Anna Quintanilla ’19
Last Thursday, April 14, marked the start of Smith’s Discovery Weekend, an admitted students program committed to providing minority students with multiple opportunities to explore the campus and learn more about student life and academics. Smith offers these admitted students with an all-expense paid trip to campus, during which each prospective student is hosted by a current Smithie. On the first day, students are given a pamphlet that highlights social events, academic listings and opportunities to get to know the faculty. This year many students lined up for Float Night, where students tried free Herrell’s ice cream and watched different houses compete to win best decorated canoe. During this event prospective students interacted with one another, while simultaneously learning about the Boat House and witnessing Smith’s unique housing system. Several other events were held on campus, including an acapella show which included all six groups, a dance show in the Mendenhall Studio Theatre and a chance to meet current engineering students to discuss their experiences as an engineering student at Ford Hall.
On Friday, attendees received the course catalog and were given the freedom to visit classes and explore their academic interests. They began experiencing how Smith does not limit students with general requirements and encourages them to actively engage in their education with Smith’s open curriculum. Later that day, some attendees also went to the Intercollegiate Sports and Fitness Panel, where they met coaches and student athletes. While some prospective students embarked on campus tours of specific departments, others attended Discovery Weekend Tea, where they met other admitted students and got to experience yet another fantastic Smith tradition. There was also the opportunity to visit the Botanic Garden, learn about past students’ internship experiences and attend a student panel, in which current Smithies aimed to answer questions about academics and social life. Many current students took their prospective students to downtown Northampton and invited them to eat dinner, boba drinks and frozen yogurt as well as visit the famous Herrell’s Ice Cream.
On the final day, admitted students reunited at the Conference Center, where they checked-in and reflected on their Discovery Weekend experience. Current students also attended the event, where they answered any remaining questions the attendees had. Before their departure, they enjoyed lunch in Scott Gym and learned about Smith’s annual Collaborations event, where current students gather to present their research with faculty.
When asked about her Discovery Weekend experience, one prospective student said, “I had never visited the campus before, so Discovery Weekend allowed me to explore Smith, engage in fun activities and learn more about the academic support. I visited a Japanese class, saw how the professor made the class environment dynamic and realized that I could finally take a language that I was actually interested in learning. I also like the fact that I can take advantage of the Five-College Consortium and enroll in classes there.”
As a Discovery Weekend participant myself, I know that the entirety of the program is instrumental in solidifying a prospective student’s decision. Last year, my visit at Smith was exciting because I was able to learn about all the wonderful traditions, remarkable faculty, on/off campus opportunities and financial support available. I hope that all participants realized their potential to undergo both personal and academic growth for four transformative years at Smith, just like I did.