Mt. Holyoke

College review by Lisa Bleich

The next day we went to Mt. Holyoke College and the beauty of the campus and the breadth and diversity of the student body amazed me.  The campus is sprawling with a lot of open space and a river that runs through the lower and upper campus.

There is also a large equestrian facility, which we did not see, but we met a student on the equestrian team who was recruited from Dallas.  Mt. Holyoke has a top equestrian program.

I summarized the key differences between Smith and Mt. Holyoke based on what I heard from the Dean of MHC and my observations.

Smith Mt. Holyoke 
  • 2,700 students
  • Open Curriculum
  • Smaller Campus
  • Engineering/Arts
  • Some International
  • House system
  • Open/Tolerant
  • Dorm lounges quaint and old-fashioned decor.
  • Mountain Day (optional hikes up the mountain)
  • Friday afternoon teas
  •  Students get an Ivy


  •  2,400 students
  • Core
  • Larger
  • Science 1/3 in sciences
  • Most International
  • Move around
  • Collaborative/liberal, but slightly less than Smith
  • Dorm lounges, modern, international décor
  • Mountain Day (mandatory hikes up the mountain)
  • Milk and Cookies (move to carrot sticks and other healthy snack)
  • Students choose plant from green house

I would also say that the international and religious diversity at Mt. Holyoke was pronounced.  There is both a kosher and Halal kitchen for students to support various dietary restrictions.  Our tour guide was half Iranian and half Indian; she grew up for the first ten years of her life in Montreal and then moved to a suburb outside of Boston.

She spoke six languages fluently and her worldview was so interesting and unique.  Her senior thesis compares torture in Guantanamo and Japanese Internment camps. She spoke about how difficult it was growing up Muslim in a post-9/11 America and how she appreciated the strong, supportive Muslim community on campus.

The dorms and public spaces are amazing, as is the food. Mt. Holyoke has a strong emphasis on the sciences and to that end their science building is state-of-the art. MHC will challenge students rigorously, but in a kind, warm environment.

Mt. Holyoke Student Panel

An International Relations and Italian major from Miami was a finalist for the Posse foundation and that’s how she found out about Mt. Holyoke.  She finds the community very welcoming and has become more confident through her peers who push you to become the best.

A student from Oregon studying Biology/Geography.  She appreciates that the professors invest in students as scholar and a person.  Her professor took to her to a geography conference and the following year had her present a paper.

A Politics/Latin America major from Texas was against going to a women’s college because she had mostly guy friends.  But once she went on tour she saw how special the school was.  It didn’t bother her.  Now she really appreciates it.  It is safe and everyone supports each other.

A Religion/Gender studies major likes that MHC encourages students to step out of their comfort zone.  She directed a play and got to do one on one work with a Professor in the British Library.  She likes the familial environment of having 2,200 sisters.

A Bangladeshi Economics /Math major says MHC encourages independence and has all the resources set up to make you successful with your initiatives.  She reinvigorated the debate team and has been attending tournaments around the East Coast.

The student body is 22% International (China, Korea and Pakistan biggest represented countries) and 26% domestic women of color.

Admissions to MHC

The admissions office uses several criteria for selection. The short answer questions are very important. They look for staying power, mastery of material, leadership and commitment.

All students are rated in the process.   Academic excellence and quality remains the top priority.  Admit all students rated 1-X for top of academic pool.  Then they turn to institutional goals and priorities.
1) Legacy
2) Athletics: immediate impact
3) Diversity in all forms: political, (conservatives important), socio-economic, provide access that is unprecedented.
4) Mindful of full pay.
Do meet full demonstrated need, but with combination of loans and grants. Avg. debt is $25K for four years.

MHC also offers merit aid ranging from $10K to $25K per year.

Mount Holyoke is a great option for global, friendly, open students interested in different cultures and lots of support from professors.

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