1) The first year retention rate is like 91%, meaning of the 100% who start first year, 91% return. Some transfer, some take time off.
2) Summer break is super long. This year we're done May 6th (at the latest, it depends on when you schedule your finals) and classes don't start again until September 8th. Winter break is also long. If you don't take J-term classes, you are off from like December 21st(once again, depending on how you schedule your finals) until January 24.
3) Yes you can. You can take up to half your classes at the surrounding colleges with a few things to consider. 1. First year first semester you need permission to take a 5 college class. They don't want you being overwhelmed. 2. It's not super easy to take a 5 college class. You need to schedule super carefully and allow for travel. That being said, I know lots of people (including myself) who are in five college classes, but just as many if not more who aren't
As a freshman, do you have small class sizes? I'm looking for a School were I can build strong relationships with my teachers, maybe even right off the bat.
Also, academically, how hard is the course load? Is it a stretch to pull a 4.0 your first semester? I'm a full IB student right now in High School, so I'm very used to a very heavy course load....I don't want to come to Smith and just flunk out though. Are the professors lenient? Understanding? Does effort count? I'm more of an essay/discussion girl rather then a multiple choice/fill in the blank (stay in the box) girl...how are a lot of the Smith classes?
D's largest class was 80, the leader of the discussion section was the department chair. Typical class more like 10-20; initial "survey" classes will be larger.
Professors lenient? No. Understanding? What do you mean by that? They understand that if you don't earn an A, you won't get an A. Otoh, when D had the flu, they got her notes, assignments, etc. *They* checked in her via e-mail to make sure she was all right, etc.
Possible to get a 4.0 first term? Yes. Beware being cocky and being one of the few first-years in a more advanced class. Your classmates have adjusted to the speed of the pitching, you haven't.
Lots of discussion & writing; D had no "Scantron" tests in four years. Even the "short answer" sections of tests were not easy.
My largest class this year has been 90, broken up into 4 sections of ~23. My smallest has been 5, in an advanced language class. I'd say the average is probably about 20, but I've taken a lot of intro courses and that has definitely swayed it.
Anyone want to comment on the Bio department as well as Neuroscience at Smith? Favorite professors, strong/weak classes, easy/hard classes? Also, I've heard so many Smithies talk about how impossible Cell Bio is. What year do students typically take Cell Bio? If you don't want to hurt your GPA, do students choose to take cell bio at a different college in the consortium with a different professor? How easy is it for first years to take five college classes? Any information is appreciated!
Cell bio is tough, not impossible. And yes, you can get an A in it, but you have to work hard. My guess is that most students are sophomore and juniors. Someone who posts here (sorry, can't remember who) had a daughter who took cell bio as a first year because of AP placement. Maybe she will chime in about how that went. I believe most Smithies take cell bio and organic chemistry on campus. The only science course that I heard many take at UMass was physics. My daughter's best professors in neuroscience were Mary Harrington and Adam Hall, although she liked all of them. She did have a UMass grad student teach one neuroscience course (Mom and Dad weren't happy about that); she said he was a good instructor, although much less demanding than Smith profs. Still, he taught it well enough that when she hit the topic again in grad school, she was ahead of many of the other grad students.
My daughter's largest courses, as I remember them: film studies, intro to psychology, statistics, general chemistry, general biology. Many of her courses had between 30-50 students, with others at the 10-15 mark. Discussion-based courses are naturally capped at much smaller enrollment. Larger lecture courses can break up into discussion groups or labs once or twice a week.
Even in the larger courses, my daughter had no trouble getting to know her professors. They recognized/knew her enough to say hi as they passed on the campus. In college, professors hold office hours (times when they are guaranteed to be in their office), and you can take advantage of those times to discuss course material with them.
How well you do at Smith during your first year depends a lot on how well you were prepared by your high school. How well you do at Smith during the next three years depends on your work habits and aptitude for the material. Plus, some professors grade harder than others. My gut feeling is that Smith suffers from grade inflation, although it may not feel like that at first because you'll have to adjust to the higher standards and work load. TD likes to tell the story of Smithies consoling another for a B+; that's because Smithies expect high grades.
Keep in mind that it's much, much more difficult to have a 4.0 at Smith than in high school. A handful of graduating women accomplish it, but if you realize that the entire class is composed of women who did very well in high school, you'll get a better idea of the difficulty. I really don't think that should be your goal, however. You will be attending Smith for the education, and sometimes a superior education requires that you take courses out of your comfort zone or with an excellent professor who does give out many As. Playing it safe should not be an option, especially in a learning environment as excellent as Smith's.
My D took Cell Bio in her first semester. She missed getting an A in the course, but did get an A in Lab and also did very well in the summary papers on primary literature, which made her feel better about herself! I was very impressed by the advanced level of instruction in Cell Bio, and continue to be impressed with the depth of coverage in other science courses (I'm an academic scientist doing biomedical research). She is taking Neurophysiology this term (again, as the only sophomore in the class, oops) and Methods in Neuroscience. Last term she took Intro to Neuroscience, which was pretty straightforward.
In retrospect, the only course I would advise against is Advanced General Chem (118) which she also took during her first term. There was no textbook, no notes/online material, heavy emphasis on discussing primary literature, and the course was taught in a way comparable to a graduate level course (a UMass Chem Ph.D. in my lab agreed), which was bizarre for a 100 level course. Nevertheless, some Chem majors loved it, but not my D. If you have more questions about Neuroscience courses/profs/research, I can get you in touch with D who just declared her major in Neuroscience.
I've been accepted as a transfer student for this fall as a junior. I'm planning on majoring in mathematics and statistics (with a concentration on statistics). Does anyone have advice or suggestions on the department? Favorite professors, strong/weak/easy/hard classes? Also what are some possible career paths that past Smithies have gone into after majoring in math and statistics?
Nick Horton is great.
I did a self-designed minor in social science methodology and am now a lawyer. The two math majors I was friends with both do math-related things now; one is an actuary and the other is finishing up a PhD in biostatistics from Harvard. But there's plenty you can do with a math degree!
Alicia Gram is incredible if you need Calculus or Stats
Elizabeth Denne (coincidentally my advisor) is amazing in everything
Nick Horton is also awesome
Laurel Miller Sims is someone to AVOID AT ALL COSTS
also, Chris Gole is great if you are a science/physics/engineering person. If you are not, STAY AWAY
Location: Michigan/Water Winter Wonderland --> Smith '14!
^I respectfully disagree about Miller-Sims. I think she's another one of those people whose method either works for you or it doesn't (also, she gets better the more complicated the math gets--she's definitely better suited to teach calc II than calc I). I haven't really had any complaints about her calc II class and she does make herself more available to meet with students than many of the other professors I know, and that's saying something.
Sorry phanatic, but as someone with lots of friends in Linear Algebra (also is currently in Linear Algebra) I've heard nothing but bad things. At least three people in her classes (two math major and 1 bio chem major) say that going to her class is not helpful in the slightest and at least 2 of her students have used the other LA's teacher's office hours to get a grasp on the material. Maybe she clicks with some people, but I have yet to meet any of those people
My (undecided d) is interested in many subjects--psych, soc, cognitive science and WAGS. She feels it's impractical to major in WAGS because "what kind of profession can one have in it?" Outside of teaching, can anyone chime in on this subject? Any WAGS majors on CC who can talk about career forecast?