Best Kept Secrets Page 9

Top 10 schools that fly under the academic radar - but shouldn't

By Explore Editor

What the students are saying about:

Sarah Lawrence College

Sarah Lawrence College

The school motto at Sarah Lawrence College is “You are different. So are we.” Most students will tell you, however, that as far as the student body is concerned, many are “different”, but in the same liberal, quirky, hipster/hippie way. There is little ethnic diversity, nor gender diversity – the male to female ratio is 30:70. That said, on the academic front, Sarah Lawrence really does have a unique and nontraditional approach, borrowed from the Oxford/Cambridge tutorial model. Firstly, there are no majors here; rather, students pursue “concentrations” of their choosing by selecting courses in four areas of study (creative arts, history, natural sciences and mathematics, and humanities). Classes are taught in seminars of 15 students or less, and supplemented with one-on-one student/professor conferences where students are given individualized assignments tailored to their interests. Every student is assigned a faculty “don” who serves as the student’s academic and personal advisor and helps define the scope of their academic work. Written evaluations take the place of traditional grades, and there are no tests (just excruciatingly long papers). Some students thrive in this independent study environment; others have a hard time adapting to the lack of structure. "Because all the academics are self-directed, people actually care about their work,” writes one sophomore. Another student says “you will never have a teacher at SLC who doesn't know your name. In fact, they'll know your name, your hometown, your email address, phone number, your favorite books, what you did last weekend, and maybe even your social security number,” says another sophomore. LGBT students also find an enthusiastic and supportive community on campus. “The student body is quite diverse sexually - in fact, at this school, it is controversial to say you don't believe in a sexual continuum and a broad gender binary," writes a senior. "To say that a man is a man and a woman is a woman - regardless of their sexual orientation - is utter blasphemy to most.” A final student chimes in, “I tell people that anyone who liked the football team at their high school, owns more than 3 items from Abercrombie, or values social cliques should steer clear of SLC.”