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Smith/Mt. Holyoke Student Body Differences, anyone?

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Replies to: Smith/Mt. Holyoke Student Body Differences, anyone?

  • jamapellejamapelle Registered User Posts: 146 Junior Member
    i agree that it's all about the atmosphere. i have dreamt of attending Smith for years, but after my interview and meeting with a local who went to Smith(she transferred to NYU after 1 sem), i realised it was just a concept in my head that i was in love with.

    obviously i didn't let my decision sway because of these two chance encounters, i guess it merely reinforced the doubts i had - Smith is highly competitive and the students there are driven with a goal in mind. Not to suggest that MHC isn't but I just get the vibe that MHC is more homely and supportive - a place where you are given time to nurture and be nurtured - whereas you have to be totally prepared to go to Smith.
  • inconspicuous90inconspicuous90 Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    After pouring over a plethora of reviews regarding Smith, I am left apprehensive. The concensus seems to be that the food is gross, the campus has too many rules regarding partying, and the houses are unkempt. I know these things seem trivial, and really shouldn't be the make or break, but when you go to a college, your paying for the entire *experience* and I don't want it to be the same as my life now. Also, how vibrant is Northampton, exactly? What kinds of things do they have? And how easy is it to hop on the PVTA? How are the library hours and dining hours? I heard there also quite restricting...
  • inconspicuous90inconspicuous90 Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    ignore the above :)
  • embordembord Registered User Posts: 86 Junior Member
    Okay, a MoHo here. Everyone finds reasons to go to one but not the other, for any number of situations. However, to dispel a few things said here:

    1. Mount Holyoke is by NO MEANS less academically-rigorous than Smith, DEFINITELY NOT. We're not neccesarily more rigorous (I haven't taken any classes at Smith yet), but we're certainly equal! I came from a very academically competitive high school, graduated 17th in my class, and I've found Mount Holyoke to be VERY challenging.

    2. Despite being ranked lower than Smith overall in USNWR, we're ranked 5th in the country for Overall Classroom Experience. There may be the perception that Smith has a more "academically rigorous" program, but Mount Holyoke has classes that are engaging, interesting, supportive, and that make students WANT to come to class. I don't know about anyone else, but I'd rather go to a class that's going to keep my interest for the entire time, instead of leaving me bored and taking notes for the heck of it!

    3. To be truthful, while Mount Holyoke has a very active and open queer community (of which I am a member and a leader), Smith's is MUCH more prominent and prevalent. That can be a draw for some, and a drawback for others. Obviously there are plenty of straight women at Smith, and the queer community is pretty visible at Mount Holyoke, but that has been my impression. Again, a more active/visible queer community can be positive for some and negative for others.

    4. No, South Hadley doesn't have a hopping nightlife scene or extensive entertainment resources. However, there are plenty of very tasty restaurants (Johnny's, Yardehouse, Autentica, Main Moon Chinese) and a movie theater right across the street from Mount Holyoke. And really, I have NEVER felt deprived of things to do, whether it's hanging on campus, seeing a movie across the street, or hopping a bus into Amherst or Northampton (again, totally free to Mount Holyoke students).

    5. Unlike Smith, Mount Holyoke doesn't require you to stay in the same dorm, living with the same group of people, for your entire 4 years. Mount Holyoke's dorms are ALSO gorgeous: many were built prior to 1900, and are cozy, beautiful places to live.

    Basically, the deal with Mount Holyoke is that you either adore it or you hate it. I, for one, absolutely ADORE my school, and can't imagine myself anywhere else. Hope this helps clear up a few issues.
  • composercomposer Registered User Posts: 68 Junior Member
    for # 5, I believe you are mistaken. I haven't stepped onto campus yet as a student BUT Smith does not require you to stay in the same dorm for all 4 years.
  • NHGNHG Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    I second what Composer said.
  • embordembord Registered User Posts: 86 Junior Member
    Sorry, my mistake on that, I thought I remembered from when I toured Smith, and from earlier posts on this thread, that you DO have to stay in your same house with the same people all 4 years. Misinformed, sorry again.
  • MomwaitingfornewMomwaitingfornew Registered User Posts: 5,821 Senior Member
    Correction: at Smith you can stay in the same house all four years, but you don't have to. My D has a friend who, as a senior, will be in her third house.

    Most choose to stay with the house they are in by the end of their freshman year. My D switched houses midway through her first semester, and others swap as well. If I remember correctly, my D was part of a huge swap that spanned four houses and eight people. The housing office must have gone crazy with that one.
  • MomwaitingfornewMomwaitingfornew Registered User Posts: 5,821 Senior Member
    Embord, I'm glad you love where you are. We have a friend of the family who goes to MHC, and she loves it.

    Most students love one or the other, but not both. Because this is on the Smith forum, most of us are cheerleaders for that college. We know it best.

    Personally, I think Mount Holyoke is one of the most beautiful colleges in the Northeast. For my D, however, it did not measure up to Smith. For others, it is the reverse.
  • embordembord Registered User Posts: 86 Junior Member
    MWFN, of course, obviously most people on this board are going to advocate a bit stronger for Smith than for MHC. I just wanted to show the other side of the perspective of this thread, which asked for the differences between the student body. Not trying to convert anyone, just wanted a fair portrayal of MoHo! I thought Smith had a beautiful campus and tons of fantastic resources when I visited as a prospective student, but like many high school juniors, just didn't have that "feel" for me. MHC did, and so that's where I stayed!
  • college3231college3231 Registered User Posts: 560 Member
    As a prospective high-school junior I've recently visited both campuses for a "self-guided tour". I loved both schools in different ways, and am so grateful for this helpful thread!

    Does anyone have any comments on differences in the teaching styles between MHC and Smith? Differences in the classroom feel?
  • SmithieandProudSmithieandProud Registered User Posts: 3,038 Senior Member
    I've never taken a class at Moho so take this with a grain of salt, but I don't think you'd find much difference between the two in terms of classroom feel, and I'm sure the teaching style is pretty much the same between the two schools.

    Of course, there are academic differences, like Moho has a required core curriculum whereas Smith does not.
  • CarolynBCarolynB Registered User Posts: 1,068 Senior Member
    When my daughter, a First Year, considered both schools, she wound up sitting in on a total of four classes at Mount Holyoke and two at Smith. Maybe it was the luck of the draw, but she was not entirely satisfied with the first two Moho classes she experienced, so she went back to sample two more and was surprised that they were still not to her liking; she was thrilled with the two Smith classes.

    When I first learned about Smith's having no distribution requirements, I have to confess I was a bit put off; it seemed contrary to what the purpose of a liberal arts college is supposed to do--offer tastes from the various disciplines to contribute to a well-rounded education before diving into a major. I came to appreciate Smith's expectation that Smith women can take responsibility for their learning: to be as well-rounded as desired or to zero in on their passions. My understanding is that if a student wants to qualify for Latin honors at graduation, there are distribution requirements that need to be fulfilled.

    Perhaps I'll have more to say about classes once she's really started 9/8/09!
  • MomwaitingfornewMomwaitingfornew Registered User Posts: 5,821 Senior Member
    CarolynB, yes, Latin Honors requires students to fulfill distributive requirements. My guess is that most students do this naturally, or come close to it. Of course, not all students qualify for Latin Honors.

    My daughter had the same experience with courses. She found the Smith classes to be the most thought-provoking and energetic out of all the schools she got into; however, she might not have chosen wisely at the others. Honestly, I don't think you can go wrong academically at any of top all-women's colleges. They all give their students good educations but have very different feels.

    The "luck of the draw" is indeed a huge part of liking a school. If the weather is bad, or the tour guide is arrogant, or the building that houses the major department is being renovated, potential students can be put off. I always recommend that students visit a potential college twice: once before applying, and once after acceptance.

    In my daughter's case, the evolution of the decision process was interesting. At first, the only women's college she wanted to consider was MHC; she loved it. As we started visiting colleges, she continued to prefer co-ed schools -- until she hit Bryn Mawr and Smith. Although she applied to and was accepted to MHC, it had dropped so far down her list that she probably would have picked one of the co-ed acceptances over it if she had not gotten into Bryn Mawr and Smith. I think the relative isolation and the personality of the tour guide had a lot to do with it.

    @college3231: most small liberal arts schools have the same teaching style, although, obviously, style also varies among individual professors. Liberal arts colleges usually strive to create a classroom environment that encourages discussion and interaction with the professors. Some of the larger, introductory courses are lecture-based by necessity, and even smaller courses that depend on the accumulation of facts will be more lecture than discussion. Still, the majority of non-introductory courses tend to be small and somewhat intimate. It's much easier to ask questions in a small class, even when it is lecture-based, than in a hall of 300 or more students.
  • randomcoolziprandomcoolzip Registered User Posts: 28 New Member
    Having just come back from first-year dropoff at Smith, I have to say I really enjoyed Northampton. It's like a piece of Cambridge that's been helicoptered in and dropped - and it even goes to bed at a reasonable hour. Took me right back to my Harvard days. I think the fact that it's an easy walk from the Smith campus is a plus.

    I haven't spent as much time on the Mount Holyoke campus so I can't really say I've formed an impression of what's within walking distance in South Hadley.
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