On the evening of Monday, March 21st, first-year students hosted prospective students overnight in advance of Accepted Students Day on the 22nd. This was the first time the Admissions Office had called on a number of first-year students who were not Admissions Office interns to host perspective students since the 2010-2011 school year.
Admissions Counsellor Elizabeth Hart, who suggested the idea, highlights three main reasons for reaching out to first-years to host these prospective students. First, first-year students are closer in age to prospective students. Second, previously hired Admissions interns would already be busy with other jobs related to Accepted Students Day. The office especially didn’t want to put pressure on their Division III interns, who are busy finishing up their divs this time of year. Lastly, the class of 2015F was the first class to apply via the new application process to Hampshire, which this year’s prospective students also had to apply through. This newer application required more essays than the previous application, including essays about “What Might Your Division III Project Look like?” and “Provide a Mock Narrative Self-Evaluation About a Class You Took in High School.”
Assistant Director of Admissions Louisa Lebwohl says she hosted a prospective student during her first year at Hampshire, the 2010-2011 school year. “We stopped having first years host because we couldn’t pay those students” said Louisa. “There wasn’t as much accountability in terms of being responsible with prospective students.” Louisa further explains that Admissions feels comfortable with first years now because of the more in-depth application and interview process to select hosts, and because hosts are required to sign overnight agreements.
Another reason for allowing first-years to host comes from dilemmas with hosting students the night before Accepted Students Days last year. “We went in not planning to [host students] because we just didn’t think we would be able to host as many people who were interested. And then we basically ended up making exceptions for students who were coming from far away who wouldn’t be able to make it otherwise,” says Louisa. “So this year, instead of making exceptions, we wanted to go in with the plan of being able to host students.” Elizabeth adds that they expect mostly students from far away. Priority is given to students who have not been able to visit yet, and students who might have a hard time arriving at Hampshire at 8 AM without staying on campus the previous night. While the Admissions Office is not advertising for students to come stay overnight, they will be accommodating any students who ask to.
There have been some concerns from the student body about first-year students’ ability to give an overnight host. “First year is super stressful and busy, and is also when a lot of people are still learning time management skills, so throwing this huge time suck into their lives that’s really stressful won’t help,” Division III student and Admissions Intern Thomas Velicio comments. “Also, a lot of first years are still adjusting or don’t have as much information as the admissions-trained third and fourth years. I think getting the experience of a first year is certainly helpful and that experience is valid, but I feel like it’s better suited to a different format than hosting a prospie overnight.” First year student Del Hanson has a different perspective. “I think it’s a good idea for first years to host prospective students because we were in their place only a year ago. So comparatively, we can relate to the things they are going through better than an upperclassman could,” she says. “That being said, I think that each student, no matter their year, has valuable information to impart on prospective students, as we all came from different backgrounds and have different experiences at Hampshire.”
Elizabeth says, “I think [the concern] is a bit legitimate, but because of the way the new application was set up for first years, they are forced to understand Hampshire. They are able to clarify what narrative evaluations are, they understand the academic structure- they have an advisor and hopefully some older friends because of the way classes are set up here.” Louisa adds that because prospective students will engage in a full day of Admissions programming following their overnight stay, it is not essential for first year hosts to be able to answer prospective students’ every question. “Our expectation for the Div I hosts is not that they’re going to show them or tell them everything about Hampshire, but really just show them their experience and answer the questions that they can answer,” she adds.
The Admissions Office is unsure of how this new change will impact the future of Admissions. Louisa and Elizabeth explain that there are many surveys and feedback forms in place for both hosts and prospective students about how the overnight stays go, and that they will use that information to determine if it’s something they will continue to do in the years to come. “What my hope is,” says Elizabeth, “is that after these big events, we’ll be able to call on the first year hosts during any regular night.”
As Elizabeth goes through applications and intentionally matches hosts to students, she also hopes that hosts can become friends with prospective students who decide to attend Hampshire. She says, “It does build that kind of informal mentoring relationship which is nice to have when you enter and see a familiar face.” Louisa adds, “I really love the idea of those relationships developing and then the next year these students can be hosts and that it can become a larger part of the culture.”
First years students are set to host prospective students again on April 17th, the night before the final Accepted Students Day this year.