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One thing is for sure: Smith is not for everyone. Talk to any student, and you’ll probably find that they have an ambivalent relationship with the school. Some cannot handle the single-sex environment, while others find it to be their favorite part of Smith. Some are miserable with the social scene, feeling limited in their options, while others are perfectly content. It’s a college of extremes. One person’s favorite part can be another’s most-hated aspect of the school. However, when it comes down to it, the education that you get while at Smith is top-notch. The small classes and wide range of academic opportunities ensure that students are engaged and challenged. Moreover, Smith is committed to providing opportunities that most students don’t get until graduate school, such as independent research with professors in their first year or writing graduate-level theses.
It’s not a huge party school, and it’s not a stereotypical college experience, but, for most Smith students, that’s exactly the way they like it. Campus can make students feel claustrophobic at times, but there is a tremendous sense of community. The comfort and security of the campus ensures that students have four years to discover themselves and really come into their own. Time and again, alums have told students that they are still very close to their friends from Smith. The campus community fosters tight bonds that last far beyond graduation.
The 'guys and girls' situation at Smith is ideal if you love women. There is a healthy mix of queer women on campus as well as non-queer identified women who may still be interested. We supposedly have a greater percentage of masculine of center ladies than Mount Holyoke. Even high femmes here tend to have a rough edge. Most people are flexible and fluid; people find themselves here.
We do have some men on campus but as trans men at a women's college they are definitely a minority. Straight female students often meet men through the 5-college consortium.
Northampton is an adorable town that considers itself a "small city." It's a queer d**ey hipster liberal haven. It is a little small but its a great college town. It's much more 3-dimensional and quirky than nearby college town Amherst, but it's nice to have the entire 5 college consortium nearby.
There isn't an admissions process for specific majors because this is a liberal arts college. To declare a major, ask a professor to be your advisor. Choose someone you like or respect or one with relevant interests. Some majors like psychology may have advisors assigned automatically based on class year (I believe).
I have a self-designed major which means I asked two faculty members to be my advisors and to approve a plan for a major the school doesn't offer. This process is just a little more complicated but it is the exception.
The drinking and drug culture at Smith is small compared to public universities and party schools. Most of the students who have some fun on the weekends are serious students during the week and the school and housing try to make sure there are lots of things to do sober. One area of campus has inappropriately strict penalties for marijuana use but they're not enforced by student staff.
The local bus is free for college students, which is really nice. It has its flaws, though. It is known for not being very reliable, but it's not like you should expect to miss the bus every day. It also runs very infrequently on weekends. You can also sign up to be a Zipcar University member, which means you can rent a Zipcar even if you're under 21 (as long as you are a student). This costs money, but it's surprisingly cheap unless you want to go very far away. I use them for dental appointments and nearby concerts, but some people can afford to use them for all of their errands or for trips to big cities like Boston. Don't bother with the local cabs; they're WAY too expensive.
If you want to go to a big city, you can use Peter Pan or Megabus. Peter Pan is godawful but it's the only way I know how to get to Boston. It's expensive and always late. Megabus is pretty good and can get you to New York City; the prices are reasonable, and if you buy your ticket early it's dirt cheap. You have to take the public bus to the mall first, but that's free. Unfortunately, it runs at somewhat inconvenient times on some days.
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