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What No One Told Me About Mount Holyoke

“All-women’s school” goggles

Like the ever-familiar beer goggles, being in a small town surrounded almost entirely by women can have the same affect: standards will plummet. Boys you may have not deemed cute may become attractive and alcohol also doesn’t help the situation. Getting off campus, even if it’s just to a coffee shop in Northampton or Amherst to do homework or catch up with friends can help. Also, I especially try to keep in touch with my guy friends from high school and remind myself why I chose a women’s school without boys, not a girl’s school without men.

Making friends off campus is hard, but SO worth it

When I thought about living in the small town of South Hadley for four years, I loved the idea of a small, close-knit community. I still love the closeness and friendliness of our campus, but I was unaware of how claustrophobic 2,000 people can be. Sometimes I DON’T want to run into anyone in the library, and knowing everyone and having a friend or friends somewhere not at school means you can go someplace to do homework in peace, or not have to worry about what drama is going on. However, making friends can also be daunting. With the five-college system, taking a class or joining a club off campus (UMass Ballroom dancing team??) makes it easy to meet other people who are also looking for friendship.


Take a break!

College is more than just the classes, so don’t forget what else is going on! The workload at Mount Holyoke can be intense, as at many other colleges. A lot of times I worry my fellow classmates or I forget about some of the other amazing opportunities on our campus. The Film and Video collective offers amazing film screenings every week, CAUSE makes volunteering super easy, and we even have our own art museum, often offering different lectures and exhibits. While there are often plenty of advertising for on-campus events, going to the library at every waking moment also means missing out on campus news. There are so many opportunities and events JUST for college students, and it won’t be like this again!

Amherst and Northampton are also great places

While traveling can be annoying, making an effort to see what’s going on outside of the South Hadley bubble is SO worth it. Between Pearl Street, the Iron Horse, and the Calvin, be on the lookout for local concerts. Since Mount Holyoke ISN’T in Northampton, concerts are not as widely advertised, but the PVTA makes a trip to Northampton both free and quick.


Expect to feel great about being a woman

Many classes offered at Mount Holyoke may have a feminist twist on them, solely because most, if not all, of the students will be women. This often means leaving classes with an empowered and confidant feeling exclusive to all-women’s colleges like Mount Holyoke. 


Plan Ahead

As a liberal arts college, Mount Holyoke has quite a few requirements. Though it may seem like a drag, having these requirements also means the opportunity to take classes you may not have been inclined to take. I’ve taken astronomy, geology, and hip-hop …and I know I never would have at another college. However, this also means planning ahead so you’re not taking 3 yoga classes senior year to fulfill your PE requirement. Advisors are there to help you, and taking a lot of the requirements first year often helps you find out what you want to major or minor in.


Mount Holyoke fads are…different

Short hair, multiple piercings, and boy-ish clothes are the norm at Mount Holyoke, but few other places. Whatever your style is, Mount Holyoke especially encourages everyone to be themselves and dress and look how YOU want, not anyone else.


New England is DARK

Growing up in Texas, I was used to incredibly bright winters and even brighter summers. While you may be warned of the cold winters, I was unprepared for the dark winters. Going to class in the daylight at three and leaving to find a pitch-black sky can make the days seem really short. This doesn’t mean you can have fun though! Sledding, ice skating and snow ball fights on Skinner Green are not uncommon, even though it may take a bit of convincing and some long underwear. If the quickly setting sun is really getting to you, there are free counselors at the health center specifically trained for college students, and at a deal you may never have again.

Freshman 40

Between nightly Milk and Cookies and seven all you can eat dining halls, avoiding the freshman 15 just got WAY harder. Remember that all the foods WILL be served again, and try to keep healthy foods in your room so you can snack between meals to avoid stuffing yourself in fear of being hungry later. 


Some other quick tips:

  • Blanchard coffee is WAY better than the dining hall coffee, and much cheaper than Rao’s
  • You can use your dining dollars at Uncommon Grounds.
  • The reference room in the library can be noisy, so try to find another room in the library if you can’t be bothered on the 5th and 6th floors
  • Classes in Photoshop and Dreamweaver are offered by the library for free if you want to learn more.
  • Sign up for the Alumni network, to meet alums who may have internship opportunities or places to stay
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