Five Kinds of People You Will Find At Your Liberal Arts College

Flickr / Tony Alter
Flickr / Tony Alter

1. The Fake Poor Person

The Fake Poor Person was first examined here and was noted to be a deceptive little devil. They mostly can be found in liberal arts colleges across the U.S. in their uniform of ripped Converse, Levis jeans, and torn flannel shirts. Their most treasured activity is smoking cigarettes while making dejected expressions, and complaining about needing a job. You’ll initially think to yourself, “How refreshing! Someone who’s not a complete trustafarian. I want to be friends with this person!” So you befriend them and you pick up on the nuances of class that can slip by in your everyday conversation. The whole time, however, you are thinking that this person is poor. Well, liberal arts poor, which loosely translates to middle class. But then you go over to their apartment and are shocked to find yourself in a luxury building. Your fake poor friend speeds by, avoiding contact with his doorman, and takes you up to his apartment, which is bigger than the house you grew up in. Meanwhile, you’re just sitting there with your jaw dropped feeling like you’ve been totally punk’d. Before you went to a liberal arts college, you didn’t know “fake poor” even existed. Growing up, the people who lived in the hills in nice split-level homes were considered wealthy, and the rest just fell in-between. There’s rich and not rich. The end! But going to a liberal arts college means you get to discover all the different bizarre levels of wealth. Not only is there rich, there’s also secretly rich, related to royalty, mini-celebrity, old money, new money, rejected money, riches to rags, Los Angeles diva rich, child actor rich etc. So many kinds of rich. Yay! So much fun….

2. Sensitive Angry Lesbian Punk

The sensitive angry lesbian punk can usually be found in schools like Hampshire, Evergreen, UC Santa Cruz, and Sarah Lawrence. They’ll usually have their hair dyed some outrageous color (So you cannot ignore their presence. They refuse to be marginalized, remember?!) and will wear Slits shirts, ripped fishnets, and finish it off with a bad attitude! In classes, they’re always angry about something, but you’re never sure what it is exactly. Their favorite activity is to be oppressed by various patriarchal heteronormative viewpoints. Their ham sandwich is even a patriarchal nightmare because it contains meat, which reminds them of a big evil penis. That’s why they end up resorting to veganism—to rid themselves of phallic food. When they’re not angry, they’re terribly sad about something. A typical devastating scenario for the sensitive angry lesbian punk would involve their girlfriend Sunshine Fantasia moving out of the co-op to live with their new girlfriend they met off the internet.

3. The Alternative Gay Boy

Gay boys who go to liberal arts colleges are allowed to love Lady Gaga, but they’re also required to have an encyclopedia knowledge of music like Kate Bush, Hole, riot grrrl, and other various powerful alternative female artists. By choosing to attend a school like Bard instead of Arizona State, they lose their right to wear a pink polo and live in ignorance of a figure like John Waters. These alternative gay boys are typically very attractive and elitist, but not enough to stop themselves from sleeping with 80% of the gay student population.  They’re not afraid to cuddle and talk about Judith Butler afterwards though, which is sweet and appreciated. Their dream is to be featured in an alternative gay magazine, write a book, and go on tour with Hunx and His Punx.

4. The Person Who’s Painfully Out of Place

At every liberal arts school, there will be that person who clearly shouldn’t have attended a liberal arts school. You’ll look at them inquisitively with their baggy jeans, unfashionable haircut and the questionable comments they make in class and think to yourself, “This person is very brave for coming into this classroom full of skinny jeans and jaded expressions. I wonder if they accidentally enrolled in the wrong school?” It’s not because they’re necessarily strange. In fact, their normalcy is what sets them apart. Everyone at a liberal arts school has so many “issues” and loves to express themselves with their insane $2000 outfits. The Out Of Place Bro is by comparison nondescript and unassuming. I swear, it’s like if you’re not wearing a chic nightgown to class and talking about menstrual blood, you’re perceived as being a complete bore.

5. The Goth

People who are actually committed to the gothic lifestyle never cease to amaze me. Today people get called goth for wearing black combat boots and it’s cute because being goth is trendy and, oh my god, Jane Lane and Daria!! But real goths don’t screw around. Real goths wear weird makeup and do strange things in the bedroom and listen to music only a true goth could tolerate. They make everyone else look like complete normy wimps, and I’m sure they resent the fact that they’re en vogue. The whole point of being goth is to establish yourself as an outsider. If Alexa Chung is calling herself goth for wearing snakeskin pants, it must really chap a real goth’s ass. TC mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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  • Reader

    Lesbians always get a bad wrap

    • Scarlett

      My ex-girlfriend just didn't stay sealed in cellophane like my ex-boyfriend did.


      • Reader

        you are very right.

  • Punx

    Holy shit, I go to UC Santa Cruz and number 2 is a dead ringer for most of my friends. Granted, I'm a lesbian.

    • Bcoates

      I go there too. Upon reading 2 my first thought was “fuck” and my second was “I love The Slits”.

  • Megan

    too close to home

  • fiction

    I have met each of these people at Otterbein

  • postulio637

    As an alternative gay boy, I have to wonder how you figured out my ambitions in life. I feel like I need to vent my feelings on being unremarkable following sex with 80% of the gay student population.

  • Dan Hoffman

    I went to one of the schools mentioned here!!!

  • liberalartsedu

    You seem to have left out the numerous liberal arts colleges that are 80% trust fund kids driving BMWs.

  • Rachelfpotter

    love how every article on liberal arts features a photo of sarah lawrence.

    • Oliver Miller

      Yeah, it's that building — whatever Hall or something! The one down by the softball field that no one ever goes to.

    • JamesN

      yeah Rachie. Hollerin' at you from Maccracken. :P

      P.S. You KNOW all of this is true.

  • Jumbo

    I go to a liberal arts school and I can't say I've met any of these people….

  • Venting

    Ugh, so, I need to vent. I just made a college decision myself, between Hamilton and Binghamton U. I'm “upper middle class” and I don't qualify for financial aid, but my mother is only shelling out 25k a year. Saddle myself with 100k of debt for Hamilton or go to Binghamton and pay 20k a year out of pocket, debt-free? The choice is clear.

    The people who go to these liberal arts schools just sound so immature. Honestly, I was pretty distraught over having to choose against Hamilton, but if the people are like this then I'm relieved.

    Maybe it's just me, but aren't these people the definition of high school?

    • Gregory

      I received a full ride to go to a liberal arts school in Schenectady. At the time I didn't even know the difference between liberal arts and university, all I knew was that I wasn't paying for school and chose to go the liberal arts route. This article nailed it. Within four years, I dated multiple 'fake poor' people from all different backgrounds(parents who own national restaurant chains, bestselling authors, or were wall-street power couples), I became best friends with the sensitive angry lesbian punk(she's not as angry anymore), did copious amounts of drugs with the alternative gay boy, and, now that you mention it, was probably the person that was painfully out of place. Never met the goth though….I'd actually be surprised if a real goth ever attended an artsy-fartsy liberal arts school. Anyways great post O'Connell

    • Scarlett

      Undergrad is not worth going into serious debt for. Save that for grad school. You inevitably go to/try to go to grad school if you want to go to liberal arts school. Otherwise, well, I can show you all of my friends working retail. After that, no one cares where you went.

      Then there's the “where will you be happyyyyyyyyy” bullshit, but school with these people (and they will all be there. All of them) will eat your soul after the first year. You're better off with the decision you made.

      Also, “only” 25k? That bitch.

    • ryan chang

      don't go into outrageous debt just for a piece of paper. undergrad is a 'roided version of high school–partying only a bit less, paying attention a bit more, and 'finding' what matters to you most better. and when i mean less, i mean keep it to one bowl a day.

  • Briana

    1. “I swear, it’s like if you’re not wearing a chic nightgown to class and talking about menstrual blood, you’re perceived as being a complete bore.”

    2. “fake poor”


  • natural

    Pretty much sums up the kind of people I met at the New School.

    • Ryan O'Connell


      • Amnesiacsiblings

        That's where I go. I feel like I'm probably the painfully out of place one.

    • jessie

      All this needs is the smell of pot wafting in from the courtyard and it IS Lang.

  • Sadieclam

    Thought Catalog continuously reminds me that I am just one of thousands of snarky, observant Liberal Arts students. Also, that all stock “Liberal Arts” photos are of Sarah Lawrence.

  • Scarlett

    You left out the hippies. All the fucking hippies. All the fucking time.

    • Scarlett

      I'm sorry; they aren't really hippies. They just refuse to bathe, tie-dye all of their clothes, pin up Bob Marley posters and smoke a ton of weed. They don't actually have any political inclinations at all if a vote isn't a “Legalize it? Check yes or no” ballot.

      • Miranda

        To be fair, that's exactly who hippies were. Smoked bunches, tripped galaxies and found just enough time to relay the “Peace on Earth, Get Back to Mama Nature” message before taking off their clothes to 'love' their neighbor. They didn't really have any political inclinations either.

        Those are the damn Yippies.

      • Guest

        Politics? Hippies? hahahahahahaha

        no. hipsters are just new age hippies and that’s why no one likes them.

  • Evan Hatch

    didn't recognize this was an o'connell piece until i read the header “alternative gay boy”, then it instantly became obvious

  • Heretica Neue

    “That’s why they end up resorting to veganism—to rid themselves of phallic food.”

    Cause there's no phallic vegetables… Buahaha.

  • RamonaCC

    Interestingly enough, the sensitive angry lesbian punk I knew was also goth. 2 birds, one stone.

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