Smith College is one of the oldest and most respected academic institutions in the United States. At a time when women were not allowed into colleges to study alongside men, one woman stepped forward – Sophia Smith, Smith College’s founder and a forward-thinking legend, was born on August 27, 1796, in nearby Hatfield, Massachusetts. With her last will and testament of March 8, 1870, she willed a portion of her fortune to endow a women’s college. Smith College opened five years later, in 1875. It was her birthday yesterday!
Although the situation has clearly improved for women attending a U.S. College, sexist attitudes, practices and allocation of resources continue to favor men at coeducational institutions – even in amongst the squash fraternity. Most of the “favoritism” is very subtle, meaning that neither the perpertrater nor affected realize what is happening – you need a degree in Cultural Studies in order to be able to analyze these situations:)
How will this affect a female student in a co-ed school? Simply put the boys will speak up first in class, her voice may be drowned out during informal mixed gender friend gatherings, boys may be picked first for leadership positions in and out of class – never mind the little “harmless” comments that fly around the campus.
What is clear however is that in terms of education and leadership, the coeducational institutions are unable to match the quality of a women’s college (did you know there were several hundred in the U.S.?) – read about it here.
If you are an America or International student and you want to play varsity squash at a women’s college, you are presented with a very simple choice! There are only three women’s colleges – all of them top academic institutions. If you are an international student and have only heard about Princeton, Harvard or Yale (I wonder why that is?), then you need to know that a degree from one of these colleges puts you on the same fast-track carer path after graduation as an Ivy league school. When you show up at a job interview every interviewer will have heard of Smith, Mount Holyoke or Wellesley College.
Academics aside, what is life as an athlete like at a women’s college? Luckily our sister college Mount Holyoke (many Smith grads in their Athletic Department:) has put together a very nice video which shows in a very practical way the advantages for playing for a top academic institution like Smith College. Here is the link to the video: example of athletics at a women’s college. When you are done watching, you may want to check out the Smith College Athletics video (put together by some of our Smith Students) and listen to what some of our Smith Coaches have to say here:
What about campus life at a women’s College? I lived in the town of Wellesley for a few years, and commuted frequently to see friends in South Hadley where MHC is, so know both towns quite well. If you are looking for a quiet place, where the nearest town action is a good 45-minute bus ride away (infrequent service) both of these towns will suit you. Wellesley is a “dry” town (i.e., no bars or pubs) although it is close to the highway to Boston if you have a car (30+ minutes). There are two pubs within walking distance of MHC is you enjoy socializing with the 50+ crowd.
If you want to be 100 yards from a vibrant town with 25+ bars, 50 + restaurants, two theatres capable of hosting top music, dance and drama acts, a movie theatre, and two rock venues, then there is no better place than America’s #1 Small Arts Town; Northampton, Massachusetts. How close is Smith College to town – watch the Smith Squash team jog the 400 yards from the gym to town to try and chat with Mel Gibson on his movie set last year:
Click here or e-mail Head Coach of Squash Tim Bacon for a visit! : firstname.lastname@example.org.
ps. If you want to socialize with boys once you have had your quality class time and obtained your leadership position, there are actually about 10,000 boys studying at College and University within a few miles – some of the quiet ones even take classes at Smith – Joe was a great guy and super student from UMASS who took my Introduction to Coaching class last year: