St Lawrence University
St Lawrence University - Comments and Student Experiences|
Academically, there are plenty of opportunities for rigorous studies here. I majored in Psychology and took a double minor in Modern Languages and Global Studies (would have double-majored instead with one of the minors, had I not overworked myself during my senior year-- ah, well!), and I was plenty busy with coursework and projects in my chosen fields. SLU is a liberal arts school, so you're encouraged to take classes outside of your major, which, one, helps you to keep from falling into tunnel-vision mode about your future, and, two, expands your knowledge base-- this is something that will benefit you even in the long run, once you've graduated from SLU entirely.
My experience with the psychology department was very, very, very positive. We had wonderful professors and a healthy breadth of classes to choose from; if child psychology is where your interests lie, there's plenty of resources for you. If you're more interested in abnormal psych, social psych, biology and psych-- trust me, you'll be right at home. I never once encountered a professor that I felt was incompetent at SLU, and most are very approachable and genuinely want you to succeed in their classes. Don't be afraid to approach professors after class-- and not just if you're having difficulties! Making these connections can really open up doors for your future-- you could potentially pitch a research idea to a professor that could end up being the catalyst to making your ideas come to life. While, again, most of my experience lies with the psych department, I am fairly confident that this is a characteristic of many professors here. One of my very favorite professors was from the government department-- he encouraged me to take some seemingly random high-level economics seminar after I took an intro class with him on international economics and ended up SO very happy that I did. Long story short-- take chances with your education while you're here and surrounded by so much academic support! I pursued a Master's degree in psychology right after graduating, and I felt very prepared thanks to my previous coursework and internships I was able to participate in while I was a student.
Socially, I had a decent time at SLU. We were required to live on campus for all four years unless we had family in the surrounding areas, and honestly, the on-campus experience wasn't all that bad. Canton IS a very tiny town in a relatively isolated area of upstate New York. If you have a car, more opportunities will be open to you-- like traveling over to Potsdam or having the ability to go to a mall or something along those lines. I did not have a car, and thus stayed on campus most of the time unless a friend [with a car] had planned a trip to Canada or elsewhere nearby. Canada is VERY accessible from where SLU is. Ottawa is a fun city that I'd highly encourage everyone to visit at least once while they're in the north country. On campus, there are MANY ways to get involved. I can't remember the number of on-campus organizations that I joined, but basically, if you have an interest, there's probably an existing club for it, and if not, you have an opportunity to create your own club if you can find other students who would support its formation.
A lot of people are addressing alcohol use here, and, yes, it is present. Since graduating, I've since worked solely in higher education, and I can pretty strongly attest that this is not something unique to SLU. This is not a land of raging alcoholics, trust me. Students do drink, like to party, etcetera-- but because academics are so rigorous here, a lot of students who overindulge end up leaving early on or reevaluating their social life in the grand scheme of "Well, if I drink this much, I'm probably not going to be able to graduate on time, and it's very expensive to go here. So I should probably tone it down a bit." I wasn't one to drink a whole lot, but I did see a number of my friends and classmates go through this process and end up fine in the end-- with successful careers now to boot. As they always say, moderation is key. I like how another reviewer put it-- if you don't drink, you won't really get *pressured* to do so (at least, I didn't encounter this), but do realize that many students will be drinking and there are frequent parties on weekends where alcohol consumption is a thing.
One GIANT recommendation I'd give students is to 100% absolutely-if-you-can study abroad during your time at SLU. There are SLU-hosted programs as well as other opportunities (such as ISEP) that can help get you into countries where a SLU-established program might not exist. The time I spent abroad was so, incredibly valuable-- an enriching experience that gave me the opportunity to meet amazing people, visit amazing places, and interact with a culture in a way that is very difficult to do when you're not a college student. Investigate your options, put some good sweat-and-tears into your application to go abroad, and make it a priority to go. You will not regret it!To sum it all up, you don't need to be a stereotypical "preppy, party student" to fit in at SLU. While it's not the most diverse of campuses, I made an effort to connect with as many classmates as I could-- I met plenty of friends from the US and abroad, had wonderful academic experiences, encountered a number of opportunities for employment on-campus (if there's a department accepting student workers that's in line with something you might want to do as a career in the future, definitely try to get a position there! TRUST ME, my on-campus work at SLU has opened up MANY doors for me, career-wise), got involved with enough clubs to keep me busy (it's possible to be busy in the middle of nowhere!), and definitely do not regret my decision to attend this school.
SLU can be a rollercoaster if you don't fit (or don't want to fit) the rich, preppy mold. It's not to say everyone is like this, but SLU is the kind of school where finding your niche is important. I was unlucky to have a bad FYP (First-Year Program, for those who don't know) as well as an awful roommate during my freshman year. Really, you don't always have to drink at SLU to have fun, but if you don't at all, you at least need to tolerate your friends drinking on the weekends. As a recently graduated senior, our Senior Week was great (compared to Clarkson too, I heard ours was better), and wouldn't have traded seeing Rubblebucket in concert at Springfest for anything (dancing drunk in the rain and mud doesn't sound fun, but let me assure you, it was)! With that said, it took me three years, a term abroad, and getting my core curriculum out of the way to be truly satisfied.
On the note of study abroad, SLU has excellent study abroad opportunities. The SLU-run programs gave me the impression you would be in a bubble... which can actually be good for certain countries where they have programs that could be culturally unfamiliar to students (Kenya, Thailand, Ethiopia to name a few). But, if group travel isn't your cup of tea, or you want to go your own way, individual exchanges are possible (that's what I did).
Academically, in the Art History department most all the profs are great, spare one which grades a little easier, so it might seem. I've heard some departmental criticism from other students (one friend thought *some* of the government department wasn't all that great, but I'm no expert there. I suppose that's just hearsay). What I do know for sure is psychology and economics tend to be popular majors. Fulfilling my core requirements was a bit of pain due to a lack of classes that I could enroll in, but the school does work to change that- and has. Most all professors have a good rapport with students, and at such a small school students will dog/baby sit for their professors, and some faculty have even had students over for dinner! So really, most professors are friendly and don't mind helping out students.The price tag is high for slu, so keep that in mind. But overall, and in some ways most importantly, the alumni connections are great! You'll have a stellar network of fellow laurentians, if you know how to use it. Not to mention, that network stays with you even after you graduate. Most alumni are excited to meet other alumni, and it's always fun when you find out your dentist graduated from the same university you did (it also makes you feel like your dentist is pretty competent).
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