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First-Year Students

During their first year on the Hill, students broaden their horizons and learn to balance their lives as they explore different disciplines and experience multiple facets of college life.

Topics to Discuss with Your Advisor

  • What does it mean to be educated at a liberal arts institution?
  • What does it mean to take intellectual risks?
  • How can I find courses or disciplines which are new to me?
  • What are the options and requirements for studying off-campus?
  • How can I explore internships or other experiences that are relevant to my studies?


Get to know your advisor

Your academic advisor can be an invaluable resource for information to help you make informed and responsible choices as you navigate your way through Hamilton's system. With time and experience you may develop other relationships that can offer different perspectives, but for your first years at Hamilton your relationship with your academic advisor will serve as your central resource for your academic planning. Your are expected to take responsibility and initiative to seek advice for your educational plans.

Here are some responsibilities you have when meeting with your advisor:

  • To make responsible, informed decisions about the course of your intellectual development
  • To craft an educational plan that reflects your particular interests and abilities and the College’s purposes and goals
  • To balance the freedom of an open curriculum and the breadth of a liberal arts education
  • To reevaluate your plan and be open to its natural evolution over time as your experiences and interests both broaden and come into focus

Understand Hamilton’s purposes and goals

The College has developed a set of purposes and goals which will help guide you through your liberal arts education. You will work with your advisors to craft an educational plan that fulfills the College’s purposes and goals via a broad-based liberal arts education and also meets your individual interests and goals.

You may find it helpful to use this academic planning worksheet when you work with your advisor to understand how your educational plan addressed the College's purposes and goals.

Review guidelines for getting started in a particular discipline

Knowing where to begin your studies within a field can be overwhelming, especially when you are new to an institution. We have developed a quick guide that provides advice on the entry-level courses within a field of study. If you have multiple interests, that's great! You may also find it helpful to meet with a preprofessional advisor for assistance with long-term planning.

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 studying off campus

More than half of Hamilton students explore different cultures and take on new intellectual challenges by studying for a semester or a year away from campus. Hamilton sponsors or is affiliated with study abroad programs in China, France, Spain and India.

Students may also select from more than 100 programs throughout the world. Hamilton's programs in the Adirondacks, New York City, Washington, D.C., and at the New England Center for Children in Boston provide students with opportunities to combine rigorous academic preparation with practical experience.

Talk with your academic advisor and with the off-campus study advisor to be sure that your plans to study away are integrated with your educational goals. You will also want to confirm that you have met the requirements necessary to study off campus and that you declare your leave of absence at the appropriate time.

Explore first-year courses

Because one size does not fit all with respect to education, 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.

Craft an educational plan with your academic advisor

Challenge yourself to take advantage of the opportunities to learn new things and understand different perspectives. Take some intellectual risks by taking a course outside of your "comfort zone."

Consult with the First Year Experience Librarian

Hamilton's First Year Experience Librarian, Alexandra Rihm, is available to provide research assistance to first year students, and support their understanding of information resources, skills, and concepts. If you need assistance with research papers and projects, contact Alex directly at arihm@hamilton.edu.


Study in new areas and learn more about interdisciplinary study

You will have the opportunity to explore exciting new intellectual possibilities, many of them interdisciplinary in nature. Interdisciplinary courses draw on the knowledge and techniques of two or more academic fields to explore a particular topic. View the areas of study and learn about the areas that may be new to you.

Study a foreign language

The language departments have established guidelines for all language study, and they are particularly useful for students contemplating studying abroad.

Pursue summer research and career-related opportunities

Although you are just beginning your time at Hamilton, it is not too soon to begin thinking about the connections between your education and your life after college. The Career Center works closely with students as early as their first year to help identify opportunities for career exploration and development. By engaging early, you will have time to explore your passions and consider how your liberal arts education will ready you for a satisfying and productive life after Hamilton.

Each summer, Hamilton provides 140 stipends for students to conduct research and more than 70 stipends for students to pursue unpaid internships.

Engage with the Career Center to begin your search for career-related experiences and learn how to market yourself.

Learn through experience

Hamilton’s academic departments and centers sponsor a growing number of community-based programs that provide opportunities for students to put into practice what they’ve learned in class.

Engage in the community and become a leader

Each year, Hamilton’s campus hosts approximately 1,000 concerts, lectures, sporting contests, comedians, blood drives, poetry readings, workshops, debates, worship services, films, gallery openings, coffeehouses, volunteer activities, etc. There are more than 200 community service, cultural, musical, athletic, political, social, recreational and religious groups on campus. These include 29 varsity teams, 12 club sports and a multitude of intramural and recreational offerings.

Hamilton offers many formal and informal opportunities for students to learn to take initiative; make informed, responsible and ethical decisions; and successfully organize and collaborate with others on shared projects and goals.

Forms & Deadlines

Key Dates for First-Year Students

Thurs., Aug. 26: Fall semester begins
Fri., Sept. 3: Last day to add a course
Wed., Oct. 6: Last day to drop a course
Early Nov.: Meet to discuss registration for spring 2022
Fri., Dec. 10: Fall semester classes end
Dec. 13-17: Final examinations

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