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Bridge Preorientation Program

Student in a summer hat and sunglasses


Begun in 1970 as a program for African American students entering Smith, Bridge now welcomes first year and transfer students of color who demonstrate a commitment to creating and maintaining culturally inclusive communities.

Bridge provides opportunities for finding mentors, friends, resources and a community—all before other students even arrive on campus.

Through a variety of interactive student-led seminars and group activities, participants share their perspectives and listen to those of their peers to better understand and appreciate their similarities and differences.

“The Bridge program is the most beautiful conglomerate of knowledge, outlets and friendships. It has introduced me to some of the brightest young women. I realized that I am not alone in my feeling homesick, or in being afraid of the many challenges that college will bring.”

Apply for Bridge

Applications for the 2016 program are now closed. Applications for the 2017 program will be available in May.


Our faculty and administrative staff provide incoming students with an experience that is engaging, thought-provoking, exciting, rewarding, meaningful and fun—and that will help make their first year at Smith a success.

Bridge participants attend lively presentations that explore the various dimensions of leadership. Seminar titles have included "Treasures to Success," "Finding the Activist in You," "(Un)Speakable Truths," “SENSEsational Expressions” and "Leadership: The Power of Our Presence." Social activities have included Zumba, nature walks, karaoke, talent showcase, women’s empowerment performances, cultural forums and visits to local eateries and shops.

During Bridge a number of faculty members and knowledgeable staff members offer seminars that allow Bridge participants to experience the academic environment in a friendly setting and develop contacts with faculty and staff, as well as learn something interesting.

“Those first few days, I was uncomfortable and awkward, and I really wondered ‘What am I doing here?’ I realize now that those feelings were part of a process, a shedding of conceptions I had, in order for me to embrace the new changes.”

Student Leaders

Our trained and experienced Bridge leaders are professional, multi-ethnic and dedicated to offering a quality program. Student staff members are selected for their leadership experience and enthusiasm, interpersonal skills, ability to balance multiple responsibilities and strong desire to work with incoming students of color. The ratio of student staff to Bridge participants is approximately 1 to 5.

“The Bridge leaders are outstanding. They helped me feel so much more at home. Late nights, laughing, singing and dancing are things I will dearly remember about this great experience.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to participate in Bridge?

Bridge is open to first-year and transfer students of color who are residents of the United States.

Why should I participate in Bridge?

Bridge will give you a chance to find mentors, friends, resources and a community—all before other students even arrive on campus. It bridges the gap of familiarity between the old and the new, helping new students find a home at Smith.

Will I participate in the on-campus New Student Orientation program if I attend Bridge?

Yes! Bridge will end in time for you to move into your permanent house so you will not miss any of the exciting events planned during New Student Orientation.

What about my parents?

Your parents are welcome to drop you off on campus for the start of Bridge and attend the Parent's Reception. There will not be any other activities for parents. However, parents are welcome to meet up with you on the first day of New Student Orientation, as there will be a few sessions planned for parents.

What are my options if I wanted to arrive early to campus?

We understand that for some people it will be hard to arrive on campus the day of Bridge check-in; however we are unfortunately unable to provide housing before then. Please check the Smith web site for a list of local accommodations.

What are the Bridge fees?

The Bridge Program has a $30 fee, which covers housing, meals, materials and more. 

Is there any financial aid for the program fee?

If the Bridge program fee is beyond your financial means, please refer to the application for more information.

“The friendships that I have developed will remain with me for many years to come. It makes me feel reassured to know that there are people here who are experiencing the same doubts and homesickness that I am, and who will be there for me whenever I find myself in a tough situation.”