- Class: Senior
- Major: Other
- Gender: F
- High School: American Embassy School of New Delhi, India, and American School of Yaounde, Cameroon
- Transfer Student: N
The best thing about Sarah Lawrence is that if there is something you feel is lacking at the school you can work with the administration and your teachers to bring it to campus. If it is an area of study you can work on it through your independent conference work until there is a class that addresses it. The attention you get from teachers and the administration (with the admin you have to get off your butt and ask for it, but all that entails is just an e-mail requesting time) is incredible. I don't think there is another school where face to face time is available on such an equalizing basis. Yes teachers are teachers, but most of them are addressed by their first name (in fact I think that is the case for all of them), yes they know more than you, but you aren't expected to censor yourself for them. I also love the ability to work in multiple disciplines. So many school section off each discipline, if you are in one you are highly limited in all others. There are some limits here, but there is a lot of room to work in many fields to a higher degree then anywhere else I looked at during my college search. Linked to this is the sense that it is never too late to learn. As opposed to conservatory based performing arts programs at SLC you can join the theater, dance, music, or arts programs having never done anything in these fields and still be accepted as much as the virtuoso artists who also make up these programs. Specifically the dance program has incredible, and in some cases, well known teachers who treat all equally and emphasize healthy fun dancing and work to eliminate the stress of competition. The only thing I would change would be the endowment, the school is held back by its lack of income and this is at the base of all the problems I have encountered, a very high tuition, too few admin workers making the administration inefficient. When people hear I go to Sarah Lawrence I tend to get one of four responses; I've never heard of it, St. Lawrence? That's a wonderful school, or most often Is that a girl's school? No we are not St. Lawrence, yes we are a wonderful school if a little unconventional, no we are not a women's college, we have been co-ed since 1968 (but we do still have approximately a 30/70 male female ratio and a large homosexual community). Most of my time on campus is spent in my room or in class, or rehearsal, but I do tend to be a homebody, and I have more class time then most because I am in a performing art "third". Bronxville and Yonkers are not college towns, and while relations aren't great I would say that if anything they are indifferent as opposed to negative. There is not a ton of school pride here in that there isn't a large sense of campus wide community, which is to be expected when you have a school made up of highly independent people. Is there anything unusual about Sarah Lawrence? You might want to ask what is usual about this school. Most of our classes are small and are in a seminar format where in theory the students discuss the readings and what they are learning under the guidance of the teacher as opposed to being lectured (except for the one year long class worth of required lectures). Are physical education requirements are really quite minimal, and credit options vary from playground games, sports teams, recorded individual work outs at the gym, movement classes as part of performing arts classes, and quitting smoking through health services. Some of the most frequent complaints are the quality of food and housing, the inefficiency of the admin, the lack of party life, the class registration system which makes getting ones prefered classes a game of chance, and the price of tuition. There is no one experience here I will always remember, all of it has been memorable, all four years as a dance third, my year abroad in Paris, the performances I was a part of, Michael Moore's visit, Samantha Power's visit, the yearly flower circle in the spring, improv classes outside in the spring, the campus after a big snow, the changing leaves, hours spent in a corner of the library working, all of these will be with me for a long time.
Academics here are wonderful as far as I see it. Teachers know your name, you can individualize the class through your independent project. Yes this project is done on top of class work, but you have to work to fall through the cracks because you meet with the teacher one on one every two weeks all year and you had better have something to tell them. Class participation is pretty common, but it really depends a lot on the members of the class, the subject, and the teacher. All the teachers work hard to get students to participate, and in general that is what happens. We all study, do we all study as much as we are expected to, no, but we learn how to study enough and well enough that we get something out of the class and have something to contribute. The most unique class I have ever taken here was one called Individualism Reconsidered where in essence by looking at the way we think of an individual (through literature, psychological texts, and philosophies) we learned about ourselves and each other. It has been a class where everything shared culminated in knowing each other in a unique way which enrichens our own self knowledge. I don't spend much time with professors outside of class unless you consider the 30+ minutes of conference every two weeks outside of class in which case I spend a ton of time with them. If I had to meet a professor outside of class, it wouldn't be hard. I can also say that I am 99.99% certain that if at 3:00am I had a crisis and deemed it worthy of calling my don or turning up at her door she would let me in and help. Speaking of dons, your first year you have a First Year Studies class. That teacher is your don, which in theory is an academic advisor, but in many cases is much more. You meet with this teacher for 30 minutes every week your first semester (or year depending on the don, mine it was all year) then every two weeks that year. Dons do not have to keep this up, and most only then see their donees during registration, but are always available to make conferences. Some dons go beyond this, mine I have seen every two weeks every year that I have been on campus at her initiative. Here you don't have a major. You can have a concentration, but all this means is that you have studied mostly one area. Concentrations have no requirements attached to them. Because of this the education is not geared to getting a job, but to learning knowledge and writing skills, and problem solving skills and analysis skills, which I think are just as important if not more. The academic requirements are very lax, another thing I think is wonderful, all they require is that you have a relatively broad educational base.
Sarah Lawrence has both a very varied and somewhat constricted student body. We have a wide range of sexual identity groups. We also have a somewhat varied religious population, although religion isn't often a big topic. Racially we are not very diverse, most of the campus is white, the same can be said about socio-economic identity. Most students come from middle-class to upper class backgrounds. There are a decent number of people from less wealthy homes, but most of us are pretty privileged. We tend to be very left wing politically. None of us talk about how much we'll earn post graduation because most of us don't know and many of us are doomed to be "starving artists"
The Best Things
For the most part the sky is the limit (the sky being time and energy).
The Worst Things
It is impossible to take all the classes which are interesting because there are too many and too little time.