Beyond the scope of Big 10 bashes and ginormous lecture halls lies an elite class of colleges recognized by those (and only those) who are in the academic know. Defying big university norms with their open curricula, lack of RAs and unapologetic (albeit sometimes excessive) activism, these hidden gems define college on their own terms. Admitted into or attending one of America’s small liberal arts colleges? You’ll have no problem recognizing these (good and bad) symptoms of a classic “SLAC” experience.
1. When asked where you go to school, you nearly drop dead from joy when you aren’t met with a blank stare.
“It’s a highly acclaimed school, I promise!”
2. Your campus has tons of history and is probably haunted by some deceased author, actor or politician.
Old buildings? Breathtaking. Old pipes and creepy corridors? Terrifying.
3. Social justice and going green are on everybody’s mind, all of the time.
The shame of not staying up-to-date on worldly news is more than enough incentive to be socially responsible.
4. The admissions office loves to brag about the scenic campus, faculty-to-student ratio and minimal course requirements.
Oh, and the word “progressive” is plastered on every brochure.
5. You’ve seen a naked body in public, more than once.
Or, at the very least, you’ve seen students going barefoot throughout the school day. #openminded
6. You gasp at the thought of your state school friends taking buses to class—nothing on your campus is more than five minutes away.
But do your walks still feel like miles, and do those same five buildings get old really fast? Probs.
7. Want to skip class? Better send your professor an excuse email because there’s no way he or she won’t notice your absence.
Twelve person classes, we hate you, but we love you.
8. That being said, you’re on a first-name basis with faculty, administrators and staff, contributing to some campus policies that are incredibly lax.
Punitive action? Never heard of it.
9. You better make friends in your major because you’ll be seeing the exact same faces all four years.
Ugh, why can’t obnoxious Madison un-declare?
10. And when people introduce themselves to you, you feign surprise as if you don’t already know their whole life story.
You have to be trying to not somehow recognize everyone on campus. What are strangers, even?
11. Athletes are far from celebs, and games are almost never attended.
But cheering amongst a crowd made up of solely parents is a fully embraced duty as the loyal girlfriend of an athlete.
12. If you go to a school without Greek life, you will probably never experience a ~real~ college party.
Themed or formal gatherings documented by endless Instagram snapshots? Not your life. *tears*
13. And if you go to a Seven Sisters school? Some uneducated male probably assumes you’re a man-hating coven member.
Meanwhile, your college is a feminist haven where you can be fierce and outspoken without being called a bossy b*tch. *praise hands*
14. Old hookups are unavoidable, and you will probably date their friends…or roommate.
You’ve quickly learned to embrace the weird and are probably on semi-civil terms due to a shared bond over the undeniable humor of the situation.
15. Your school is either incredibly preppy or incredibly hipster.
And if you’re a natural born prep at a hipster school? The judgment stares burned so hard that you succumbed to buying Birkenstocks.
16. Course catalogs outdo themselves every semester.
You secretly love the look of shock on family members’ faces when you list off the outrageous names of your classes.
17. You somehow have classmates and professors from around the world.
Oh, the accents. *insert heart eyes emoji*
18. Everyone is involved in a bajillion campus organizations.
Sleep is for the weak.
19. A cappella is everywhere.
Who doesn’t love when they practice in the middle of the night? *raises hand*
20. The college bubble is so, so real.
What even is the real world?
21. You know someone who is still bitter about that Ivy League rejection letter…
…and someone else who constantly brags that your school is a “baby Ivy.”
22. Weather is a nightmare—but you’ve developed a special pride for your hardiness.
(On phone with state school friend) “Oh, you had class canceled because of snow? Overreacting much?” *Cries silent tears of envy*
23. When you come home for breaks, family and friends comment on how you’ve “changed.”
When in reality, you’ve probably just become more accepting, open and mature. *shrugs*
24. And someone, somewhere, is criticizing your degree at this very moment.
Gosh, how dare we aspire towards a well-rounded education that fosters critical thinking and social consciousness? *eye roll*
25. But when it comes down to it, the oddities (and annoyances) of everyday SLAC life make your higher education experience completely unmatchable.
Your college memories may not entail endless tailgates and frat parties, but the story-telling content they provide is truly one-of-a-kind.