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For Current Ada Comstock Scholars


The Ada Comstock Scholars Program combines rigorous academic opportunities with flexibility for women beyond the traditional college age. Ada Comstock Scholars are a remarkable and diverse group of women who range in age from their 20s to their mid-60s; most arrive having earned approximately 50 transferable college credits in liberal arts courses.

How the Program Works

Many women choose to work or raise a family rather than complete an education, but they later wish to return to earn a degree. Established in 1975, the Ada Comstock Scholars Program allows nontraditional students to complete a bachelor’s degree either part-time or full-time. Each Ada Comstock student attends the same classes and fulfills the same requirements as all other Smith students. The program provides academic advising, orientation programs, peer advising, a center for the exclusive use of participants in the program and some housing. Career counseling and academic assistance are provided through offices available on campus. Financial aid is available to all admitted students based on demonstrated need.

Andrea Rossi-Reder, Dean of the Ada Comstock Scholars

Andrea Rossi-Reder directs the Ada Comstock Program and serves as its class dean. Her main concern is the academic welfare of each member of the Ada class. As a class dean, she provides counseling about academic matters, such as college requirements, monitoring credit loads, graduation status and exceptions to academic rules in conjunction with the Administrative Board. She provides referrals to both academic and nonacademic resources. If you have an academic concern or a personal issue and don’t know where to turn, she, as well as the other class deans and the staff, will do their best to help you or direct you to the appropriate person or office.

Class Designation

Regardless of how many credits you have transferred or earned, whether you are a sophomore, junior or senior, you are a member of the Ada Comstock class.  It is important to put the letters “AC” after your name on all official college correspondence to designate that you are an Ada Comstock Scholar.

The class designation of AC applies until your last 2 semesters when you are given a class year designation. For example, class designation becomes AC + the year of graduation (that is, for seniors this year: Class of AC ’18). Upon entering your final year at Smith, you have dual membership in the Ada Comstock class and the senior class.

Planning for Your Smith Degree as an Ada Comstock Scholar

Ada Comstock Scholars follow the same academic policy, standards and requirements as the traditional undergraduate population. Ada Comstock Scholars must:

  • Earn 128 credits to complete the degree
  • Successfully complete/fulfill the writing intensive (WI) requirement
  • Complete one major (due to the Ada Comstock Scholar’s financial and residency considerations, only one major is recommended. If a student can demonstrate the ability to complete two majors without exceeding the 128-credit requirement they will be allowed to do so. Exceptions to this may be petitioned to the Administrative Board in consultation with the dean of the Ada Comstock Scholars.)
  • Earn 64 credits outside of the department of major (for example ARH and ARS are considered the same department)
  • Be enrolled for four semesters in academic residence at Smith College, two of which must be in the final four semesters. “In residence” means taking courses in Northampton, not in housing.
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 from courses completed at Smith College

In addition, Ada Comstock Scholars must also:

  • Complete their degree in six semesters or less (depending on the amount of transfer credit)
  • Must be registered each semester for 12 credits in order to have Smith housing

Transfer credit may not be removed from the student’s record in order to stay at Smith for a longer period of time.

See the Smith College Catalog for a list of complete academic requirements.

Learn more about degree requirements and Smith's academic policies and guidelines on the registrar's website.


Entering Ada Comstock Scholars are matched with a faculty adviser and meet with the adviser during Orientation to discuss their first semester course registration. It is highly recommended that Ada Comstock Scholars take no more than 12–14 credits during their first semester to allow for the academic transition to Smith College.

Based on their level of proficiency, all students will be directed toward appropriate Writing Intensive (WI) courses. Ada Comstock Scholars are required to complete at least one writing-intensive course, with a grade of C- or higher, during their first two semesters at Smith. The WI requirement can be satisfied before matriculation based on your transcript review by the registrar, in conjunction with the writing committee. Writing intensive courses devote a significant amount of class time to teaching students to write with precision, clarity, economy and some degree of elegance.   

Once an Ada Comstock Scholar earns 64 credits at Smith, she will declare a major. Adas who enter Smith with 64 transfer credits, will declare a major in the second semester. Before registering for the second semester at Smith, and in consultation with their faculty adviser and/or major adviser, Adas will submit a Plan of Completion Form that will outline the proposed courses and credits they plan to take to complete their major (128) and provide a tentative graduation date. The form and instructions will be emailed to all entering Adas a few weeks into their first semester. The Ada Comstock Class Dean will review the completed plan of study. If the academic plan changes at any point during enrollment, it must be documented by submitting an updated Plan of Completion Form to the dean of Ada Comstock Scholars.

Please review the registrar's office webpages regarding course registration dates and deadlines and the policies about adding and dropping courses after the deadlines.

It is important to remember that Ada Comstock Scholars are funded according to the number of credits for which they are registered at the beginning of the third week of each semester (the Census Date). You will need to finalize your semester course schedule by the Census Date. Interterm courses are considered part of your spring semester credit load. An email notification will be sent to you each semester reminding you of this important deadline.

Although Ada Comstock Scholars may drop courses after the Census Date deadline, the dropped or withdrawn course will count toward your total number of funded credits allowed (128).  Courses dropped before the census deadline will not count toward the total funded credits.

Since the 2016/2017 academic year, Smith College has been piloting a program to increase the allowance of supplementary funded credits for Ada Comstock students. The supplementary credit allowance is offered to assist Ada Comstock Scholars with unforeseen circumstances that may arise during their enrollment at Smith that hinders their ability to successfully complete coursework. The credit allowance may be used, in consultation with your dean, only in the following circumstances:

  • A course drop after the census date
  • A course failure
  • With approval from the Administrative Board, that is, special circumstances for courses that do not count toward the degree requirement

The maximum amount of the credit allowance is 12, thus increasing the number of possible funded credits from 128 to 140, minus the number of accepted transfer credits.

Example: 128 credits minus 52 transfer credits = 76 funded credits to complete the degree.  In the case of the applicable circumstances listed above, up to 12 additional credits of funding may be available with approval of the dean and/or the administrative board (= 76 to 88 credit range).

It is important to note that the 12-credit supplement cannot be added to the end of a Smith career to gain another semester of enrollment. The 12 credits are supplementary rather than constitutive credits and cannot be used to fill your course load with unnecessary courses or to extend your Smith career. 

Ada Comstock Scholars have the first three weeks to plan their schedule. Although ACs may drop a course after the three week deadline, the course will count in the total funded credits. Courses dropped before the census deadline will not count toward the total funded credits.

A Note About Free Drops: Free drop course/credit counts toward your funded credit.

A free drop allows you to drop from your record a full semester course in the current semester up until the end of the ninth week of classes. You must consult with and obtain the signatures of the course instructor, your adviser and the appropriate class dean in order to use the free-drop option by the appropriate deadline (posted on the registrar's page). You are allowed two opportunities to free drop a course during your time at Smith: once during your first year (if you do not use it, it disappears), and the the second may be used in any semester after your first year. Using the free drop option does not give Ada Comstock Scholars additional credit funding.


Smith College offers students several opportunities for study away or abroad, including international programs (in consultation with the Office of International Study) and domestic programs through the Twelve-College Exchange (in consultation with your class dean).

Ada Comstock Scholars who wish study away must consider:

  • how many credits were transferred to Smith
  • how many remaining semesters are available within the 128 credits needed to graduate
  • meeting the residency requirements

These factors determine what kind of international study experience is available through the college. Please refer to the information on the Office of International Study and Class Deans websites.

A limited amount of funding is available to undergraduate Smith students in need for emergencies, special programs and some unanticipated events. These funds are limited and in most cases will not cover the entire cost of an event or emergency.

See Funding for Students from the Dean of the College.

Magic Grants are intended to help Ada Comstock Scholars reach their highest potential by underwriting some of the expenses associated with internships, independent research, creative and artistic projects, and the development of innovative ideas and business plans. Made possible by the generosity of the late writer and magazine pioneer Helen Gurley Brown, legendary editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, the college's Magic Grants program is designed to encourage imagination, creativity and high aspiration by funding innovative projects that Adas would otherwise not be able to pursue.

NOTE: The deadline for submitting an application for a Magic Grant is March 30th.

See information on Magic Grants on the Dean of the College.