Student Testimonials

Kind Words from Recent Alumni:

“HCSSiM will make you question if there really are 24 hours in a day. I mean, how else could you have proved (and named) 17 theorems, made countless conjectures, taken a 14-mile bike ride (or long hike), climbed a tree, done a 3-hour problem set, discussed modified sudoku, fixed 34 LaTeX errors, and played frisbee all in one day??? For a program all about math, something isn’t adding up…

I don’t know how you’re seemingly able to do everything in one day at HCSSiM, but it’s true!! 8 hours of math, 6 days a week, for 6 weeks sounds like a lot, and the best part is that, yeah, it is a lot!, but there’s also somehow room for so much more. I dare you to try to attend HCSSiM without learning how to play bridge, or LaTeX, or how to contradance, or how to do the thing with the chalk where you draw a really good dashed line by using only the friction between the chalk and the chalkboard.

At HCSSiM 6 weeks also feels really short. I’m pretty sure HCSSiM is the only program that lasts for less than 2 months to have such a dedicated alumni network. Alumni come back to give prime time theorems, for YP day, and to teach because of their love for the program that they attended one summer as teenagers. If you go to HCSSiM, you’ll feel the same strong bond with your classmates and the staff. Something that I loved was sitting with new people for every meal, students and staff alike.

–Sadie ‘23

“When I first settled into my dorm at Hampshire, I was absolutely terrified that I was out of my element. What was I even doing here in Massachusetts, surrounded by incredibly smart math kids who had probably done tons of competitions? And yet, by the time I left the first Workshop session, all my fears had been put to rest. The staff turned something as simple as a notetaking order into an interesting puzzle with paths and, and by the time I began thinking about the order, I felt at home.
It’s hard to encompass just how much happened over the next six weeks. From rebuilding the basics of number theory with the help of Ellie the Elephant and mysterious “Wild Wonderments”, to inventing the wackiest vocabulary for everything we could find (what other program would teach you about “glumps” and “stuples”?), contradancing, surreal numbers, and some of the most wizardly Desmos trickery I’ve ever seen. I was confused many, many times throughout the program – and I loved it. Because at HCSSiM, for every weird question or proof you just couldn’t wrap your head around, there were always people to help, from your friends to the ever-amazing and helpful staff. Every day I would stumble back to my dorm, my mind having been expanded in a hundred different ways I had never thought possible! Even months later, I still remember so many different cool and amazing ideas I got the chance to explore, because I remember the wacky adventures I went on to find them, and the people I got the chance to share them with.
As the final night came far too early and as our YP and 17 songs faded into the night, I realized I was part of a tightly-knit of classmates, staff – friends, bonded by a love of math that I haven’t seen anywhere else. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
–Tanmay ‘23

“HCSSiM showed me what learning math should feel like—thrilling, explorative, and collaborative. Having previously experienced math largely through school classes and contests, I expected to spend my summer grinding away at problem sets and cramming theorems into my brain. Instead, every day, I found myself immersed in a group of lively, passionate classmates, forgetting about our prior math knowledge, sharing the excitement of creating our own worlds of mathematics. From 3rd-grade division algorithms to tackling the P vs. NP problem, we became a team of archeologists, excavating the bones of a mathematical dinosaur and reconstructing its skeleton vertebrae by vertebrae. It genuinely amazes me how many times I’ve encountered an interesting math concept—whether at school, in conversation, or even online—and recalled, “wow, I explored this at Hampshire!”Just as invaluable as my experiences at HCSSiM were the people I met there. Classmates and staff alike became close friends as we debated during problem sessions, pulled all-nighters together to go on the sunrise hike, or taught ourselves to make charcuterie boards to share with the program. Six weeks went by faster than I could count to 17, yet I will cherish the memories and friendships I made for a lifetime.
–Annli ’22

“Have you ever wanted to create your own math? Ever wondered how it would feel? Well, a quirky little summer program on a beautiful campus in Massachusetts has got you covered, as long as you’re prepared to ask questions. Lots of questions. During my first week at Hampshire, I didn’t know what hit me. I didn’t have friends who liked math much back home, and I had certainly never participated in any contests. A lot of the people around me knew cool theorems, and did more advanced math in school. At first, I felt behind. I got so confused, so many times. The thing about HCSSiM, though, is that that’s okay. It’s expected. You’re dipped into the sea of math, and you learn to stay afloat. The people I felt behind (whom I soon became friends with) were dipped into the same sea I was, and soon the knowledge we came in with began to not matter so much. It was all about trying to wrap our collective heads around mind-boggling math, and working together to build upon it. This is what makes Hampshire so special- you aren’t presented with pre-written proofs, you aren’t given theorems to memorize, or patterns to learn. Workshop starts with an intriguing problem- it is up to you to dig into it together. Through the (17-11) weeks you spend at Hampshire, you’ll explore deeper into the math you enjoy most- creating tools you need to understand it better yourself. You’ll recognize the patterns, you’ll come up with the conjectures, and you’ll write the proofs, before presenting them to your friends. You will create the theorems, and they will be yours. They will be yours to talk about, to ask and answer questions about, and to use to come up with more conjectures to prove and more theorems to talk about. The tapestry you weave with the friends you make will be yours, and it will serve as a reminder: it’s about growth, not knowth.

–Aren ‘22

“When I first came to HCSSiM, I wasn’t prepared to spend my first few days of Workshop slicing watermelons with pizzas. I wasn’t prepared for the number of questions I’d have, or the challenge of making our own conjectures instead of just memorizing theorems. Hampshire urged me to ask “whys” in mathematics, and gave me the opportunity to do so with a group of passionate kids like me (I’ll miss turning the whiteboard into an idea dump during problem sessions.) During maxis and minis, I developed new interests in areas like surreal number game theory, elliptic curves, and group theory, allowing me to explore sides of mathematics that I’d never seen before.

However, the fun didn’t stop inside the classroom. Sleeping in Kern after a long sunrise hike, LaTeX-ing for the program journal, contradancing, and chugging “lohocla” (an extremely weird yet intriguing mix of different drinks) are just a few of the many moments I’ll never forget. I made some of my closest friends at Hampshire, people that caused me to tear up on the last day of the program as we parted ways. Although these six weeks passed in the blink of an eye, I can confidently say that my time at HCSSiM has taught me a lot more about myself and changed me for the better.

–Katherine ‘22

“On my first day at HCSSiM, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle the mathematical content and that I would quickly fall behind because I didn’t have much experience with competition math, which I previously thought to be the primary determinant of mathematical success. Being at HCSSiM quickly shattered these misconceptions. On the first night, when we assigned notetakers via “rungs” and spent the next hour making conjectures about their properties, I realized that the atmosphere was supportive and collaborative, rather than competitive. To my relief, I was able to follow approximately 68% – 85% percent of the material (sometimes more) on any given day and solve interesting problems every p-set. I looked forward to every workshop, maxi class, and p-set (no matter how sleep-deprived I was), eager to make exciting discoveries and explore fascinating content with my classmates. I’ll never forget the countless whiteboard doodles from my workshop, the tissue box that we used for a Burnside’s Lemma exercise, and the ANT maxi duel. HCSSiM was equally amazing outside of the classroom. From sushi runs to Atkins every weekend, baking in the mods, spending hours at Kern, practicing piano in the practice rooms, pulling an all-nighter for the sunrise hike, and more… there are countably infinitely many possibilities for activities at HCSSiM and there are finitely many eager and amazing people to do them with. Warning: Attending the program may result in a severe obsession with yellow pigs and the number 17 (and all of its multiples).

–Olga ’22

“For those genuinely interested in the prospect of exploring different facets of math otherwise inaccessible to you in school, this will be the best six weeks of your life. The thing that makes HCSSiM so interesting is that it does not blindly give you a formula and tell you to apply it. The questions begin with “why”, for example, why does the formula you found work in these cases? Why does it not work in other cases, such as these systems you are exploring in your chaos theory maxi? Why is this a winning position in pig solitaire? (that is not a typo). However, the thing I remember the most is the group of people I was able to meet that had similar interests and wildly different ones. My mod, the HCSSiM equivalent of a dorm, had a tradition called “mod meetings” that we still honor to this day. I introduced and was introduced to new animes at watch parties in between classes. I was taught how to play pool and smash in ping pong, and still got demolished every time. HCSSiM is not a place, it’s a people. (We did it before Odin made it cool) And although it was hard to stop crying when I was leaving, I want you to be so lucky to have something that is so hard to say goodbye to.

–Maxx ‘21 & ‘22