Short Visit: Eugene Lang College (NYC)
Eugene Lang College is one of five undergraduate colleges within New School University in New York City. I took a brief visit there a short time ago before meeting with one of my students in the city.
Eugene Lang, whom the college was named, was a technologist and philanthropist as well as one of America’s leading proponents for higher education from 1981 until his death in 2017. In addition to providing $20 million in funding to start the college named for him, he supported over 16,000 children around the world in their journey through college. Columbia University’s Entrepreneurship Center is named for him. So are two programs at Swarthmore College, his undergraduate alma mater. Awarded the Medal of Freedom, our country’s highest civilian honor, by President Bill Clinton, Lang lived to be 98.
Eugene Lang College has 20 majors, all in the humanities or social sciences, as well as 55 minors. The most popular offerings are in Global Studies and Media and Culture. Eugene Lang has no general education requirements to complete a Bachelor’s degree, only a writing course, a first-year seminar and a senior project. Students can also choose a major from Eugene Lang’s offerings in combination with a minor from Parsons, The New School for Design, the College of Performing Arts or the Schools for Public Engagement.
Interestingly, I was told on the tour that Eugene Lang College students rarely double major or carry multiple minors. But ambitious students can earn a dual degree from Parsons and Eugene Lang over five years. Those who might want to combine an interest in the liberal arts with the visual or performing arts will have no problem finding like-minded souls at this school.
Eugene Lang shares residences and student-oriented spaces with the university’s other schools. But New School University is more of a collection of buildings than a campus. Unlike NYU or Cooper Union this school is not designed around a park or a square; it just blends in with its East Village surroundings. I could not find much in the way of pictures when I made a Pinterest page. The same was true for Parsons when I visited there. Eugene Lang has 1,500 undergraduates, about half the number enrolled at Parsons, which is the largest undergraduate school for the university.
But the student who would be happiest at Eugene Lang would not be looking for a campus setting. S/he would rather use their city as their campus, after finding a few friends. If you don’t need to come to class or use the facilities, chances are that you are at least one subway stop away. The college will even help you get a discount for the Metro Card! I worked in Manhattan for 11 years and met plenty of students who wanted this experience whether they went to the New School’s schools, Fashion Institute of Technology, the School of Visual Arts or NYU. They did fine academically and made friends. Quite often they made friends who were enrolled at different colleges.
The big plus of this experience: the Eugene Lang graduate will have a better idea of what it means to be young, struggling to cover costs to live in New York than their peers who went to college elsewhere. I’ll bet anyone that the Eugene Lang graduate will be hungrier to succeed. The downside: The experience is quite expensive without a scholarship. Tuition and fees are approaching $50,000. Room and board charges to live in university housing range between $17,000 and $24,000, among the highest I have ever seen.
I could not find data specific to Eugene Lang, only information for all of the New School University undergraduate schools together. So I cannot make a report card.
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