Looking for an apartment in the summertime in Fort Smith is a good idea. During the winter, there tends not to be a lot on the market, and you may have to settle for something that is less than ideal for your needs. Between the months of May and August though, you should have much more selection.
When you apply for an apartment in Fort Smith, you want to be sure to have good references lined up beforehand. You should reach out to past landlords, employers or professors and ask if they would mind being contacted as references. That way, you're ready to provide their contact information as soon as your potential landlord asks for references.
Fort Smith Transit is the local public transportation operator, but a far greater percentage of people utilize their cars than the bus system. Good weather and the small size of Fort Smith actually make a bicycle a practical full-time vehicle for many people. The city is very easy to drive in though, and traffic congestion is not nearly as large a problem as it is in many larger cities.
Visiting the historic site of the Fort is the best possible introduction to the area's history. There's also Fort Chaffee, which used to be a military establishment. It is also open to public tours. The annual Jazz Festival in October brings some great acts to town. Garrison Avenue is the street with the best collection of bars.