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Orientation Programs

Students doing an activity at the first-year Orientation playfair

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

The fall 2022 schedule and more details are now available. We look forward to welcoming you to campus!


Family Orientation

There will be in-person activities for families on the afternoon of September 1. Please review the orientation schedule below for details.


Note: the 4:30 p.m. ASSETS information session has been moved from Seelye 201 to Seelye 106. We regret it was too late to update the schedule document.


About Orientation

Two new students at arrival and central check-in

What to Expect

We strive to make Orientation fun and relaxing. During Orientation and the first several weeks of the semester, you can choose from academic, social, recreational and informational events. You will meet other students, faculty, staff, administrators and your faculty adviser. To help you become a respectful and responsible member of the college, Orientation also includes discussions about living in a diverse community.

Smith Reads

All new students are asked to participate in Smith Reads. During Orientation, you will join in discussion groups with your new peers.

Fall 2022 Orientation for New Students

Each year incoming new 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. The registration link will go live at noon EST on July 27, 2022, at which time you will be able to make your selection.



Ada Students will be pre-selected for this program. Ada Comstock Scholars will spend the day together bonding and learning more about the Pioneer Valley. You will enjoy an extended breakfast with pastries before embarking on a tour with the current Ada Coordinator. Whether it be discovering local swimming spots, learning about the best grocery shopping deals around, or finding out the best places to study off campus, you will gain knowledge on how to feel at home  not only at Smith but in the surrounding community. The tour will end at PiNZ, where you will continue getting to know other Adas over rounds of bowling and food. You will also have time to explore campus further and become more familiar with Smith.

The AEMES Orientation Group is organized specifically for the (sweet) 16th cohort of AEMES Scholars. You will get to know other members of your cohort - smart, ambitious, energetic students who have identified STEM as a main focus of study. You will engage in activities designed to get you familiar with the AEMES program in particular, Smith in general and the other members of your cohort. A special feature of the day will be a fun and easy chemistry "class." There will be lots of time to ask every question that you would like to ask. We look forward to seeing you! This group is open to 20 pre-assigned students.

From improving the performance of novel quantum technologies to touchlessly replicating delicate cultural heritage materials, 3D visualization, scanning, and printing have come a long way in the past decade. The Smith College Imaging Center harnesses these advancements to explore the intersection of art and technology. With a focus on visual art, the Center provides support to students and faculty with access to the latest in image processing, 3D printing, and virtual environment creation, as well as consultation with its expert staff. 

In this orientation group, you will make 3D scans of unique objects from Smith collections and then work together to design a collaborative virtual 3D space. By the end of the day, you'll be able to explore our newly-created space in virtual reality. This is a great opportunity to have fun playing with creative tech, getting to know your fellow first-years, and learning about the Imaging Center and some of the other amazing places for making things on campus. This group can accommodate 20 students. 

Are you interested in tapping into your construction skills, learning how to use power tools and giving back to the Northampton community? Join us as we partner with Habitat for Humanity for a team build right here in Northampton. Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that builds strength, stability, and self-reliance through affordable homeownership in Hampshire and Franklin Counties. With a vision of inclusivity and transformation, Habitat for Humanity brings together volunteers, organizations, and businesses to provide a "hand-up" to low income families.

Pioneer Valley Habitat's team leaders and site supervisors will give you instruction on the job. You will spend the Saturday learning skills to build a home and build community. Be prepared to work outside for the day, and wear sensible clothing and footwear. This group can accommodate 9 students.

Note: This community partner requires volunteers to provide proof of full vaccination. Students should be aware that volunteers will be working outside in a construction setting, and the day will include walking around the site and working with tools.

Do you see spirituality as a force for social and personal change? Do you long for community  where you can bring your whole self, and where difference and disagreement can generate more authenticity instead of heightened conflict? Join other first years and the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life staff for a day of radically inclusive community-building and fun-having through mindfulness, restorative justice conversations, and creativity. 

Together we will explore: How do we hold hope in difficult times? How do we handle differences and disagreements in a manner that builds a culture of inclusivity rather than “canceling”? Whether you consider yourself shy or outgoing, spiritual but not religious or connected strongly with a faith tradition, or figuring it all out (agnostics and atheists welcome!), there is a place for everyone in this unique orientation that will blend justice and joy. This group can accommodate 25 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 theatre-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.

Are you an artist? Do you think you'll major in something non-art, but want to still do creative things? Do you think you're terrible at art, but love to make things? Welcome! This weekend, we will enjoy painting and drawing from the inspiration of the Lyman Plant House and Conservatory. We are going to go to the botanic garden to explore the beauty this space provides and loosen up with some artistic prompts. In the afternoon, we’ll start putting some of our sketches on a canvas, make friends, and paint. You’ll have two professional full-time artists there to support you along the way. 

If it helps you, bring something to our session that brings you positive feelings – comfort, joy, or inspiration for your final project. It can be anything – a photo, a favorite pair of shoes, a book, etc. After lunch, the things we sketched and practiced in the morning will inspire your work of art, which will be able to hang out with you in your new home at Smith. This group can accommodate 25 students.

As you look ahead to the good times you'll have as a college student, you may be wondering how safety and "the real college experience" can coexist. But by learning strategies to confront unfamiliar situations and protect yourself, you'll actually have more fun as you explore the lively and unique Pioneer Valley with safety in mind. In this group, Campus Safety will help you cultivate a sense of security as you navigate the Smith college campus and beyond. 

You will begin your day with a basic safety workshop focused on self-defense, risk reduction, and risk avoidance. Empowered by the assertiveness and awareness skills you and your fellow first-years have begun to hone, you will then tour the campus and downtown Northampton, noting where safety resources are available to you. Of course, to enhance your familiarity with downtown Northampton, you'll also need to know where to find the best ice cream and frozen treats, the best spots to get that extra caffeine for the late-night study sessions, and the coolest (and safest!) places to meet up with friends. When you’re done sampling downtown offerings, you’ll finish out the day by learning about drug and alcohol laws in Massachusetts while attempting to navigate with drunk goggles on. This group can accommodate 25 students.

Playing to Your Strenghts with the Lazarus Center for Career Development

MYTH: “I need to figure out what I’m passionate about so I can figure out what I want to do with my life.”

TRUTH: Most people are passionate about many different things. Only 20% of college students have a clear vision of what they want to do, where they want to go, and why. Instead of trying to find one passion, re-focus on discovering new interests by trying new things!

Your path is unique. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you build it! At Smith you’ll find so many opportunities in and out of the classroom. It can be overwhelming. This program is about helping you get more out of, rather than cram more into, your experience at Smith. Through small group discussions, structured challenges, and personal reflection, you’ll gain more self-awareness and tools to design a college experience that better aligns with who you are and what you hope to get from Smith and after college. This group can accommodate 25 students.

Are you looking to forge deeper connections with your fellow first-years and gain self-confidence as you begin a new chapter in your life? In this group, you will complete high and low ropes courses, which will put your communication and problem solving skills to work as you band together with other students to complete challenges. You’ll also learn to make meaning of stressful situations by approaching them as a problem shared by your group rather than as a challenge to face alone. The bonds you make in this group through excitement, laughter, and mutual reliance can turn into long lasting friendships as you all take the next step in your Smith journey. This group can accommodate 60 students.

Are you a storyteller at heart? Are you curious about how you can turn your writing into something bigger? In this group, you will connect with other first-years through a day-long poetry and film project. In the morning, join award-winning playwright, filmmaker and poet Cheray O'Neal for a creative writing workshop that will push you to find your voice and fully embody your creative energies. Learn how a poem can become a play, become a film, become more. In the afternoon, join award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker Taj Musco to produce a reel in collaboration with your group members. This short film will present the morning's creative efforts in a unique, engaging way. You'll hone skills in writing, performance, and production, and have the opportunity to share your finished project with the larger Smith community. This group can accommodate 18 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 grounding and self-discovery.  As this program will include some outdoor time, please wear layers and bring a towel or blanket to sit on. No experience in yoga is needed and yoga mats will be provided. Please let the orientation leader know if you have any accessibility requests, we will do our best to accommodate them. This program can accommodate 30 students.

The valley is a historic center for printing and paper: in the late 19th century, the paper mills in the area produced over 80% of the paper in the United States. Now, the valley is known as a hub for book arts, with many experienced artisans eager to share their craft. In this group, you will spend the morning collecting flowers that you’ll incorporate into your own handmade paper under the guidance of paper artist May Babcock. Then visit Zea Mays Printmaking, a studio focused on safe and sustainable printmaking, for an overview of print methods and a printing demonstration. Finally, put your new-found printing knowledge to work with Resilient Community Arts, to create a print on the paper you made. You’ll leave with art for your room and some experience in printmaking that you can pursue further in Smith’s studio art classes. This group can accommodate 20 students.

The Schacht Center for Health and Wellness, Sunny Windorski '20, and the CHOs (Community Health Organizers, a group of current Smithies who advocate for community wellbeing) are excited to welcome you to campus! If you are interested in public health, mental health, or healthcare, this group will give you the chance to connect with incoming and current students who share these interests. 

We are excited to share more about what we do to support Smithies and to introduce you to our integrated approach to wellness. Facilitated by staff, recent alumnae/i, and current Smithies, this non-judgemental space will center social justice-oriented conversations around health and wellbeing. Our programming will give you a behind the scenes look at how the Schacht Center functions, a crash course in what it means to be a community health organizer, and ample time to get to know your fellow firsties. This group can accommodate 25 students.

In this group, you'll see how the Smith experience can extend beyond the boundaries of the campus. Join the staff from CEEDS (the Center for the Environment, Ecological Design, and Sustainability) on a visit to Smith’s 250-acre Ada and Archibald MacLeish Field Station, a hub for artistry, research, education, and fun located in nearby Whately, MA. 

Play games, explore New England landscape history, and work as a team on the low ropes challenge course, all within the beautiful, expansive, multi-aged forest surrounding the field station. You'll stop in the Bechtel Environmental Classroom, an innovative space designated a "Living Building" by the International Living Futures Institute, and you'll help install an earthworks sculpture with an alumna artist in one of the 10 plots dedicated to the Arts Afield program. Participants should be prepared to spend the day outside in this picturesque location. This program is designed to give you a taste of some of the many things going on at our liberal arts field station, and encourage you to incorporate it into your future explorations at Smith. This group can accommodate 52 students.

Take the Leap is a one-of-a-kind orientation experience that begins with one simple question: “What does it take to feel real connection?” Now, “connection” can be one of those cliché buzzwords that gets overused. But we really mean it! This is about the kind of connection that makes you feel a part of. The kind that makes you come alive and reminds you of what is possible. The kind that makes you feel like you are exactly where you belong even as you step into an entirely new world. We believe that that kind of connection can be created anywhere. You just need to bring together a group of people who want to find that with each other.


At a time when it can feel like you are just racing to find your place in all the change, Take the Leap is all about creating the space for the real conversations, the real stories, and real shared adventure that all adds up to feeling real connection with other incoming students looking for that very same thing. If that’s you, we want you to be a part of creating that experience with us! Get ready to laugh, play, adventure, tell stories, and connect in ways that will become the stories you will tell about your college experience years from now! This group can accommodate 50 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 this immersive orientation session to explore some of the spaces and centers on campus where you can unlock your collaborative creativity, problem-solving skills, and leadership potential. 
This team-based program will give you a chance to get to know yourself and other incoming Smithies as you explore what collaborative creativity looks like in a range of domains, including the Conway Center, the Design Thinking Initiative, the Wurtele Center for Leadership, the Smith College Museum of Art, and the Botanic Garden. Come learn how to work with others to have a positive impact on the world around you! Please come dressed for indoor/outdoor locations; layers and comfortable walking shoes are recommended. All supplies and materials will be provided. This group can accommodate 75 students.

Transfer students will be pre-selected for this group. You will spend the morning bonding with current transfer students and learning about how to navigate Smith. In the afternoon you will visit the popular Central Rock Gym Indoor facility in Hadley, MA, where you will learn belaying, climbing, and working as a team.

Calling all foodies! In this group, you will get a taste of just a few of the many sites for production and exchange of the food that sustains us in "the culinary capital of Western Massachusetts." Meet Aimee Francaes, former owner of hyperlocal eatery Belly of the Beast and current owner of Many Hands catering, at the Northampton Farmers Market, and learn how you can make affordable, fresh, and nourishing foods for yourself and your friends, even in your dorm kitchen. Explore Cornucopia, a natural wellness market which sources local and organic products, located conveniently in the heart of downtown Northampton. Next, take a trip to Tran's World Food Market, which supplements the local fare with foods from around the world, and finally meet the owners of Astarte Farm, a no-till operation that looks to maintain resilient farmland through sustainable practices. This group can accommodate 20 students.

What is “first gen?” It means that the people who raised you didn't graduate from a four-year college.* Stepping into the world of college might feel a bit like stepping into the unknown—and that's why we invite you to meet first-gen peers, to have fun, do craft projects and a bit of writing, and engage in conversations about how being first-gen might shape some of your college experiences. 
This program will also serve as a way for you to connect with older students, deans and professors who were the first in their families to attend college. One of these professors, Smith sociologist Tina Wildhagen, has actually done a study of first-gen students at Smith, and found that they do just as well as (or better than) their non-first-gen peers. So—as Michelle Obama told a 2019 summit, you are coming to college “because you are more than capable of the work,” and your group leaders have designed this orientation to help you begin navigating Smith with confidence. Ultimately, we hope you leave this orientation day feeling ready to take on Smith knowing that you have a community ready to support you in your journey. This group can accommodate 25 first-gen students.
* You can be “first gen” even if you have older siblings who graduated from a four-year college, or if your parents attended a couple of years of college, or went to community college. You might consider yourself to be “first gen” if your parents went to college outside of the United States, because then the U.S. college system is new to your family.

Spend the day with Mallorey Caron, local fiber artist and owner of the Planted Pigments, where she sells hand-dyed and hand-painted scarves, apparel, and more. Learn how natural pigments have been sourced and used for hundreds of years, and try your hand at dyeing your own silk scarf with flowers and herbs. In the afternoon, you’ll be introduced to block printing as you learn to engrave on rubber carving blocks. Then, create your own hand-printed scarf by printing patterns from your relief carving onto pre-dyed silk scarves. You will leave this workshop with knowledge you can use in future workshops like those hosted by the Botanic Garden and Design Thinking Initiative – which utilize the Happy Chace ’28 Garden’s dye-making plants – or even in your studies. You will also get to take home all of your creations in addition to the tools provided. This group can accommodate 20 students.

First years who are competing on fall sports teams will be pre-selected for this group.

Fall 2022 Outdoor Orientation Groups

These groups also take place on September 3, 2022, but they are facilitated by Smith College’s Outdoor Adventure Program. They are split into Off-Campus Adventures (students camp overnight at primitive sites) and On-Campus Adventures (students spend the night in their houses).


An overnight experience along the Appalachian Trail in Western Massachusetts

Spend the weekend hiking and camping at a primitive site with a small group of fellow Smithies. Enjoy fresh air, new friends, outdoor cooking, and some great scenery along this historic trail. All participants must be capable of carrying a 25-35lb backpack over rigorous terrain. Groups will hike 5-7 miles in total. This trip is recommended for new backpackers.

(AT I: 3 groups of 7 students, 21 total)

An overnight experience along the Appalachian Trail in Western Massachusetts

Spend the weekend hiking and camping at a primitive site with a small group of fellow Smithies. Enjoy fresh air, new friends, outdoor cooking, and some great scenery along this historic trail. All participants must be capable of carrying a 25-35lb backpack over rigorous terrain. Groups will hike 10-12 miles in total. This trip is recommended for experienced backpackers in good physical condition.

(AT II: 3 groups of 7 students, 21 total)

Spend orientation weekend traveling to local cliffs, while learning the basics of rock climbing. All necessary instruction and equipment will be provided, such as: harnesses, shoes, helmets, ropes, belay devices, and experienced guides. Camp at a primitive site near Smith’s MacLeish Field Station, where one of the “greenest” buildings in the United States exists. Explore the hiking trails and challenge course, also located on the property. No previous experience required; some comfort with heights is recommended.

(Rocks: 1 group of 11 students, 11 total)

Two days of paddling down the Connecticut River in Western MA, and camping at a river-side primitive site along the way. This is a great opportunity for Smithies to connect in a small group setting on a relaxing river journey, while learning about local wildlife, canoeing, and camping skills. Some paddling experience is recommended.

(River: 1 group of 8 students, 8 total)

This a great opportunity for students new to outdoor adventure, offering an introduction to the recreation programs Smith has to offer. Spend orientation weekend rock climbing at the indoor wall, kayaking on Paradise Pond, learning orienteering skills, and hiking a local peak. No previous experience required.

(Explorer: 3 groups of 8 students, 24 total)

Experience the best of Western Massachusetts on this adventure! Let gravity take over on the Berkshire East Mountain Coaster, followed by an invigorating whitewater experience down the Deerfield River (sit-on-top kayaks – we team up with Zoar Outdoor), and end it all with a breathtaking view of the valley, while hiking a local peak. No previous experience required.

(Gravity: 1 group of 34 students, 34 total)

Bicycle touring at its best! Get acquainted with Northampton, and surrounding towns the local way. Check out two of our most popular commuter routes, the Norwottuck and Manhan Rail Trails, and explore Mount Tom State Reservation. Students may use their own bikes and helmets (good working condition), or borrow them from the Smith gear room. All participants must have experience riding bicycles, and be comfortable slowing, stopping, and turning while riding in a group.

(Ride: 1 group of 9 students, 9 total)

This ten-mile rafting trip on the Deerfield River will take you through some of the area’s most exciting rapids, including: Microwave, Freight Train, Pinball, and Zoar Gap (we team up with Zoar Outdoor)! After all this adventure, you’ll stop at a beautiful state forest park to enjoy a picnic-style catered lunch, made with local ingredients. The trip back to basecamp is relaxed, allowing for optional swim time. Day two of this adventure involves kayaking on Smith’s Paradise Pond, and exploring the Mill River. No previous experience required.

(Raft: 1 group of 22 students, 22 students)

Smithie Snapshot

Ananda Wilkinson ’25

If you had to create a synonym for the word Smithie, what would it be?
It would be sophisticated because Smithies carry a lot of knowledge and they use it to help guide others who come after them.

When you were a child, what was your biggest dream?
My biggest dream was to be successful, I wanted to be able to live a life where I have no regrets.