ARCHIVED: SLC: One of the Nation’s “Brainiest” Colleges...and Best Kept Secrets

Joining nine other liberal arts colleges, Sarah Lawrence features as one of Unigo’s “Top 10 Best Kept Secrets: Academic institutions that never get the fanfare, but still provide a superior educational experience.” The others are Bard, Denison, Hampshire, Harvey Mudd, Kenyon, Knox, Ohio Wesleyan, Reed, and Wabash. The last two, as well as University of Chicago, Whitman, Swarthmore, Bennington, Pitzer, Hampshire and Grinnell, are also included along with Sarah Lawrence in Unigo’s “Top 10 Brainiest Colleges” listing.

From Unigo’s review of the school, based on numerous reviews written by students:

“Those who know Sarah Lawrence regard it as a top-tier liberal arts school with outstanding academics and a renowned writing program. And no matter what qualms students may have with the school, all can agree that the faculty, classes and intellectual environment really are superb.

“‘Because all the academics are self-directed, people actually care about their work,’ writes one sophomore, ‘and not because of getting good grades (because we don’t have grades!) but because of their personal curiosity and internal motivation.’”

“SLC’s unique learning environment lets students design their own course of study by doing away with requirements, grades, tests, and majors (students have “concentrations” but graduate with a general liberal arts degree). The classroom setup is also non-traditional – with the exception of a few lecture classes, courses typically have fewer than 20 students and consist of roundtable discussions supplemented by one-on-one student-teacher conferences. Instead of exams, students are required to develop their own research-based projects, typically a 15-40 page paper, which are submitted at the end of the semester.”

“Self-motivated and intellectually curious students thrive at SLC, but navigating the individually-catered academics can be overwhelming and takes some getting used to…”

“The conference system, in turn, is meant to foster close relationships with professors, helping students receive the guidance they need to fully realize their academic goals. ‘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.”

“Sarah Lawrence is certainly not for everyone, but students who value intellectual stimulation above a traditional collegiate social life and have a clearly defined area of interest in the liberal arts are likely to find the extensive academic freedom rewarding. For the student who prefers to work independently, isn’t afraid of a challenge, and yearns to be confronted with new and exciting ideas both inside and outside of the classroom, SLC will likely prove a great fit.”