America's Most Expensive College: The Unconvincing Explanation

Sarah Lawrence is America's most expensive college. It'll cost you a cool $59,000 to send your whelp there to sit shoeless on a grass lawn, becoming a lesbian. Why so pricey? The school's president has all sorts of dubious explanations.

In an Inside Higher Ed op-ed today, Sarah Lawrence president Karen Lawrence defends the fact that a year at her hippie school costs as much as a new BMW M3 Coupe. Small classes! Personal attention from professors! Education that is "handcrafted," like an appealingly obscure microbrew, because students design their own curriculum!

The fact that the school pawns off that task on the kids should be an argument for lower prices. Kids work cheap. Lawrence brags that "our average financial aid award is over $34,000," but leaves out the obvious follow up: you still owe $25K, even after the huge financial aid package. But think of all the "value" the students receive—"they learn how to think like entrepreneurs and create their own jobs and careers."

Haha. Yeah, every unemployed college grad in America is currently learning how to "create their own jobs and careers," because there are no jobs out there. Join the club, wildly indebted liberal arts grads! But hey, check out the list of distinguished Sarah Lawrence alumni who've gone before you: besides Rahm Emanuel, there's "MacArthur 'genius' choreographer Meredith Monk" and actress Julianna Margulies.

Pro tip to prospective students: when the school's president cites an actress from The Good Wife as the third-most prominent alumni of the incredibly expensive institution, that's a bad sign. Lawrence's big conclusion, after pondering the insane price of her college? "Without in any way minimizing the impact of our cost, we're worth every penny."

Well. Nobody ever accused Sarah Lawrence of turning out people who are good at math.

[Inside Higher Ed; photo via SLC]