Sarah Lawrence College
Student body size: 1300
Each student has a faculty mentor, known as a “don”
Students create their own academic programs, and can design their own course of study
A writing intensive education: SLC graduates are known to have excellent writing skills that are highly regarded by graduate schools and employers
Small seminar-style classes
Integration of the creative and performing arts into the program
Teachers give extensive written evaluations of students
SATs not required. Sarah Lawrence looks at students holistically and does not reduce them to scores
Need-based and merit-based financial aid awarded to international students
Sarah Lawrence College attracts creative, highly motivated individuals who are both critical thinkers and devotees of independent learning. They love literature and the fine arts and take pride in their academic prowess. Indeed, freedom and exploration are valued more highly than any tradition here. SLC is known for the emphasis on close, personal attention from faculty members.
Founded in 1926, Sarah Lawrence sits on a quaint, 404-acre tract in the city of Yonkers, a wealthy Westchester County community, where even the public library boasts Oriental rugs and fireplaces. On campus, the prevailing architectural theme is English Tudor, including mansions from converted estates, but more modern structures are present as well. The landscape is hilly and green, with more than a hundred types of trees and abundant rock outcroppings. Because the school’s founders believed that there should be as little physical separation as possible between life and work, many classrooms, dormitory suites, and faculty offices are all housed in the same ivy-covered buildings.
General education requirements at Sarah Lawrence include credits in at least three of four academic areas, leaving lots of room for students to explore whatever strikes their fancy. In fact, it’s tough to find two Sarah Lawrence students studying the same thing, because every student designs his or her own program of study, and almost no subject is out of bounds. And, since there are no mandatory or required courses, competition is virtually nonexistent.
Though there are formal grades, more important is the student’s portfolio of work, accompanied by in-depth, written evaluations from professors, filed twice a year. Not surprisingly, SLC does not consider SAT scores as part of the admissions process. Regardless of what they focus on, all students become intimately acquainted with the written word; writing begins in the first year at SLC, and continues relentlessly “across the curriculum” for the next three. Courses at Sarah Lawrence are generally demanding. That’s because everyone takes only three courses per semester. Still, professors meet with their students weekly or biweekly, in a system modeled after Oxford University’s tutorials, so there’s no time to slack off—or fall behind. To ease the transition to college, all first-years take a First-Year Studies seminar. Typically, more than 30 subjects are available, and you pick the topic before school starts,” says one student. Courses can last just one semester or for the full year.
Perhaps because of SLC’s emphasis on personal relationships with professors, even the registration process requires deep thought: students interview teachers to ensure that courses fit into their academic plans, and to confirm the instructor is someone they respect and want to study with. Study abroad programs are offered in London, Oxford, Leeds, Paris, Havana, Shanghai, Italy, Japan, Southern Africa, and more.
The most popular concentrations at Sarah Lawrence include literature, history, psychology, writing, and visual arts. Aspiring psychologists—a significant group on campus—may participate in fieldwork at the college’s Early Childhood Center.
Students benefit both from the college’s proximity to New York City and from expanded offerings in filmmaking and film history. The premed program places nearly all eligible graduates into medical school.
90% of Sarah Lawrence students live on campus. When the weekend comes, SLC offers many activities—free dances and movies, plays, poetry readings, guest lectures, and tea and coffeehouses—but many students head south to New York City, just a half hour away by train.