i was offered stride but i dont really know what it is... judging from it its not really that much money... not nearly as much as wellesley's full grant... so what is great about being a stride scholars?
being STRIDE means that from the first day you come to campus, you have a paid job as a professor's research assistant. You get a $2500 scholarship all four years and about $1700 in salary for the two years you do research. There's also a pool of funding in case you and/or your professor want to present your work at a conference.
doing STRIDE has opened a lot of doors for me, and allowed me to learn about a field outside my major. In addition, it gave me a close relationship with a wonderful prof I might never have otherwise met.
Some profs treat their STRIDE's like slave labor but many get very interesting projects. Speaking of opening doors...my D has a seven-week summer research job funded by the National Science foundation, courtesy of her STRIDE prof. Beats working at Starbucks for the resume, gratification, and connections.
D was accepted at Wellesley ("Probable" on Early Evaluation) and chose Smith...those were her final two. STRIDE was not the deciding factor but it was the cherry on top of the cake.
Florus, you're very kind but I'm only knowledgeable *as a parent*. And I'm not an expert on Wellesley though I can tell you why my D chose Smith over Wellesley. However, I'll always be grateful for W's Early Evaluation letter...it took the sting out from D's EA rejection. CC is very lucky to have Stacy posting here...I wish more students did.
For my d., the STRIDE has been great. It has allowed her to work on creating the first publication of the first opera ever written by a woman (in 1626), knowing that it is actually going to be performed next year. It immediately had her working with the head of the 5-College Early Music Program (and founder of the Folger Consort). She now meets with music profs from each of th 5 Colleges regularly as they plan next year's production of two operas, for which she will be responsible as manager. This is the kind of paid work most graduate students would kill for (or at least die for). But the pay and scholarship was just icing on the cake. It was a major plus in her decisionmaking, and nothing like it was available for first- and second-year students at any of the Ivies or other LACs.
LL, okay...some of D's reasons were idiosyncratic to her and some might have broader applicability.
There was nothing "wrong" with Wellesley but several things were more "right" with Smith.
Academics are a virtual push...anyone having a cow over a 4.5 vs a 4.3 in US News ratings needs to get a life, study methodology and statistics, and move on. W's SAT range is significantly higher but Mini will give you a good exegesis on correlation between SAT scores and economic background and Smith has a *lot* more economic diversity reflected in its student body...see "Student Body" below.
My D is a double-major in Math/Government but performing arts mean a lot to her. W's ballet is one level as an EC, Smith has three levels, including Advanced Ballet and optional pointe work in class, Dance majors' choreography projects to work in, etc. Smith also has a very good orchestra and music program--the orchestra and chorus are performing at Carnegie Hall on May 11--and in general there's a definite feeling of the performing arts being part of the overall curriculum at Smith instead of a tangential afterthought at Wellesely.
Location. Northampton is vibrant, edgy, hip...the town of Wellesley is a sleepy little upscale (to the point of being snooty) backwater. W students say "But there's Boston!" Depends on your priorities. Any trip from W to Boston starts with a 90-minute to two-hour time penalty just for transportation there and back. The way my D studies, there simply isn't time for that. Northampton, in contrast, is a three-minute walk. This year she's taken a weekend trip to NYC, a Spring break trip into Boston, and is probably going to go up to Montreal this summer. Given that a lot of W students *do* go to Boston on the weekends, the campus correspondingly is a lot quieter whereas Smith seems to have a higher energy level.
Student body. First, W's is significantly wealthier. For D, all the designer this-and-that is a turnoff. We are not poor by any definition yet we do not spend Christmas skiing in Switzerland or summer on the Cape. At Smith, there's a pretty good range from students who probably have a Kate Spoede handbags and cashmere sweaters (fairly rare-ish) to those whose wardrobes are exclusively from the second-hand shops. There are still enough who spend money as if it were water but D is comfortably in the middle. Smithies are competitive, bright, and articulate...I sometimes thing arguing should be a team sport...but my D found them to be less tightly wound, more down to earth than the Wellesley girls. The joke that ends with the Prof coming into the classroom and saying "Good morning class" and all the Wellesley students scribble furiously "Good morning class" into their notebooks might have a shred of truth in it.
Both W and Smith claim--with justification--to have very good alumnae networks and I believe it. The STRIDE research position aside, D found a lot more emphasis at Smith on research opportunities, internships (every Smith student is provided with one paid internship in four years), and off-campus/abroad programs. Smith's options are dazzling. My D's targets are the Semester in D.C. program and a semester in Budapest with the national institute of mathematics...yum. A girl on the Year Abroad presentation had spent a semester with the Royal Shakespeare Company and she wasn't even a theater major...yum. And that's not even the "main" YA programs, which include Italy, Germany, Japan and...a fourth, I forget. W has YA opportunities too but as with the performing arts, it's a question of emphasis and Smith makes a big deal of it...about 2/3 of the junior class spends time abroad.
The reality is that, except for being all XX, S and W aren't very similar, except as well-regarded (and well-endowed) northeastern LACs in general are similar. One has distribution requirements; the other doesn't. One is very suburban, but relatively near a big city; one is in a town, but not near a big city (and near rural hiking territory.) One is a weekend destination for the surrounding area; the other is a place to leave from. One is heavy in the performing arts; the other heavier pre-professional. One student body is significantly less well-heeled than the other. One is part of an active consortium that has, among other things, its own professors and certificate programs; the other has enrollment in another (excellent) institution. One campus (Wellesley) is substantially more sprawling than the other. One has a much larger percentage of older students than the other, and several highly regarded graduate programs.
Both great schools!
(There's also the 5-College anthropology project in Peru.)
P.S. I just discovered that the lead soprano I sang I Pagliacci with last night (and will repeat tonight) is a Smithie!
.... if im not too big on performing arts, but im really big on studio art (took the ap twice for both the 2d design and the drawing test.. + excellent teachers rec)... would smith still fit me? i have no.. dance or music or theatre background... but i do have a solid art background that i would be kind of missing when i go to college.. *sighs... no way my parents are gonna let me to go art school since they're both like.. bio engineers
I've heard third-hand that Smith's studio art program isn't the most demanding in the world...that if you're a real hot-shot artist, you might wish you were elsewhere. However, the Art History program absolutely rocks by all accounts.