Sarah Lawrence

I was asked to give a list of pros and cons about Sarah Lawrence, although probably nothing I can say will compare to the stunning accuracy of this post.

Keep in mind I am only a first-year about to embark on my second semester, and these are my own experiences, but these are things I have seen to be pretty consistently true and confirmed by upper classmen. (EDIT: now a second semester sophomore–still all true.)


The incomparable academics. I am sure every elite school has wonderful, challenging classes, and  Sarah Lawrence is no exception. But the thing that sets us apart is the one-on-one time with professors and the development of conference projects, which I’m sure anyone who’s attended an info session has gotten an earful about. Do not underestimate it. Sarah Lawrence will simultaneously make you feel so incredibly humbled and limitlessly empowered–you will realize just how capable and intelligent you are, and just how much you do not know. I wish I had the words to express how much my mind has grown, and how excited I am to interview for new classes, and how I spend my showers thinking about everything I have learned until I scribble down pages of thoughts with pruned fingers to breathlessly inquire about during conference time. There is nothing in the world like it.

The cultural growth. For better or worse, you will be exposed to things you never really knew about. Expect to graduate knowing more about queer theory than you ever knew existed, more about drugs than you ever expected you’d do, and more about the nature of people (the good, the bad, and the ugly) than you fathomed you would get out of a small school.

The progressiveness. Pretty much whatever you are, if it is anything other than a socially conservative or prejudiced person, you are welcome here and there is a niche for you.

The city. No comment necessary. (Edit: people feel differently on the issue, but I personally prefer not being entirely submerged in the city and maintaining a small distance from it. It allows for the true college campus/small college town experience and all the gifts of urban life.)

The beautiful campus.

The talent. Of course the majority of people (like anywhere) have shitty poetry blogs and pseudo-artsy lomography collections, but there is true talent to behold at Sarah Lawrence, in every artistic field. Go to the Spoken Word collective and feel chills at a student’s original poem, go to a play in the tiny basement of Bates and feel the world expand beyond the tiny dark room with the intensity of an actor’s projection, go to Heimbold and be awed by a huge abstract painting. There is something to be said about being submerged in a creative culture that produces something real.

The writing. Any way you slice it, you will grow as a writer here.

People and academics. People excitedly talk about their conference projects at parties and people excitedly listen. At the end of the semester, people trade papers to read each others’ and comment on it. Everyone is intelligent and passionate, and everyone is curious.

The people you will see once you get over everyone else, and become friends with. They are for life. They are quietly talented, humbly brilliant, endlessly loyal, and eternally vibrant.


The culture. Just as the post I linked to said, Sarah Lawrence has a depressive culture. Often you will go to a party and everyone will be drinking, but you’ll feel something odd about it–then you’ll realize everyone’s drinking as if they’re Hemingway suffering from a war flashback, not as if they’re college students trying to have fun. Most people here define themselves by whatever struggle was in their past, rather than espousing an attitude of positive overcoming for the future. It’s in fashion here to be “damaged”. Many nights will end in people wanting to talk about deep personal shit, often when in the real world you would not be at that point in your relationship with them yet—you might struggle to be sparing with the intimate details of negative experiences. It is not an uplifting place if you don’t make it one.

Social life. Most friend groups are incestuous and get messy fast. Straight men are shared, and many suffer from Golden Penis Syndrome of entitlement and mansluttiness due to the girls they can effortlessly get on campus (some of which they wouldn’t be able to off-campus). Keep in mind, not all of the guys here are like this, there are absolutely nice and genuine men too. However, as a girl who isn’t as attracted to metrosexuality, it is a definite struggle. Also, there are few relationships, however most people “don’t do labels”. A LOT of people resort to OkCupid. There is also an alarming amount of sexual assault, considering the liberalness of the school and its small size, however the administration does an okay job at transparency and responsible handling of reported cases (and when they do not, they are generally receptive to student backlash).

The smoking. As a non-smoker of cigarettes, it really grosses me out how many people on campus smoke (a lot) and how it’s hard to go any given day without getting an accidental mouthful.

Drug and alcohol culture. Cocaine. Some people get really caught up in it and are even forced to take “sick leave”. As far as alcohol, Lawrence Hospital sees way too many students for alcohol poisoning than it should. Other than that, it is definitely easy to drink responsibly, and there is no peer pressure that I’ve experienced to drink stupid amounts. I have had plenty of straight edge friends who do just fine.

The people who aren’t your friends. There is a high level of pretentious hipsters. People do not smile when they walk past you (i.e. being “Sarah Lawrenced”). Everyone knows everyone else’s shit, because people are very gossipy.

The political correctness. It can reach ridiculous levels sometimes, and can sometimes feel like a witch hunt. Be very, very careful with your wording when you’re having any kind of political or social discussion–even though your intentions are good, your word choice is what is judged.


The gender discrepancy. Yes, it absolutely exists, and you will obviously notice more women than men. However, it is not nearly as huge of a gap as you think it will be, and becomes more or less even (or seems to) over time.

Ugliness. People here are gorgeous. The boys just walked out of GQ and the girls out of Tumblr.

Everyone’s gay. There are many LGBTQ students, and since it’s Sarah Lawrence almost everyone is pretty open and will kiss just about anyone when intoxicated. But there are DEFINITELY straight men and women to be had, but don’t trust your gaydar. Metrosexuality is everywhere.

You will know everyone because it’s so tiny. Amazingly, you won’t. You will meet new people all the time. Someone will talk about someone and you’ll say, “who?” Unfortunately, as I mentioned, gossip does fly and it is enabled by the tiny bubble of the school. Granted, you will see the person you drunkenly hooked up with across the lawn or in the Pub for the next four years. But there are still always new people to meet and new social circles to enter.

Everyone is rich. There is great socioeconomic diversity at Sarah Lawrence. There is no political diversity, and little racial diversity, but the spectrum of socioeconomic class makes for a span of perspectives. It is the most expensive college in the U.S. but also one of the most generous.


This was not my first choice school, but if I had to go back in time, it would be. I cannot imagine going any place else. It is crazy, unique, intellectual, creative, and transcendent. It absolutely has its cons (as I’ve outlined), but they are all 100% worth the pros. This place is not for you if you aren’t completely committed to being challenged, exhausted, criticized, and to spending more time on a paper than you ever have. This place is not for you if you are depressed and need a culture that won’t bring you down, or if you are over-impressionable to social surroundings and have an addictive personality. This place IS for you if you want to use your time in college to explore–academically, emotionally, and creatively. Sarah Lawrence is intense, in every way, and it is for intense people.


Jason Mills, Sarah Lawrence, Greg Mills - The Final Lair

December 5, 2007; Chicago

One more clip of Jason. Again, doesn’t reveal anything too interesting, however it should be noted he seems to focus a LOT on making sure to not use his voice in any kind of strenuous way, not much growling or shouting (ex: “go now and leave me”), so it wouldn’t surprise me if he left because of his voice. Otherwise a very plain performance.


what is a conference paper? and how do i conquer one?

a reflection on the sarah lawrence way while abroad.

(this is something i wrote back in november, but accidentally left sitting in my drafts.)

for those of you non-gryphons in the house (that is, people not affiliated with sarah lawrence), a conference paper or project is the semester long experience of studying a theme of one’s choice and then writing an essay or otherwise presenting the findings to be graded at the end of the semester. the process is often considered as a research-based class that is separate, but related to the original seminar - sarah lawrence explains the reason each student only takes three courses a semester is because in edition to the time spent working for these courses, a student is usually studying at least two, or even three conference topics (depending on the number of seminars taken - lectures are more weekly hours an do not require extensive projects). these projects or “conferences” are guided by the professors of each seminar, but are otherwise separated from the daily material of each class.

now, the right way to go about the conference paper (paper here, for me, - because i like to do papers, so this will just be about the paper process. some people do other forms of presentation) is to set deadlines for yourself. most professors give you a very generous time frame, so it is entirely up to you to get anything done.

for example, fall semester would look something like this:

  • find a topic by the end of september, very first week of october at latest. write a possible outline. start gathering potential sources. use october study-days (two days that we get off for, oh, you guessed it, studying, but what are usually used for, oh, you guessed it, anything but) to peruse the sources and select key points that you want to touch on - start taking down quotes and creating a works consulted list. rewrite your outline.
  • complete preliminary research by the end of october, finalize your outline, and start writing sometime in early november. hand in your shitty first draft for editing in mid-november, whether or not it’s a requirement. realize you hate the organization or that you’re actually more interested in another aspect of the same project, and rewrite your outline.
  • momentary panic around thanksgiving, thank goodness it’s thanksgiving. take a break. come back. you’ve still got three weeks to go. add to your research, finalize a second draft. reread it, rework it, freak out about it, do a dramatic reading for your stressed out friends. get enough sleep every night regardless of how worried you are about finishing it. rewrite the introduction and conclusion five million times. allow yourself one all-nighter, or two half-nighters. read it out loud one more time to your exhausted roommate and then declare it done, you can’t think about it anymore, it is perfection.
  • print it and hold it in your shaking hands as you take it to your professor. reluctantly drop it into their waiting hands or door-box. if you did it right, this should be happening the week before school lets out. sleep for a day. party every night afterwards, and then, fuck yeah, go home.

unfortunately, if you did it right, you’ll be partying every night alone. here’s the timeline of the average slc conference paper process (the variation of topics is slightly exaggerated, but the rest is realistic):


october. first week: WAIT NO I GOT IT! POEMS BASED ON THE EVENTS OF EUROPEAN ARRIVAL IN THE AMERICAS IN THE 1400S. IN SPANISH. october study day #1: help, somehow i got convinced into studying rice production in the philippines. october study day #2: AWESOOOME this paper’s gonna be soo easy, now, i’m writing a collection of short stories!! the next weekend: UGH HE JUST CHOSE THREE BOOKS FOR ME TO READ AND WRITE MY CONFERENCE ON. IN SPANISH. the last weekend in october: NO NO NO FINALLY I GOT MY TOPIC GUYS YESSSSSS THE BEST - i’m writing about how the SLC community feels about its possible switch to the NCAA!!! ballin!

november. hmm. i need to start doing interviews. hmm. i need to start doing interviews. hmm. i need to start doing interviews. OO THANKSGIVING, I LIKE TURKEY AND PIE. wait. wait a second. WAIT THE LIBRARY IS OPEN 24 HOURS ALREADY!? SHITE. I NEED TO DO INTERVIEWS. and so begins the research process, whatever it may be (interviews, scrolling through jstor, bugging the librarians for all their resources on a niche topic that no one else has ever heard about, painting, drawing, etc).

december. CONFERENCE WEEK. conference week is actually the three weeks at the end of the semester that the library is open 24 hours straight. it’s not an actual week because people have conferences due at different times. conference week is when most shit gets done. things i have seen people do and a few things i have done (yes, guilty)in the library during the four conference weeks i have managed to survive through: stayed in the library until the sun comes up, watched a real life nerf-gun war, washed my feet in the library sink only to find out that the horrific odor that was plaguing me was actually coming from the sock-less feetsies of my friend sleeping in the beanbag chair next to my desk, taken a nap/watched many naps take place on chairs/beanbags/the floor. had fights with the vending machines. won (extra bag of chips jeah!). lost (i just spent five dollars of 1card cash and now i’m out and i got nada and my various appendages hurt because hitting plastic is a smart idea). eaten entire meals (yes, in the library). with friends. by myself. played loud screamo music to keep myself awake. without headphones. heard people play loud pop music to keep themselves awake. without headphones. wrote about people on likealittle. tried to figure out who was who on likealittle. was written about on likealittle. don’t get me started on SLCanon. you don’t want to know.

a selection of these things happen to almost every sarah lawrence student, regardless of how productive they are. at the very least, that kid who got all his shit done last week has been relegated from fellow sufferer to snack runner, and ends up hanging out with everyone anyway, watching a movie on netflix while the rest of his friend group works frantically around him, occasionally cursing him while predicting their various, increasingly hellish, dooms. it’s likely that bitch-with-his-shit-together will be pulling an all-nighter the day before his buddy’s project is due anyway, giving back rubs and providing chocolate when necessary.

that last night. is the closest you will ever come to hell without actually going to hell. but then you winston churchill your way to the other side because you keep walking, or working, until you can’t work anymore. then you do some sort of victory dance or celebration in the library and everyone looks at you. with that look of absolute loathing. and then the whole printing-handing-to-professor step is pretty much the same, you’ve just got one eye bugging out and you probably need to take a shower and you definitely need to sleep for half a week, if not the entirety of one.

although that is not the specific way that most of my conference projects went, that is the slightly exaggerated version of how many conference papers are written. (i’ll be honest, i usually stay up late during conference week more for the comfort of having people around than actually needing to get work done. and i do most of my research before the 24 hour library period starts. so i’m a little ahead of the game, most of the time. but we’ve all been sucked into the conference week vortex at least once, and it’s a hard thing to pull yourself out of. still, we usually all make it through.)

anyway, somehow i found myself writing a conference paper-esque essay here, in buenos aires, in spanish, in four days. this is perhaps the best organized and, in the end, least stressful experience i have had writing a research paper in a long time. the barring common grammar mistakes of a foreigner, i think this one - all 20 pages, including the photographs i took for it - is a winner.

i mean, i already knew i could do it. but i’d never actually had to compress the research and the writing for a paper that long into such a little space of time. and i have to say, i’m very happy with the results. won’t be repeating it - this isn’t an experience that afterwards i’m thinking, oh i can do it in four days? okay, let’s procrastinate on conference projects until i have four days. no. i’m going to spread it out. maybe i’ll aim for four days early on in the semester, and then give myself a whole month or so to have my professor read it, so that i can then edit it thoroughly.

here’s to hoping i learned something. or that is, hoping i’ll put to use what i learned from experience. i definitely learned something. for those of you sarahs out there currently in the springtime conference cycle, good luck and i hope you enjoyed your spring break while you had one!

Hampshire College vs. Sarah Lawrence?

If any of you guys have any information about these schools please tell me! I personally can’t go to visit them because of financial reasons so i’m trying to build a mental vision of the schools so I won’t go there totally blind.  I’m thinking of pursuing film but i’m not completely sure.

Here is a rough list I made for the reasons I like both schools

Hampshire College:


-5 college system

-single dorms!!

-good film program (student can borrow all these amazing equipment)

-When am I ever going to live in Massachusetts, so cool!


-Written Evaluations (I personally like this, but I’m not sure how future employees would look at this + graduate school)

-not as well known (Most people don’t know about Hampshire, and I know I shouldn’t care but again I’m thinking of future employment~)

Sarah Lawrence


- Proximity to NYC

-The Don System/Conference Style Teaching

-Well known reputation + harder to get into in terms of acceptance rates

-Great for writing (but how about everything else?? )


- you can only take 3 courses

-gender ratio discrepancy ( I like more of a 50/50 girl boy ratio)

-I heard the social scene is disheartening (that people are stuck up and pretentious—> I would like some clarification because I kinda don’t believe this)

So please help me out! Your insight it greatly appreciated!~~~~


buttgremlin  asked:

hi hannah, I saw you posted in the sarah lawrence tag. I'm a senior in high school this year and am really interested in the school. I was wondering if you could tell me about your experiences there so far? Like pros, cons, that sort of thing. btw, my name is hannah also! (: thank you so much

haha hi hannah! sorry it took me so long to respond, i was just trying to be able to come up with the best answer possible. but then i realized that if i wanted to give you my best answer it would take forever because i am a perfectionist. 

okay so the thing about sarah lawrence is that it is one of those schools where the experience is really unique to the person. so some of the things that i like/don’t like, a lot of people don’t and vice versa. 

but i’m just gonna give you my top five pros and my top five cons. (i couldn’t think up ten cons so i had to bring them down to five.)


  • academic freedom - you really have the ability to study whatever you want, and incorporate the things you love into your everyday classes. 
  • the people - you will find people who are passionate about the things you’re passionate about and people who are passionate about completely different things, but no matter what, you’re able to learn from them. 
  • THE FACULTY - come on, the princeton review rated us number one for our faculty. you know they’re the shit. you’re able to really get this amazing education from each and every one of them because of the conference system, and they’re (almost) always willing to go the extra mile to help you out. they really care about you learning from them and getting the most out of the school that you can. 
  • the fact that everyone at SLC wants you to get the most out of the school and have fun doing it - SLAC (sarah lawrence activities council) has all of these events all the time, including dances in the blue room (which are wicked fun, no matter if you do them sober or drunk. don’t listen to anyone who says different!). the black squirrel is open till midnight every night, i believe, and there’s just so much going on there for students to take advantage of. 
  • proximity to the city/internship opportunities - okay so i always knew i wanted to be in/near new york city, and it worked out so nicely having sarah lawrence where it is. it provides a perfect distraction when you need one, but it’s far enough away that it’s not an every day distraction. and due to the proximity to the city, the office of career counseling can get you in to some amazing internships throughout the city. it’s fantastic. 


  • it can feel really isolating - i don’t really know how to explain this, it’s just a feeling that a lot of people have. sometimes it’s hard to socialize. there’s a term for when someone walks past you and doesn’t acknowledge you - we call it being “sarah lawrenced.” definitely not everybody is like this, but there are a few who are. 
  • so this isn’t a personal con (well sometimes it is, but not so much that i feel like i can’t take it), but i know that for some people, the workload gets to be too much. each class requires anywhere from six to fourteen hours of your time a week, which is why you’re only allowed to take three classes a semester. and because it’s a very small school, with small classes, there’s no way to fall under the radar. 
  • um… okay i actually can’t think of more cons. UNLESS YOU LIKE SPORTS. if you’re a big sports fan… um yeah, you probably wouldn’t be thinking about sarah lawrence. our football team is still undefeated, though ;) 

i hope this gave you the info you’re looking for!