Life at a Liberal Arts College

Going to a liberal arts college is sort of like going to a chichi summer camp. Everyone’s pretty isolated from the outside world, wears a lot of flannel, and talks a lot about their feelings. I went to Eugene Lang, which was a little different because unlike most liberal arts colleges, there wasn’t much of a campus and its location was in the middle of downtown Manhattan. We also received actual letter grades instead of like a smiley face or a frowny face.

The classes, the students, and the homework assignments were so liberal artsy though. I once took a class called Religion, Spirituality, and Feminism in which I interviewed ordained lesbian priests for my final project. The final was totally open ended. You could kind of do whatever you wanted and one girl decided to do a performance art piece that involved her strumming the guitar and crying for no apparent reason. I think she got an ‘A’.

Don’t get me wrong though. As goofy as the assignments sometimes were, I often learned a lot and had fun. In my Intermediate Journalism class, we started a blog and had to report on something once a week, and since I’m clearly no Woodward and Bernstein, I decided to just make funny videos instead.

This video was shot in a day and consisted of my friend and I calling various new luxury hotels that were bogged down with delays because of the crappy economy. Another video we did revolved around the new luxury apartments in Williamsburg that had barely any occupancy rate because of—you guessed it!— the crappy economy. Basically everything I did in that class had to do with the recession because it was 2008 and no one had any money except for the kids I went to school with.

My favorite part of liberal arts school were the classroom discussions. Lang classes were entirely socratic seminar, which meant that people just talked. A lot. Some people would be perpetually outraged and pick fights with people. Others would come to class carrying a $5,000 bag and a coffee from Dean & Deluca looking totally over it. These rich kids were the best though because you could tell the teachers would just sort of be like, “How are your shoes nicer than mine?” I once had a professor who was this major successful author, had lots of money, and a girl in my class actually lived in the same fancy building as her. Only at a liberal arts college would a student be able to afford the same bourgie apartment as her teacher.

One of the perks of attending liberal arts college is that you’ll usually have a C-list celebrity in your class. Stacey Farber from Degrassi was in one of my writing classes, socialite Olivia Palermo from The City roamed our halls looking confused and expensive, Jesse Eisenberg was in a math class with one of my friends and a real life prince even went to Lang for, like, a day.

It’s really easy to mock a liberal arts college because it can be a ridiculous place that attracts a lot of ridiculous people. But if you have the opportunity to actually go, you should do it because you can shockingly learn a lot and get individual attention in small classes. Like with most things, it’s kind of all what you make of it. If you want to spend four years developing a drug problem and getting in Paper magazine, you can and you will probably even still get okay grades. But if you want to actually use the amazing resources that a school that costs $40,000 a year can provide, you can do that too. Just whatever you end up doing, don’t complain about it. There’s nothing worse than a privileged liberal arts student complaining about the limited vegan options at the cafeteria and organizing a protest about it. TC mark

image – Island Photography

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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  • Javier Pickle

    Aren't half the articles on TC “Life at a Liberal Arts College?”

    • Falco

      I second this.

    • Tim

      Some of us find it hard to move on from those years…

  • Miles

    Ahahaha. “bourgie”? dilettante.

  • Alex Thayer

    i do not attend a liberal arts college

  • Rachel Potter

    This article has been written a dozen times already. It's getting really boring.

  • Brian McElmurry

    Damn, a lot of hate in the comments. I liked the article.

  • nyugraduate

    you taped your video a few blocks from nyu!

  • Geronimo

    Spot on Ryan. Spot on. Liberal Arts colleges are like year round summer camp and its fucking awesome. Anyone who ever complained needs to sit down and shut  their privileged little mouth up.

  • blood orange

    applied to Eugene Lang.  got accepted.  could not come close to being able to pay tuition with amount of money they were offering.  moved on with life.  good for you for being rich.  (unless you got good financial aid, which Eugene Lang rarely gives out…  if that's the case, then really good for you).

  • SDF

    hahaha oh man that spiteful speech at the end of the video (3:47). amazing.

  • Jtv4k

    … it only costs $40k a year?? **Public** education in CA costs more than that! I live in the wrong state.

  • boo

    I fucking wish. I'm trapped at my state school with all of these sorority girls and their iced coffee and neo-con professors who think we need to bomb China ASAP. :(

  • Briana

    was stacey farber a good writer?

  • Bridget

    This is awesome. I'm starting my freshman year at lang this fall and couldn't be more excited!

  • federico

    i got into eugene lang- should i have gone?

  • scooter

    glad you enjoyed it, but it surprises me that anyone would go to a liberal arts college – 40K is ridiculous! You can knock state schools for not being as “prestigious” but they have many more options in terms of majors and classes.  The education can be just as good if you want to take hard classes or choose a difficult major.  Oh and it wind up being 140K cheaper which is nice…

    • ryan chang

      i'm not surprised that people would want to go to a liberal arts college. people want a lot of things that don't 'make sense' to other people, doesnt make it bad or good.

      • scooter

        yeah i'm not saying going to a liberal arts college is good or bad, its just surprising because when comparing different schools spending exponentially more for the same product doesn't seem like it would make much sense for anyone – if you could explain why it does i'd honestly love to hear it

  • jmgoatse

    art college is something you can write about

    • ryan chang

      is that you, it's me, ryan.

  • Fasdflkasd

    The kind of individual attention you got sounds a lot like babysitting to me.

  • ryan chang

    i like this a lot. 'confused and expensive.'

  • Brandon

    uhh 40,000 a year for liberal arts college?! Mommy and Daddy must really like you. You got ripped off buddy, or you just couldn't resist going to a school in the heart of New York with a bunch of C-listers. 

    • Ruthlezz

      That's pretty much what any private college or university costs nowadays. Good public U's aren't even that much cheaper for out of state.

    • Faith

      even some  non private, non arts colleges cost like 30000 a year now. economy sux bro. get ovr itt.

    • FoundThisFunny

      my lib arts school was 45k a year for bumblefuck upstate new york. the average household in the school's county made less than that a year. at least that price makes a little sense when you are  in the middle of a major city.

      also i went to a waspy popped-collar school so therefore cannot relate to any of these “how to go to liberal arts school” posts…. tragic…

      • Greg

        Union or Hamilton?

      • jaskmackey


  • Jelly Roll Morton

    Liberality at a Life Arts College:
    in general you will be impressed to a large extent by marshmellow pizzas. there will come a time when an identical twin approaches you in the rotissomat and invites you back to his place for sand volleyball and you will decline but later feel a great emptiness.

  • grinch

    funny article…but you're better off spending fifty grand at a more accredited liberal arts institution, suckaa

    • Ryan O'Connell

      don't cry for me, argentina. I GAWT A JOB.

    • SisterRay

      how can something be “more accredited”? are you looking for “prestigious” or “well-regarded” or something? cause accreditation is either there or it ain't.

  • Denden

    OMFG is this Ms. O'Connell himself?!

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