Making Use of the Five College Consortium

Hira Humayun ’17

The Five College Consortium is something many Smithies make use of during their time at Smith, utilizing the facilities each institution has to offer. With qualified professors from different fields and five different course catalogs to choose from, Smithies have the opportunity to explore not only different departments but also different campuses and communities. Here is what some Smithies who have taken 5 College classes had to say about their experiences.

“I took Viragos, Virgins, and Visionaries, a French class about French female sainthood at Mount Holyoke, with Professor Christopher Rivers. It was great because I’m a French and Religion major so the crossover was good for me that way. The class worked well because for the most part it was class-led discussion, so every week there were some students in charge of taking the material and creating presentations. It was more engaging that way and felt more like a conversation than lecture, and the professor facilitated discussion instead of taking over. He offered knowledge and answered questions, but did not completely lead discussion. Compared to Smith it was more interactive than a lot of my Smith classes. Students were very welcoming, and it was nice because there were other five college students so I wasn’t the only one. It had a similar women’s college vibe and there was a wide variety of academic backgrounds. It was tough commute-wise, I couldn’t have other classes that day and it was a 3.5 hour long class, so scheduling was an issue but it was worth it. I got a lot out of it and I would absolutely recommend taking a Five College course and it was nice to have a change of environment.”

—Nina Gagnon ’17

“My experience taking Five College classes at Amherst has been extremely positive. I am a strong advocate of a diverse and holistic college experience; this can expand to not only taking a varied course load, but also attempting feats outside of one’s principal comfort zone. Breaking from the Smith bubble and experiencing life at another campus, even for a couple of hours a week, unquestionably falls into both of these categories. Smithies should without doubt try their hands at a Five College course. After all, it is simply a matter of braving the PVTA as well as the harsh winter chills. My personal experiences with the three professors I’ve had have been life changing. If it weren’t for my Amherst experience, I never would have discovered my passion for art history. I also appreciated the chance for a dining swipe exchange. One semester, my schedule was such that I was at Amherst from morning to late afternoon and was very happy that I could swipe into Val, the Amherst dining hall, for a quick bite and coffee. I have made friends in all my Amherst classes, and it’s nice to be able to sit and eat with those friends after class.”

—Maliha Rahim ’17

“I took the class Literature & Psychoanalysis at Amherst College, which was challenging and very intellectually stimulating. It was a discussion-based class of about 35 people. The professor was passionate, understanding and led great class discussions, and participation was very active. Overall, I think the ability we have to take classes at the other colleges is an amazing opportunity, especially when in small colleges like Smith the variety of classes is limited.” -Kimberly Liu ’17

“I took Reading and Writing Short Fiction at Mount Holyoke and it was my favorite class. The environment was relaxing, discussion based, around a square table, and we read published short stories as well as our own and workshopped them. It was about contemporary women writers and my professor was also a contemporary female novelist; one of the novels we read was written by one of her previous students. I’d say if there’s something you want to take but can’t find at Smith, find it off campus because it really gives you a viewpoint outside of Smith education. Teaching styles and classroom vibes vary from campus to campus, and it can be helpful to experience classes at different schools.”

-Sarah Robbins ’17

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