In the cold and snowy shadows of the rising sun, 37 new students arrived on the Hill, ready to join Hamilton as the College’s newest class of January admits.

Often called “Jans,” these students spend their first semester of college off campus, starting their time at Hamilton in the spring. They are selected from among applicants for their “demonstrated independence and intellectual curiosity,” which indicates the Admission team believes they’ll take advantage of an enriching fall semester away from campus.

This semester away can take many forms, from attending Arcadia University in London to volunteering around Japan, as students choose what they want to do with those few precious months before officially starting their college careers. Here’s what some of them did:

Jane Robinson ’27

Boston, Mass.

When Jane Robinson ’27 opened her Hamilton admission letter and read the words “January Admission,” she knew immediately that she wanted to do something different. “I never really considered London,” Robinson said, so she found two programs that truly interested her. A seven-week volunteer program in Japan and a two-month experience working on a farm in Australia called WWOOF.

These programs were not typical academic work, giving Robinson a break from “burnout from high school.” Her path crossed with locals and other college students from across the globe, creating lifelong friendships that she continues to nurture.

Robinson thanks the Jan program for allowing her to achieve a sense of independence one can only imagine straight out of high school. Despite not earning academic credits for her semester, Robinson has no worries about graduating on time, citing Hamilton’s open curriculum as the main reason she was able to take such risks.

Paige Hescock ’27

Middlebury, Vt.

Paige Hescock ’27 spent her fall semester catching up on lost time with her family, book-ending the semester with travel and working alongside them while still making time for a volunteer opportunity, via WWOOF, in California. Hescock explained that she wanted to “do a little bit of everything” and that this allowed her to explore the world without the pressure of academics. This manifested into a semester of discovery, parts of herself uncovered with every new adventure.

And Hescock truly did a lot — from learning how to farm lavender to completing an internship at a local news station — these experiences were not only exciting and new but contributed to a common goal, a fall of unique experiences. “A gap year was too long … but a semester was the perfect length,” noted Hescock, who still managed to fit four separate adventures into her Jan semester.

Hescock wants future Jans to know that “[the Hamilton Admission Office] chose you for a reason.” She said she would have wanted no other way of starting her Hamilton journey.

“A gap year was too long … but a semester was the perfect length.”

Will Bentley ’27

Westchester, N.Y.

Will Bentley ’27 decided to use his Jan semester to study at the School for Field Studies (SFS) program in Australia. While there, he took three courses and did a month-long research project culminating in a paper.

The research Bentley did was vital to SFS as it was about the local indigenous mammals. “I would go out at night and study at what time animals were most present,” he said, while explaining how his research was to help determine what was on the SFS campus so it could become a “protected land.” Before going, Bentley had no interest in biology; however, now after his semester, he is much more open to the sciences at Hamilton.

The small community of SFS — 28 students and a handful of faculty — made for deep connections, which Bentley said helped him assimilate into Hamilton’s campus.

Lev Janicki ’27

New York City, N.Y.

Lev Janicki used his Jan admission to explore a passion — sailing. This led him to the SEA education program, a semester on a sailboat that encompassed both academics and the everyday activities of running a boat. Janicki’s boat went around the northern part of New Zealand, frequently stopping to explore. Janicki admits entering Hamilton as a Jan “was not planned,” but the stars seemed to align once he realized he could “go sailing on a real ship.” This sailing was supplemented with classes, both focused on academic subjects and leadership.

Looking back now, Janicki explained that “There was so much about being at sea that changed my life forever,” and that the dynamic experiences of the sea were once in a lifetime. “I learned to bend and not break,” he said, as SEA allowed him a safe environment to discover his limits. He will treasure his experience, encouraging future Jans to “keep this experience with you. It's so easy to melt into college,” and that “the Jan program makes you unique.”

The London Arcadia Experience

Derrick Li ’27

Hangzhou, China

Derrick Li ’27 decided to spend his semester with the London Arcadia program, which he called “wonderful,” adding, “I would not give it up for anything.” He joked that older students work hard to study abroad and that he was gifted the experience because of the Jan program. Li chose the program because of the appeal of London, specifically the ability to meet both non-Hamilton students and his fellow Jans. He also explained how the central location of London allowed him to take trips with these new friends, going to Edinburgh and other places within the United Kingdom.

These connections have followed him home to the Hill, as Li described the Jans as a tight community with strong relationships built from the shared experiences of the program in London. This community is what drove Li to recommend both London and the Jan program to future students as “no matter what, do not hesitate… you will love this,” and that it’s an opportunity others want.

Zo Clarke ’27

Winchester, Mass.

Zo Clarke ’27 always had an interest in Shakespeare; they even went as far as competing in Shakespeare competitions in high school. So when the opportunity came to take a class solely focused on the English playwright and poet, they jumped at the chance. Introduction to Shakespeare in Text and Performance, a class offered by the London Arcadia program, was “a dream come true” Clarke explained, adding that they were able to attend live productions of shows. Clarke said that all of the Arcadia classes had an out-of-class aspect, often field trips within the city, that took advantage of being in London and overall enhanced the classes.

The London Jan Program led Clarke to discover something new about themselves. As someone from the suburbs, Clarke was originally hesitant about city life, but the immersion into London allowed them to find confidence in the unknown.

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