Since 1929 Sarah Lawrence College has stood in Yonkers, NY as an acknowledged model of excellence for the small liberal arts college. Founded by William Van Duzer Lawrence and named for his wife Sarah, Sarah Lawrence College was originally a women-only school for the liberal arts, particularly in art and literature. Further influence from educational reformer John Dewey led to Sarah Lawrence developing a highly unique, idiosyncratic approach to education that prioritizes personal growth and exceptional intellectual rigor, reflected in prominent alumni like filmmaker J.J. Abrams, musician and artist Yoko Ono, and novelist Alice Walker.
Academic ProgramsSarah Lawrence’s curriculum was from the beginning based on the highly intensive Oxford/Cambridge tutorial model, which emphasizes small group discussion and in-depth individual tutorial sessions with faculty in which students present and defend their ideas face-to-face. This highly demanding format requires a very low student/faculty ratio, and classes are strictly capped at 15 students. While this method requires a great deal of input from faculty and students, proponents consider it the finest form for intellectual development, drawn from Greek and Roman classical models.
Sarah Lawrence has no required core courses, and no traditional majors; students develop their curriculum in collaboration with their faculty mentor. There are likewise no traditional grades, but narrative evaluations written by instructors. Beginning in 2003, Sarah Lawrence chose to discount SAT requirements for admission, due to the test’s lack of fit with Sarah Lawrence’s writing-intensive, research-oriented curriculum. Even though the lack of SAT statistics affects Sarah Lawrence’s traditional ranking, the college is still represented in the top liberal arts colleges on U.S. News & World Report’s ranking.
Student LifeSarah Lawrence has long been one of the most activist campuses in the US. Sarah Lawrence students were leaders in civilian support for WWII, vigorously opposed to McCarthyism, and major sources of student voice in the Civil Rights Movement, 1960s and 70s peace movement, and academic diversity movement of the 1980s. Community service is also central, from community educational outreach (as one of the first Upward Bound institutions) to humanities programs for disadvantaged children in the Yonkers area.
Study abroad is taken very seriously at Sarah Lawrence; in addition to programs in Italy, France, and England, Sarah Lawrence has the only American study abroad program in Cuba. Of course, Sarah Lawrence is only a half-hour drive or train ride from New York City, meaning the world comes to Sarah Lawrence. Students have ample access to the cultural offerings of the city, as well as strong job market connections to all areas of commerce, entertainment, and culture from Sarah Lawrence’s accomplished alumni and global reputation.