Smith College Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?


The faculty are good quality and are very supportive, as noted above. Even in big intro lectures they generally try to learn everyone's name. My favorite class was Scandinavian Mythology with Craig Davis, who became my advisor in Medieval Studies. Medieval Studies is an interdisciplinary major targeting a formative period in Western history and culture. I've been able to complete this major very easily while also completing Veterinary Prequisites. Class participation is very common. I would say that students are generally not competitive, but rather communicate and cooperate in learning/studying outside of class.


So far I have enjoyed every one of my professors here at Smith. All of them are extremely knowledgeable in their field of study and are eager to pass it on to their students. All my professors knew my name, even in my larger seminar classes of 50 or so students. If they did not know it right away they at lest recognized your face, knew it once and just temporarily forgot it. There is never a shortage of people to participate in any class. It seems as if everyone has something to say at one point or another. Students are dedicated to their studies and are always up to something academic. Thats not to say they do not know how to have fun as well, but that (most) know how to have a healthy balance. Smithies from what I have seen study regularly and work hard.


The professors are pretty amazing. All my professors know my name, class sizes in the humanities at least are very decent sized, one of my classes has 8 people, my language class has about 13, my econ classes have more but nothing outrageous. Class participation usually depends on the department, teachers and class size. I've had classes that go from virtually zero participation to full participation. I don't know if its just where I live but there is very little intellectual conversation outside of class, near to none actually, though I don't think thats an across the board case. Students study way to much or are always thinking/ stressing about class. People are very competitive, though more with themselves with others. Everyone has this huge pressure to succeed from I don't know where so everyone pushes themselve till they're completely stretched. A lot of Smith students are also very career minded, with high expectations of success, learning for the sake of learning or academic exploration is less common in my experience. Smith has no general ed requirements which is sweet! And the requirements for majors/ minors is completely reasonable in my view.


All the professors know your names, there are small class sizes and usually pretty good professors. Students study a lot, but by choice and by major. Class participation is very common, too common. All the obnoxious " Hermione" hand raisers from high school went to Smith. There is always intellectual conversation around if you want to have it. Students are pretty competitive but it varies by major. The most unique class I took was Sherlock Holmes and Geology which merged learning a small amount of geology and using it to write Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Anthropology here at Smith is very cultural. They don't cover all the disciplines which is annoying but you can always take classes at the other 5 colleges which is not a hassle at all. Education at Smith is completely geared at learning for its own sake not getting a job, they won't let you design a major that is too job specific.


My professors have all been wonderful, warm, and encouraging. Even in my largest classes professors have learned my name and gone out of their way to help and encourage me.


lots of flexibility and options; it's definitely challenging and overwhelming for some, but it's certainly doable


I think in order for a professor to know your name it really depends on how big your classes are. Also depends on the professor's own ability on wanting to know their student's name whether that student talk alot in class or not. I really like my EAL classes, i think i learned the most in those classes.


With the exception of large lecture classes like Introduction to Chemistry/Psychology/Government, most classes are small and intimate. My largest class thus far has had roughly thirty and my smallest had around 12 students. Smith students do have intellectual discussions outside of class, but they're not as ordinary and common as people may think. In terms of how often people study, how competitive things are, etc; just like anywhere else there are people who are absolute perfectionists, people who pull all-nighters, people who can crank out a paper in three hours and get an A, whatever. It's such a diverse campus in just about every possible way you can imagine. My favorite classes have been 'History and Memory', 'The History of the Book', and 'The Chemistry of Art Objects'. All are in different departments but I find fascinating. Education is geared towards providing a liberal arts education, and students are encouraged to do so. There are people who stay in their fields of study and don't branch often into different subjects, but the oppertunity is always there.


Professors are really accessible and helpful. The classes are small so you really get to know your peers and your teachers. I consider my department on campus like a family.


It has taken awhile for me to create substantial relationships between professors and myself but i have developed some really great ones. Smith students are smart, motivated, and independent.


Academics at Smith is rigorous. Professors demand a lot from the students. My workload is very heavy. I always have work to do. But, I know Smith is preparing me for my future.


The academics are very strong here at Smith. Sometimes class work can be overwhelming and challenging, but I don't think it's unreasonable. Most of my professors know my name because class sizes are usually 20 or fewer students. My favorite class this semester is my visual studies seminar where I am free to work on an independent painting project with the support of other students and professor for guidance and encouragement. I love the religion department at my school and the art department, too. I love the lack of academic requirements that Smith has for the students -only one writing intensive.


Classes are pretty rigorous, but extremely rewarding. The professors here are genuinely interested in their students progress and development. The environment at Smith is one that is fairly balanced between always academics all the time and generic college fun times. While students are on the whole pretty competitive, it hasn't detracted from my personal experience. When people get into the "oh I have so work to do" routine, you have to let it roll off your back and focus on yourself. I majored in History and German Studies-- both departments are GREAT!


The best thing about Smith is that it has so few requirements. I get to experiment and only take classes I'm genuinely interested in. Most professors make a real effort to know students' names, which is a benefit of classes being so small (usually under 40 students). Few departments at Smith are geared towards actual careers. Most of us study what we love, which unfortunately means we'll probably be unemployed after graduation.


Do professors know your name?: More of my teachers here know my name than did in high school. Favorite Class: I think that depends on major and interest. How much do people study?: Constantly. Way more than all other college kids I've talked to. There's a lot of reading and writing plus intense problem sets for other classes. Class participation?: Is required. I didn't participate in high school. In some classes you sit around a table talking but in certain larger classes participation is less important. Intellectual conversations?: All the time. We talk about ridiculous stuff as well, but intellectual conversations are a daily thing for all students. Competitive?: extremely. Professors outside of class?: Most upperclassmen do. I don't have a major yet, so I haven't met with professors especially often outside of class. Academic requirements: Reasonable and manageable. What is a Smith education geared towards?: grad school. You can get a job, but most people continue in school.


my professors are generally good to great, with a few spectacular ones thrown in.


Smith is very personal. Classes truly are small with the exception of some 101 classes, and even those have smaller discussion groups that meet on different days. Professors know your name within a few weeks, and encourage students to stop by during office hours or even just to say "hi." Hearing my friends talk about their experiences at larger colleges and universities, I am shocked to hear of classes with 400+ people in them or professors that have no interaction with their students. Pre-major and major advisers can be a huge help to a student if you choose wisely. I know some students who have been frustrated by advisers that are hard to get in touch with or poorly suited for their field of study, but most students are very satisfied. These advisers help students with the transition into college life, help them choose courses, talk to them about their classes, and generally help their advisees in any way they can. Class participation is expected at Smith. Though first-years can sometimes be nervous and hesitant to speak up, professors are aware of this and do their best to encourage them. Taking a First-Year Seminar (FYS) can be a huge help to a student, because these classes are small, interesting, and contain only students just entering college. It is easy to make friends in these classes as everyone is essentially in the same boat, and you can help each other transition into college life and academics. Smith's lack of a core curriculum is a brilliant decision. While friends at other schools are stuck in Calc II and Bio 101 when they know they want to be an art major, I am free to take exactly those classes I want. The only requirement is a writing-intensive course your first year, intended to bring first-years up to college-level writing standards. This can be a difficult level to attain for some students, but making good use of their WI class and the Jacobsen Center will prove invaluable for those students. That said, expanding your academic pursuits is encouraged, and for the Latin Honors program you must take at leasat one course in each of the seven areas of learning. Students are encouraged to take courses outside their majors; classes that interest them whether they put them on a career track or not. Yet, Smith works hard to prepare its students for life after college, frequently bringing in alums to discuss what they have done with their English, Psych, neuroscience majors, etc. The Career Development office also works with students to get them internships, jobs, or just to give advice.




Academics are the main focus at Smith College. After graduation, Smithies are prepared to write, speak, and think well. In many classes discussion plays a major role, and most students have no reservations about speaking up. Introductory classes can be big, especially science classes, but most of the upper level classes are much smaller. Professors often know students by name, and are very willing to meet with students if they are having trouble or just need advice. I am a chemistry major, and I have nothing but good things to say about the chemistry department. The professors are all wonderful and will say "hello" if you see them outside of class. The department has Chemistry Lunchbag talks each week and several seminar speakers each semester. Smith is a great place to study science because there are tons of opportunites to do research as an undergraduate, which looks great on a resume or graduate school application. I have stayed at Smith for two summers doing chemistry research, and I am currently writing a thesis on my work.


Usually rigorous. But not always. I like the fact that there are no core requirements. Not enough film classes. I like being able to take classes off campus--it's a great opportunity.


Many of the professors are amazing, but of course it's always a mixed bag. Students spend a LOT of time studying.


Academics are challenging, but not impossible. Generally, the classes are small, but there are the occasional exceptions. I'm planning on being a music major and the department is wonderful, and so are the facilities (we have a VERY impressive performing arts library with tons of scores and recordings). The professors are all very approachable and acceptable, and they want their students to succeed.


My Smith education has not only allowed me to get an engineering degree which has led me to 2 job offers my senior year, but it allowed me to take classes such as ecology, anthropology, buddhist studies, and modern dance. I have had such a rich education, I would not trade it for anything.


I believe that almost all of my professors have known my name during my years at Smith, the classes are small enough most of the time for the professors to get to know you. Students study pretty often, but are able to balance studying with a social life.


The best thing about Smith is the professors. The average Smith class is small, about 15-17 students, so professors truly take the time to get to know every one of their students. They are always available for extra help, advice, guidance, or even just a friendly chat! As a Smith student, I have a strong sense that my professors genuinely care about me and the education that I receive here at Smith. Also, no class will EVER be taught by a grad-student, which is fabulous. We really do receive the best education possible here!


Professors are interested in students' lives. They want to help us succeed! I've had amazing conversations with professors from everything to my future plans to class material to pop culture. They really are some of the smartest people you'll ever meet, and they're on campus for Smith students, not for research grants or for grad students.


My classes are small, my professors are friendly and helpful, and classes are challenging and fun to learn in. They are A LOT of work, from readings to movie showings to papers and exams, but I feel like I am really getting the education that I wouldnt've gotten elsewhere. I do not feel like I am being pushed toward a job just yet, but I am still only a first year.


Academics at Smith are SO AMAZING. The classes are usually really small and when they are big (like 50 people) they are broken down into smaller discussion groups. Discussions and lectures are always interesting and sometimes get very heated. Hearing the varying opinions of a diverse student body is really enriching. Also, teachers a very personable. They tell about their lives and their stories. They are accessible and understanding of the need for extensions. It is really easy to build a fabulous relationship with your favorite professor, or with all of your professors. Smith also makes it SO easy to LOVE what you learn. The classes are interesting and you never have difficulty finding a class to love. Also, since you don't have any requirements outside your major and one writing intensive course, you can dip your feet in any new course you'd like. It really provides an opportunity for you to make the most of an AMAZING liberal arts education.


All of my professors know my name and are very approachable. The student body is very studious and competitive and contribute a lot to the classroom.


Smith college classes and professors come in a variety of styles. Classes range from large lectures, like introductory psychology, to small seminars with only 7 to 8 students. Professors can be uninvolved and uninspiring, or friendly and welcoming, going the extra distance. From talking with classmates, most departments are a mix or good and bad, and you learn quickly which professors you like and which you don't. A Smith education can amazing or leave you wanting, depending on what you make of it. While the college has some amazing classes and professors, they are nothing with out your active involvement in the material, participation in the class, and interest. The students who get the most out of their classes are active in their major department and concerned about their future.


In the beginninng, required classes of most majors it can be difficult to know your professor well, at least if they do not also teach the lab you are in (in the sciences) or the discussion section you are in (in some of the liberal arts). However this usually is only true for the everyone-has-to-take-them courses, and can be overcome with a little work in the other lower level classes. Some professors are difficult to get in touch with. I have not personally spent a lot of time outside of my classes with my teachers, although most of them have been fully willing to help when I have needed it, usually accomodating me when I cannot make their office hours. The biology major has just changed its requirements, and is one of the majors where quite a bit of time and less leeway about what you can take occurs. Because of the changing classes, the department is a little out of kilter at the moment and not especially kind to the students following the old requirements like I am.


Smith is academically challenging. Twice the workload of other colleges but it pays off. You get so much more out of the experience and you are better prepared for future grad school or work.


The academics are extremely challenging, but the knowledge I have gained is definitely worth it. Because of the small classes, all of my professors know my name, including ones that have not had me since my first year. They really care about their students, even if sometimes you wouldn't think so because of all the assignments and tests they load on us! Smith is also really great about helping students apply their academic experience beyond school in internships, jobs, etc.


Smith College is hard. I won't lie to you, but if you got in, then you can take it. Professors expect a lot from you, and you'll really be amazed at what you can, in fact, do. We spend a lot of time studying, but don't be fooled, we spend a lot of time having fun as well. Class size is fairly small, and it is possible to get very individual attention from professors, which is really good. The professors themselves are really very interesting as well, and I've gotten to know a few quite well, which is great, and they also teach really interesting material related to their research a lot of the time. My first semester I took a class on the philosophy of chemistry, which I'm pretty sure I could only have ever taken here. I'm an engineer, so I have a very structured schedule of classes that I need to take, but the people in the department have slowly become good friends and we have our own little groups within which we talk (complain) about all the things we have to do. Whereas my major is really career-oriented, there are definitely amazing programs that are slightly less practical. Apart from rigorous majors, there aren't really any requirements, so you can take whatever you can get into, whenever you want to, which brings a lot of different perspectives to each class, which is good. And even if you find that Smith isn't giving you everything that you want or need academically (or if you just want to get off campus), you can take classes at the other area colleges, which all have something different to offer.


My professors all know my name, which is nice. My favorites tend to be studio art or psych related, which are my two majors anyway. i'm definitely more of a fan of the art department professors than the ones in psych for the most part... just happens to be the way it worked out. we do study a lot around here - some more than others, but you certainly can't just ignore your work and expect to do well! and yes, many students are definitely competitive! maybe it's in our nature... but we compete to see who has more work to do. i'd say the education here is definitely geared towards learning for its own sake - it's really scary to think about what i'm going to do when i graduate next january!


Professors here are really approachable and most have known my name. I hate it when there's a lecture with no chance for student voices to be heard. I like experiential learning and interesting projects. The grading in the English Dept. is too hard - no matter how hard you try you can't get an A. I like that there are minimal requirements and this leaves options for people to explore their interests more.


We know professors pretty well - they usually get to know your name quickly. I really enjoyed Logic 100 this fall - very fun and challenging! My least favorite class is Eastern Christianity - it's a bit dull. Students study all the time - every day. Class participation is very common and required. Intellectual conversations outside of class are pretty regular. Students are generally competitive, though it varies. Most unique class: Third World in the Western Imagination. My major is religion. The religion department is pretty strong at Smith in most areas - Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and South Asian traditions. More of a focus on traditions than on methodologies. I will go to professor's office hours if I need help with a class or with some application or other. Smith's requirements are fair. I would say the education at Smith is geared towards learning, but there's a lot of stress outside the classroom about getting a job.


To be honest, class size has been growing over the past few years and course offerings have been declining. However, there are enough academic gems to keep your intellectual midn sparked. The average class size is about 20 students and discussion is strongly encouraged. Professors will know your name and you will call them by their first name. Professors are always willing to meet with students outside of class.


It is a very challenging college, but once you have finished your work you feel accomplished and fulfilled. I think that there are times when professors will assign way to much work, without the consideration of other courses, but professors are often willing to work with students if they struggling with course work or concepts.


i like the classes, overall. lecture classes are nice because the professor won't usually know your name, and you can skip them when you're stressed over other stuff.


The thing that strikes me most about academics at Smith is how amazing my professors are. They all know who I am and genuinely care about what I'm getting out of their classes. Students here are very academic, and I spend at least a little time almost every day studying. This means that the level of class participation and discussion is usually very high and I learn on a regular basis from my peers as well as my professors.


While various programs and professors are outstanding, I find myself bored with my classes and my professors. Perhaps when I find a major that suits me I will have better things to say about Smith's academics but for now, all I can really say is that professors assign a lot of busy work which unnecessarily stresses out students who are already inclined to be stressed ("overachievers"). Smith students are generally intelligent, although you do get the occasional girl who doesn't know what she's talking about and will try to argue with you. Students do have intellectual conversations outside of class. Smith's more geared towards learning rather than towards getting a job; it is a liberal arts college. I both like and dislike the lack of core requirements; while I enjoy choosing my own classes, I feel that as someone who doesn't have a major and does not know what direction I am headed in, perhaps being forced to take classes I wouldn't normally take would be helpful. I've found that students' study habits vary and it depends on where a student lives. For example, students who live on the Quad generally do not study as rigorously as students who live on Green Street, for example. Perhaps it's the "party" atmosphere...


The small classes are very beneficial. The professors know everyone's names and it is easy to get help when needed. I am quite disappointed by the lack of school work, however. I am bored out of my mind.


students here are very competitive to the detriment of their education. A lot of smithies do what they have to do to get the grade even if it means sacrificing their learning. people don't read articles, they talk to people who have read them. they don't watch a film but they fake having seen it for class. "do what you have to to get the grade at the cost of skipping the parts where you actually learn."


Smith academics are HARD. Not only do the professors expect a lot, but the competitive nature of Smithies means you really are completing every reading, revising every paper and spending most nights in the library. Good thing is, we love to learn!


I'm a philosophy major, and the department is fantastic. It's pretty big, considering how small the school is. The professors are friendly, they make an effort to get to know the majors. And all of us students talk and are friendly. There's a lot of camaraderie in the department. And if you're interested in philosophy, you should REALLY consider a women's college like Smith. I can promise you that all your philosophy classes at coed schools will be totally dominated by men. I have had a lot of academic conversations outside of the classroom, but it's certainly not all we do. You'll have discussions about other things, too.


Every one of my professors knows my name. I have a few classes where this doesn't necessarily have to be the case because of the big size, but in that instance, I make a point to go to my prof's office hours and get to know him/her. Either way, professors are overjoyed to have students display interest in their field, so they welcome casual conversations, or questions about coursework. Smith classes are hard. They are tons of work. There is so much work that it is impossible to have a social life and also get all of your work done all the time. But, professors know this, and I only know a handful of students who read every single word for every class. Sometimes things can get stressful, but it's all worth it because most of the classes are absolutely phenomenal. In general, you can get any Smithie talking about her academic pursuits, because each person is so invested in their education. It's great.


Academics at Smith are very intense. Ask people how they are doing and they will most often tell you "busy, but ok." Many students take more than a full course load (16 credits). Classes are challenging with a lot of outside reading. I have one class this semester with 300 pages of reading a night. Despite the hard course load, I'm really happy I'm here because I am learning so much more than most of my friends at larger, less challenging schools. As one of my friends put it, "you know you're screwed when the kids visiting from Harvard are freaked out by the amount of work you have."


Love the classes. Professors who have been here a while are great, the new ones they are bringing in are the ones to look out for (although some of them rock).


It's true, we work like crazy--and everyone here would be thankful if our professors gave us just a little less work, and a little more time for extra-curricular pursuits (like regular sleep and exercise). But people here love the work--we talk about the subjects we study outside of class, and not only in terms of what homework we need to finish, but out of genuine interest in the material.