The academic highlights of the HWS programs include the highly touted freshman interdisciplinary seminar, the Finger Lakes Institute, study abroad opportunities, and 40 majors and 60 minors. The year long interdisciplinary seminar allows a student to explore a specific interest in depth, and some choices include: Art on the Edge, Thinking Critically About God, and The Algorithmic Life. The Fingers Lake Institute provides HWS students with the opportunity for field work on the Finger Lakes gathering data aboard their research vessel, conservation efforts, and public policy. It is a phenomenal opportunity for a student dedicated to environmental studies. Almost 60 percent of HSW students participate in a study abroad program. The colleges have study opportunities on six continents, and The Princeton Review recently ranked the HWS Abroad Program 18th in the nation.
The pool of admitted students have average ACT scores of 26-29 and SAT scores ranging from 1140-1300. I found the HWS website very user friendly, and a student, parent, or counselor could easily spend a few hours pointing and clicking to gain an understanding of the colleges, admission requirements, and academic offerings. What I found particularly interesting is that HWS has no distribution requirements, but all students must declare both a major and a minor or a double major. Additionally, all students must complete a eight curricular goals before graduation including developing skills for effective communication, critical thinking, and quantitative reasoning, to list just a few.
HWS is a picturesque campus boasting lovely architecture, forest, wildlife preserve, and the lake. The website includes a video tour which provides a nice snapshot of the schools and campus. The campus greens, large trees, and colonial buildings are typical of a New England college, and the lake encourages sailing, crew, recreational swimming, and a host of water activities for the students.
So what type of student would be happy and thrive at HWS? Obviously, every student is different, but the trusty Fiske Guide states that HSW “students are preppy, friendly, and outgoing” and leftward leaning politically. I think a student looking for a broad based liberal arts education, with a penchant for outdoor sports, including water activities and skiing (due to the campus' proximity to the slopes), and an interest in global study opportunities would be a good fit at HSW. And a student with an inclination toward environmental studies would thrive at the Finger Lakes Institute. The admission criteria is not as competitive as some other New England liberal arts colleges, so I could possibly conceive HWS as a 'safety' school for some students whose first choice may be the likes of Middlebury College or Hamilton College.