One of just three all-men’s colleges in the United States, Hampden-Sydney College is a small liberal arts college in Hampden-Sydney, Virginia, about 60 miles west of Richmond, the state capital. Founded in 1775 (yep!), HSC strives to shape well-rounded men who can think and express themselves well.
It’s definitely not for everyone.
With just over a thousand undergraduate students, HSC believes very strongly in its responsibility to help students enter as boys, and leave as men. “We give our students tremendous responsibility,” says biology professor Alex Werth. And the students rise to the challenge.
HSC’s highly regarded Rhetoric program requires all students to take 2 rhetoric courses their freshman year, regardless of their major, and pass a writing exam in their sophomore year. HSC alumni around the world gather to toast current students when they sit for this exam. Why the emphasis on writing skills? You can’t lead if you can’t convey your ideas, say administrators. “We teach our students how to think, asking them to do more than just spit back what they have heard in lecture.”
The sciences are exceptionally strong at HSC, which has cooperative agreements with VCU, George Washington University and Eastern Virginia University that allow students to be accepted into medical school as sophomores. GWU and EVU waive the MCAT; VCU does not.
HSC also has a guaranteed admission agreement with the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Lynchburg College for 2 students each year, and HSC recently entered into an agreement with a local hospital that gives students medical shadowing opportunities.
Additionally, HSC has a strong entrepreneurship program, which offers students a mini “Shark Tank” experience with real venture funding.
Interestingly for an all-male school, about 40% of HSC students join fraternities. HSC has Division III sports, and their football program is strong. Many of the students are outdoorsy, and the campus has 3 ponds and acreage for hunting and other outdoor sports.
While there’s no dress code, HSC students talk about their desire to present themselves well. A panel of 6 students who spoke to my counselor group all wore button down shirts and ties, and spoke convincingly about the role that their single-sex education has played in their development as students and as men.
I can say from the perspective of someone who has visited many women’s colleges that it was interesting to hear young male students talk about the learning environment without female students. I sat next to a young man at dinner who was well-spoken, interested in learning my story as well as sharing his own, and an engaging conversationalist.
Hampden-Sydney College is unique – it’s all male, it’s rural, there’s a bit of an “upper crust” vibe. But for the right student, HSC will provide the incubator for four years of learning and transforming. The average GPA for admitted students is 3.4, with the middle 50% of SAT (CR+M) range 1030-1200 and ACT range 21-26.
Evelyn visited in November, 2015. You can see all of her photos here.