Skip Navigation
A Culture of Care >> Read Smith’s plans for the summer and fall 2021 semesters.

Orientation Programs

Students sitting outside in a circle

Orientation is an important start to your experience as a new student at Smith. It introduces you to the campus community and resources, providing a solid framework on which to build your overall success. The week before the start of classes, all new first-year, transfer, visiting/exchange students and Ada Comstock Scholars gather to learn about the college and get to know each other. All new students are expected to participate fully in the entire Orientation program.

Orientation Schedule for Fall 2021

Orientation for New Students
We are planning for an in-person Orientation from August 27–September 1 and will follow state guidelines as they are made available. A full schedule will be posted on this website in early August.

Orientation for Sophomores
Sophomores are being invited to return to campus on August 31 to take part in Orientation, including sophomore-specific events.

Family Orientation
There will be an in-person Family Orientation on the afternoon of August 27. Plans are underway and the website will be updated in mid-August.

About Orientation

Orientation Overview

During fall Orientation and the first several weeks of the semester, you can choose from academic, social, recreational and informational events, such as picnics, campus tours, a mountain hike, meetings with classmates and advisers, conversations with faculty, group discussions and evening films.

By taking part in different types of events, you’ll get to know people with various interests. To help you become a respectful and responsible member of the college, Orientation also includes discussions about living in a diverse community.

What to Expect

We strive to make Orientation fun and relaxing. Expect to meet interesting and diverse members of the Smith community, including students, faculty, staff and administrators. You will also meet with your faculty adviser.

Smith Reads

All new students are asked to participate in Smith Reads. During Orientation you will attend a lecture by the author and join in discussion groups within your house community.

Orientation Groups for Fall 2021

Each year incoming first-year students select Orientation groups in which to participate. We offer options to accommodate a wide variety of interests, spark your curiosity and welcome you to the Smith community. Please think about two or three groups that interest you in case your first choice is full. Once you register, you cannot change groups.

REGISTRATION OPENS AT 1:30 P.M. ON AUGUST 2. If you access the link below prior to that time, it will show an error message.


The AEMES Scholars Orientation Group, open only to Cohort 15 AEMES Scholars, is designed to introduce students to the special features of the cohort-based program for students focused on the sciences. The participants will participate in unique community-building games, explore and have fun with the concepts involved in the high school/college transition, participate in an introductory science lab experience and begin the process of learning about one’s inner and Smith-based resources. This group can accommodate 15 pre-assigned students.

Community organizing and social action are powerful forces for connecting people and creating positive, sustainable change. Join the Jandon Center for Community Engagement for a weekend of critical community engagement. We will spend time on campus learning about each other and the greater Smith community as well as studying the fundamental community organizing skills used in today’s world of social action and social movements. We will then have the opportunity to engage in Praxis, applying theory to practice, so that new students might learn how they can give back to the community during their time at Smith. Partnering with local activists and organizers, we will participate in work that directly benefits the local community.

This year, students will engage with organizations such as New North Citizens Council (mission: provide advocacy, public and human services to Hampden County residents with an emphasis on the Hispanic/Latino community for the purpose of enhancing the preservation and support of the family resulting in the improvement of quality of life), Riquezas del Campo (an immigrant-led worker-owned cooperative farm), and Pedal People (a worker-owned human-powered delivery and hauling service for the Northampton area) and other local community organizations on various projects, such as setting up and beautifying new spaces and working alongside community members and farmers to harvest and prep crops. You’ll have the opportunity to choose your top two or three organizations to work with before we meet. Woven throughout will be opportunities for creativity, reflection and relaxation. This program will be led by Jandon Center staff, returning Jandon Student Fellows, and our amazing community partners. This group can accommodate 50 students.

Julissa Rodríguez and Doctora Xingona Diana Alvarez, Queer Latine/x performing artists and musicians, invite you to play, create, write, witness, move authentically and celebrate unique individuality in order to build community and connection. We will engage participants using theater-based methods and creative movement and sound, including live drums, music, song and text. You are invited (but not required) to perform in an informal setting. ALL are welcome and all levels of experience (including no experience) with art and performance are welcome! Come ready to move, play, have fun, witness and learn a lot, con alma y corazón! This group can accommodate 25 students.

This Orientation group is for anyone who wants to reflect together on bodies, disability and ableism, and come together in a creative, collaborative community of learners and doers.

Disability Justice (DJ) is an intersectional framework and movement that understands ableism (the oppression of disabled people/people with disabilities) as deeply entangled with racism, capitalism, heteronormativity and colonization. Through a DJ lens, we’ll unravel ideas about how minds and bodies “should” be and reflect on our sometimes conflicting desires for independence and interdependence, individual achievement and community support. We’ll share wisdom and experiences from disability communities about advocacy, mutuality, thriving and liberation. And we’ll dream, scheme and plan ways of incorporating DJ into our lives throughout the school year.

This group is open to anyone interested in the topic, whether or not you identify as disabled or have a disability. It will include discussions, reflection and interactive activities. For accessibility reasons, this group will be fragrance-free, meaning you must arrive with no perfume or other manufactured fragrances (including essential oils) on your hair, skin or clothes. We can provide info and resources to help with getting fragrance-free. This group can accommodate 25 students.

Welcome to college—you made it! Now what? Let’s take a breath and break out the art supplies and have some fun. This course is about expressing your true colors with no judgment. And you might make some friends and get messy too.

Through a series of artistic prompts, you’ll render color and shapes without trying—where there is no “wrong,” but only how you feel.

We will explore deeper questions to help us get into our internal landscapes—where you’ve come from, where you are going and who you want to be in college. We’ll supply pens, pencils, markers, paints and other supplies for you to “get serious” about being silly, taking chances and setting intentions for your college years. This group can accommodate 25 students.

If you are the first person in your family to attend college, this might be the group for you! This group will help you arrive at a deeper understanding of what it means to be a first-generation college student, including an exploration of how being first-gen might shape some of your college experiences.

This program will also serve as a way for you to have some fun and connect with other people (students, professors and deans) who have been in your position. Your group leaders understand the challenges that come with being the first in their families to attend college and have designed this Orientation to help you navigate the Smith system with confidence. Ultimately, we hope you leave this program feeling ready to take on Smith and knowing that you will be supported in your journey. This group can accommodate up to 25 students.

Make your personal health a priority as you begin this incredible journey as a first-year student at Smith. Join us to explore ways to support your personal health, learn about good nutrition habits, manage stress and maintain healthy sleep practices. Experience the benefits of making your health a priority at Smith while meeting new friends. You will have fun, engage in activities to assist you in learning ways to maintain healthy nutrition on campus and discover how to manage stress with relaxation techniques. This course is perfect if you want to plan for good personal health and have fun. You will sample various fitness classes, learn how to use the fitness center and have fun doing it! Please come dressed for movement and participation. This class can accommodate 30 students.

This program is designed as an introduction to the practices of yoga and nature connection. You’ll learn simple physical postures and sequences to help keep your body relaxed and strong, breathing techniques to relieve stress and improve concentration, and yogic philosophy that encourages a positive and proactive perspective on life. In addition, you’ll spend time getting oriented to Smith’s beautiful campus finding your own “sit spot,” a special place for contemplation and introspection. There will be moments of light-hearted silliness as well as quiet journaling, self-reflection and fun peer connection.

Molly Kitchen, founder and director of Adhikara Yoga School, will lead you through the weekend, integrating her knowledge of yoga, functional movement and nature connection to create a meaningful experience of self-discovery and fun. As this program will include some outdoor time, please wear layers and bring a towel or blanket to sit on. Yoga mats will be provided. This program can accommodate 40 students.

Let’s go on an adventure! This Orientation group will be full of fun and adventure as you take on the challenge course at Morris Hill. You will put your communication and problem-solving skills to work as you band together with other new students to complete the high and low ropes course. You can’t help making lasting friendships when you are relying on each other. This group can accommodate 80 students.

Do you want to push yourself to take risks? Are you interested in exploring your role within a team and how you might work better in groups? Would you like to start thinking about what matters to you and what change you might want to make in the world? Connect with other first-years and learn more about yourself by exploring and practicing the Wurtele Center for Leadership’s Me-We-Impact framework for collaborative leadership. This interactive session will engage you in fun, collaborative experiences that will help you grow as a leader and set you up well for starting your Smith journey. This group can accommodate 40 students.

According to a report from Brown University, “several studies with college students suggest that the practice of mindfulness leads to decreases in stress and anxiety, improvements in concentration and attention, and increases in self-awareness and overall emotional well-being.” In addition, many other university studies suggest that training in self-compassion increases students’ resilience and overall well-being.

In this experiential program, we will explore meditations designed to cultivate mindfulness and self-compassion, and we will discuss options for developing a sustainable daily meditation practice. We will explore ways in which these practices can support health and well-being throughout the school year, particularly in the face of common challenges that many college students face.

This program is suitable for those with no meditation experience and for those who have meditated before and want to deepen their practice. Some gentle yoga and movement practices will also be included, so please dress in comfortable clothing that will allow you to move and stretch with ease. This program can accommodate up to 30 students.

Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or new explorer, this is a great opportunity to sample the Smith Outdoor Adventure Program! You’ll spend orientation weekend rock climbing at the indoor wall, kayaking on Paradise Pond, learning orienteering skills, biking local rail trails, and more! Throughout the day, you’ll rotate through a series of adventures with a small group of fellow first-years. Day two of this adventure also takes place on campus; you’ll create, play and learn more about life as a Smithie. No previous experience required, but familiarity with bikes is recommended.

NOTE: All 2021 outdoor Orientation programs are facilitated by Smith students who are trained by professional staff members. This group can accommodate 30 students.

This 10-mile rafting trip on the Deerfield River in Charlemont, Massachusetts, will take you through some of the area’s most exciting whitewater sections, including Microwave, Freight Train, Pinball and Zoar Gap! Your local Zoar Outdoor professional will guide you throughout the entire journey. After navigating rapids, you’ll stop at a beautiful state forest park to enjoy a picnic-style catered lunch, made with local ingredients. The float back to basecamp is relaxed, allowing for optional swim time. Day two of this adventure takes place on campus, where you’ll connect, create, play and learn more about life as a Smithie. No previous experience required.

NOTE: All 2021 outdoor Orientation programs are facilitated by Smith students who are trained by professional staff members. This group can accommodate 120 students.

You will travel to Springfield to experience the outdoor adventure course that includes ropes courses, outdoor adventures, games and kayaking. Through these activities in this rustic setting you will experience team building, a surge of self-confidence and how it feels to lead, grow, and gain a sense of empowerment. This program can accommodate 40 students.

You’ve found your way to Northampton and located the Smith house in which you’ll be living this year. But the rest of campus is likely still a mystery. Join our group for an immersive exploration of your new environment while unlocking your creativity, problem-solving skills and collaborative leadership potential.

This team-based Orientation program will start in the Conway Center, housed in the newly renovated Neilson Library, and take teams to different stations around the campus to complete fun, interactive activities. Teams will document their progress along the way to share with each other and future incoming Smithies. Please come dressed for indoor/outdoor locations; layers are recommended. All supplies and materials will be provided. This group can accommodate 25 students.

Reach new heights on a visit to Central Rock Gym, a popular indoor climbing facility in Hadley, Massachusetts. There you will be introduced to both bouldering and top-rope climbing. You will learn climbing knots and belaying, the process of holding the rope for the climber while they ascend. In addition to climbing, this program will include yoga and various group games in a combination of relaxed and challenging activities. This program can accommodate 40 students.

Join us for a workshop on safety awareness and personal empowerment. Our basic self-defense program will educate you about personal safety, both on campus and outside of the Smith community. Try on a pair of drunk goggles and learn about the drug and alcohol laws in Massachusetts. Afterward, join us for a tour of campus and downtown. We’ll show you some of the hotspots Northampton offers, from the best ice cream joint to those cafés open for late-night study sessions. This group can accommodate 25 students.

We will head to the beautiful hills of western Massachusetts to explore some history, natural features and a few roadside attractions. We will visit the Hancock Shaker Village, an open air museum, and learn about the Shaker society, an early religious community that believed in Christ’s Second Appearing. Shaker communities sought freedom to live, work and worship according to tenets of celibacy and communal life. They also believed in gender and racial equality, simplicity and pacifism; beliefs that are still considered progressive in American society today. Their fascinating story is told through interpreters and touring the buildings of the village.

On the way to and from the Hancock Shaker Village we will make a few stops, taking a short hike to a waterfall and visiting some quirky roadside attractions. On Sunday we will spend the morning at Smith College’s MacLeish Field Station, 250 rolling acres of forests and fields. Here we will take another hike as we tour around the property. If the weather is not too hot that day, we may cook some snacks over an open fire. If the day is hot, we will just eat popsicles.

Participants of this adventure will be outside most of the day and must dress for the weather. Comfortable closed-toed walking shoes are a must. Hats are highly recommended. Please bring water and a comfortable bag to carry your lunch. This group can accommodate 50 students.

Welcome new first-years, transfers & Ada Comstock Scholars


This Moodle course information will be available on
August 16, 2021.

Smithie Snapshot

Brenna Curley ’25

What area of campus are you most excited to explore?
I’m really excited to explore my house, and of course Neilson Library as well. I’m also looking forward to spending a lot of time in the botanic garden; I’ve seen it before but have never explored it in-depth. 

What three things would you like to accomplish this year?
I want to meet a lot of cool Smithies, which I’ve already started to do. I want to explore academic fields that are outside of my comfort zone, and I want to take advantage of being so close to a pretty town! I really want to check out Northampton and go adventuring there with whoever else wants to come.