What Smith College Has Taught Me

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.” — A lot of women

Let’s take a moment and be honest. When you hear of an all-girls college what is the first thing you think of? A couple that my friends have heard or I have heard is that anyone who goes to an all girls college must really dislike men, or are gay, or a bit of both. They are also strong feminists.

But none of them are true of me. When I heard of an all-girls school accepting me, I thought to myself, “No way. That’s not going to be my school.” Ever since I was a young child I have surrounded myself with male friends (I don’t mean that in a slutty way– I see myself a tom boy (ironically) so I get a long with the opposite sex better than the female gender) so since I was a young child I had despised the idea of an all-girls school. I couldn’t stand the idea of not having guys to talk to or hang out with when my girl friends got too bit*hy and gossipy.

And so when I got accepted into Smith, I was downright hating the idea of ever going to an all-girls school. I enjoyed having the companionship of the opposite sex and didn’t ever want to give that up.

But in the end I decided to go to Smith anyway and what I found here was much more surprising to me, of all people.

Below are the things that I have learned from Smith in the short time I’ve been immersed in Smithie culture life:

1. Not everything is clear cut, especially not gender. 

Smith College, when they go through introductions, go through an extra point which is telling the people what gender pronouns they preferred to be called by.

For me, that was the biggest cultural shock.

I never knew that there would be other pronouns to associate women with. I always thought there were only two genders, women and men. But through the introductions, I have really opened my eyes that not everything is clear cut, even when you think it is. I learned to not go assuming that everyone uses “she/her” pronouns. I am a lot careful now when I talk about someone.

To some people this may be another added annoyance but as a girl who never thought that this was a thing, it has really helped me grow and become more conscientious when referring to others.

2. The students of Smith College are much more down to earth than the students of high school and much less bit*hy.

The girls (and gender queer people) of Smith college have such a big sense of community and are so welcoming. (I know this because I went to go visit another school who kept telling us that they were friendly but they really weren’t…)

But they are also incredibly down to earth. I cannot say that enough. Everyone is friendly and are genuinely interested in your well being. They aren’t like high school girls. They do not care about appearances (but they are very welcoming and open about people that do dress up) and love you as a person, not as what you wear. That for me, is an absolute must.

3. We can speak and not be ridiculed for what we say, no matter how “stupid” we may think it is. 

I’m one of those people that don’t speak up in class unless I am absolutely sure what I am about to say is correct and won’t get beaten down by my professor/teacher. But at Smith, I can speak up and say something without feeling embarrassed or scared that what I say will be offensive.

4. Being able to be accepted even if we say no. 

I recently realized something that if a woman say no, she’s criticized. But if she says yes she is ridiculed and taken advantage of.

To me, I never realized that as a woman there are so many double standards against us. It’s like no matter what we do, we will be laughed at and for me, that’s really not okay. How can I live like a person who has to constantly look to others to decide what decisions I make? That’s not okay and I realized that after having step foot into Smith. I learned to say no, and that’s okay.

5. Building character, and personality. 

This may seem pretty simple because you can argue that that is essentially what college is about. But is it really?

When my mother kept pushing me to accept Smith back when I was still indecisive, she kept telling me that if I attend Smith I will learn to become more elegant (this makes me laugh out loud every time I think about it…) and develop a good personality (whatever “good” means…) but let’s be honest, at that stage of your life, when your parents say that to you, you won’t really believe it. So I didn’t. But I realized that it’s true, in its own way.

You learn that you go to college and no longer have your parents telling you how amazing you are at everything and realize that you have a lot of things to still learn. You realize that you have parts of you that still need to grow. You learn what kind of a person you are without your parents pampering you 24/7. It’s a good way to build your character because you grow without hindrance but with all the resources that Smith offers.

6. Gaining knowledge that is not limited to what major you want to do in the future, but also as a human being, trying to survive the 21st century. 

The problem with a lot of the bigger universities in the United States like the Ivy League’s or even the state Universities are that they require you to take a set of classes in order to graduate. I call those Universities a more advanced version of high school. I don’t want what I had in high school. I don’t want to be forced to take a set of classes that will benefit me no more than the person next to me if it isn’t what I am interested in.

Smith’s Liberal Arts educational system is perfect for me. Even though they do have one requirement, it is easily completed and it definitely enhances you in your future (it’s a writing intensive course and let’s be real, no matter how old you get, you’ll always need good writing skills). But they let you take advantage of all the classes they offer with no restrictions (I must clarify that the classes here do have prerequisites).

I get to choose the types of classes that I feel will further my education and the knowledge I build in my brain.

However, there are critics of the system, saying that it makes the students of liberal arts education less well rounded but here is my argument to that: you are no longer trying to get into college. You are trying to find a profession you have to do for the rest of your life so why do you need well roundness? Let’s be real, if I want to be a English major, why do I need the basis of math and science? It isn’t practical. It’s also a waste of time, energy, resources, and money.

7. Opportunities are always around the corner, you just have to learn to reach out and grab it for yourself before someone else does. 

Smith has almost every resources you should need to finish your Undergraduate years smoothly. They have a Writing Center, a Science Center, and many more.

I have never felt more helped in a school than at Smith and that’s saying something, considering how many schools I’ve attended in the past 14 years of my life.

8. You can live without males, and live very well. 

Let’s be real, when people hear of a all girls school, they immediately reject the notion and I was one of them.

I actually didn’t realize this until a couple of days ago (I wrote this mid-December) when my boyfriend’s sister was thinking about college and I told her to apply to Smith but she rejected it on the notion of no boys.

Yes, boys are important, but are they more important than your education? When I decided whether or not I wanted to attend Smith, I had to choose between my relationship and my education. In the end I chose my education (but my relationship is surviving so, yay!) because in my mind, relationships come and go, but a good education stays with you for your whole life.

Plus, it isn’t like there are NO guys here. We are surrounded by many co-ed schools so it’s not like there aren’t any dudes. But, just know that you can live very well without a man in a 20 ft proximity to you. Do you forget how to interact with them? Oh yes. Do you start feeling awkward around them? Definitely. But you become so much more empowered without them. You become confident. You focus less on boys and more on your future (don’t get me wrong, there are some people here that focus on both equally). You learn that you don’t need a man in your life to make you feel like a woman (if I offend anyone with the use of ‘woman’ I apologize but I am referring to myself, personally). You’re strong. You’re bold. You’re smart. You’re beautiful. And you do not need a man to show you that part of yourself.


I understand that I am very biased with this post but I just want to let all perspective Smithie’s out there know the benefits of attending an all woman’s college. Despite the stigma, you grow so much as a person and to me, that is equally as important as the education you acquire from your (or your parents) hard earned money.


Don’t forget to SM:)LE today!

xo

∞ sofieyah ∞ 

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