Most of the other schools I considered were "safer"-they were in my home state, and co-educational. I only considered one other women's college. What set Smith apart is the sense of energy on campus- it's not a competitive energy, it's a genuine drive to be the best at whatever it is you do, coupled with the desire to enjoy the companionship of the other people around you. Most importantly, all the school's resources are meant for the students, and specifically geared toward women: all the facilities, classes, etc. are meant for ME. Awesome.
My experiences at Smith have made me extremely cynical. Depending on what kind of person is interested in hearing about Smith, I will tell them different things. I believe Smith is a great environment for women who have low self-esteem in both social and academic environments as Smith's learning environment can help them to build in these areas. However, the stress culture and various other factors that a prospective student cannot discern from a visit, etc. should be taken into consideration. I live in Gardiner House.
I love the town/environment. It is very liberal, it has a classic New England feel to it. Both the town and the college are not too big, yet not too small. It is a liberal school where people can feel free to be themselves and be accepted for it, I like that attitude of comfort and tolerance. It is an ideal environment in which to learn and grow as a person, to meet like-minded indivuduals and establish connections.
Smith is part of the five-college exchange, making for a huge variety of class and degree options for a small liberal arts school. The all-female (excepting trans students), generally very liberal student body makes for a great campus culture if you're a cumudgeonly progressive like me. The science and research angle is very strong for liberal arts, and all the academics are rigorous and demanding.
Smith is going through a lot of changes right now but the students are actively trying to hold on to the institution that they love and the reasons why they came to Smith in the first place. It is a beautiful and unique place to spend four years (or 3 years because nearly half of the Junior class studies abroad). Smith offers an excellent support system.
The campus is very beautiful and not too big that you can't find anything and not too small that you fell it is crowded. It is a nice to be able to see the many different varieties of plants from all over the world on campus. The dorm rooms don't look like a jail cell and the house and each house has its own personality.
Smith is not only unique in that its a women's college, but its dorm system is as well. It is a close community, set in a cute little town in Western MA, yet with all the opportunities of a small city - thanks to the local colleges and fairly short distance to Boston (only one hour).
Houses where everyone lives aren't like any other. They look nothing like regular dorms and you really get to know the people who you live with. Everyone in the house does things together and it's as if you get to come home to your second family every night.
It's a women's college that encourages independent thought from women who deserve the opportunity to opperate in a community without restraints based on their gender, race, sexual orientation or anything else that may be used to identify them elsewhere.
My liking for Smith college has gone up and down, it really depends on what you make of it. if you really try to find your crowd, your classes, your passions, then you will. its out there you just have to seek it