Division II (or Div II) is the middle of Hampshire's Divisional system, and usually takes four semesters (two years) to complete. Div II students move from a wide range of subjects in Division I to a more focused area of study, which they outline in tandem with their Division II Committee. This part of the Hampshire experience is far more open to creativity and exploration, and is generally the most "hands-off" portion of the Hampshire education. This is a staging ground where students cement their academic interests in preparation for an epic, year-long intensive study of one field of interest, found in Division III.
Students should approach Div II with the sense that they are designing their own specific program of study, as expressed through the courses in which they choose to enroll. Div II is a self-designed, self-motivated program of study, hence a high level of personal as well as intellectual and academic investment is usually present. As long as students take four classes a semester, two or three of which directly correlate to their field of study, they will be in excellent standing when the time comes to assemble their Division II Portfolio, and undergo their Final Division II Meeting.
At the end of Division I, a student must assemble a Preliminary Concentration Form, replete with information on prospective committee members, a description of the Div II concentration, and some initial notion of how the student will complete the Community Service and Multiple Cultural Perspectives requirements.
- Students must complete at least 12 courses to pass Division II, although most Hampshire students pass with closer to 16 courses at the end of this two-year stretch. Students must connect the relevance of this coursework to their overarching Concentrations, and outline a list of the courses that will be counted toward a student's Div II.
- Students must complete a Description of their Div II, clearly outlining the major aspects of their course of study, why they are important, how they will/have accomplished them, and how their academic, intellectual and personal growth has been stimulated by this self-designed, self-motivated course of study.
- Students must complete a Community Service requirement
- Students must complete a Multiple Cultural Perspectives requirement (formerly known as the Third World Expectation Requirement)
- Students must assemble a Division II Portfolio and submit it to their committee
- Students must attend a Final Division II Committee Meeting
Division II Final Meeting
This is a joyous occasion! ...or at least it should be. The Div II final meeting is where the committee advisors and their advisee sit down to discuss the final product of the student's work, as evidenced through their Division II Portfolio. Often including some kind of food (brought by the advisee!), a committee (either together or separately through different meetings) will discuss a student's work, their process, the feedback on the system, and a friendly chat with the professors they have been working with over the last two years.
If something's going to go wrong, it probably has happened before this meeting.
Advantages of Division II
Division II is often talked about as "the best part of Hampshire" as it escapes the rigidity and relative banality of Division I and exposes the student to a world of committee meetings (which will continue for the remainder of their Hampshire career), independent studies, exploration and (usually) a laissez-faire committee interaction. The most often heard comment from Div II advisors is that Div II is when students need the "least amount of advising," and are often left to their own devices to sort out and arrange their schedules, which will reflect their program of study.
This system provides students with a rare, unique and truly remarkable opportunity to be active witness and participant to their own growth as an individual. A high degree of focus is placed on the process of Div II, and this is a central theme students should keep in mind when assembling their portfolio. Div II is fun, exciting, challenging and provides the student with ample time to flesh out their interests, goals, aspirations and hopes. This process leads to Division III, and while students may continue their studies from Div II during this year-long project, they may also find in Div II that they want to focus on something completely different for their Div III.
Challenges of Division II
As per usual, Hampshire's Faculty is often overloaded with Div II and Div III advisees, and hence getting the advisor you want (or any advisor at all) is sometimes problematic, particularly for students in the Writing Program, especially given that most of Hampshire's writing faculty seems to go on sabbatical every other semester. The high Faculty turnover rate also compounds this problem, so that students who have an advisor one semester may be left with an empty spot the next, and must make a mad dash to find a new committee member or chair to fill the void before the next Filing deadline. This is the exception, however, and not the norm. Hampshire's Faculty care deeply about their students, and if they cannot be an advisor, they will often suggest someone who can. During the search for a committee, however, students may become horribly frustrated by the degree to which Faculty avoid their requests, and a student may have to ask half a dozen faculty members or more before finding one they can work with.
Additionally, some find that the laissez-faire approach gives a student enough rope to hang themselves with (figuratively speaking, of course), although most openly embrace this freedom after dealing with the requirements of Division I.