I think both schools are awesome. I'm going to try and break down my thoughts here, but this is my perspective as a student who hasn't gone yet. I would be really interested in seeing posts by current students/alums.
Academics: Both are rigorous schools with very good programs. Mount Holyoke produces more female chemists than any other school (not any other women's school -- any other school), but I felt like Smith put a lot more emphasis on their need for STEM majors. Mount Holyoke's emphasis seemed to be more on multiculturalism/multicultural education. Both schools have access to the resources of the 5CC. I've spoken with some people who opined that Smith was a little more sink-or-swim overall, but I assume that would vary by professor. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with either academically.
Dorming: Smith has a really cool system where you live in converted mansions instead of dorms. That's pretty cool. I don't know too too much about Smith houses; I know that a tour guide told me each common room has a baby grand piano and a grandfather clock. They seemed nice when I stopped in and, from the Smithies I follow on Tumblr, it looks like there's a lot of community built around the houses. MHC has a good number of dorms with fully-stocked kitchens if you like to cook, as well as common areas with sitting spaces, TVs, etc. that you can use together. I know one of the dorms has a pool table? Mount Holyoke's dorms range in style and location all across the board. Some are more dorm-y than others. Some are pretty old. One building has sitting windows in every dorm room. There are several that overlook a lake.
Location: Smith is in Northampton, which is a really cool little city. It's absolutely somewhere I adore being. Mount Holyoke is in South Hadley, which is more rural, but absolutely beautiful. I really like seeing the trees and the greenness of everything. Both colleges can use the PVTA, which is a free bus system around the Pioneer Valley, so if you want to go to one of the other places, or Amherst, etc., it's not a bad ride.
Facilities: I don't remember much about Smith's facilities! I will say that Mount Holyoke has one of the coolest science buildings I've ever seen. The floor patterns correspond with things like amoebas, or firing neurons in a brain, or space stuff, and the staircases are modeled after double helices. Apparently, they also loan out baby bunnies for half hour blocks during finals there, because I ran into students carrying delightful little balls of fluffiness. I could spend a lot of time in there!
Student body: I'll say that there's a Facebook group for five college students, and the posts by Smithies and Mohos always crack me up. They're awesome. Demographically, both are decidedly liberal, many LGBT students and many heterosexual and cisgender LGBT allies. Wicked smart, a lot of great nerdy conversations go on.
Social life: There are parties if you want them on both campuses, and there's free transport to UMass and its parties (and Hampshire and Amherst, if you need some testosterone time). Both campuses also have many student orgs and opportunities to do things outside the realm of partying, if that isn't as much your thing.
aaaaand this is all I can think of. Hopefully someone else will post! good luck!
Hi, I'm a current student at Mount Holyoke! A lot of what MissGen said is correct, I just wanted to clarify a few things:
Regarding housing, the systems are different at Mount Holyoke and Smith. Smith assigns students to houses which they generally stay in for all four years (although I'm not sure all of them are converted mansions...), whereas Mount Holyoke students usually shift from dorm to dorm each year.
Every dorm has a baby grand piano and a grandfather clock at Mount Holyoke (this may be the case at Smith too, but it's definitely a Mount Holyoke thing!), and there are full kitchens for student use available in five of the dorms. Every dorm at Mount Holyoke has common spaces with TVs and a combination of ping pong/air hockey/foosball, etc tables. There is also a computer lab in each dorm with a printer that's completely free if you supply your own paper. Laundry facilities are available in each of the dorms, and you can check online to see if there is a washer/dryer available. You can also get the system to text you when your laundry is done!
Every school night at Mount Holyoke, Milk and Cookies (or some equivalent) is offered in each of the dorms at 9:30, which is pretty awesome! Although MHC students don't usually stay in the same dorm for all four years, a lot of community is built over the course of the year within the residence halls. Continental breakfast is also available in all of the dorms.
- MHC's campus is 800 acres, Smith's is 125 acres
- Smith has some pretty big coed graduate programs (375 people are enrolled in their School of Social Work and they have about 100 graduate students in other fields), MHC has very few graduate students in small programs (Masters of Psychology and Masters of Teaching)
- 25% of MHC's student body is made up of international students, compared to 15% for Smith
- MHC has distribution requirements, Smith has an open curriculum
- MHC has about 2,200 students, Smith has about 2,700
- MHC was founded in 1837 and is the first of the Seven Sisters, Smith was founded in 1875
Beyond the factual differences, I think that the colleges have different vibes so you really just have to visit to figure out which one is a better fit for you! I personally love the beauty of the Mount Holyoke campus and how friendly and welcoming both students and staff are here. Both are great schools!
Wow thanks MHC2015 you put in some great aspects of Mount Holyoke and I' m really excited about going I just don't know when will be the best time to go. I'm really am tempted to go during spring because I want more time spent at mount holyoke but at the same time I want to experience the full traditions of mount Holyoke and I know most of those are during the fall, so i'm really undecisive but oh i'm really really happy
@MissGen i think its awesome that you're going but when have you decided to go spring or fall
An alum here: Does MHC still have Elfing? (Sophomores leave little treats/notes, etc for firsties during the month of October and then reveal themselves at the end of the month? And do Juniors still serve as "big Sisters" to firsties in September? It was those traditions, along with Founders Day ice cream at 6am at Mary Lyon's grave, "Junior Show" , the drinking song, and all the other cool traditions that really made MHC so special. My friends that went to other schools had none of those sorts of experiences in college. Oh, and Mountain Day...Smith has that too, but they copied MHC!
teachandmom: Yes, MHC still has elfing! I just finished my sophomore year, and we'd leave treats out for a week, and we revealed ourselves at M&C's (milk and cookies) on Thursday night. It was so much fun! Later in the year, I ended up becoming friends with one of the firsties that I "elfed"! Many juniors are still "big sisters" to the first-years, and the Juniors still put on J-Show (Junior Show) in the spring. They still serve ice cream to the seniors for Founder's Day at Mary Lyon's grave, but I don't think it is at 6am. Mountain day still happens, and I must say that it is my favorite tradition at Mount Holyoke.
Be aware that the distribution requirements at MHC are pretty serious. I'm a firstie so I'm not an expert but I'm definitely going to have to plan really, really hard to fit in all my requirements with the major and minor that I'm doing. BUT I know that I'm going to end up with an amazing undergraduate education that I wouldn't get somewhere where they let me just take subjects I'm already comfortable in.