Hampshire is unique is that their students do not receive traditional letter grades. Instead students receive detailed narrative assessments from their professors (like students at Reed College, St, John's College and Evergreen State College). Instead of choosing a traditional major, Hampshire students design their own rigorous, personalized course of study, culminating in a year-long senior project. In light of this commitment to "authentic assessment," it's not so surprising that Hampshire has been test-optional since the college was founded. Since 1970, their Admissions officers will look at standardized test scores if students choose to submit them, but do not require such scores.
of civic engagement, their letters of recommendation from mentors, and their ability to represent themselves through their essays trump anything the SAT could tell us."
Hampshire took a big risk in deciding to go test-blind. U.S. News and World Report, publisher of the most influential college rankings, refused to include Hampshire in its rankings, because they use standardized test scores as part of their methodology. As I've mentioned in my parent presentations, the college rankings are big business to colleges; moving up in the rankings means an increase in applications in the following year as well as an increase in alumni donations. Sarah Lawrence College was test-blind for many years, but returned to being test-optional in 2012 so they could continue to be ranked. After dropping out of the rankings, Hampshire could well have seen a drastic reduction in both for the 2014-2015 school year.
But they didn't. Inside Higher Ed reports that although they did see a dramatic drop in the number of applications, they admitted the most diverse class in the school's history, including:
Saturday College Book Club: Cool Colleges for the Hyper-Intelligent, Self-Directed, Late Blooming & Just Plain Different by Donald AsherRead Now
I love to learn for the sake of learning and not because I'm aiming for any star-studded diplomas or accreditations, but because there is so much to learn. Your book not only allowed me to see that there were other "Lost Kids" (that's what my guidance counselor called me) but further that there were places trying to find us because we aren't as lost as some of our superiors like to think.
Cool Colleges highlights schools where you run a ranch or a nuclear reactor, study the great books, don't receive grades, take one class at a time, attend after 8th grade or even attend for free! The second edition has added information on eco schools (including my favorite: the Fighting Geoducks of Evergreen State) and still has the traditional complement of ivies, near-ivies and other schools just waiting for the perfect students to find them. Intrigued? This book should be on your shelf.
The layout of the book can be challenging. It's quirky, like its subject matter, and can be difficult to follow. Do not buy the Kindle version: the hyperactive layout makes it virtually impossible to read in that format. That is the only drawback for an otherwise terrific book!
Have you read Cool Colleges? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!
In his book The End of College, Kevin Carey argues that we are on the brink of a revolution in higher education. He believes that college-as-usual (aka four-years-and-football) is not sustainable and disruption of the research university model is on its way. He argues that:
Lessa Scherrer is an college admissions consultant who has worked with college-bound students for many years. She is a member of NACAC and WACAC and also teaches ACT Prep, speed-reading, college study skills and college-level writing.
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