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Smith College

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Date: Mar 15 2013
Major: Psychology (This Major's Salary over time)
Since my daughter is now a Junior in high school, and I am helping her with her college search, I've been reflecting on my experience at Smith College, and feel compelled to share my thoughts to these reviews. I recently attended a reunion weekend at Smith, and other than a few new buildings on campus and more centralized dining options, it did not seem to have changed much since I attended—and that is a very good thing! Smith is a wonderful place to spend four years of college. The location could not be more perfect. The campus is absolutely gorgeous, and just the right size to feel spacious but manageable. Northampton is one block away, and is full of funky little shops, restaurants, a couple of theaters. The Pioneer Valley is beautiful, and you are within reach of 4 other stellar colleges, if you wish to take a class or participate in activities on another campus (I was in a musical at Amherst College-"Sweeney Todd" sophomore year, and had a blast!). I love the House system, which gives everyone a sense of community, and is not based on an exclusionary sorority system. I had a (relatively spacious) single room every year.

There is no one "type" of Smithie—except maybe that everyone is smart and serious about their education. If you want to find friends who are similar to you in any way, you will find them. You will also become friends with people with very different perspectives, from different backgrounds, cultures, etc. There is a commitment to every kind of diversity at Smith, and an atmosphere of respect for differences.

The academics are top-notch, and most professors are very interested in encouraging and supporting you. I was not prepared at first for how challenging classes would be after coasting through high school, but after the first year, I had improved as a student, and was well prepared for graduate school. My main interest was psychology, and I was so fortunate to learn from some of the amazing professors at Smith. Senior year, I completed an independent research study with Randy Frost. We met weekly, and he was so patient and inspiring to work with—his mentorship gave me the motivation/confidence/skills to apply to graduate school and seek a doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Since then I couldn't ask for a more satisfying career, and it is truly thanks to my education at Smith.

Smith is full of traditions that truly are wonderful. Some of my favorites: Mountain Day- When the president chooses a beautiful fall day and rings the bell that morning signalling that all classes are cancelled. The dining hall assembles box lunches, and everyone is encouraged to go climb a mountain and have a picnic. Friday afternoon Tea in all of the houses. Illumination Night before graduation, when the whole campus is lit with strings of Japanese Lanterns.

There are lots of activities, clubs, sports for any possible interest you might have. I joined an acapella group, which was so much fun. We'd often host male acapella groups from other schools, or visit schools on weekends and give joint concerts with their groups.

Socially, all of the houses hosted parties throughout the year, so there was always a party to attend on the weekend. The parties were definitely nicer than most parties I visited at other campuses. There was usually a room for dancing with a dj, then other rooms for conversation—maybe with a fire in the fireplace or someone playing the piano. You had to show an id if you wanted to drink alcohol, but the rule was not particularly strict, because it was easy to get drinks from friends with id's. During Winter or Spring Weekend, the parties are semi-formal. If you're worried about never getting a date with a guy if you come to Smith—don't be. Guys come from all over the northeast to the Smith parties—but they are only allowed in if they are on a guest list.

Finally, if you want to have a change for Junior Year, you have every possible option from attending college abroad, to one of the other colleges in the 12 college system. Since I did not speak a different language, but I wanted a change, I attended Bowdoin College my Junior year. I had a great experience at Bowdoin. Bowdoin is smaller than Smith, co-ed, and usually ranked higher on college rankings, primarily because it is so selective. In comparing Smith and Bowdoin, I felt that the coed environment was a bit more relaxed than all-women. I enjoyed getting to know more guys as friends (and meeting my husband!) There was more emphasis on sports, and it was fun to go to hockey games… Academically, I had a few wonderful professors at Bowdoin, but honestly, the classes were much less challenging than Smith. The Psychology department at Bowdoin was woefully lacking in comparison. Bowdoin had less than 10 Psychology professors, whereas Smith had close to 25.

Since being out in the "real world," I would say that people usually have heard of Smith and are impressed with the degree. Smith College graduates have a reputation for being intelligent, strong women, who are usually leaders in their field.

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