Sarah Lawrence College
Sarah Lawrence College is a private liberal arts college in the United States. It is located in southern Westchester County, New York, in the city of Yonkers, 15 miles (24 km) north of Manhattan.
The college is known for its rigorous academic standards, low student-to-faculty ratio, and highly individualized course of study. The school models its approach to education after the Oxford/Cambridge system of one-on-one student-faculty tutorials, which are a key component in all areas of study. Sarah Lawrence emphasizes scholarship, particularly in the humanities, performing arts, and writing, and places high value on independent study. Sarah Lawrence College is ranked 57th in the National Liberal Arts Colleges category by U.S. News & World Report and among the America's Top 100 Colleges List conducted by Forbes. Sarah Lawrence was also named the higher education institution with the best faculty in all of America by Princeton Review in 2013.
Sarah Lawrence College was established by real-estate mogul William Van Duzer Lawrence, 1842-1927, on the grounds of his estate in Westchester County and was named in honor of his wife, Sarah Bates Lawrence, 1846-1926. The College was originally intended to provide instruction in the arts and humanities for women. A major component of the College's early curriculum was "productive leisure," wherein students were required to work for eight hours weekly in such fields as modeling, shorthand, typewriting, applying makeup, and gardening. Its pedagogy, modeled on the tutorial system of Oxford University, combined independent research projects, individually supervised by the teaching faculty, and seminars with low student-to-faculty ratio — a pattern it retains to the present, despite its cost. Sarah Lawrence was the first liberal arts college in the United States to incorporate a rigorous approach to the arts with the principles of progressive education, focusing on the primacy of teaching and the concentration of curricular efforts on individual needs.
In addition to founding Sarah Lawrence College, William Lawrence played a critical role in the development of the neighboring community of Bronxville, New York. His name can be found on the affluent Lawrence Park and Lawrence Park West neighborhoods, the Houlihan Lawrence Real Estate Corporation, and on Lawrence Hospital in downtown Bronxville, an institution that was created when Lawrence’s son, Dudley, nearly died en route to a hospital in neighboring New York City. Lawrence embodied ideas from the Progressivist movement of the 1890s, especially his view that the arts were a crucial element in the social evolution of individuals and families, in developing both private and public sensibilities, and in creating equal relations between men and women.
Harold Taylor, President of Sarah Lawrence College from 1945 to 1959, greatly influenced the college. Taylor, elected president at age 30, maintained a friendship with educational philosopher John Dewey, and worked to employ the Dewey method at Sarah Lawrence. Taylor spent much of his career calling for educational reform in the United States, using the success of his own College as an example of the possibilities of a personalized, modern, and rigorous approach to higher education.
Sarah Lawrence became a coeducational institution in 1968. Prior to this transition, there were discussions about relocating the school and merging with Princeton University, but the administration opted to remain independent.
At the undergraduate level, Sarah Lawrence offers an alternative to a traditional majors. Students pursue a wide variety of courses in four different curricular distributions: the Creative Arts (writing, music, dance, theatre, film, and the plastic arts, such as painting, printmaking, drawing and sculpture); history and the social sciences (e.g., anthropology, economics, political science, and sociology); the humanities (e.g., Asian studies, art history, film studies, languages, literature, philosophy, and religion); and natural science and mathematics (biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, and mathematics). Classes are structured around a seminar-conference system through which students learn in small, highly interactive seminars and in private tutorials with professors. Each student is assigned to a faculty advisor, known as a "don," to plan a course of study and provide ongoing academic guidance. Most courses, apart from those in the performing arts, consist of two parts: the seminar, limited to 15 students, and the conference, a meeting with a seminar professor. In these conferences, students develop individual projects that extend the course material and link it to their personal interests. Sarah Lawrence has no required courses and traditional examinations have largely been replaced with research papers. Additionally, grades are recorded only for transcript purposes—academic evaluations are given in lieu of grades. The College sponsors international programs in Florence, at Wadham College, Oxford, at Reid Hall in Paris, and at the British American Drama Academy in London. Sarah Lawrence is one of the only American colleges operating an international program in Cuba.
Sarah Lawrence also offers Master's-level programs in Writing, the Art of Teaching, Child Development, Theatre, Dance, and Dance/Movement Therapy and is home to the nation's oldest graduate program in Women's History and the nation's first master's degree programs in Human Genetics and Health Advocacy.
Sarah Lawrence offers a program for people wishing to seek a B.A. or a Master's and have been out of school for any period of time.