Bard students are mainly destined for lives of poverty working as teachers, artists, writers, and thinkers. Not surprisingly, they align themselves almost exclusively to the left of the political spectrum and not a few students to the far left, studying revolutionary art, politics, and revolution in an attempt to bring on the new world revolution. Yet Bard kids also have a big range of interests, and the ease with which students maintain friendships outside of their departments is amazing. While Bard works hard to diversify its student body, we're a long way off. Most students are white and upper-middle class/middle class, although Bard does provide scholarhships for students from bad high schools and economic areas. We do have a very diverse queer community that makes up all the stripes of the rainbow (as it were).
Only in the most superficial sense. Bard students are certainly hyper-intellectual, but only because they seek to understand the world and because they are encouraged from their first day of college to push the envelope and expand their perspectives and ways of thinking and approaching problems. They are all artists in the sense that it is rare to meet a Bard student who doesn't appreciate art, but it is equally rare to meet a Bard student who doesn't appreciate political discourse, history, the sciences, math, foreign languages, or literature...all at the same time. Certainly Bard students have a tendency to epitomize the hipster aesthetic, yet dressing differently never meets an odd glare in the stacks of the library.
Academics are Bard are not to be taken lightly--students here are serious and they are serious for the right reasons. Bard students by and large could care less about their grades or their GPA--what they care about is that they got something out of the class and that they honestly feel they did their best. Students, professors, and requirements alike are geared towards the ideal of learning for learnings sake. Professors encourage this non-competitive, individualizes approach and attitude with relaxed, discussion style classes where grades are based on papers and class participation rather than tests, exams, or lectures. Not do our professors know our names, we call them by their first names and they know who we are as individuals, not just as i.d. numbers. Students can be found discussing texts outside of class, while still drunk at dance parties, on the weekends as well as the weeknights--Bardians are interested in the things they are taking and express that by bringing their academic life into their social life on a regular basis.
The most important thing to know about drinking/drug use on campus is that Bard is a rare environment where people actually don't care what you are doing or not doing on any given night. For example, if you choose not to drink, either as a life choice or just that particular night, no one is going to pressure you into drinking or make you feel that your decision is somehow wrong. The opposite is also true. On a given weekend, you might find yourself attending a gallery opening with wine and cheese and cultured mingling one night, followed by a crazy packed dance party d.j.'d by a Bard student, someone from NYC or perhaps even a live band of your friends. The following night, you might go to an afternoon soccer game, then a theater/dance performance, then a late dinner party with friends in someone's suite with home-cooked meals. Sunday, you might have rehearsals or reserve that time for the library. If its Spring Fling weekend, there will be events and activities for five straight days of concerts, films, bbq, jumpy castles, and sunbathing on the quad. However, there is a down side to the social scene to be sure: Bardians are notoriously socially awkward and evening having a conversation with someone you don't know can get very uncomfortable very fast. This also makes the dating scene very messy and complicated--we're not that big of a school--and by senior year you know everything about everyone, which means romantic notions about the boy whose carrel is near yours start to rapidly disappear.
Bard students are radical hyper-intellectual philosophers/artists who are too hip for their own good and can frequently be found dragging on cigarettes in ironic tshirts and skin tight jeans, discussing Hegel with their equally hip friends who are majoring in Studio Arts, Political Studies, Photography, Literature, and Anthropology, the "only" majors at Bard.