First Impressions: Smith College (MA)
Located in Northampton, Massachusetts, Smith College is one of the best liberal arts colleges that I have had the privilege to visit. One of the selective Five Sisters among women’s colleges, Smith College students have access to an impressive treasure trove of resources academic, social and career related. Here I will share my First Impressions and also links to a Pinterest page of photos from Smith.
Smith College has a larger population than most liberal arts colleges. There are approximately 2,500 undergraduates as well as around 400 graduate students. Young women need to be very bright to get into this school, but they are not required to submit ACT or SAT scores. Nor did the students that I met conform to any mold or preconceived notion of a “Smithie,” as students and alumni are called.
Campus politics at Smith appear to lean left. But there are so many opportunities for students of varied viewpoints, national origins and orientations to make connections among the 30,000 students in the Five Colleges, including Smith, Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the flagship public university of the Commonwealth State. Smithies have access to more classes, clubs, career development opportunities and social events through the Five Colleges than most peers at a US college. They also have many opportunities to study abroad or away (within the US), as you will read in my First Impressions.
Smith College also has a residence life system unlike most other colleges. Incoming students are assigned to houses, residences that have between eight and 100 people. Some have their own dining facilities—there are 13 dining halls on campus. Smithies will typically live in the residences for all four years, but most will not live in the same one over the duration. Some of these halls are modern, but others retain their historic charm. A Smithie from the Class of 1968 is as likely to feel at home at an alumni event when she visits her former residence as a member of the Class of 2018 who still lives there. That feeling is supported by campus traditions such as Mountain Day, also part of the college’s charms.
A prospective Smithie first needs to be open to the opportunity to attend a women’s college, then visit to find out if she can adapt to an open curriculum as well as the house system. Smith is one of the very best liberal arts colleges in the US. But it is not for every woman.
Report Card: Smith College
- Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: A
- Freshman Retention: A
- Costs: A
- Curriculum: A
- Community: A
- Comforts: B+
- Connections: A
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