Road Trip: “Aha!” Moments at Hamilton College

Hamilton College is in Clinton, NY, not in Hamilton, NY just 20 minutes away…that’s Colgate University.  The two universities in central NY are equally rural, but each has their own character.  It did not take long into my visit to realize that Hamilton is an academically serious college (roughly 7 Fulbright awards a year since 2000).  A senior thesis / capstone is required for graduation and Aha! Hamilton is all about writing! 22% or 147 of all courses offered are considered “writing intensive”, and 3 writing intensive course are required for graduation – unique.

A second unique feature for a liberal arts school is that Hamilton has no distribution requirements.  Along with written communication’s prominent position, 96% of classes have some form of an oral presentation component to them.  Hamilton’s motto is “Know Thyself” and “Aha! They truly seem to care about the individual.  It is not just a motto.  The open curriculum exists because they want students to take what they love.  It works, they believe, because of their advising program.  In the summer freshmen receive a catalogue and list 8 classes they like the most; they are then given a preliminary schedule with at least 4 of those classes and an advisor is assigned from those 4 classes. If students choose to change classes, then the advisor also changes.

With 1,850 students, a 9:1 student:faculty ratio, over 30% of classes with 9 students or less and an average size of 15, students really have no choice but to be academically engaged.  Relationships are built.  An example given was that a professor who knew that his student liked to run suggested meeting on the gym treadmills for their discussion about study abroad options. Roughly 60% of Hamilton students study away – either abroad or in the Hamilton’s US-based internship programs. 100% of students live on campus all four years, so people know each other well.

Hamilton’s graduates — over 90% of which find employment — work primarily (27%) in various business related fields: (11% in management, 9% in finance, 7% in consulting); 21% in health or STEM related fields; and 21% in education or non-profit.   Hamilton’s alumni giving rate is at 40%, which is high for universities and a sign of more than satisfaction but gratitude for the impact a college has made in one’s life.

Hamilton’s interest in their students’ personal development can be seen by their choice to devote one of their brochures solely to following the unique history, typically starting in childhood! of seven of their students. 

Consider Hamilton College if you are academically motivated, enjoy a rural environment and a close community of both students and faculty.