Non-Athlete Student at St. Lawrence University?

For some reason, St. Lawrence U feels like a very sporty college. My D will not be doing a sport (maybe non-competitive riding). She is shy as well. Do the athletics color the whole campus? Are non-athletes happy?

Secondly, are non-partiers happy at this campus?

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Curious as to what attracted a non-athlete & non-partier to this school. Without more information, this does not seem to be an appropriate choice for this student.

The other group that likes SLU are the outdoorsy students - hiking, etc. Not sure if that helps or not.

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I agree with both Publisher and Creekland. My D looked at St. Lawrence as a freshman and as a transfer student. There are a lot of student athletes and it has a rep as a party school. It does also have a very active outdoor club (which was of interest to my D). I messaged back and forth with two parents on CC whose kids (non partiers) transferred out. They also felt it was very cliquey, FWIW.


She is looking at it bc it is a SLA school, she is interested in horses and it is in the northeast. SLU does not market itself as a school for partiers or athletes, so not obvious when choosing schools. That is why I asked.

Not sure what a SLA school is beyond high schools designated as Science, Language, & Arts schools.

Skidmore College might be of interest to your daughter & is in a far less isolated location.

P.S. According to the Fiske Guide To Colleges 2020: Skidmore College’s riding program has won 8 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association national championships of which the most recent was in 2018.

I’m not sure how the riding is there now, but I know a few decades ago it was superb. I used to ride/show there as a kid/teen (pre-college), but that was back when Mondale’s daughter used to attend. Students would attend just for the riding program.

Thank you - Skidmore is also on her list. I have a better understanding of that school and less so of SLU, so that is why I asked. She has been in contact with equestrian coach at Skidmore. Might be a reach for her in admissions though. SLU a little less so.

Sorry - SLA “Small liberal Arts”

In the world of LACs, St. Lawrence University is not considered small as it has about 2,400 students.

FWIW: Denison University in Ohio is similar in size & in partying style as St. Lawrence University.

In addition to Skidmore College, consider Conn College & Vassar College.

My kid went through recruiting at St Lawrence so we visited a number of times, plus he has a good high school friend who went to St L. Similar to a lot of LACs, percentage wise, there are a lot of athletes among the student body. And, similar to many rural LACs, drinking is presumably a thing. That being said, my kid’s friend – an introvert who was neither an athlete nor partier but a big cross country skier with strong interest in environmental sciences – had an excellent experience. Most LACs have a fair amount of drinking, from Amherst to Knox. Lots of reports suggest that drinking is heavier at remote LACs, which would include St L (but not Denison, for instance, which is 20 min from a major city and definitely not rural).


I agree with most of your post, but not the comment regarding drinking at Denison as Denison has a well earned rep for lots of crowded drinking parties. (FWIW St. Lawrence’s hearty party scene is a bit tamer than that at Denison University.)

P.S. Just checked Fiske Guide To Colleges 2020. Denison University is one of the schools which received the highest rating for “social life” which indicates–according to the Fiske Guide editors–that it is a serious party school.

We can agree to disagree on Denison, though my information is based on my ‘20 Denison grad who was a 4 year athlete and non-greek life member. He and his extended group of friends went to parties and drank, but no more (and often less) than our friends’ kids at Kenyon and Amherst and similar schools. And there is lots to do for non-partiers, performing arts are very big and most weekends included going to some friend’s performance. Plus, by junior year, the students were going into Columbus frequently. Denison nowadays would be unrecognizable to someone who knew it from 20 years ago, as a result of concerted, strategic focus and change.

I respect your opinion, but we do disagree.

For the opinion of current & recent Denison University students, try unigo. The student surveys reveal very heavy drinking on a very frequent basis & more drug usage than is found at the other schools listed.

Also, check out the Fiske Guide To Colleges which gives Denison its highest rating for partying.

P.S. Kenyon College had serious issues with drinking on campus.

For people interested in St L or Denison, I would encourage them to do their research. I spent a lot of time at Denison when my student was in-season, attending competitions, and I was often on campus at night, once the parties started. I’m not relying on my kid’s report of his own activities – I’ve been there. Other things to keep in mind – since ‘19, parties have been banned from the “sunnies” – the original senior apartments – which had contributed to the narrow, overcrowded conditions. The new senior apartment building has a wine bar, social spaces, plus there are new social spaces built in the “moonies” – a kind of multi-function party barn/social space. Of course there are parties and drinking to excess – it’s home to 2400 18-22 year olds. But in comparing our friends’ kids’ experience at any number of top LACs, there is no difference, whether you are talking about Wesleyan, Conn Coll, or Amherst etc. Yes, there may be less drinking at Swat, and Haverford, and the women’s colleges. But seems pretty consistent at most other places.

I would strongly advise your daughter not to apply to St. Lawrence given the information you shared. I am similar to how you described her (also a girl) and ended up transferring after my freshman year because I was so unhappy.

SLU is definitely very cliquey, with cliques based on sports teams, Greek Life and theme houses (though you cannot join either until Sophomore year), and feeder high schools (both prep schools and certain public schools from CT, MA, and also the nearby towns around SLU). As a freshman, if you are not on a sports team or from one of these high schools, it is VERY difficult to make friends. Ironically, I think if freshmen could join Greek Life in their second semester, it would help a lot. Some freshmen do make strong connections within their FYP, but this was not the case for me or my friends who I eventually did meet through other classes, but it was difficult to find them.

Additionally, the social life STRONGLY centers around partying, both drinking and smoking. There are barely any weekend activities that don’t center around parties, especially since the town itself is so small, so options are very limited.

For what it’s worth, I did enjoy my professors and classes, and the campus itself is definitely nice. I initially wanted to go to SLU for the same reason as your daughter, as I was really interested in Small Liberal Arts Colleges in remote areas.

My DMs are open if you or your daughter have any other questions about my experience - I’d be more than happy to connect!


Thank you for your candid review. Our of curiosity, may I ask what your major was and if you joined any clubs/activities? Also - if you would like - where did you transfer to, and was it much better? Thank you for your help.

This survey-based ranking from the Princeton Review includes several of the schools mentioned in this topic:

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You’re welcome! I was undecided, but leaning towards English at the time. I was involved with the newspaper and Her Campus, which at the time was very small but I think has since become more robust. I do think if I had been more active in clubs I may have had a better experience, but it’s hard to say. I transferred to a large urban university - so the opposite of St. Lawrence! I liked it much better, as the community was larger than just the school; I was able to interact with the larger city community. Happy to share more specific details over private message if you’d like.

Just finished reading another thread titled:

“Desperately want to transfer out of Williams College, do I have a chance”.

In my opinion, the OP shared concerns that may apply to one considering or attending St. Lawrence University as both are rural LACs with isolated cold weather locations.

Well worth reading.