of 2008: Take Our Advice
By Jennifer Jennings '04
When I lugged
my first boxes through the Lamont House door on that muggy,
gray Saturday in September 2000, four years full of opportunities,
decisions, friendships, triumphs, heartbreaks and lessons
were in my future. During my first weeks and months at Smith, I wished
that someone would hold my hand and share some of the secret shortcuts
for negotiating the Smith paths -- which
seemed always to curve, instead of leading directly to
Four recent graduates, who experienced
Smith through a variety of paths, agreed to offer some
advice to the class of 2008.
A studio art and French double major from
Great Neck, New York, Lisa Anchin was active in Hillel,
serving on the board during her sophomore and senior years. She was
president of Morrow House during 2003-04. Elizabeth Cowan,
a biology major from Wheaton, Illinois, was a member of the equestrian team
for three years, president of Lamont House in 2003-04 and chaired the
Rec Council for her last three semesters. Susan Strom lived in three houses
during her time at Smith: Lamont, Dawes and the Friedman Apartments. She was
house coordinator at Dawes House. Strom was an engineering major who also participated
in many dance productions during her four years at Smith. Elizabeth Leidel
is from Lake Oswego, Oregon. A philosophy major, she was active on the debate
team and became involved with the Student Government Association during her
first year at Smith, finally serving the student body as SGA president in 2003-04.
I wish that someone had told me not to worry so much. Smith
is an incredible place and one where you are sure to find friends and
Liedel: I wish that I had joined as many organizations
as I wanted to in my first year and not been so afraid
of being so busy and worried less about getting schoolwork
done and more about connecting to the Smith community.
Cowan: Although Smith is rife with opportunities, you
still have to go after them: be assertive, take initiative
and talk to professors about research opportunities.
Strom: The college takes the Honor Code seriously.
Anchin: Don't try to make long-term plans, just let things
happen. I came to Smith expecting to major in English, but wound
up as an art/French double major. Set goals for yourself,
but also leave yourself room to explore.
Strom: Go to at least one crazy
Hampshire College event!
Liedel: Go to Amherst football games and parties at the
other five colleges.
Cowan and Anchin: Get ice cream at Herrels.
Anchin: In terms of classes, don't forget that Smith is strong
in all academic areas. Don't hesitate to leave your comfort zones.
If you consider yourself a science person, take an art class. If you
think of yourself as humanities based, take a math class. The classes
that I took in what I considered my weakest subjects were some of the
best classes that I've taken at Smith.
Strom: Everyone should meet Jennifer Walters, dean of religious
Strom: Window dressings,
spiritual guidance and a fabulous set of party clothes
and willingness to wear them even if it is 20 degrees out, at least
Anchin: An open mind, an accepting attitude and a willingness
to learn, not only from professors but from everyone else
on campus, as well -- from your roommate to your best friend to
the wonderful person who makes your eggs in the morning to the administrators.
Liedel: Fun sheets.
Cowan: A stuffed animal or fluffy pillow -- it's great to
have something to hug.
Liedel: A hammer and a pair of scissors, the first couple
seasons of "Queer as Folk" on DVD, and a sense of excitement.
Anchin: Warm stuff for the winter and a fan for the beginning
and end of the year.
Cowan: Flip-flops for the shower.
Liedel: The knowledge that you can change Smith.
Strom: Don't let finding
that social niche stop you from exploring other opportunities.
Liedel: Take classes because of the professor, not necessarily
because of the content. There is a far greater likelihood
that a professor will change your life than a book.
Cowan: Do not hesitate to demand more from your house community,
whether your interest is in helping the earth, having fun
or anything else. First-years bring a fresh perspective
with them and can come up with things that haven't been done before.
Liedel: Get really involved and connected to the campus.
Smith has a lot to offer, capitalize on that.
Cowan: Don't be afraid to take a mental holiday for a night -- watch
bad TV, go to bed early, watch movies. Your work will get done; don't
sacrifice your mental sanity for your work.
Anchin: College will be the best four years of your life,
but they are also going to be the fastest, so live life
to the fullest, enjoy all that it has to offer and just
focus on being at Smith.…Smith
is special. There is no place like it in the world.
York Times recently asked college students around the
country, including some Smith students, to recommend
the latest must-have items for entering students.
Here's a sampling of favorite essentials
on the Smith campus:
Stefanie Renaud '06, psychology and history,
Easthampton, Massachusetts: "Nalgene water
bottle (made of hard plastic and colorful). Some
sort of cloth bag that indicates your interests,
favorite bands or causes. Skirts, the homier looking,
Jie Zheng '05, engineering, Muncie, Indiana: "A
Franz Ferdinand CD. Scarves (colorful or with bold
print). Vintage-inspired long, fitted winter coat.
Punk-ish bomber jacket, vintage brooches and band
or political pins. Solid-color flats. As for hairstyles,
a bob with closely cropped bangs or long, shaggy,
Molly Laas '04, comparative literature,
Bettendorf, Idaho: "iPod (Apple's pocket-size
music player that can store up to 10,000 songs).
A collection of hats, the more outlandish, the
better; you never know when a situation might require
ridiculous headgear. Also colorful sneakers, denim
jackets, messenger bags."
Sara Zeiser '06, medieval studies, Tiverton,
Rhode Island: "Smith gear (sweatshirts, shorts,
etc.). Carabiners for keys. Poster of male actors
or musicians. Hiking and sporting gear. Political
buttons, patches, stickers. Knitting needles. Ani
DiFranco and Indigo Girls CDs. Mohawks. Ugg boots.
iPods/ Walkmans (music players). Plants for your
room. Paper lanterns."