Because Bardians represent a small minority of the greater 18 to 22(ish) population of America and elsewhere, their outward appearance definitely reflects that as well. Fashion trends that are nonsensical to others can easily be found here. Examples of this include oversized and ugly glasses, thin and breathable apparel at unsuitable temperatures, ragged and worn out items for the sake of irony, and anything that was obviously obtained from a thrift store or secondhand in general. These choices have nothing to do with one's socio-economic situation; it all depends on the impression that one seeks to make. Speaking of financial status, Bard gives away a good amount of financial aid and scholarships to those who seek them, but it is fair to guess that most people come from fairly well-off families. You need to be, to afford the nearly $50,000 tuition fee each year. The majority of the college is Caucasian, and it is normal to see minorities exhibiting a fair amount of exclusivity, but there is a growing amount of racial sensitivity and awareness of potential problems that arise when race is ignored. There are some anarchists but you must look hard to spot them.
The high level of apathy on campus makes students resort to drinking and drugs to while away the time between weekdays when classes, homework, and club meetings take up most peoples' time. It is very unusual to find someone who does not drink alcohol or smoke pot or do other things. Speaking from experience, you will most likely feel awkward if you avoid these things. Also, despite the numerous Jews here, going to temple is almost out of the question; religion is kind of a joke.
When making general statements about Bard as a college, it is important to remember that for every person who comfortably fits the stereotype in question, there is at least one other who does not fit it at all. Many students have come from habitats not quite as urban as many would think and there are a good number who focus on sciences or mathematics instead of integrated arts or creative writing. When it comes to queer students, there is definitely an unprecedented shortage, and a good number of those who do choose to explore their sexuality shy away from common labels. Additionally, the campus is virtually devoid of any formidable pushes of political activism.
While the average person might not recognize Bard College in conversation, it is without a doubt an accredited institution with very strong academics. All the teachers are practicing professionals in their field of study, and the fact that there the option of commuting up from New York City seems to strengthen the overall quality of the faculty. Of course, there are some professors that come to mind who are not the most skilled teachers and may not deserve the tenure or appreciation that they receive. This is likely the case most places. Overall, one can expect the classes that they choose to be interesting enough not to drop out of. Bard, unlike other places, does not force specific classes on the students depending on their chosen field of study. Instead, it relies on broad distribution requirements to make sure that everyone is having a sufficiently well-rounded, liberal-arts education. Although the Asian Studies department is quite small, with only four or five permanent teachers, those that I know well are excellent and I did not choose the school based on my intended major, but rather on my impressions and experiences of all aspects of the institution.
Bard's social offerings leave something to be desired. Since there are a multitude of different dorms, most of them on the small side, the students you meet your freshman year are often the ones you will stay close with until the end of senior year. It is not always the case, but sometimes dormitories can be on the exclusionary side of things and it is hard to get to know anyone who lives there, because disassociate themselves from the rest of campus. This happens with people who live together as well as people who are similar to each other. I don't believe that anyone does this intentionally, it's just a natural instinct to stay connected to the few good friends that one has and not necessarily try to meet new people. It is fairly common for people to move off campus at the end of freshman year when such a move is allowed, but local landlords prey on the Bard students who support the small towns in the area and overcharge on rent for what would be considered to be worth a lot less if a college wasn't right next door. Thursday night is often bar night, so the Black Swan is where everyone goes to get totally wasted. Other than that, there are a few good food spots around, but not much else unless you want to drive to the train station in Poughkeepsie to take you to NYC. No fraternities or sororities, because they suck.
Bard is assumed to be rife with overly artistic and elitist undergraduates who are amply supported by their parents' money and/or trust funds. There is thought to be a very good likelihood that any person you meet from Bard will be a quote-unquote hipster. The school's population is thought to be composed mainly of New York and Los Angeles residents who have converged at the rural and isolated campus for its proximity to Manhattan and the presence of like-minded individuals. Many prospective applicants assume a high percentage of gay or queer students as well as widespread left-wing political involvement.
Bard's population is quite small compared to most colleges and universities, but somehow the size feels appropriate for the campus, which is pretty big for the number of students that live there. It's hard to imagine most Bardians going to a school that is much bigger. It is common to hear a lot of complaints about the lack of things to do or places to go or the endless winters that are common for New York State. These complaints aren't necessarily justified; there are always one or two events happening somewhere or another and after attending school in the Northeast, one would be expected to get accustomed to the seasons, so dissatisfaction usually stems from a lack of personal initiative to find activities or to accept the state of things. Sports at Bard seem to exist merely for the enjoyment of those who take part in them, as audiences never seem to surpass a couple dozen and many pervasive sports are obviously lacking, such as football, baseball, and lacrosse. Above all there seems to be some consensus that the food offered by the college is lacking in quality and preparation and it is smart to get used to cooking for yourself or heading to the two nearby towns of Red Hook and Tivoli for some better quality cuisine.