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New Students

There is much you can do to prepare for your Hamilton experience before you arrive on campus. Here are some insights and strategies for developing your academic plan for your first year.


Learn about the College purposes and goals

A curriculum expresses the educational values of a college and its faculty, and even though Hamilton’s curriculum has relatively few requirements for students, our professors have many expectations. In 2011, our faculty adopted the following language to describe the purposes and goals of a Hamilton education:

Hamilton College is committed to the intellectual and personal development of students. We seek to nourish a love of learning, a creative spirit, and an informed and responsible engagement with an ever-changing world.

To promote these qualities, the College challenges all of its students to work with their advisors to devise an educational program that fosters the goals. In pursuing these goals, students should progress meaningfully along a path toward fulfilling their potential for being thoughtful, responsible and purposeful individuals with the capacity to make a positive difference in the world.

Learn about Hamilton’s open curriculum

Hamilton has an open curriculum, which means you may choose courses because they interest you and fit your individual academic plan, not because you need to fulfill general requirements. You are therefore encouraged to learn more about what you love to do during your time here. Take advantage of the flexibility of the open curriculum to discover new options, dive more deeply into your interests, and arrive at a richer understanding of yourself. Some students know exactly what they want to study and can’t wait to get started; Hamilton’s open curriculum provides that flexibility. Other students enroll in college not entirely sure of their major. They explore different options before choosing their concentration; our open curriculum works for them, too.

Explore first-year courses

Hamilton offers a range of courses dedicated to first-year students to help them transition to college-level work. While all these courses devote attention to the academic acculturation of new college students, they vary in their approach and the type of engagement. Hamilton offers three types of courses exclusively for first-year students. The options include introductory courses exclusive to first-year students, first-year courses (FYCs), FYCs with experiential learning component, FYCs with a residential component.

Complete the Advising Tour

The advising tour is an introduction to the Hamilton curriculum and advising system. The information you provide will allow us to get to know you better, and help us assign you to an appropriate academic advisor for your first two years. The link will be available on My Hamilton in June.

Find out more about working with your advisor

You will be able to see your class schedule and advisor after Aug. 1, and you will have the opportunity to change your class schedule, if necessary, during Orientation. Consider contacting your academic advisor before arriving to campus.  All advisors have contact information on their College web pages.

Faculty Advisor-Student Relationship
The faculty advisor-student relationship sits at the center of a larger system of formal and informal advising resources on campus, a system that engages students in conversations that transcend mere course selection. Drawing on multiple sources of advice will enable students to make the most of their college experience through a thoughtful exploration of various disciplines, selection and completion of a concentration, consideration of options for off-campus study, and preparation for life after Hamilton.

Role of Your Faculty Advisor
Students have advisors for their whole college careers. For the first two years, until students declare a concentration, faculty advisors help them adjust to the intellectual demands of the College. Once students declare a concentration, they will be advised by a professor in that department or program. Advisors vary in their approaches to advising, but all are eager to see students succeed and to help them toward that success. Although advisors are ready to assist, students must assume major responsibility for their own education when they matriculate at Hamilton. Students must take the initiative to seek out advice, and take responsibility for their educational plans.

Review guidelines for getting started in a discipline

To assist students in their explorations of majors, departments and programs have provided these guidelines for helping students get an appropriate introduction to their concentrations.

Familiarize yourself with the specialized preprofessional advising available

Just as Hamilton provides academic advisors to its students during their undergraduate years, so it endeavors to assist them in their plans for postgraduate study and employment. The staff of the Career Center regularly advises students on postgraduate planning, and many faculty members are available for consultation concerning study or careers in their particular fields of interest. See preprofessional advising for more information.

Learn more about interdisciplinary study

Interdisciplinary areas of study open up new areas of inquiry, new methodologies, new theories and transform traditional disciplines. Hamilton College has more than 20 interdisciplinary programs and departments. For those who want to pursue other combinations of disciplines, students also have the option of designing their own interdisciplinary concentration.

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