Smith College Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?


Academics are challenging but very rewarding! I think I feel more challenged here than I ever did before, but that's the whole point! I love it!


Classes are small which I love plus every professor I met has really taken an interest in me, they respond to e mails, they give their telephone numbers and I feel comfortable speaking in class. I know the classes are challenging but I love them so much that I don't feel overwhelmed.


Do professors know your name? Yes, all my professors know my name. They know everyone in their class, no matter how large it gets. Tell us about your favorite class. Least favorite? My least favorite class: Intro to Psychology. It was my least favorite because it was the largest class I ever had, about 70 individuals, and was just extremely basic so we never learnt anything in depth. My favorite class: well there have been a lot of them: Psychology of Behavior, Readings in Islamic Liberalism and Fundamentalism, Infectious Diseases and World Health, 19th century European History, Perspectives on War, and the Art of Effective Speaking. These classes were my favorites just because they were with amazing professors who had an ability to just place information in your brain that will never leave just out of pure interest and pure genius teaching ability, and they all taught me information that will help me for the rest of my life. How often do students study? It really depends on student to student, and major to major. I study just about every day. On average I do 2-5 hours a day of work probably, plus extra curricular, and life. Is class participation common? Class participation occurs in every class I have, even lectures. Seminars and colloquiums, which are generally upper level classes, or first year only classes are essentially only class participation with a professor just facilitating the discussion. Do smith students have intellectual conversations outside of class? Yes deffinately, I’ve had some of my most intellectual conversations at Smith in the bathroom… meaning to only brush my teeth, but coming out of the bathroom 2 hours later. Are students competitive? Sometimes, but in a very healthy way. I have never in 4 years seen any negative competitive attitudes at Smith. Everyone is extremely supportive of each other and helps each other out when it comes to academics. What’s the most unique class you’ve taken? Women’s Medical Issues, The Art of Effective Speaking, Perspectives on War, Readings in Islamic Liberalism and Fundamentalism, Killing for Politics, Self Defense, World War II in East Asia Tell us about your major/department? I am a History Major. I love my major and department because being a history major – especially in contemporary history, I have learnt about why the world is and exists the way it is today. When I read the news in the newspaper I can normally think to myself, sure that makes sense if you look at the history of what’s been going on in this area of the world for the last so many years. The professors in the history department (like in all others) are also amazing, extremely accessible, and just willing and want to help you in any way that they can. Do you spend time with professors outside of class? Yes. Professors have taken me home for dinner and tea, I’ve met their families, some of my professors even take me and some of my friends out for lunch. I also hang out with some of my professors during their office hours. I’ll go in to ask a professor a question for class, and come out 2 hours later talking about something completely different. How do you feel about Smith’s academic requirements? Smith has no core curriculum which is extremely important to me. I like that I have been able to take whatever I want from my first day at Smith. With no core- I always am able to take classes I’m actually interested in, which means I want to do the work and am interested in it, so I perform better, and just enjoy the overall process of learning better. It also means that there is no one annoying in my class that has been forced to take a class. So class discussions and participation are generally much better too because everyone in the class wants to be there. Is the education at Smith geared toward getting a job, or learning for its own sake? It’s really geared towards learning for its own sake. That being said I’ve learned a lot, and because Smith has helped me think in different ways – it has definitely helped me find and get a job.


yes some know my name....fav class: physics 117....students study TOO often....class participation depends on the teacher....Smith students try to out do one another on how much work they have and how stressed they are boohoo....students are way too competitive but what do you expect...unique class was Philosophy on Biochemistry-never again never again....The engineering major is the only major that earns you a BS sweet! outside of class I go to office hours sometimes so I see professors then P. Voss has help sessions as well....I like how there are no requirements besides a writing intensive.....the education at Smith is geared towards learning and I think getting a job not sure yet.


The education at Smith is geared toward learning for its own sake. While some departments are competitive, others are quite cooperative. Students work and study hard and for many hours most days. I think our hard work is facilitated by small classes where professors know your name and are open to talking to you. Class participation is more than common, it is the general rule. While some introductory classes are too large for discussion, the smaller classes are very participation based. These conversations do spill out into the campus center, the houses and the coffee shops in town. I love that Smith doesn't have distribution requirements. I took classes in 18 departments with the freedom to take any class at any time. I wasn't bound by strict rules of what classes had to be completed outside my major. It was an environment that encouraged my curiosity and encouraged independent learning.


Every professor I have knows my name. I have been to office hours every week for math class. All teachers want their students to KNOW the material, not only understanding it, but being able to apply. Every class goes very deep into discussion, and most students learn the material to master it: Not just for the test. A lot of students are competitive, but everyone puts in an enormous amount of work and effort towards their studies.


All of my professors, past and present, know my name. My favorite class was Shakespeare and Film. I took it the first semester of my first year. The professor was Gillian Kendall, and both the subject matter and the professor made it an amazing class! I haven't had any classes I dislike. Class participation is very common. I've had many intellectual conversations with fellow Smithies outside of the classroom. Students are very competitive. Gender and Sexuality in Greco-Roman Culture is a pretty unique class. I've taken advantage of my professors' office hours, and it has always been helpful. I think Smith's academic requirements are challenging, yet attainable. A Smith education is geared toward empowering each student to think for herself and to learn for the joy of learning.


Smith professors are wonderful! In fact, this was the element that brought me to Smith. While visiting colleges I was told by different students from different schools, the dorms are nice, there is a great campus life, the classes are interesting, there are lots of clubs... However, when I came to visit Smith, I asked each student what their favorite part of Smith College was for them. In response, each student told me about their favorite professor! Over the years, I too have come to know many of these professors and am able to share a sense of comraderie with my fellow Smithies in our love for our professors. I love the small class sizes at Smith, they allow for the students and professors to have a close relationship. Each student is able to participate in the class and professors have the time to listen and engage with their students. I have had many wonderful classes at Smith. One of my favorites was Introduction to the Bible I, with Joel Kaminskey. He teaches this class in a very engaging way, and offers his own thoughts and interpretations on very complex issues. I especially loved the very random stories he would tell in class and then how he would be able to connect them back to the text we were working with. Another favorite class was every class I had with Louis Wilson. He was a very interesting professor who brought many different media sources and guest speakers into his lectures. They allowed for new approaches to be brought to the discussions of the class. I also loved how he called on people unexpectedly throughout the class, which challenged me to be prepared to analitically think on my feet and know the content of the readings and discussion well. While education at Smith prepares you for a career, it is more about learning for its own sake. The school encourages us to take classes in different fields of study and to explore the interconnected nature of different disciplines. The beauty of a liberal arts education is that you can be studying American History, African Studies, Biblical Literature, and the International Political Economy and somehow be able to relate what you are learning to in each class to another. Smith challenges us to be critical thinkers and to expand our knowledge beyond one particular discipline to see how it relates to the world at large.


I like the professors more than the students


Even in classes of over 100 people, professors try to make the effort to know your name. Class size varies a lot from around 5 students in some capped, specialized classes to over 100 for some lectures classes in popular departments. Students study a lot and class participation is always allowed and in most classes expected. I would say that students aren't competitive with each other. We don't have to fit for grades or anything. Also, it is very common for students to visit office hours or visit professors to ask questions. Lots of science students also do research with professors. and there is the best part of Smith.... NO CORE OR DISTRIBUTION REQUIREMENTS. Since most majors only require 10 or 12 classes (BioChem and Engineering have more) you have tons of flexibility in courses. Learning for most people is for learning own sake.


Professors definitely make an effort to know everyone's name. They really care about your education and want you to understand the material. My favorite class is my yearlong introductory Portuguese course. The professor is amazing and very kind. She invited everyone to her office for one on one meetings, just to chat. She wanted to get to know each one of her students on a personal level. Generally, class participation is very common. Students definitely have intellectual conversations outside of class. Smithies are most certainly not apathetic, and are passionate about their beliefs. The most unique class I've taken is a first year seminar about the history of midwifery. I love it! We sit around a big round table and talk about pregnancy, and home birth, and watch videos with cute babies in them. Smith has no general academic requirements, which is amazing. The only requirement is that every first year student takes a writing intensive class. And writing "intensive" really isn't that intensive.


The academics are overrated. I have been to several other colleges, and you do not learn any more here nor are the tests/papers any harder (yet somehow at the end of the semester a lower grade seems to appear out of thin air). The libraries are poorly organized and most resources can not be found in the computer/card catalogue. Most all professors will expect you to "make use" of the resources on campus (Archives, etc) however the hours are so limited on most everything at Smith, (if you actually go to your classes) you will probably will not be able to use these resources. Most of the professors (especially the math department) are simply not meant to teach- they are terrible at it.


Every single professor I've had during my 4 years here, knows my name. The best professor I've had was Roisin O'Sullivan (Economics). But really there was only one that did not live up to my expectations during my entire time here. Students study every day. Class participation is not only common, but frequently part of your grade (no worries though for shy people, as professors are generally pretty understanding) Absolutely. You would be amazed what kind of ideas can develop over lunch. Students are competitive, but mostly with themselves. It's not about being bette than your friend, it's more about being better than you thought you could be (if you are not competitive with yourself yet, you'll probably become it, once you get here). The most unique class? That's a hard one because there were so many great classes I've taken. I guess the Seminar in Central Banking was phenomenal, but that was also thanks to the amazing class mates I had. The Economics department is awesome! And so is the Italian Department. Sometimes I meet professors outside of class, be it during office hours, to have coffee or lunch, or because they invited me to their house. Most of the academic requirements are reasonable, and the curriculum is very flexible. For example the economics major does not require many math classes, but the schedule is sufficiently flexible to include a lot of math, and discover many other departments as well. The education is definitely not geared toward getting a job. Take Accounting, which is the only class that is directly applicable to the "real world". However, you learn many useful things in the other classes, that will indirectly help you on the job: writing, critical reading, ecc.


Despite any of my troubles or problems with the school, the academics are the reason that I've never given up on it. The open curriculum means you can pursue any and all of your interests. Every semester you get to try four new things, or focus your education on a favorite subject. Instead of taking core classes that I would merely have to survive, I was able to branch out and try new things, discovering classes in diverse departments and finding new talents and interests. As a member of the English Department, I can speak for our faculty, most of whom are amazing, challenging, and interesting. Of course, you will not like every class or every faculty member, but most classes are rewarding if you and the professor both put in the effort. My advisors and professors have been invaluable to me in choosing courses, working on assignments, and even personal issues. BUT, and this is a major but, you have to be committed to working on your education when you come here. The workload at Smith will be more intense than that of your peers at other schools, and even on the weekends you will not be done with work. It is very intense, but rewarding.


Yes Chemistry. Wonderful Teacher I absolutely love all my classes though some are much more work than others Students study very very often Dinner tables are all about world events, intelligent?...smith???...You got it Not very competitive....very collaborative Chemistry 111 Undeclared major Yes, I go to talk to them and they are always ready to chat Rigorous requirements but totally doable Learning for its own sake- the joy of knowledge


Smith is good for cultivating "ways" of thinking. We learn how to communicate (relatively) effectively, research, think "outside the box", but not a ton of specific job skills. Although, by the time you're ready to graduate you have a ton of experience that you should be able to put on your resume, especially if you go abroad or do a Praxis internship. (Do a Praxis internship!! Easy way to get a paid summer job, and you can make it apply to almost anything you want to do!) It seems like there is just a lot of learning for its own sake, but while you are doing that, you are really learning a lot of other things along the way. The Career Development Office is pretty useless for very specific things, but they're pretty good for prepping you for interviews, polishing your resume, etc. I haven't found it to be true by experience, but apparently the best thing about graduating from Smith is the Alumnae Network, which is supposed to be a great way to tap into a job opportunity. I think it sounds like mooching, but that's life.


Smith is good for cultivating "ways" of thinking. We learn how to communicate (relatively) effectively, research, think "outside the box", but not a ton of specific job skills. Although, by the time you're ready to graduate you have a ton of experience that you should be able to put on your resume, especially if you go abroad or do a Praxis internship. (Do a Praxis internship!! Easy way to get a paid summer job, and you can make it apply to almost anything you want to do!) It seems like there is just a lot of learning for its own sake, but while you are doing that, you are really learning a lot of other things along the way. The Career Development Office is pretty useless for very specific things, but they're pretty good for prepping you for interviews, polishing your resume, etc. I haven't found it to be true by experience, but apparently the best thing about graduating from Smith is the Alumnae Network, which is supposed to be a great way to tap into a job opportunity. I think it sounds like mooching, but that's life.


Like any college, you need to work hard for a professor to get to know you. Get good grades, go to department lectures, ask questions...all that good stuff. However, it is much easier than big universities! The class sizes are TINY compared to public schools! My Russian class had 10 people in it. I learned a lot from classes like this. Smithies are definitely spend a lot of time outside of classes having intelligent conversations. We tend to make TIME to do things mindless; TV, movies, video games. (These are almost unheard of in our houses!) Students are not competitive with their class work; most of us tend to know that we're talented, capable, and intelligent women. What we do compete for, unfortunately, is our stress level. We all too often play the "I'm more stressed than you" game. Smith's academics, at least for my major, was geared toward academia rather than getting a job after college. When approached for grad school recommendation requests, professors (whom I worked with for three years) wouldn't write me a recommendation since I was only pursuing a Master's degree and not a Ph.D. Much of introduction to Psychology is learning to write in APA style for journal submissions! Lectures outside of class are held, explaining to students how to prepare for Grad school; which schools to apply to, prepping for GREs etc. Students are expected to contact the Career Development Office if they aren't interested in going to grad school after college.


The academics at Smith are very good. They are difficult and can be challenging, but that is what we pay for. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed however, as most professors have high expectations and they also tend to forget that a student has other classes with other assignments. The work pile-up happens quickly and when classes start, they hit the ground running. That being said, most professors are willing to help out in anyway they can. The lack of core courses make it easy for students to take whatever strikes them and creates less stress in those first years. Classes themselves vary by the people who are in them, most often classes are a discussion with sporadic lectures. They can be peppered with what Smith terms "that girl" which refers to a student which talks a lot but doesn't say much. Students are very used to being correct so any statement contrary to their own can be met with hostility.


By the end of the semester, all of my professors know my name. Many even remember it as I pass them on campus several semesters after I've had their class. My favorite classes are within the environmental science and policy program. I love this field and so any class I take ends up being a favorite. Students study a lot. I think we need to work on that though. It's sad seeing students studying in the campus center or library on friday and saturday nights! Some believe we have a "culture of stress" at Smith. I think this is self-perpetuating. If we decide it doesn't exist, then we won't have it anymore. Students need to stop trying to "one up" eachother (i.e. i have 5 exams and 12 papers to write this weekend, what about you? oh well, i have 10 exams and 15 papers, so there!) However, in the classroom, I wouldn't say students are very competitive. I've always felt comfortable asking classmates for help or clarification during or after a lecture. I do spend time with faculty members outside of class, particularly my adviser. It is generally spent working on other projects. Many of our faculty members are truly amazing and really care about students and our education... but not all! Smith only has one academic requirement and that is a writing intensive course to be taken your first year. I think we should also have a quantitative requirement and a social justice/multicultural competency requirement. These could be filled by a variety of already offered courses. Our liberal arts education is less focused on vocational pursuits. However, we do have a specialized engineering program that is very successful and rigorous.