have read many reviews praising the quality of the academics
at Sarah L., but in my experience, much is left
to be desired. To put it bluntly, I do not
consider it to be an education. The classes are easier
than those in high school, and while the seminar-conference system
sounds rigorous on paper, it is not implemented successfully. In
my experience, rarely more than two students carry the seminar
while the others remain quiet. Most seminars are spent on
comprehension of the assigned reading. I have noticed that, at
least for freshmen students, the topic and content of their
conference paper is practically given by the professor. Content and
reading lists are also sometimes rotated to students by them.
Another thing to be aware of is Sarah L.'s
approach to education. They state very clearly that their degree
teaches a “student how to think”, which is an euphanism
for an education that values interpretation (Freudian, feminist et. al)
over concrete knowledge. If you have taken AP courses, expect
Sarah L. to be entirely opposite in philosophy. Read the
article, The Truth about Harvard by Ross Douthat in The
Atlantic to get a taste of what it will be.
In my opinion, this type of education does not create
knowledgeable or successful graduates. Also, you also have to be
aware that most classes at Sarah L., excepting some social
sciences and sciences, are year-long. With an allowance of only
three classes at a time, that gives you 12 subjects
more or less that you will be able to study.
Mostly likely, you will not be able to take both
music and theatre or dance at the same time becaues
of the nature of the component system. Most classes meet
once a week for a block of three hours, which
I feel slows the pace, but to make up for
the lack of rigour, a good amount of busy work
is assigned. From what I have seen here, the weight
of the busy work depends on your individual standards in
academics. Some students work all the time, while others have
a relaxed schedule, but the grades at the end are
not hugely different. Also, I feel that professors tend to
teach the same material for many classes, under a different
All this said, I feel that Sarah L.
dumbs down kids, and I would advise that if you
have academics primarily in your mind, look elsewhere. You will
not learn 'things' here, nor will you learn how to
write - most students, including myself, do not at all
know any grammar, vocabulary or style, which can be plainly
seen in the school newspaper - but what you will
learn is how to write an eight or ten page
paper in a night.
As for the arts, I
find them even more lacking than the academics. All the
student theatre productions this year, excepting maybe one, had students
on stage in brassiere and underwear, and had crazy sexuality.
Actually, much of the campus is over-sexed, and you will
find sex creeping into classes and taught material very frequently.
Visual arts does not teach skills - how to draw,
paint - but there are places in commuting distance like
the Student Art League that will. The same for dance.
Judging from the student shows, classes are more on composition
than any technique at all (or even dancing posture).
I have met students who find Sarah L. a fulfulling
academic experience, so I would recommend that you research the
school carefully, look at student work and performances, and it
might just fit you. I have also met students who
think the education is a very easy, and who, I
believe, account for the quite large rate of transfer students.
Speaking from my experience, I feel that it is an
unacceptable education, and feel cheated in time and money.