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Update on First-Years

2

Replies to: Update on First-Years

  • moodlemoodle Registered User Posts: 38 Junior Member
    My daughter has also made what seems to be a seamless transition into her first year at Smith. I kept waiting to hear the negative aspects of her life there but everything has been positive so far.
    She also looked at Mount Holyoke and really loved what she saw there and the people she met. Her only reservation was the remoteness of the school. A friend of hers attends Mount Holyoke and is very happy there.
    My greatest fear now is that my daughter loves it at Smith so much she won't come home!! One of her professors invited her to do research with him this summer and she gleefully accepted. I guess I'll be the frequent flyer in our family now.
  • minimini Registered User Posts: 26,431 Senior Member
    Our D and I just talked about this. She thinks that people are usually tolerant as long as people don't try to make other people believe what they believe. D also agreed that anti-gay students would have a hard time at Smith. She says she thinks some of the politeness to conservative speakers is expectations of the administration, but there have been some occasions of conservative students being harassed. She has not seen religious harassement and she is religious life liason for her house.
    D and I would describe Smith as liberal as its predominate political culture and social culture, not radical. My D would be more on the radical fringe. Far right wing students might be uncomfortable there but D says it is too rich to be truly radical.
  • ticklemepinkticklemepink Registered User Posts: 2,764 Senior Member
    Yes, conservative students are harassed at Smith. I knew that I was liberal but the liberalism on campus is, to my eyes, quite radical in comparsion to other Seven Sisters (had a nice, long conversation with a friend at Bryn Mawr). My best Smithie friend is very conservative but accepts gay marriage and is pro-abortion. But she is having a hard time encouraging liberal Smithies to accept her. She reports that most shun her out just because she's "conservative." She knows that she's different (aka much nicer and open-minded). They often ask her, "Why are you here?!" and she gets upset when they suggest her to leave Smith. She does love Smith and is willing to plant her feet into the ground. No physical harm yet. The Republican Club and her church have supported her and helped her to deal with this bullying. I feel so bad for her even though I do stand up and re-word her arguments/statements for other people.

    Smith needs to work on political diversity, not sexual orientation!!! It's a very quiet issue that people should be aware of and accepting.

    All I know is that she's here at Smith to add diversity (even though there was nothing about it in her application!). She understands her role but just didn't realize how challenging it would be.
  • Private_JokerPrivate_Joker Registered User Posts: 812 Member
    Wow, reading these posts, I'm finding that I like Smith. I attend an all-girls high school. I am surrounded by girls who are smart, academically and street-wise, outspoken( a bad thing and a good thing), and ready to have fun. I seems that I will find the same type of girls at Smith.

    I have a few questions about the academic life.
    Academics: Does Smith have a stellar repution for its academics? Are students content that they are being challenged enough? Are they motivated by peers who are smart, hard-working, and willing to learn for the sake of learn and ready to apply their knowlege in casual discussions outside the classrooms? How are Smith's science departments and English department? Are classes small, intimate, and rewarding? How would you describe the student and professor relationship? Do Smith students have a plethora of opportunities to conduct research?
  • Mr.BMr.B Registered User Posts: 1,914 Senior Member
    Smith has a good academic ranking, the science facilities seemed very current and the classrooms are small. You can go to its web site and explore all of the positive things Smith can offer. If there is an area of concern it appears to be their financial situation, they will be borrowing quite a bit of money in the next few years for construction and maintenence of facilities and this will affect their fiscal resources. I have heard of limited program cuts and some belt tightening going on. I don't know how much that it is being felt by new students, I heard that some positions were not filled this year in an effort to save some money. That could be a bad rumor because I haven't seen it in print... Over all I think the school is excellent. Other schools to look at might include Wellesley and Bryn Mawr.
  • TheDadTheDad Registered User, ! Posts: 10,225 Senior Member
    PJ, re academics: I don't know what "stellar" translates to but my D is working her butt off. The teacher in her Math class (Discrete Mathematics) invited her to take Number Theory along with Linear Algebra next term instead of waiting to have the LA as pre-requisite. Classes were very small, 11-20 students, except for Government 100, a gateway course which had 200 students...but small discussion sessions taught by professors, in my D's case the head of the department. There is no place to hide in the classroom...your profs know you, your classmates know you.

    About the top 40 or students per entry class are either Zollman scholars (5 or so) or STRIDE scholars (35 or so) who have automatic research assistant positions guaranteed for the first two years. My D likes her STRIDE professor, who also doubles as her pre-major advisor, very much. (Her project involves making models to demonstrate mathematical proofs that have application to protein folding...it's a bit funny to think of my D working with power tools in the machine shop as part of making these models...but it's *great* experience.) Other research positions are also available. Smith also provides every student with a paid internship sometime in the four years. My D is planning to split her junior year between an internship program in Washington D.C. (Summer/Fall) for her Government major and in Budapest with the national mathematics institute (Spring) for her Math major. English is a very popular major and D wishes she could take more than one class...hard with a double-major already. Smith is working very hard on the sciences...they're supposed to have great facilities; I think bio and chem are stronger than physics though apparently they have a nice if small astronomy program.

    Mr.B., the budget cuts haven't affected the students much on a day to day level beyond some consolidation of dining halls. Smith's endowment is still in pretty good shape even though it took a sharper hit than some others when the dot coms busted.


    I agree that Wellesley and Bryn Mawr, as well as Barnard, are other schools that PJ might consider. D actually liked Northampton better than NYC though she has taken a long-weekend trip into NYC from Smith. She liked Wellesely but thought that music and dance were closer to Smith's core, as opposed to being afterthoughts at Wellesely. She also thought the Smith women were more down to earth and less tightly wound than those at Wellesely...may some correlation with Mini's observations/research about signifcantly greater economic diversity at Smith. Also, D liked downtown Northampton being a two-minute walk from campus instead of Boston being a 45-minute shuttle ride...Wellesley the suburb itself is deaddeaddead and the locals like it that way.
  • jenskate1jenskate1 Registered User Posts: 1,391 Senior Member
    I agree with everything people have said--my classes (as a gov major and a self-designed social science methodology minor) have been small, ranging in most cases from 12-25 students, which is perfect for me--I didn't want to be sitting in a room with just me and a professor, although some of the upperlevel science classes do approach that. I know someone in a two-person physics class last semester!

    Smith is spending a lot of money on a new engineering and molecular science building, due to start construction next year I think, and will build a a whole new science complex over the next few years. This will be great for future students, and it has the advantage of minimal disruption to current students (unlike when they redid the art building, relocating all art classes to the nearby Clark School for the Deaf).
  • TheDadTheDad Registered User, ! Posts: 10,225 Senior Member
    About the current temporary science building: it's butt ugly on the outside but with terrific facilities on the inside. The science prof who shepherded the construction project figured why put money on the outside for a temporary building, plus with an ugly building there would be more impetus to build the new, permanent facility quickly.
  • Mr.BMr.B Registered User Posts: 1,914 Senior Member
    My daughter and I both enjoyed our tour of Smith this summer. I am sure that it would be a great school for her and am glad to hear TheDad's daughter is doing so well there. Their committment to engineering, math and science is wonderful. I agree Barnard would be a good choice, but I have posted elsewhere that I am not too keen on NYC air these days.
  • TheDadTheDad Registered User, ! Posts: 10,225 Senior Member
    Mr. B, should your D ever be going back to take a second look, PM me and I can set up your D to talk to your D when she's there...my D has said she's game. It was a favor that another Parent/D combo did for us and we'd be more than happy to pay forward.
  • Mr.BMr.B Registered User Posts: 1,914 Senior Member
    Thanks a lot. I think my daughters next trip east will be with a footlocker and a new note book, next fall. If she decides she needs to re-visit I will keep your kind offer in mind.
  • Private_JokerPrivate_Joker Registered User Posts: 812 Member
    Thanx for the responses. I'm also looking into Bryn Mawr. Both schools seem to really prepare undergrads. Plus, the small student bodies and personal attention recieved at both schools are definitely appealing.
  • borginborgin Registered User Posts: 616 Member
    I have a friend who had a light workload (she ended up with three classes equaling 16 credits after dropping French 220 for being too easy). I thought mine would be harder than they were (I took 18 credits), but next semester should be harder, as I'm taking linear algebra (I'm also thinking of a math major). I don't know if I'll double major because my interests are very broad, but I might concentrate somewhere else with or without going for a minor. I'm signed up for 18 credits next semester, but if I decide to try computer science without dropping any other classes I'll have 22. I seemed to have a lot of work at once this semester, and I enjoyed my classes a lot, but they weren't especially difficult.

    I went through the semester without being attacked for my religion (but there were some misconceptions that came up in class--I'm Catholic), and I was able to express the few areas I'm conservative on without any problems. I'm from a pretty conservative area (Central Pennsylvania) and love living in much more liberal Massachusetts. I also can't wait until I go back next week. I'm going up early to enjoy a week of the Massachusetts winter and then I'm taking a one-credit class during the last week of J-term.
  • TheDadTheDad Registered User, ! Posts: 10,225 Senior Member
    Borgin, by any chance the Humanties one-credit class in J-term?
  • borginborgin Registered User Posts: 616 Member
    I'm not sure what you mean by Humanities, but I'm taking Intellectual Inquiry with Jeffrey Ramsey.
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