The first semester of Compass

Published 9:59 am Monday, December 30, 2019

A Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) press release noted that as 2019 draws to a close, so does the first official semester of H-SC’s newest academic initiative: an experiential learning program called Compass.

Hampden-Sydney believes that college should help students find direction, officials said in the release. The Compass program guides students by capitalizing on two of H-SC’s greatest strengths — its immersive, engaging learning environment and the strong relationships between faculty and students. The program combines active learning experiences with faculty-guided reflection to help students connect what they are learning with what they can expect to do beyond college.

The framework is simple, the release cited. Every student must complete at least three experiential learning courses; at least one of them must have a significant off-campus component. Students can choose courses from a broad menu of options — internships, study abroad, research, service learning and hands-on classroom courses. For qualified students, funding is available to support their experiences.

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This year’s freshman class — the Hampden-Sydney Class of 2023 — will be the first to graduate under the new Compass requirement, the release stated.

Compass courses have included summer internships at the Hatteras Island Ocean Center, a semester abroad in Muenster, a summer internship in New York and community service in the local region, the release highlighted. But they also enabled students to experience their world on H-SC’s campus. Students created art with materials found on campus trails in Art and Ecology class, wrote grants and were awarded up to $10,000 to address needs in the local community in Philanthropy in Theory and Practice, and formed a delegation to debate and negotiate in a diplomatic simulation in Model Organization of American States. In all, 17 classes were offered in the first semester of the program.

Officials said in the release that upcoming Compass courses will enable students to study international trade in global cities like Dublin and propose entrepreneurial solutions to pressing health issues in Anatomy and Physiology.

Following his service-learning Compass course, H-SC senior Andrew Howell was quoted in the release as saying, “The experiential learning course helped me to connect with the work in front of me in ways I had never thought of before.”

Beyond college, Hampden-Sydney believes Compass will better prepare men to compete for top jobs and graduate programs, officials added in the release.

“It’s hard to predict what skills students will need in the workplace in five, 10 or 20 years,” H-SC Elliott Professor of English and Assistant Dean of the Faculty Dr. Sarah Hardy said in the release. “But we can give students practice and guidance solving open-ended problems. Wherever this happens — in a lab, in an art class, in study abroad or in an internship — students discover how their own mistakes, choices and accomplishments can translate into success in any setting.”

The release concluded by encouraging those interested in learning more to visit the Compass website at for more information.