On Living, Learning, and Laughing
Hi there, I was wondering about the social atmosphere of Smith. As a fairly "elite" school, is the attitude also elitist? Could a working-class Northwesterner, if admitted, ever fit in? I thank you so much for your blog!
Anonymous

Smith prides itself on being a diverse, accepting school. That being said, I feel that issues of classism and elitism (and any other ¨-ism¨, really) permeate all environments, unfortunately. And Smith is no exception. What I feel is different about Smith is that, for the most part, people here (at least the students and other members of the community I’ve had contact with) are willing to enter into conversation about these issues, and to take away productive things that create a more inclusive social environment. I feel that this has been the case this year, from discussions during social justice workshops to changes to the house social dues system. As a person of extremely limited financial means, I’ve never felt that this has in any drastic way hindered my interactions with people or the experiences I’ve had here. As house president I try to organize events that are inclusive to everyone, and I can safely say that this is the case in all the houses. Smith is a wonderful place, albeit imperfect (like all campuses are). The important thing is that we as a community are taking steps to make it better. 

I’d love to talk to you more about this. Feel free to email me at mcgonzal@smith.edu and we can chat! I hope your interest in Smith keeps growing!

Best, 

Ceci

Hii :) I'm a grade 10 student, and I've already started considering colleges :P Just to see the scholarships available for international students in various colleges not in India (Yeah I live in India :D) So I just wanted to know what the financial aids and scholarships are like in Smith? It seems like an amazing college and I would love to study there! And is there anyone who's an international student with a blog that I can contact? (:

I’m an international student you can contact! I know I’m just horrible at keeping this blog up, but feel free to email me at mcgonzal@smith.edu . I’m a lot better at answering questions there!

Smith commits to fulfilling %100 of a student’s demonstrated financial aid. That means they’ll take a look at your financial aid application, determine how much your family can contribute (based on their own calculations and the information you provide), and they will cover the rest with a combination of grants, loans, and work study awards. There are a few academic scholarships, but they are VERY competitive, and I’m not actually sure if they’re open to international students. you can contact an admissions counselor and they’d be able to answer that for you. 

Please let me know if you have any other questions! I’d love to talk to you!

Ceci

Hello, I'm considering Smith as my future college. So far so good. From the blogs I've read, Smith appeals to me as a very warm and loving place with a student-friendly environment. I have several questions, some of which may appear petty: 1) Is it true that education in Smith is quite intense? If so, when you are tired, what is your driving force to keep going? 2) Are there trolley buses there? 3) What is the price of laundry service?Where and how often can it be done?4)Professors-helpful? Lila
Anonymous

Hi Lila,

Don’t worry about your questions sounding petty… I promise they’re not!

1) I would definitely agree that education at Smith is intense. We’re expected to do a lot of good quality work, and it can get pretty stressful and tiring sometimes. But, at least in my case, I don’t really feel like I need to look for a driving force to keep going; it’s just always there. I think part of the reason for that is that I really love the classes I take, so doing the work for them doesn’t feel like a chore or anything. I think our open curriculum speaks to this, because we get to pick our own classes and decide our own course of study, so most of the people in each class are really invested in what’s happening in it and participating, because they actually want to be there. It breeds an entirely different classroom environment, a really dynamic and engaging one. When I do feel down in the dumps, however (and this does happen every once in a while), all I have to do is remind myself of why I’m here; I’m getting an amazing education so that I can do amazing things with my life. And it also helps to think of the people I’m doing it with, too. I find comfort in my amazing friends, who are all going through the same things I am, and in the rest of the Smith community, who are all incredibly inspiring people. The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone, no matter what you’re going through.

2) No trolley buses that I know of. Smith has a small enough campus that you can walk or bike anywhere, and we have a public bus system that runs throughout all the 5 Colleges, which 5-College students can ride for free (this bus route also stops at other places like the mall and grocery store, so you can easily get to those places, too!).

3) All houses have their own laundry facilities (I was just told by my fellow tour guides that some houses in the quad share their laundry rooms, but that students there don’t even have to walk outside to get to them) which you can use at any time, as long as one is available. My house has 3 washers and 3 dryers for the entire building, which holds 76 people, so it’s pretty easy to find time to do laundry. Sometimes you have to wait a bit for a machine to become available, but it’s not bad. You can pay for laundry using your OneCard, which is basically your lifeline at Smith - it’s your ID, your meal card, your key to your house, etc., and you can put money in it and buy things like printing or food at the Campus Cafe. You can also use quarters like at any laundromat, but it ends up being cheaper if you use your OneCard. I think it’s about $1.50 per wash/dry if you pay with change, and $1.35 with your OneCard.

4) Professors are extremely helpful. Not only are they outstanding academics and teachers, but they are very open and sensitive to students’ perspectives. All professors hold regular office hours a week where they make themselves available to students with questions, and they are also available by appointment. Aside from that, many professors are open to have coffee with students or meet with them more informally, and some even invite their classes to dinner at their house so they can meet their family and stuff. It’s really great. I’ve had professors who know my name on the first day of class, before I’ve even met them, because they’ve taken the time to learn our names from the roster beforehand. I’ve gone to professors with questions about class, to ask for advice regarding many different things, and to ask for recommendations. Our professors are awesome!

I hope this answers your questions. If not, or if you have more, just contact me again!

Good luck!

Ceci 

…Can Smith help me? Yes: more than any other place within my means could. How? By opening more opportunities for aim and achievement than I could reach if I went anywhere else. Perhaps nor more opportunities, but different sorts of opportunities, and, by hazard, more desirable ones. So what remains for me now? To throw up my hands at my inevitable narrowness? No: to meet Smith now and try to let the nagging questions ride; to get good grades, although I do not believe them, but believe rather that man’s brain is a poor recorder, forgetful and vague.

Remember about the shadow of past knowledge. Write about your own experience. By that experience someone else may be a bit richer some day. Read widely of others experiences in thought and action— stretch to others even though it hurts and strains and would be more comfortable to snuggle back in the comforting cotton-wool of blissful ignorance! Hurl yourself at goals above your head and bear the lacerations that come when you slip and make a fool of yourself. Try always, as long as you have breath in your body, to take the hard way, the Spartan way— and work, work, work to build yourself into a rich, continually evolving entity!

-an entry from the journals of Sylvia Plath as a college student (via goldtoaerythinnessbeat)
Hi Ceci! I'll be joining Smith this fall. Although I did not apply for financial aid, I do wish to work on or off campus during my time at Smith. Is it possible to get a job nonetheless?

It definitely is possible. Although most on-campus jobs give priority to work study students, it isn’t too hard for students not on work study to find work. Some jobs, like the dining service jobs on campus, are reserved for first-years on work study, but other than that I’m pretty sure you can apply to any position on campus, whether or not you’re on work study. A great place to find on-campus work during the year is Smith’s Job-X page, which you can find here: http://www.smith.edu/finaid/fao/studemp.php . The linked page will also give you all the information you need regarding on-campus work.

Congratulations on joining Smith in the fall! Good luck!

Ceci, I was on your college tour for counselors that Smith just hosted and you were the best student tour guide I've had yet--thanks again! Karen
Anonymous

Wow, thanks, Karen! That’s really sweet. I really enjoyed hanging out with you guys and having dinner and hearing all you had to say about your experiences as counselors. I hope your stay at Smith was a great one! Thank you again!

Hi! I am joining Smith this fall. I wanted to know the closing dates for the fall semester. Is it May 20th?

I’m afraid I don’t quite understand your question. I’ll try and answer it, though. This year, Fall semester goes from September 8th to December 21st, which is the last day of final exams. Spring semester goes from January 24th to May 10th, which also is the last day of exams. You can find information regarding the academic calendar here: http://www.smith.edu/acad_academiccalendar.php

Let me know if that was actually your question. If it isn’t, I’d be happy to answer the real one!

Hi, Ceci. I know that this was a while ago, but I saw you posting about your German classes at Smith which piqued my interest. What was your class experience like and what sort of homework did you do?
Anonymous

I really, really enjoyed my German classes. The German department at Smith is very small and close-knit, so all the events are kind of intimate and nice, because there are few people and everyone knows each other. I had 3 different professors total throughout my experience, and they were all absolutely amazing. Frau Kolb, Herr McVeigh, and Herr Westerdale are all really great, and I would recommend them all. Basically, what we did in class was go over the material assigned as homework. Usually we were assigned a chapter from our textbook. We were supposed to read it thoroughly and work on the practice problems that came with it. In class we went over the material together, explaining certain topics that might be a bit more challenging than others, and also did some more practice problems given to us by the professor. Professors also every once in a while would complement their homework assignments with a written part, where we wrote like a paragraph or a page in German about some topic or other (these were the ones that took me the longest - German is hard!). We also had oral assignments, where we had to memorize either a poem (Frau Kolb is big on these! But it’s a lot of fun and you learn a lot about German culture through them) or a dialogue to work on pronunciation. 

Hope that helps!

How much do most of the admitted international students get on their sat? Thanks
Anonymous

Smith doesn’t isolate their SAT range just for international students, but you can find the SAT middle range for all Smith admitted students here: http://www.smith.edu/admission/guidancecounselors_stats.php .

That being said, counselors have told me that they do take into account the fact that, given that English might not be their first language, international students may score slightly lower than domestic ones.

Hope that helps!

Homes

Alright, I would first like to apologize for not posting in so long. I kinda suck at this. But anyway, enough of that. Here goes.

It’s been almost two years now since I’ve been at Smith, and even though Smith felt like home pretty much from the moment I set foot on campus, I’ve been around here long enough now that being at Smith feels more normal than being somewhere else. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, seeing as summer’s approaching and, just like last year, I’m staying in the States and working at Smith instead of going home. This isn’t something I do by choice. Plane tickets don’t come cheaply these days, and I need to focus on making my summer as monetarily painless as possible. If I had it my way, though, I’d spend at least a month (probably more) of my vacation in El Salvador with my friends and family, with the ocean I grew up in, with the warmth that I am used to, with everything that makes up the core of who I am. 

I won’t lie, having to stay here instead of going home does cause some resentment in me. I remember last summer, somewhere in the middle of my break, I would go on Facebook and see pictures of all my friends back home together, see pictures of my nieces and how much they’d grown in the time I hadn’t seen them, or just even pictures of palm trees and sand, and I would feel so incredibly displaced. Mind you, I was also living alone in a house in Easthampton, 5 miles away from the nearest town and without any mode of independent transportation, so I spent a lot of my time sitting around feeling sorry for myself. I jumped at any chance for self-pity. Not that I’m complaining or anything. But anyway. My point is that I miss home. A lot. 

But when I went home for winter break, by the end of it I found myself fantasizing about getting back to Smith and seeing my friends here. It’s easy to forget just how amazing Smith is, until you’re away from it. I’ve found that this is something a lot of Smithies experience, and I guess so does anyone who is in love with the school they attend. When you’re at Smith, you long for home, and when you’re home, you long for Smith. The truth is that Smith is just as much home to me as El Salvador is. It’s a strange feeling, to hold such different places in the same place in my heart. But I guess that this is something that everyone experiences. Going away to college is just the start of a series of many different homes. You move around from one to the other until you find one where you want to stay, but every place you settle in is just as legitimate as the rest. 

I don’t know, I guess I’m just feeling nostalgic for El Salvador, or just extra lovey-dovey towards Smith. I just wanted to say that as much as I miss my original home right now, I know that in two years I’ll be pining for the time I spent here. 

Blah di blah di blah, basically, I love you Smith College.