Yesterday we visited Curry College in Milton, and today was Simmons, which is in the Longwood area of Boston, home to some of the best hospitals in the world, lots of colleges, and our home-away-from-home, Fenway Park! They were very different in almost every way, which just goes to show that it's important to visit a variety of schools to see what's out there. (And we're lucky that we have so many options to choose from around here, from large to small, from urban to suburban to out in the boondocks, from community college to Ivy League, and every possible option in between.)
Curry felt very self-contained; I believe the campus is even fenced in. There's no "off campus" to speak of, and it's in a quiet suburb. So that means that all social life, extracurricular activities, and so on have to happen on campus. They do have shuttle buses to take the kids downtown or to the nearest T stop or to a suburban mall, but otherwise, it's all Curry all the time. Everything we saw was very nice—the dorm rooms (bigger than at Clark, Steph noted!), dining hall, library, classrooms, and so on—but it did feel kind of provincial. I think Steph would do fine there, but I fear it would not give her enough of the total college "experience" I'm hoping for for her. I also didn't see any signs of student activism or community outreach, which was everywhere we looked at Clark. So we will keep Curry on the list, but it has shifted down a bit.
But wow, Simmons was such a surprise. I was really impressed with it, and it quickly jumped to the top of Steph's list! They have some amazing programs, internship and study-abroad opportunities (Clark does too; I forgot to mention that!), and brand-spanking-new facilities. One important thing we learned was that it is part of the Colleges of the Fenway, a consortium of 6 neighboring colleges. Students at any of the 6 schools can take classes at any of the other schools, use the other schools' facilities (e.g., libraries and dining halls), and attend any of the events going on in the other schools. One reason this is a big deal is that Simmons is all women, so this way you might have classes with men, and you could certainly have a social life with men! Plus, don't forget that Simmons is in Boston, the most vibrant college town in the nation (250,000 college students and counting!). So everyone we spoke to said that it was not at all an "issue" that it was all women; as one young woman said, "I could never have gone to an all-women's school out in the middle of nowhere." And I have to say that it was kind of nice to see the all-women's residential halls.
We are also planning to look at Wheelock (though we don't have an appointment yet), which is another member of the consortium, so now we already know something important about it! Stay tuned....