Kind Words from Recent Alumni:
“This six weeks of intense mathematics study promised thought-provoking lectures and vigorous discussions, but what I did not know was that this group of strangers would soon become a close-knit community of friends.
As someone accustomed to working on math problems independently, I was surprised when two of my classmates, excitedly joined me at the blackboard to work on solving a multigraph problem that we were all having trouble understanding during our first week of classes. It was my first introduction to the power and efficiency of collaboration in mathematics problem solving, but certainly not my last as I formed a study group with several other students to explore topics like the relationship between multigraph and unit distance in Euclidean space. The faculty members also became more like friends than advisors as they guided me through unfamiliar concepts like number theory, encouraging me to learn and grow by embracing that which I did not already know. Outside the classroom, we enjoyed each others company while hiking the Holyoke Ridge, enjoying the trip to Boston, and playing Frisbee.
Though we each returned home at the programs end, this six weeks of math study is the craziest thing I have done with math and people who share the same interest.
“Just after my return back home after the program, I put all my HCSSiM notes into a box under my bed, thinking I would never use them again – I was proven to be completely wrong. Whenever I research about math or the school math teacher starts a new topic, I would always, totally unexpectedly, exclaim in surprise, ‘I actually learnt that already in HCSSiM!’ The variety of math topics I was exposed to (Make sure you find out more about that under About HCSSiM (Fun) — Courses, Usual and Unusual) vastly expanded my knowledge, picturing me an ‘overview of math’ and allowing me to pursue different areas of my own interest. In addition, as HCSSiM also led me to ‘experiment with math,’ I began to view math more creatively and understand the elegance behind different theorems.
Apart from math, I also made great friends in the program — in fact, I just met with two during the summer 2018. We were able to cook and bake ourselves, go on a Boston trip, or visit Amherst on the weekends. I learnt how to use Latex and attempted to edit the weekly program journal. About the last day of HCSSiM, I still remember having a crazy schedule of classes, packing, dinner and party at Susan’s house, followed by a ‘concert’ of math dance, hula loop and a music performance by me and another friend (which we prepared during the last three weeks). These experiences were especially valuable for me as an international student, and who had never a taste of boarding life before.
“Before arriving at HCSSiM, I was terrified that I wouldn’t be smart enough to understand what was going on. Looking back now, I realize how misguided I was. Granted, there were definitely times where I didn’t know what was going on. But as Hampshire says, it’s about growth, not knowth. I learned the importance of collaboration and to be unafraid to ask for help. I made amazing friends and worked with incredibly supportive staff. Coming to Hampshire was one of the best choices I’ve ever made, although leaving was pretty painful. HCSSiM taught me life lessons I’ll keep with me forever.
When I left for HCSSiM, I was prepared for six weeks of exhausting, mind-boggling math and already couldn’t wait to fly back home. When I left HCSSiM, I was unprepared to end the six weeks of math movies, early morning hikes, Cap’n Crunch, Prime Time dozing, exciting and somewhat mind-boggling math, and most of all, I wasn’t prepared to bid goodbye to some of the best (and funniest) friends I’d made my whole life. The good news is that even after Hampshire, the connections I made and the interests I developed did not disappear, and I can confidently say HCSSiM has impacted my life for the better.
— Grace ‘18
Before Hampshire, I learned math in the way I thought you had to: I read part of a textbook alone, and then did the exercises. At Hampshire, things were done differently. We’d start with a problem, and then try to figure out how to solve it. But the staff wouldn’t write a solution on the board. We’d work on it with our friends until someone got it. And then once someone finally did, we’d hear them speak without knowing whether or not they were right. At home, I would read a textbook and then prove some theorems. At Hampshire, we’d come up with the definitions by ourselves and then conjecture the theorems on our own. And we’d be wrong. But we learned that, even if we were wrong at first, almost any good idea can be salvaged. The ideas came before everything. We didn’t prove random things about random structures, we turned ideas into theorems. And we did it together—I met some incredible people and we had a great time doing math together (and going to Atkins together, playing bridge together, and even trying to model ordinals with bread…). Six weeks at Hampshire changed the way I viewed math, and gave me some of the best experiences I’ve ever had. (Plus, almost 289 factoids about the number 17.)
— Michael ‘18
HCSSiM has been a great and memorable experience. It has helped me build new skills and make connections with people that will last through my life. The program showed me a new way of learning mathematics that was not focused on memorizing facts but on exploration and discovery. I had a blast simulating real research and “eureka” moments with all my peers. HCSSiM is an experience that any math enthusiast should have and it has given me a new reason to wish that summer never ended.
— Yanees ’16
“How well did you do on the AIME?” asked someone who I had just recently met. I had recently told him that I enjoyed mathematics, and was planning on attending a six-week summer studies dedicated to it. I hate this question. Not because I didn’t do well on the AIME, but because I had never qualified for it. Test scores have become a standard way of measuring how “good” you are at math, and it seems impossible to avoid.
In fact, the only place in the world where nobody cares about how much math you know is a summer program in mathematics located in Massachusetts (No, it’s not located in New Hampshire). Instead, they care about how much math you can learn. But most of the time, nobody even cares about that. HCSSiM cares about whether you can write eloquent articles for the program journal, or shoot a 3-pointer on the basketball court. Whether you can catch a “blue 90” (our code for Hail Mary frisbee pass), or take an 18th supply center in a game of Diplomacy. Whether you can eat three plates worth of corn dogs, or unicycle upside-down on a helicopter juggling tomatoes with a monkey (this has never been tried before).
It’s not difficult to fit in at HCSSiM. You don’t even have to be “good” at math. It’s really about whether you want to have fun being wacky with friends — and still be on time for Prime Time Theorem at 17 o’clock. I’ll be honest and say that I was worried about not getting my summer tan, but I think you’ll find yourself hard pressed to find a better tan(x) anywhere else.
— Jorge ’16
As someone who initially preferred to learn and solve problems independently, I was thrown aback by the synergetic nature of HCSSiM. However, by the end of the program, my view had drastically changed. HCSSiM showed me the importance of collaboration in mathematics, and provided me with friends that have taught me some of the most interesting mathematical concepts. The friends I made at HCSSiM all brought unique perspectives to the table, and helped me broaden my horizons by teaching me about fields in mathematics that I never really considered. Everyone at HCSSiM was so different yet so similar: we all had diverse backgrounds yet we all loved mathematics just as much as each other. I shall definitely treasure my experience at HCSSiM, as it was undoubtedly one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
— Shawn ’16