptitude for marketing and recruiting. Tests and rankings incentivize schools to conform to test performance and rankings criteria, at the expense of mission and innovation.

Our shift to a mission-driven approach to admissions is right for Hampshire College and the right thing to do. We fail students if we reduce them to a standardized test number tied more to their financial status than achievement. We fail students by perpetuating the myth that high standardized test scores signal “better” students. We are in the top one percent of colleges nationwide in the percentage of our undergraduate alumni who go on to earn advanced degrees – this on the strength of an education where we assess their capabilities narratively, and where we never, not once, subject them to a numerical or letter grade on a test or course.

At Hampshire College, we face the same financial challenges as many colleges. But these challenges provide an opportunity to think about who we are and what matters to us. We can not lose sight of our mission while seeking revenues or chasing rankings. We are committed to remaining disqualified from the U.S. News rankings. We’re done with standardized testing, the SAT, and ACT."
hampshirecollege  colleges  universities  admissions  sat  act  education  grading  teaching  rankings  diversity  jonathanlash  standardizedtesting  tests  class  race  selectivity  fit  srg  edg 
october 2015 by robertogreco
HAMPSHIRE MEDIA
"Intended to be a continuing resource for hampshire college students, run by media staff and student workers, this blog is a home for how-to's, equipment support, related geek news, and whatever else we feel like sharing."
hampshirecollege  libraries  media  tumblrs  blogs 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The Harold | The Harold F. Johnson Library Blog
"Educating for Change: the Hampshire Library

The Hampshire College library is a dynamic hub of people, technology, and information that serves as an incubator of ideas across all disciplines. Educating for change demands comprehension of the past and vision for the future. The library’s innovative and risk-taking intellectual environment fosters new ways of creating knowledge and understanding.

We aspire to:

• Serve as a welcoming social and intellectual center of the College.
• Partner with students, faculty, and staff in reimagining the library.
• Embrace transformations in research and collections, building on the foundational collaboration between collections, technology, and media to redefine library services.
• Create connections between people, tools, and ideas.
• Empower a creative and energetic staff to experiment, expand the library’s reach across campus, and anticipate student needs in a rapidly changing world.
• Adapt and design collections, formats, and access to promote an open learning environment.

Find out more by visiting our collections and other resources online"
libraries  hampshirecollege  education 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Hampshire College Zine Collection
"The Hampshire College Zine Collection is located in the Harold F. Johnson Library at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. The collection was started in the 1990′s by students who were creating their own zines and adding zines to the collection from friends and fellow zinesters from around the US. In 2007, the Zine Collective, a now-defunct Hampshire College student group, began to reorganize the zine collection and moved it to the 2nd floor of the library. Between 2008-2010, the Zine Collective added hundreds of new zines to the collection and made copies of some of the zines to distribute for free at college events. In the Fall of 2013 the zines were moved down to the 1st floor where they are currently located in a bookshelf between the Research Help and Media Services offices.

We are a non-circulating zine library with over 800 zines, and are still adding more! If you’re interested in donating your zine(s), please take a look at our Donations page. For more information about zines and how to find your way around our website, check out the FAQ."
zines  hampshirecollege  collections  archives 
august 2014 by robertogreco
One Tiny College's Lessons for Higher Education - College, Reinvented - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"[T]he College of the Atlantic—330 students and 43 faculty members ensconced on Maine's remote Mount Desert Island—has resisted growth, seeing smallness as key to providing an unusual education that cuts across disciplines, rejects academic conventions, and takes a highly personalized approach to teaching and learning.

"What I learned is how to do more with less, and as someone who is now an entrepreneur, I find that extremely valuable," Mr. Motzkin says. "It's about really being able to adapt and change and apply knowledge. In the future, that's going to be critically important."

The emphasis on smallness runs counter to the national frenzy for reinvention in higher education, which seems fixated on going online and scaling up in an effort to mass-produce knowledge (or at least degrees). Offbeat and experimental colleges like COA—think of Bennington, Goddard, Hampshire, or Unity—are often overlooked and fragile. But they bring new perspectives and techniques to higher education, in part because they are small and nimble.

These colleges provide "a kind of biodiversity in the whole system of higher education," says L. Jackson Newell, an emeritus professor of educational leadership and policy at the University of Utah and a former president of Deep Springs College, a tiny work college in California. "Keeping these institutions alive and healthy is a way of keeping the ideas behind these institutions alive, which I would say is critically important for the health of higher education as a whole.""



"Certain ideas were baked into the College of the Atlantic at its founding, 43 years ago, and they seem to have found a currency in the discussion today over what to do about higher education. Critics talk about academics in silos, toiling on obscure research. At COA, there are no departments, and with only one degree—human ecology—students and faculty members form a culture that encourages teaching, interdisciplinarity, and pursuing one's intellectual interests."
collegeoftheatlantic  small  slow  education  unschooling  deschooling  progressive  progressiveeducation  size  fragility  hampshirecollege  goddardcollege  benningtoncollege  untycollege  maine  darroncollins  huamnecology  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  incubators  capitalism  industry  sustainability  exploration  learning  barharbor  edkaelber  franconiacollege  blackmountaincollege  antiochcollege  tedsizer  renédubos  elizabethrussell  mollyanderson  wofgangserbser  germany  2012  bmc 
may 2013 by robertogreco
CIEL-The Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning
"The Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning is a growing network of distinguished, progressive higher education institutions.

Faculty members share ideas among faculty in the network, broadening their resources for teaching, curriculum development, assessment, and research.

Students present their academic work in the online student journal and at annual symposia.  Students also participate in exchanges at CIEL member campuses or in study abroad programs offered through the network.

CIEL also engages in outreach to the higher education community to share best practices in place among the CIEL institutions.

We share a common goal: to advance innovations in student learning."
teaching  collaboration  education  learning  online  highereducation  highered  progressive  ciel  evergreenstatecollege  prescottcollege  hampshirecollege  pitzercollege  fairhavencollege  alvernocollege  newcollegeofflorida  universityofredlands  altgdp  gradschool  learningenvironments  lcproject  tcsnmy  unschooling  deschooling  alternative 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Alternative university - Wikipedia
"Alternative universities which may be known by other names, especially as colleges in the United States are institutions which offer an education and in some cases a lifestyle which is intentionally not the mainstream of other institutions. Through the use of experimental and nonconvential curricula and offering much choice to students as to what and how they will study, such institutions distinguish themselves from traditional faculties…

Alternative universities, colleges and institutions in the USA: Antioch College; Bard College; Bennington College; College of the Atlantic; Deep Springs College; Evergreen State College; Eugene Lang College, which is part of The New School; Hampshire College; Goddard College; New College of Florida; Naropa University; Oberlin College; Reed College; Sarah Lawrence College; Union Institute & University BA Program; Warren Wilson College; Western Institute for Social Research"
alternative  colleges  universities  us  lists  progressive  democratic  benniningtoncollege  deepspringscollege  evergreenstatecollege  hampshirecollege  collegeoftheatlantic  newcollegeofflorida  warrenwilsoncollege  antiochcollege  bardcollege  eugenelangcollege  goddardcollege  naropauniversity  oberlincollege  reedcollege  sarahlawrencecollege  unioninstitute  westerninstituteforsocialresearch  unschooling  deschooling  glvo 
september 2010 by robertogreco
Radar Online : Presenting Part 1 of our annual semiscientific guide to the worst colleges in America
Worst College: University of Bridgeport; Most Degenerate Student Body: SDSU (runner-up: Chico State); Most SuperficialL USC (runner-up: Univerity of Miami); Ugliest Campus: Drexel University (runner-up: Harvey Mudd); Biggest Rip-Off: Hampshire College (runner-up: Bennington College); Most Dubious Degree: Trump University (runner-up: Hamburger University); Most Intolerant: University of Mississippi (runner-up: Brigham Young)
humor  colleges  universities  rankings  education  benningtoncollege  hampshirecollege 
august 2008 by robertogreco

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