“She Doesn’t Even Go Here!”: What Happens When Your Best Friend Goes to Sarah Lawrence

When your best friend—whom you met on the Internet and hadn’t yet met in real life—told you that she was applying to Sarah Lawrence College (as a Canadian whose knowledge of American colleges only reaches as far as the UC system and a few Ivy League schools) you did the logical thing and Googled the school. You learned that your idol J.J. Abrams is an alumni, and that it is apparently the most expensive college in the States. Then you said, “Cool! Good luck!” and moved on. It didn’t matter that you had no idea what “liberal arts college” meant; you would ask when she got in.

In the three and a half years since, you have visited Sarah Lawrence twice and otherwise lived vicariously through AIM, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook. The concept of a “liberal arts education” has become less mystifying than it once was. Having your best friend at a tiny college in the States while you attend the largest public university in Canada makes you privy to an alternative education lifestyle. Now you know the alternative exists, you can’t stop thinking about it. It changes you. It feels like Sarah Lawrence has made you a more interesting person even when you don’t go there. And there are times when, as an honorary Sarah Lawrence girl, you can’t help but shake your head.

You try to explain the conference system to your friends.

You try to explain why Reed is “crazy” and “intense” but you aren’t sure why.

You have trouble answering inquiries about your best friend’s major.


You are used to your friends asking if your best friend is really rich.


You pick out courses and make fun of course descriptions together.
You are convinced that recasting Plato’s Republic with Gossip Girl characters will make a really cool conference project.tumblr_mnjanr7ZPa1s2r4b5o1_500tumblr_mnjanr7ZPa1s2r4b5o2_500

You start to come up with conference project ideas together.

You might or might not have been responsible for your best friend’s prioritizing TV over coursework.

You have considered an exchange to SLC.

You know what evaluations do to people’s self-esteem and inferiority complex.

You are concerned about campus security. Like, very concerned.

You read SLC Speaks.

And Overheard at SLC.

And SLC Teacherisms.

You wish The Phoenix had a better online edition so you could read what your best friend wrote.

You wish your school email could be on Google instead of Microsoft Outlook.

You have become a more publicly politically correct person.

You feel the need to pick a fight with anyone who bestows any heteronormative opinions on you.

You have to explain “upstate New York” when people ask you where you are staying when you visit New York.

You need to reassure your parents that Bronxville is NOT THE BRONX when you visit.
You were certain that you were going to die on your way from campus to LaGuardia taking public transit.


You know what it means when people say “Westchester” or “Bronxville” on TV shows.

You have been praying for your favourite SLC alum J.J. Abrams would speak at commencement since freshmen year.

You might have asked your friend to look up addresses of famous alumnae.

You were more excited about Emma Roberts attending SLC than your best friend.


You know about the love that goes on in the swim team.

You offer emotional support and proofreading service during conference week.

You wish you had gone to Sarah Lawrence at some point but are glad that you never did.


But you start thinking of your own term papers as conference projects.



You attempt to “liberalize” your education by reimagining your experience at a public university in terms of Sarah Lawrence.

You perk up every time you hear the term “liberal arts.”

This article was written with help from real live Sarah Lawrence student Jaime Chu.

Jessie Lau is the best friend of a Sarah Lawrence girl. She attends the University of Toronto.


  • […] goes to Sarah Lawrence College, a liberal arts school in upstate New York and I visited her twice. Anyway, while I contributed nothing but one photograph which landed the front page one time to my own school’s newspaper, I wrote a piece with her for her school’s independent publication on my experience with having a best friend who attends a liberal arts college, you can read it here. […]

  • Reply May 4, 2016


    For someone that doesn’t go there, what is conference week or conference projects?

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