Artsy academia daydream
What if Feels Like to Go Here
Creativity drips from the walls of Sarah Lawrence College (SLC). With architecture ranging from sixteenth century Tudor mansion to Germantown Colonial to modernist with a healthy hint from the past, living here may feel a bit like living in a liberal arts major’s daydream. Whether you enjoy a creative, open-minded environment or consider yourself a sucker for the academia aesthetic, you’ll find your curiosity and intellect ignited by the 9:1 student-faculty ratio. With a unique educational approach modeled after the Oxbridge system, students benefit from a curriculum that emphasizes reading and writing over exams, as well as close one-on-one mentorship from professors through the Donning System. Through this system, students learn to build a mentor relationship with their faculty adviser, or “don,” through weekly meetings as students plan their studies. Not to mention the small class sizes enable you to get to know your peers and build strong community in your home-away-from-home.
You won’t just find your creativity encouraged through the school’s customizable academics. Poetry readings and open-mic nights abound. Music enthusiasts look forward to Bacchanalia, an outdoor music festival put on by the senior class. Fall and Spring Formals provide an excuse to dress up. If none of that sounds exciting enough, consider a 30 to 40-minute train ride to Grand Central Station. With New York City so close, students regularly spend weekends getting lost in The Met, or discovering the diversity of restaurants and bars the city offers.
Taking a scroll through the Sarah Lawrence alumni Wikipedia page will leave you with your jaw dropped. Then again, with such focus on intellectual exploration, Sarah Lawrence’s impressive array of accomplished and household names is not so surprising. Many, of course, land in the fields of entertainment and the arts— music, acting, directing, writing and fashion. Sarah Lawrence also produces high-achieving alumni in the areas of politics, public service and psychology. As you sit in your conference-style courses, you’ll find yourself wondering what kinds of thoughts and ideas these notable people shared with and learned from their peers during their time at SLC.
Perhaps no one captures SLC’s artsy, out-of-the-box mode of thought as well as alumna Yoko Ono. Ono later became known with interactive pieces like Hammer a Nail, the Bed-Ins for Peace she organized with her husband John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band the two formed together. But during her time at Sarah Lawrence, Ono studied poetry with none other than professor and Scottish writer Alastair Reid, as well as music composition and English literature. Meanwhile, when it comes to notable writers, alumna Alice Walker comes to mind. Walker transferred to Sarah Lawrence from Spelman after gaining a scholarship and went on to write works like her Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Color Purple. Other art-oriented alumni include filmmaker J.J. Abrams and fashion designer Vera Wang.
SLC, of course, also has its fair share of students and alumni not specifically interested in arts-related careers. Brooke D. Anderson provides an excellent example. An American diplomat who served as Deputy Ambassador to the UN, Anderson has a long career in diplomacy and political advising. She served as an advisor to several U.S. presidents, including as Chief National Security Spokesperson under the Obama-Biden transition team. Anderson’s career demonstrates how, like the courses offered at Sarah Lawrence, the students who attend Sarah Lawrence are diverse and varied in their interests.
Where We Hang
You can find Sarah Lawrence students chatting with friends or with their nose buried in a book at several spots around campus. SLC’s North Lawn houses the Teahaus (pronounced like tea house), a whimsical, hobbit-like building. Students sip a range of teas from around the world as they relax with friends or attend the Teahaus’ occasional poetry readings, study groups and open-mic nights. If you never read much poetry before, attending Sarah Lawrence will certainly change that. The library’s cozy pillow room (literally a room filled with pillows) also finds itself the site of poetry readings when not occupied by students reading and relaxing. Don’t forget that when you tire of the usual campus haunts, a visit to NYC is not far away.
How much are students partying?
“The partying scene at Sarah Lawrence isn’t the most active,” SLC junior Bailey Blake, said. “This partly has to do with COVID, but even without COVID it has never really been considered a party school. I would not let this discourage any party goers though. Like at any college, there are plenty of parties that occur on and off campus. The biggest thing is to keep your ears open.”
What will you get in trouble for at your school?
“SLC is a very socially conscious, politicized school,” SLC alum Lauren Grillo said. “If you are politically apathetic, conservative, or ignorant, you will be called out and ostracized.”
How much sex are students having? How is safe sex encouraged on campus?
“Everyone is having sex with everyone at SLC,” SLC alum Amy Anchipolovksy said. “The student health center is very much on top of providing care for all students. At the Health and Wellness center you can get tested, receive a prescription for birth control, etc. From what I remember they often send out emails too so you’re always aware the center is right there for all your needs.”
What would you tell incoming freshmen about your school?
“I would tell incoming freshmen to be their true and utter selves because that is how a person thrives at Sarah Lawrence,” SLC senior Sarah DeCaro-Rincon said. “There is not one way of studying and learning at SLC, and everyone finds their way within their subject and the community. I would also say to take advantage of the small class size, one-on-one meeting with professors and semesterly research work —conference work— to really excel and progress as an academic and person in general.”
What was your favorite course at Sarah Lawrence?
“I didn’t get into my top choices my sophomore year and I was put in a class that was focused on African Diaspora Art History,” SLC alum Meredith Kaplan said. “It ended up being probably one of my favorites…Our professor was super well connected in the art scene in New York, so she would take us to field trips where we’d go to galleries in Chelsea. We’d meet the curators, sometimes the artists who were shown there.”
5 Student Reviews
“I was always encouraged and given the room to allow my [assignments] to merge with my other interests…I think something that’s nice about the experience is your interests aren’t separated and you don’t have to declare one major. Your studies are a lot more fluid…which allows you to discover more about what you really love and enjoy, but also that there’s many avenues and paths to your own passions.” – Hallie Riddick, Class of 2020
“Outside of class —or I guess sort of inside it— I liked taking advantage of all the internship opportunities being close to the city allowed me. I would not have been able to truly try out so many professional creative fields if not for that. Also, it was fun to be able to grab food in the city or see friends there after I finished work.” – Lia Lewine, Class of 2020.
“I remember helping my friend build a set for a show, same with soundcheck and lighting. [At Sarah Lawrence] you lean on one another willingly…. We helped each other fill in any gaps, we valued one another genuinely. If this doesn’t shape and sharpen you, then I don’t know what else would.” – Bisrat Tekie, Class of 2013.
“I was surprised by how involved dons…can actually be beyond your first year. Though I didn’t take any more classes with my don after my first year, I found that my don was someone I could consistently rely on and go back to for any words of advice. She very much shaped my first year, and continuously checked in on me and provided advice whenever I needed it!” – Madeleine Mulder, Class of 2019.
“I was lucky to find a group [of friends] but I regret not joining a sport/theater as it definitely took longer than necessary to connect with people. SLC is not known for its sense of community so one should know that from the get-go, it’s going to be hard to make instant connections.” – Kelsa Danforth, Class of 2019
Majoring at Sarah Lawrence
Students at Sarah Lawrence do not “major” in the traditional sense. Instead, students have the opportunity to make their studies their own. With the guidance of academic advisors, students can select from curriculum pathways. The areas of study provide an umbrella under which students can select specific specializations to focus on. The four areas of study include:
1. Creative & Performing Arts
2. History & the Social Sciences
4. Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Student Organizations Spotlight
Students at Sarah Lawrence have their pick of several different theater and performance student-run clubs, with Melancholy Players as one of the most recognizable. The longest running student-run non-departmental theater company on SLC’s campus, Melancholy Players brought performances to the student body since 2006. Not an aspiring actor? No problem. A theater company needs more than just actors, so there’s plenty of other ways to get involved with Melancholy Players. The group includes producers, directors, artists, playwrights, technicians and designers. Despite their sorrowful name, Melancholy Players have plenty of kindness to offer with their stated mission of strengthening community, creativity and collaboration amongst students in and outside of the theater community. If you enjoy creative risk-taking and a fun environment, you may find yourself right at home here.
G.R.O.W. (Green Rights Organization for the World)
G.R.O.W: SLC’s club for all things sustainability and growth. For those passionate about environment-related issues, G.R.O.W. offers a space to discuss ideas and plan events. Meeting bi-weekly, the organization puts together a number of different activities. From bake sales to move screenings to trash clean-ups, the organization keeps things interesting by varying its activities. The most planning goes into Earth Week, when G.R.O.W. organizes a week of events. Whether you already consider yourself a fount of sustainability knowledge or want to learn more, G.R.O.W.
You can’t provide an overview of popular student organizations at Sarah Lawrence without including at least one publication. An annual literary publication, Dark Phrases features creative works from students, faculty, staff and alumni of color. Poetry, prose, short stories and art fill the pages of Dark Phrases. For students of color interested in a creative community of their peers, Dark Phrases presents a great option. Founded after the 1989 racial justice sit-in at Westlands, empowerment and resistance include themes core to Dark Phrases’ identity.
Considered more selective than many other colleges in the country, you’ll want your application to stand out. Luckily, with SLC’s commitment to a holistic approach, you get several ways to bolster your application outside of your grades and Common App. Besides the opportunity to choose one of several optional (but recommended) supplementary essay prompts, students can also schedule an interview. Although optional, interviews provide a great opportunity to share more about yourself with a school truly very focused on getting to know you. As a test-optional school, SLC believes exemplary personal essays paired with solid academics provide the best foundation for a future Sarah Lawrence student.
Location: Bronxville, NY
Tuition & Fees: $59,470
Total Cost on Campus: $75,240
Undergrads Enrolled: 1,377
Grads Enrolled: 298
Total Enrolled: 1,675
Acceptance percentage: 55%
Percent Admitted who Enroll: 18%
Percentage of Male Students: 24%
Percentage of Female Students: 76%
Percentage Receiving Financial Aid: over 75%