Some Students Scramble Amid Looming Changes At Hampshire College

Feb 7, 2019

Some students who were counting on going to Hampshire College next fall are scrambling to figure out their next move. 

The school recently decided to admit just the 77 students who were already committed to the college in Amherst, Massachusetts. This comes as Hampshire seeks a "strategic partner," with financial troubles looming.

Hampshire College spokesman John Courtemanche said bringing in the early decision and gap year students was about the school keeping its word.

"That was a serious consideration, the fact that they already had been notified that they had been accepted to the college," Courtemanche said. "We felt we had an obligation to them and we took that seriously."

So the college sent a letter outlining what students could expect if they do come to the school.

They're only guaranteed one semester at Hampshire. But, if they do make it to graduation, the diploma could come from another institution should there be a merger. There was also word that some programs and clubs could be eliminated. And while not coming out and directly saying it, the letter indicates cuts to faculty are coming.

"We would love if they would join our community, but we felt that we had to be perfectly clear about some of the uncertainties, since we're talking to potential partners," Courtemanche said.

The letter didn't sit well with Molly Maloney, an attorney in Seattle, whose daughter made up her mind to come to Hampshire last year, for the upcoming fall semester.

"I think it was a way of saying, 'You know, you may not actually want to come here after all,'" she said.

Maloney, a 1991 Hampshire graduate herself, said the timing of by Hampshire's announcements couldn't have been worse for students like her daughter.

"It kind of screwed them over — I don't know how else to put it," Maloney said. "Because they don't have time to meet most schools' deadlines, they are all having to scramble if they want to go elsewhere."

That means a mad dash to fill out applications, track down transcripts and get fresh recommendations.

If these students do come to Hampshire in the fall, the experience might be a far different one than they signed up for.