It is early on in the college search process for our youngest who is in 11th grade. She is considering either Physics or Engineering and has already looked at some schools where she will probably apply. On our way to her annual SPLASH program at MIT we are doing a whirlwind tour of four colleges, and Smith was the first of these.
We liked Smith much more than we expected. Here she could do either Physics or Engineering, or even both. The building above is the Engineering building, and having been one of 3 women out of 5,000 engineers at University of Michigan myself, I tried to fathom what it would have been like to go to engineering school with all girls. The girls here felt that they were taken more seriously than they thought they would be as token females in a classroom full of males. The women we talked to were all exceedingly enthusiastic about this engineering program, where there is plenty of room to take courses outside their major as well. Their vigor and vibrancy was infectious.
Women live in campus houses here instead of dorms, which reportedly lends to more of a community feeling, and they stay there all four years. Over 50% of these women go on to do Fulbright Scholarships, which is a staggering number. Also if there is an unpaid internship a student wants to do, Smith will pay them a stipend to do it, since they want to encourage their students to choose whatever internship is the best fit for what they want to learn, without having to take finances into account. Julia Child was a former student at Smith, and the dining hall was honoring her today by serving her dishes. And we heard that the food here is generally good, which matters to my foodie daughter… Laura also loved the awesome grand pianos in the practice cubicles…
And what about the all-girls aspect? Our tour guide said that she considered these four years as an investment in herself, and that she’d have the rest of her life to explore in relation to men. She thought of this time as it related to herself, and meanwhile is building a string of friendships to last a lifetime. I thought this was rather enlightened. And when I asked her what she liked best about the place, it was that everyone was free to be exactly who they were and are accepted at face value on the basis of their authenticity.
The course catalogue is chock full to overflowing with courses our daughter would love to take. We are so glad we visited this school and I think it is quite likely our daughter will apply here.