Smith vs. Conn (PLEASE HELP!!)

I got accepted to both Smith College and Conn College and I’m having such a difficult time choosing. I like both but I was definitely leaning towards Smith until I received merit aid from Conn, and now my parents are strongly encouraging that I go there. Now that I’ve looked into Conn more, they seem pretty similar and I’m having trouble making a decision. These are the main things that I’m considering:
-I prefer Smith’s location, size, and extremely active alumni network. I feel like the alumni network sort of makes up for how expensive it is but I’m not sure if that’s a good enough reason.
-I would rather go to a co-ed school than a women’s school, even if I prefer Smith overall. Is it shallow to make a decision based on that? I also think I might fit in with the student population at Conn better but there’s really no definite way to tell.
-I’m planning on majoring in English and both schools have a good English program, so I’m torn when it comes to that.
-There seems to be more to do at Smith because of its proximity to other schools (UMASS, Amherst, Hampshire) and the various campus activities and traditions. However, I like that Conn is close to a train station and they do seem to have a lot of on-campus events, even if New London basically has nothing to do.
-This also seems shallow, but I think that Smith’s name recognition might end up paying off when I’m trying to get a job. Is this reasonable to assume?
-Smith is the more well-endowed school so they are probably more equipped to handle distance learning if quarantine continues into fall, though I would hate to have made a decision based on this if it is over by fall.
I know this seems like I only listed Smith’s pros, but I feel like it has a lot of benefits in common with Conn (small classes, beautiful campus, good English program, sense of community) and the deciding factor is the money. Even if I was happier at Smith, I would feel so guilty knowing that I’m costing my parents a fortune when I could have gone to a perfectly good school for a lower price. What should I do? Are my reasons for preferring Smith valid?

Hi there. I’m a Smithie '93. My son has been accepted to Conn for next year. I know he would go to Smith if he could. I would say Smith’s alumnae network is stronger as is its name recognition. Northampton as a college town with Amherst right down the street can’t be beat. I don’t think it’s completely shallow to want to be at a co-ed college campus. I was personally straight when I was accepted to Smith and still am. I chose Smith over all co-ed schools I was accepted to for its academic reputation. There are men to be found. I found plenty. Feel free to ask for about how there are lots of men often on Smith campus and generally around. Definitely Conn is more preppy than Smith and Smith is more pro-women’s rights and politically active. Probably Smithies are more driven just a personality type. You may not like these things. I grew not to mind it. Absolutely, Smith’s endowment is much bigger than Conn’s. Last I checked it’s 2 billion plus. It may be able to handle distance learning better. Smith’s location is far less isolated than Conn’s. I have heard there is little to do in New London. On the other hand at Smith you can walk to Northampton and take the PVTA bus all around the Valley. There is always something happening. There is the beach in New London and that’s a draw for both my son and myself, but that’s only for the warmer months. I think the English major may be a push. I have now visited both schools a a few times and I know I would choose Smith again. Conn is lovely, but doesn’t offer as much overall as Smith does. I felt no guilt about choosing the most expensive college I was accepted to as it’s reputation academically and otherwise were so worth it. My parents had to scrimp to not take loans or a second mortgage, but they loved that I was there and went on to send my younger sister there as well. Conn is great as I mentioned and I won’t be upset at all if my son chooses to go there, but I know I’m not allowed to say the name Smith anymore in my household because he’s pretty jealous I got to go there and he could never have that chance. Feel free to ask me any further questions! Follow your gut!

Hi ? @Charlie2772 . Ive got to chime in here that as a Barnard alumnus we feel the same warmth to Smithies and fellow women’s college alumni. You get the whole women’s college alumni network. Great respect for Smith!

@silverpurple Seven Sisters Together!

@Charlie2772 Thank you so much!! Your response is probably the most helpful I’ve heard so far, lol. I definitely don’t mind people being politically active, but I would prefer if it didn’t dominate every conversation. Is that difficult to avoid? Other than that, Smith definitely seems like the best fit for me but I’m still kind of concerned about the money. Sorry if this is too personal, but did you find it hard to pay off the debt? Also, do you know if on-campus jobs help? Thank you again for all the useful information :slight_smile:

I hate to be pragmatic but…
What is the price difference between Smith and Conn?

How would the price difference be financed?

Can your parents afford both with no loans/no hardship?

What do you plan to do after college (ex. if you are planning grad school could the money you save by going to Conn. be used for that?)

Including the scholarship that I’m getting from Conn, Smith would be about $5,000 more per year. My parents told me that they have a 401k I can use to pay off some of my tuition, but if I take out a loan I’m going to have to pay it back myself. I’m not planning on going to grad school (I’m not even sure what career I want to pursue yet) but if I end up deciding to I’d like to go to McGill, which is significantly cheaper than most universities in the U.S.

^^^That sounds quite vague. Be sure you have a plan in place to finance all four years of your undergrad before you choose a college.

I would go over the numbers with your parents. Understand EXACTLY how much in loans you would have to take out for Smith, Conn College, and McGill. Remember that costs go up every year. It is generally wise to avoid a lot on debt as an undergraduate student. McGill may prove to be an excellent affordable option for you.

Also understand that the amount you can take out in loans is limited (I think $5,500 freshman year and then $6,500/year). Any additional amounts would have to be co-signed by your parents.

@18claire18 You’re welcome! Happy to help! No! Political conversation does NOT dominate all conversations. We discussed everything from eyeliner, to men, to classes to politics (occasionally) and everything in between. In terms of loans both my sister and I took the maximum subsidized loans every year (first year for me was 2K and final year was 4K) We are both all paid off. We both had work study so we both had on campus jobs. My parents paid the rest. But, have no fear, I knew plenty of students who were NOT on work study who had a campus job. Not terribly hard to come by, at least then. I doubt that’s changed much. Plus, there are tons of jobs in NoHo to be had and Smithies worked at them. Its walking distance so no biggie. I also worked off campus. This was all spending money for me. For my phone and other college stuff. It was not used to pay my tuition. I didn’t have to do it, but I would have been broke. LOL. In terms of loans, I do agree with the above poster and would try to limit loans if possible. I’m advising my son to do the same. I don’t really want him taking out more than $25K (about what a server would make in one year) in total. That’s the best piece of advice I’ve ever heard in regard to loans. And yes, discuss it with your parents and if they are at peace with it you should be as well. Make sure they are at peace, mine were, and if possible follow where your dream leads you. I want my son to do the same. If it’s financially feasible, we won’t starve, and he doesn’t have to take out too much in loans then its a go and hopefully he’ll be happy. Anymore questions, ask away! (PS I wouldn’t want him to take out very much in loans for a average or less than average school, but Smith is not that! Nor is Conn, but I think it’s hard to argue Smith isn’t a very solid choice) :slight_smile:

Sorry I disappeared for a while. I had some of the financial information wrong in my last post, I got a $20,000/year scholarship from Conn and my parents have a 529 plan, not a 401k. I talked it over with my parents and they told me that the savings are enough to cover the first two years and that they will help pay for some of what is left so I’m not facing too much debt. Ultimately, we all preferred Smith, especially the career development aspect. I finally committed there and I’m so excited!! Thank you all for your advice. It was extremely helpful when making my decision!

I think you made a great choice. Congrats!

thank you!!

Wonderful choice! You will love Smith. Feel free to PM me with any questions. Best of luck and congratulations!