My D has been accepted. We've visited a couple of times. The campus is beautiful; the curriculum and faculty are great. The one thing we haven't been able to get our hands around is how lively campus life is or is not. On weekends there is a great deal to do on my D's high school campus, from plays and concerts and dance performances to open mic nights, films, and lectures. She loves the performing arts and all of these options have been among the highlights of her high school career. What is on-campus life at Smith like? I know there is a great deal going on in Noho in terms of performing arts and if you look at the Five College system as a whole there's a lot to do all the time. But three of the five schools are in Amherst -- a bus ride of 45 minutes or so away. Seems like it would be a disincentive -- esp. for newbies. On one tour, our guide told us that for fun she and her friends went into Noho for dinner. She seemed to have little to say about events on campus. Does anyone have any sense of this?
There's plenty to do any afternoon and night of the week! Especially if your D is the sort to seek out clubs or teams, she'll be very busy with those organized things. But there's also lots of things going on - there are movie showings every Friday and Saturday, there are lectures pretty much every day, there are parties Friday and Saturday nights, the art museum and the botanical garden are always open to students for free, and then just hanging out with friends in someone's room watching TV/playing board games/whatever.
While feeling like your D fits in at Smith is important, she/you really shouldn't worry about the actual activities and socialization. She will find her people through her house, through classes, through clubs and teams, through a whole bunch of avenues. If she's willing to put herself out there, she'll find friends.
Specifically about the performing arts - there's at least one low-key local or student performer a week, there are weekly open mics, there are films and lectures as I already mentioned, there are usually a few big dance performances from the dance department per semester and the same is true for theatre and music, and there are multiple student-run theatre, dance and musical groups as well.
Organized things I went to in the past week include - a musicals sing-along with the musical theatre group, 2 practices with the Quidditch team, a friend's birthday party, the South Asian group's dance performance, an a cappella jam. And that doesn't include just having dinner and hanging out with friends.
Smith has a good on campus life, that's actually one of the things that attracted me to it. I really didn't want to go to a college where there would be nothing to do on campus, or where people would be busing/training to other campuses all the time, rather I wanted a school where there was plenty to do on site.
Some of the things I did at Smith after classes or on the weekends: went to parties on campus, usually hosted by particular houses (certain houses are well known for throwing certain parties. Comstock throws the Lei party for example), went to free movie screenings, went to Herrell's for ice cream with my friends, went out to dinner with my friends at one of Northampton's many many restaurants, went to a play on campus, went to an a cappella performance on campus, went to a concert either on campus or at one of the many venues downtown (the student activities board always hosts a couple of big name concerts each year, on top of smaller concerts that students might put on or smaller acts that come in to play. In the past they've had acts like Vampire Weekend, Boys like Girls, and Feist. The Iron Horse Music Group has a bunch of different venues in town and they bring all kinds of bands ranging from indie/underground to nationally known so there are always concerts in town), went to art shows at the Smith College Art Museum.
That's just what I can think of off the top of my head. There are also of course special events throughout the year. The student's association hosts a carnival at the start of the semester, and Midnight Madness right before finals, which is basically a carnival that takes place at night in the gym, with bouncy houses and cotton candy and the whole bit. There's the Vagina Monologues performance every Valentine's Day, the musicals put on by the Leading Ladies, which is a student-run musical theater group. Right before Winter Break there is Vespers, which is a candlelit Christmas concert featuring the Chorus. There's Seders to attend during Passover and Iftars for Ramandan. There's teh yearly event (I forget what it's called) where organizations and houses build floats and row them around the boathouse to compete for first prize. They bring a lot of speakers to campus from various professions and specialty areas.
Any house can host a party, and most host at least one during the semester. Some of the houses host well known parties that are done every year and are usually widely attended. Comstock, like I said, hosts the Lei party. Tyler hosts a party called Immorality (relax, parents, nothing more immoral than dancing goes on, I promise). Not every party has a theme though, and even at theme parties, pretty much the same thing goes on as at a regular party: there's a DJ (or occasionally a band) and you dance and meet people. The only difference is that at theme parties you usually dress to comply with the theme, and if it's a theme party that has a good reputation as a fun party, you can usually be sure that there's going to be enough people there (both male and female) to ensure a good time.
There are also parties that are held in the Campus Center, but in my experience house parties are more fun. Though I've been to good campus center parties too, it just depends on if they get a good DJ and a good number of people attending.
The other plus about Smith parties is that they are almost always free to attend, whereas parties hosted by organizations off campus usually have some kind of cover charge. So if you don't have to pay or take a bus to have a good time, naturally you tend to stay at Smith.
It seems as though quite regularly our daughter attends house parties and she and all her friends have a fun time coming up with costumes to coordinate with the party theme. This coming weekend is Spring Weekend in which all the houses host parties; my daughter's the social events coordinator so she's organized the party for the whole house; they had a fun time just figuring out the party theme. I'm sure there are loads of other activities associated with Spring Weekend. On top of that, this weekend the Smith Glee Club is singing the Bach B minor Mass (all 250 pages of it!) with hired soloists, hired orchestra and the Cornell University Men's Glee Club who's coming for the weekend, so Smith is going to be hopping! As our daughter's in Glee Club, I'm really looking forward to their performance Saturday night!
I could go on and on with other details, but unless your daughter wants to hole up in her room, she will find more than enough activities to enjoy and participate in on a regular basis!
Last edited by CarolynB; 03-28-2011 at 02:48 PM.
Reason: Word change
Oh yes! I forgot Spring and Winter Weekend! During those weekends each house will host it's own mocktail or cocktail party, which is usually a more formal party and those with significant others typically invite them to come to Smith to attend. A Capella groups invite male a cappella groups from other schools to pair with them and then houses request a pair to perform at their mocktail/cocktail. Then the larger houses will host big all campus parties later on in the evening. Those are organized by your House Council and paid for out of your house dues. On dues: most houses collect dues each semester. Usually like $15-20 that goes towards house events or house trips. For example, the house might use the dues money to go to Six Flags or sometimes even to Quebec or New York. They use them to pay a cappella groups for spring or winter weekend, or to pay for other things for a large house party or to buy things for the house (a Wii system, a ping pong table, board games, whatever the house decides).