ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY: This August I visited Bard College for the afternoon. The first and most lasting impression I had was of the beautiful setting. There is even a small waterfall at one end of the campus (the only drawback to this natural beauty is the large insect population that comes with it). It is not your usual campus, which makes sense because Bard is very different in many ways from the other colleges I visited. It has an innovative approach to learning and teaching that emphasizes individualism and creativity.

Bard is a small four-year liberal arts college with only 900 students. Because of this size, however, not only do students get to know one another very well, but they also have the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with their teachers. The student/faculty ratio is only 10 to l; according to our well-informed and amiable tour guide, the teachers are excellent and very accessible.

The academics at Bard are quite strong; the best departments are considered to be languages and literature. There is no physical education requirement and athletics are just not a big deal here. The food is considered to be palatable but nothing special.

Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages. Though Bard is considered a very safe campus, this is primarily because the campus is very isolated. It is a long drive to the nearest large town. Bard’s size can also be a drawback. The college library has approximately 280,000 volumes, a comparatively small number, and if students require other books, it may take nine days to receive them from Marist, the closest college. Also, according to our guide, the facilities are somewhat limited and dorms can get overcrowded. Rooms are also pretty small. There could also be problems for anyone who is allergic to cigarette smoke. I was surprised to hear that a relatively high percentage of students at Bard smoke.

Bard is not a school for people looking for a traditional college atmosphere, but if you’re searching for an intimate, progressive and challenging environment, you’ll find it at Bard.

Reviewed in 1990