Freshman Focus Q&A: ‘Keep an open mind’ about women’s colleges, advises new frosh at Smith

Annie Bell, ‘13, attends Smith College in Northampton, Mass. While Bell has yet to decide a major, she is thinking of majoring in economics.

Annie Bell (middle row, fourth from left) enjoys her first year of Mountain Day—a day on which the president cancels classes on one beautiful fall day. Bell lives in Chapin House, and the house tradition is to go apple-picking. Bell said they made some apple dumplings afterwards. (Photo courtesy of Bell)

Q: What’s it like at a women’s college?

A: I thought going into the school that the class would be different not having guys in it. I thought it would be something I had to adjust to. I haven’t felt that at all and that shocked me. I love it here honestly. Even though it sounds like a really big change for people, I think they should consider it even if they think it is ridiculous. I didn’t even want to go to an all- girls high school. But coming here and getting past the preconceptions has been great.

Q: How was orientation?

A: It was really busy. The school had a certain amount of things you had to attend. One was a two-day workshop about diversity. There were also a lot of optional events. The biggest thing at orientation was signing up for classes. We all met up in the common room and went through the classes together. It can be good and bad because some people get really stressed out. But it was nice to have people around you who were going through the same thing.

Q: What do you think of the housing?

A: We live in houses rather than dorms, and each house holds about 70 people. It is really cool because we have people from all different areas. It makes it easier to relate to people. It is a very different attitude versus if you lived in a coed dorm. You don’t feel like you have to put in effort to dress nice every day. You can if you want, but you never feel that pressure. I love my house. I live in Chapin and it’s known for having pretty big rooms compared to the other houses. I live in one of the biggest rooms in the house. It’s really nice having a house community. Living in a dorm that has like a 1000 people, it’s hard to have that community.

Q: What’s the best part of Smith?

A: One of my favorite Smith traditions is Convocation, which is all about celebrating the new academic year. Each house has a theme, and students can dress in whatever way is comfortable for them when we all go. There’s lots of cheering and Chapin House came up with some good chants!

Q: What classes do you enjoy most?

A:  I’m taking Intro to Microeconomics. I am very interested in pursuing economics. It’s probably my favorite class. It is very similar to Millsback’s class. We have midterms and problem sets. I also really enjoy my first year seminar called Crime and Punishment. We read a section from the Bible. We discuss determining justice and what justice is and why certain criminal deeds are more wrong than others. My Spanish class is a lot like the Spanish I took in senior year. I think I might take Chinese next year. One of the coolest things they have is this Smith program where you can take classes like zumba and swing dancing. Every week they have like five or six that anyone can attend.

Q: Are you participating in any extracurriculars?

A: I am on the Sophian, the college newspaper. We haven’t done that much with it yet. I am also on the literary magazine, Ladrys. I am also part of the students events committee. I am really interested in this thing they do called Jittery’s. They work with local musicians and up-and-coming musicians. They bring them to Smith and a live audience. I went to one of the shows and I loved it and I want to be involved in it. I am also involved in Best Buds, which is not part of Smith. Basically you are matched with someone who has Down syndrome in the local area.

Q: How do you find the area surrounding campus?

A: I love Northampton. It’s a great little college town. They have some really good restaurants and a good variety. They have American food, Italian, Chinese and Thai. They have the cutest little stores for clothes and stuff. Everything has pretty good college prices. We have huge bookstores and stuff. It is a very liberal area as well, and it has a really good vibe in terms of everyone seems relaxed.

Q: What have you had the most trouble adjusting to?

A: Keeping in touch with family and friends. It’s definitely a really big change when you’re not really with them all the time. It changes the relationships you have with them. I have ongoing group texts and Facebook messages with people like Kelsey (Thomas, ‘13). A lot of us are really busy with college work and lives. It can be difficult to find time when both you and your friends can have a discussion. But I Skype my mom every night.

Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2014?

A: I know they have heard this from all the teachers and everyone else and it’s really cliche, but keep an open mind. I would not be at Smith if it were not for my mom saying “you should check out this college.” A big part of finding the right college for you is envisioning yourself there and keeping an open mind.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email