Yonkers, N.Y.: When I visited Sarah Lawrence College in August, I was immediately impressed by the small, intimate atmosphere created by its beautiful campus. Its buildings vary in design from those reminiscent of an English village to those with more ordinary designs. There are three libraries on campus; the Esther Raushenbush Library (which has been a repository for government documents since 1971), the Music Library, and the Slide Library. The tour was conducted by a current SLC student, adding to the intimate nature of the tour.
The town in which the college is located, Yonkers, is about 20 minutes by train outside of New York City. There isn’t much to do in Yonkers itself, but its proximity to New York makes up for that. There are a few restaurants and shops, but for the most part people either stay on campus or go to the city for entertainment.
The dorms are very nice. As a first year student, one has a roommate and is assigned a dorm. Most upperclass students live in singles and share a bathroom with one other student. Single-sex, coed, and group housing are all available, and after freshman year, housing is given out by lottery.
SLC does not put an emphasis on sports, but for those who do wish to participate, there are good facilities on campus, as well as several around the city of Yonkers which are rented by the school for student use. There are three eating areas – the main cafeteria, called Bates, the Pub, which serves fast food, and the Health Food Bar.
The classes at SLC are different from those of more traditional colleges. Students take three year-long, very intensive classes per year, most limited to fifteen students. In most classes, students write papers instead of taking tests. Work is critiqued rather than graded, although grades are kept on file for employers and grad schools. Every student is required to take a Freshman Studies class in the area of his or her interest, and the teacher of that class becomes the student’s “don” for his or her SLC career. A “don” is a faculty member who guides the student through his or her four years, helping the student to select classes and advising him or her on any number of personal and/or academic matters.
The thing which made the biggest impression on me was the integrated and informal nature of the school. Administrative and extracurricular offices are interspersed among the dorms; most professors are addressed by their first names; a student’s work is directed in large measure by conference work in which a student and professor design research and outside reading projects to suit the needs of each student.
Sarah Lawrence College has a unique, challenging atmosphere that nurtures and encourages its students to become thinkers, not just memorizers. It offers an education that is just right for the motivated student looking for a distinctive, non-traditional environment. n
Reviewed in 1990