Sarah Lawrence: College Campus Tour
The historic Sarah Lawrence campus is home to an inclusive, intellectually curious, and diverse community where students take charge of their education through personalized courses of study.
We visited this beautiful campus with lovely foliage and a mix of old and new buildings. We met with Kevin McCanna, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, and he described Sarah Lawrence’s curriculum, which is designed to allow every student to be part of scholarly life with the faculty.
Sarah Lawrence offers 50 Academic disciplines in four areas of study:
- Creative and performing arts
- Social sciences
- Natural sciences and math
Students enjoy small intimate classroom environments with a 9:1 student to faculty ratio. All classes are taught in seminar-style with a cap of 15 students. Every student designs their own pathway through curriculum and research, which is a component in every class.
All Freshmen choose a First Year Studies course (35-40 options), and this professor will become their faculty adviser or Don for the remainder of their time at SL.
The open curriculum plan at Sarah Lawrence allows students to take classes from any of the four areas of study. Students work very closely with their Don to design their program of study. Some degree paths will follow a funnel approach, while others follow an hourglass design. Everyone graduates with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences; no formal concentrations are designated. Most students take at least two classes in three out of the four disciplines.
Participation is expected in classes, and the class makeup is determined after interview week during which students meet the professors before they are signed up for the course. This allows both parties the opportunity to determine if the class is a good fit. At the end of all courses, students receive a letter grade along with a narrative from the professor.
Conference work is emphasized at Sarah Lawrence, and students have bi-weekly 30-minute meetings with faculty where they prepare independent research projects and propose lists of sources. Through this manner of study, students have the opportunity to extend the scope of their course. For example, in a class on the 20th Century Novel, a student can choose to focus on one author and their work.
After graduation, 75% of students go on to graduate school. Of those entering the workforce, 92% are employed. During their time at Sarah Lawrence, many students do internships in NYC.
Sarah Lawrence offers 12 programs of graduate study, including three dual degree programs. Almost half of the graduate students pursue degrees from the MFA writing program.
Ninety percent of the 1,400 students live on campus. There is a vibrancy on campus as students enjoy activities such as open mic night, Division III athletic competitions, independent films, or theater productions. Student Government is active on campus, and the Barbara Walters Student Center fosters informal gatherings for all students and staff in a beautiful, fully “green” building.
Independent, Intellectually curious, Politically driven, Interesting, Passionate, Quirky, Funny, Blue-haired, Articulate, Confident.
Sarah Lawrence students come from nearly every state and from 53 countries. Many students identify as non-gender specific.
While visiting, we met Lily from San Francisco, who is studying theater, foreign language, and international relations. She described enjoying the way professors connect with students both in and out of the classroom. Lily serves as an RA and is a member of an a capella troupe.
Aramus, a sophomore from Turkey, studies theater, French, and history. Aramus works in admissions and performs in theater productions in his free time.
AJ, a psychology, political science, and pre-law student from Boston, spoke about the open curriculum and the ability for students to change concentrations while seeking their paths. AJ is a board member for Hillel and part of a dance team on campus.
Bee, from Baltimore, studies theater, political economy, and pre-law. What she enjoys most about SL is the conservatory-style classrooms and the collaborative, not competitive, atmosphere on campus. She works in the admissions office and serves as the co-chair for SL for Elizabeth Warren.
Located in Yonkers, NY, near the village of Bronxville, Sarah Lawrence College occupies 44 wooded acres just north of New York City. A 30-minute train ride from the Bronxville station takes students into Midtown Manhattan.
Admissions and Financial Aid
SL is a test-optional school with 60% of applicants submitting test scores.
There has been an 80% increase in applications over the past five years. Prospective students can choose between ED1, ED2, EA, and regular decision applications.
Admissions counselors look closely at an applicant’s potential to succeed in this academic environment. SL students need to enjoy writing; the curriculum demands this.
Sarah Lawrence offers applicants the following optional components to their application:
- A supplemental essay
- A creative arts supplement
- An interview with an SL senior, in person or via Zoom
Seventy five percent of students receive financial aid. All students are automatically considered for merit scholarships, and rewards range from $10,000-$30,000 per year. Test scores are considered if submitted. For students in the 1220-1380 SAT or 27-32 ACT ranges, $37,000 is an average reward.
There are very few full-tuition awards, and SL does not guarantee to meet full financial need. The average student debt upon graduation is $20,000. International and undocumented students can receive financial aid, and the rewards are need-sensitive. The first application read is need-blind, but need may come in during the class shaping process.
Sarah Lawrence is looking for talented and creative learners who are eager to play a big role in directing their educational path. Sarah Lawrence graduates leave knowing how to apply the knowledge, skills, and critical thinking necessary for life after college.