By Sue Luse
My fall tour of seven schools in the state of Virginia included a stop at Hampden-Sydney College, one of only three remaining all-male colleges in the United States. Educating men since 1775, Hampden-Sydney is the tenth oldest school in the country, with Patrick Henry and James Madison among its early trustees.
This was my first visit to H-SC, and I learned the college is rich in history, tradition and a strong sense of community. The plaque on the school’s front gate reads “Come here as youths so that you may leave as men.”
The 1340-acre campus is located in rural central Virginia about five miles south of Farmville, a charming town with unique shops, restaurants and attractions. Visitors to the area can explore historical sites commemorating the American Revolution and Civil War as well as state parks and recreation opportunities. Outdoor fun includes hiking and biking the on-campus Wilson Trail or the 35-mile High Bridge Trail State Park, fishing or kayaking nearby lakes and rivers or taking on a high adventure course.
The cities of Richmond and Charlottesville are about 70 miles from campus. The closest domestic airport is in Lynchburg (about 41 miles away) and international airport is in Richmond.
Academics and Honor
There is a strict honor code at H-SC and students take the code and academics seriously. As a freshman, students pledge in a ceremony that they “will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do,” and “will behave as a gentleman at all times and in all places.” One by one each freshman steps forward to sign this pledge in front of their class, setting a tone of honor and civility.
The school offers 27 majors and 25 minors, with popular choices being business, economics, history and biology. Since 1978, all students have been required to study rhetoric, a program focused on argumentative and analytical writing and presentational speaking. Another requirement is the school’s Core Cultures Program, which ensures students learn about the past from both a Western and global cultures perspective. Classes are small and professors are accessible, working closely with and getting to know their students.
Students have the opportunity to explore, practice and hone their leadership skills through programs offered through the Wilson Center for Leadership. Among them is the Wilson Leadership Fellows Program, a selective four-year commitment students apply to as incoming freshman.
The campus community is often described as a “brotherhood,” and with 95% of students living on campus, H-SC students are known to develop close friendships that last a lifetime. In fact, the school consistently ranks high in The Princeton Review’s “best alumni networks” category.
About 50% of students are active members of one of the colleges 10 nationally-chartered fraternities. Many are also involved in one of the school’s 60 clubs as well as in outdoor activities, such as fly fishing, hunting and the Outsiders Club. Sports are huge on campus, especially football, and tailgating is central to Hampden-Sydney’s culture – with the unique twist that students traditionally “dress up” for this pre-game activity.
Admissions and Tuition
Prospective students are expected to have mastered a solid college preparatory program before entering Hampden-Sydney. The school accepts the Common Application. The profile for accepted students is:
Application deadlines are:
Early Decision 1 – Nov. 1
Early Decision II – Jan. 15
Early Action – Nov. 15
Regular Decision – Feb. 1
Tuition at H-SC is approximately $60,000, including tuition, fees, housing and a meal plan; however 95% of students bring the cost down by receiving some form of financial aid.
Who would be happy at Hampden-Sydney?
Students who are interested in a small liberal arts school in a rural setting and who are looking for the unique experience and camaraderie provided by a private all-men’s college.