We are very pleased that your student has made the decision to attend Smith College. We believe that Smith offers a wonderful opportunity for learning and engagement. We hope this handbook can help you find answers to your questions as you embark on the journey of being the parent of a college student.
In your student's first year of college, they will pursue new interests, begin to evaluate ideas and beliefs and question or challenge the values you hold dear. Often, the changes experienced by first-year students occur quickly as new relationships are made, competence in new areas is gained and independence grows. Your understanding and availability are vital to this process. Maintaining a supportive relationship with them can be critical to success in college, particularly during the first year.
Your student should learn who to contact when questions or concerns arise about their college experience, including class deans, academic advisers, financial aid officers and residence life staff. Please review the referral guide below. With your help, your student will learn how to handle difficult decisions—one of the most critical skills learned during the college years.
Family Referral Guide
Student Should Contact: Professor, Class Dean, Academic Adviser
Try to determine the extent of the problem. Is it one class or several? Encourage your student to be honest about their current situation.
Student Should Contact: Class Dean, Academic Adviser
Class deans and advisers are committed to helping students succeed. Either one will be able to guide them in the right direction.
Excessive Alcohol Use
Student Should Contact: Wellness Education Director, Health Services
Try to determine the extent of abuse. Encourage them to seek professional help. This problem can be a tough one for parents to handle alone.
Cars on Campus and Parking Tickets
Student Should Contact: Campus Police
First-year students must not bring a car to Smith expecting to be able to park legally on campus or on city streets. If your student does bring their car, you should have a clear understanding at the beginning of the semester about how parking tickets will be handled.
Death or Serious Illness in the Family
Family or Student Should Contact: Dean of Students, Class Dean, Dean of Religious Life
We can help you in many ways, including locating your student in class if need be, helping to make arrangements for travel home, etc.
Financial Aid and Billing Issues
Student Should Contact: Student Financial Services
Student Should Contact: Associate Dean of Students, Residence Life Staff, Counseling Services
Everybody gets homesick. At the beginning of the semester, determine when visits home will be scheduled and when you might be able to visit campus (Family Weekend is a good time). Encourage your student to get involved. Keep in mind that the busier they are, the less time they have to feel homesick.
Illness of Student
Leave of Absence
Student Should Contact: Class Dean, Academic Adviser
If your student is thinking of taking a leave of absence or might require a medical leave of absence, their class dean will guide them on how best to complete this process.
Deciding on a Major
Student Should Contact: Class Dean, Academic Adviser, Faculty
Students are required to declare a major in the second semester of their sophomore year, but the first year of college is not too early to begin exploring interests, skills and values.
Student Should Contact: Area Director, Head Resident
Encourage your student to take time to work through conflicts. Discuss the educational value of learning to get along with people who are different from them.
Student Should Contact: Campus Police, Residence Life Staff
Smith College is a safe place, but students need to be reminded that they are not invincible. The Residential Life Staff offers tips on personal safety and security of property.
Can families participate in the advising and registration process?
Families should not attend advising sessions with their student, as they may be more likely to express family expectations rather than personal interests regarding classes and majors. College is often one of the first steps in becoming more independent, and Smith College hopes to foster that in many ways, including through individualized advising.
What resources are available for struggling students?
The instructor of the course your student is struggling in and their class dean are the best sources of help. Students can talk with instructors before or after class, visit them in their office, contact them via email, or leave a note in their office mailbox. Class deans are available either by making an appointment or attending their walk-in hours.
Where is assistance available for students with disabilities?
The Office of Disability Services coordinates programming for people with disabilities, as mandated by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
The office provides free and appropriate academic aids and services, including the use of assistive equipment, reader and sign interpreter services, special test proctoring services, academic support and counseling assistance specific to disability issues, and more. Disabilities Services also serves the campus community as an advocate and resource on all disability-related issues.
Is it advisable for students to be employed while taking classes?
Studies show that most students who work a modest amount each week perform better in school. Many students receive a work-study award as part of their financial aid at Smith. Students work in positions both on and off campus that not only give them the opportunity to earn some money for expenses but also help them to engage more fully in their college experience. In most cases we recommended that students not work more than 12 hours per week.
Where can information be found on loans, grants and scholarships?
If you are concerned about how to finance your student's education, the Student Financial Services Office will assist you. Smith College uses grants and scholarships, loans and part-time campus employment, either singly or in combination, as the means to provide financial aid.
Why are parents and other family members not informed of a student’s grades?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) mandates that once a student is 18 years old, information from the student record cannot be shared with others, not even parents, without written consent from the student. The only exception is directory information (telephone extension, box number).
Most students want to discuss their academic progress with their families. Families are encouraged to consult with their student regarding courses and grades.
Source: Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education.
What is the First-Year Experience?
The First-Year Experience begins with orientation and continues through the year with first-year seminars, lectures, workshops and special outings with faculty and staff. This program helps to ensure that new students become academically engaged, connect early with other students, faculty and staff, make friends and learn about campus life.
AASC: Alumnae Association of Smith College
AD: Area Director
CB: Conduct Board
CC: Campus Center
CDO: Career Development Office (The Lazarus Center)
CEEDS: Center for the Environment, Ecological Design, and Sustainability
CHO: Community Health Organizer
FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid
FLEX: Global Faculty-Led Experiences
FYS: First Year Seminar
HCA: House Community Adviser
HONS: Head of New Students
HP: House President
HR: Head Resident
ITS: Information Technology Services
ITT: Indoor Track and Tennis Facility
JMG: John M. Greene Hall
HB: Honor Board
LAA: Liberal Arts Adviser
ODS: Office of Disability Services
OEI: Office of Equity and Inclusion
OMA: Office of Multicultural Affairs
OSE: Office of Student Engagement
OneCard: Smith ID Card
LOA: Leave of Absence
NEWMAC: New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference
PVTA: Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (bus line)
SAA: Student Academic Adviser
SFS: Student Financial Services
SGA: Student Government Association
SSN: Smith Social Network
SSW: Smith College School for Social Work
WCL: Wurtele Center for Leadership
WI: Writing Intensive