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Wellesley vs. Smith

spinmasterspinmaster 6 replies5 threads New Member
I'm a junior interested in applying to both Wellesley and Smith and I'd like to hear about some differences between the two. I know this has been discussed before, but I am looking for a newer perspective- a lot of the threads about the differences between Smith and Wellesley are from several years ago.

I am looking to hear about some general differences. I know about Smith's open curriculum, Wellesley's grade deflation, Northampton's quirky college-town feel, Wellesley's proximity to Boston... Still, if you have any general differences to add, feel free to.

I have some more specific questions:

How do the colleges fare for someone interested in applying to medical/graduate school? Could Wellesley's grading policy influence medical school/graduate school acceptance? Are Smith's academics still rigorous to prepare me for medical school? Are there adequate STEM research opportunities at both schools?

Does Wellesley feel competitive and "cutthroat"? Does Smith feel laid back and unacademic? Does either college have a general feeling of community?

Are there any other nuances between the schools that a prospective student should know about?
15 replies
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Replies to: Wellesley vs. Smith

  • DolemiteDolemite 2118 replies34 threads Senior Member
    I'll mention one practical difference that might not matter to you but Smith has merit aid while Wellesley only has need-based aid.
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  • spinmasterspinmaster 6 replies5 threads New Member
    @Dolemite I didn't know that and it is helpful, thank you.

    also, I meant to post this in the Women's colleges forum, so I hope it's okay that it's in college search and selection.
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  • SpringbirdSpringbird 141 replies9 threads Junior Member
    My Smithie (rising junior in STEM but not pre-med) has been very pleased with the academics at Smith. The academics are not laid back by any means. The Seven Sisters (and probably most women's colleges) tend to attract serious students; they aren't schools that are known as party schools. Smith students are supportive of one another rather than competitive. My D has mentioned on several occasions that she has reached out to classmates (even some she didn't know that well) for notes or assistance with work, and received a positive response immediately.

    Check out the STRIDE program which is a merit scholarship program that also provides paid research for the first two years: https://www.smith.edu/academics/applied-learning-research/stride-program. Even if you don't get into this program, you can still find research opportunities by expressing interest with professors.

    While I am not a student there, I get the sense there is a real sense of community. There are a lot of traditions like all of the women's colleges tend to have. But Smith puts a fun and lively spin on some, such as Convocation. And their "Houses not Dorms" concept sets students up for an immediate welcoming and supportive community of students from all class years right from the start. Note that you can do as much or as little as you would like in terms of the House culture, and you can also change Houses each year if you'd like. Lots of single rooms on campus, too (most sophomores can get a single).

    Wellesley and Smith are two excellent schools, and compared to schools across the country, they are far more alike than different. Of course, they have different strengths and different vibes, so best to visit both if you can. Check out Mount Holyoke, Bryn Mawr, and Barnard as well.

    Smith and Wellesley's acceptance rates are going down each year, so probably smart to apply to both if you're applying regular decision. If you apply to Wellesley, be sure to look into their unique Early Evaluation option which is non-binding and at least used to have a slightly higher acceptance rate.

    One last thought: If you are truly determined to go to medical school, keep in mind that it is expensive. The prevailing wisdom is not to go into debt for undergrad in that case, and also go to a school where you can get the highest GPA possible. Sometimes your state public school option or a school where you can get lots of merit may be the best for these two reasons. Just something to think about.

    Best wishes in your search!
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5334 replies77 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2018
    Wellesley doesn’t have cool nickname like being called a Smithie! And when I was in Amherst in the 90s we had a lot of fun at Smith. Some parties and planned mixers. I don’t know if that has all changed culturally at Smith. But I thought it would be a great place for a woman to go back then for sure. And it was a quite an impressive New England style campus too from what I recall.
    edited May 2018
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  • spinmasterspinmaster 6 replies5 threads New Member
    thank you @Springbird for the especially helpful post!! and thank you @privatebanker for the input.

    i'll most likely end up applying to both schools and seeing which I get into and how I feel about both of them. Thanks again for the help!
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  • HapworthHapworth 525 replies0 threads Member
    edited May 2018
    Both schools are peer institutions. @Springbird has a child at Smith and also, it seems, visited other women's colleges, so she (?) will have the most insight. Even if Wellesley has grade deflation, I cannot imagine that medical schools would hold this against you. Just as undergrad admissions committees have resources that allow them to gauge a given high school's rigor (and some high schools, both private and public, are so well known that adcoms don't even need to look them up (New Trier, for instance, just north of Chicago is an elite public high school that all of the most selective colleges would know)), I would assume that medical schools also know how to measure that academic climate at various undergrad schools, having seen applicants from "elite" and non-elite colleges alike.

    Wellesley and Smith are coequals. You should be thinking more in terms of culture, personal fit, and if merit money is important for your family (Smith will give out scholarships based on merit; Wellesley will not). The stereotype is that Wellesely is progressive but more staid, while Smith is more outwardly progressive. Really, though, if you can, you should visit these two schools (and since they're all in the NE, perhaps Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, and Barnard as well).
    edited May 2018
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  • SpringbirdSpringbird 141 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Here's something I wrote two years ago when my D was deciding between Wellesley and Smith: https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/smith-college/1883302-smith-vs-wellesley-smith-wins.html#latest

    Note that Mount Holyoke gives out the most merit aid of these five schools (up to full tuition). Bryn Mawr and Smith give some (up to about half tuition), and Wellesley and Barnard none. Barnard has the lowest acceptance rate (NYC is a big draw) with Wellesley right on its heels. Bryn Mawr is the smallest, but it is VERY connected with Haverford. Mount Holyoke has the most rural feel, although it is connected by the free bus system to Smith and the other consortium colleges. While Smith is the best, of course, :D , you will get an excellent education at all of these schools and have amazing opportunities.

    In retrospect, I wish I had attended a women's college!
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  • WildestDreamWildestDream 410 replies4 threads Member
    These are peer schools academically. I would pick based on cost and fit.
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  • aquaptaquapt 2028 replies38 threads Senior Member
    And don't forget Scripps on the West Coast, which has a very strong pre-med program via the Keck Science department which is shared with Pitzer and Claremont McKenna. Scripps students can cross-register at Pomona, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer and CMC, and can choose consortium-based and off-campus majors as well as majors based at Scripps. And there are merit scholarships up to half tuition.
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  • spinmasterspinmaster 6 replies5 threads New Member
    Thanks again everyone for the helpful replies! they've helped me make some conclusions for the time being. If I'm accepted into either college, I will make a visit and decide from there.
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  • TTGTTG 1663 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Mount Holyoke and other women's colleges are recommended above. I'd specifically second Mount Holyoke. I know a decent amount about Mount Holyoke and have been there several times. One of mine also did a summer program there. It is an excellent school with a beautiful campus (Wellesley is stunning, and Smith is also very nice, and Northampton is a great, funky college town)I know less about pre-med but believe I've seen very positive comments here on CC about MH med school acceptances. Are you familiar with the Five College Consortium, which includes Smith, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire, Amherst, and U Mass Amherst? Students can take some classes and take advantage of other opportunities at the other schools, which I think can be an advantage. And as one post notes, it might provide an option with good financial aid. Good luck!

    https://www.fivecolleges.edu
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  • figureskater2figureskater2 45 replies4 threads Junior Member
    If you are interested in pre-med, I think the Smith chemistry department is pretty good. Small class sizes and good lab instructors from my experience. Academically, Smith is pretty good in most disciplines. I used to be pre-med but am no longer, but I did take chem courses and English courses at Smith along with calculus (all needed for med school).

    I would really emphasize the fit of the college. Smith has a very distinct feel to it, and it is an environment that is not for everyone. I just finished my first-year at Smith, but will be attending a different school in the fall. Although, my reasons for transferring are more to do with my major and extracurricular activities.

    Feel free to PM if you have any questions about the courses at Smith, and good luck!
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    If I'm accepted into either college, I will make a visit and decide from there.

    Is there any way you can visit before applying? I know some students can't afford it, but both have a distinct flavor (and MHC, Bryn Mawr, Barnard, and Scripps do as well). Often students who think they will visit after acceptances find it difficult because you really only have the month of April to visit. It is expensive to wait until March to make reservations, and it is a busy time senior year with AP exams, ECs, etc. Lots of students end up not visiting schools they get into because logistics overwhelm them in April. Also, we see students sometimes who realize after visiting in April that they should have applied to a different set of schools altogether, and they don't like anywhere they got in.

    I would say that Wellesley is slightly above Smith academically. Wellesley have an average SAT of 1460. Smith is 1420, but Smith is test optional, so only the strongest students likely submit their scores. Smith is perfectly fine for med school admissions, though, and does not feel "unacademic" at all. I don't think any of the women's colleges discussed in this thread feel unacademic. As mentioned above, they tend to attract fairly serious students.

    There is a certain edginess to Smith that is less present (but not completely) at Wellesley.
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  • spinmasterspinmaster 6 replies5 threads New Member
    edited June 2018
    Thanks for the additional comments. I will consider looking into mount Holyoke as well!

    @figureskater2 I am interested in hearing more about the "fit" of the college and your reason for leaving. I know you said it had to do with your major, but were you happy at Smith? If you would rather not share it publicly I can PM you.

    @intparent: I've actually already toured quite a few colleges in different cities (including Barnard and Bryn Mawr) and I feel as if I have a good idea of what I'm looking for. I am probably not going to be able to visit the schools any time soon. I will take what you said into account though and check my schedule and speak with my parents.

    Everyone's responses have been very helpful. I already heard some insight into the grade deflation at Wellesley. I am interested in hearing about it from a Wellesley student or alum also.
    edited June 2018
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  • figureskater2figureskater2 45 replies4 threads Junior Member
    @spinmaster feel free to PM me with any questions you may have!
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