Mariam Sandhu

Parent of Noor Sandhu '11
Dubai

Mariam SandhuHow did you and Noor first learn about Sarah Lawrence?
We learned about SLC from a colleague—an art teacher—at the Shanghai American School where I also taught. 

What was Noor's area of concentration at SLC?
Music (Classical Vocal Performance).

Did you have any concerns about Noor attending college in the United States?
I wouldn't say "concerns," but I was slightly apprehensive about her being seen as outsider, as she had never lived in America prior. I wanted to be sure that the school she attended had students who were from a variety of backgrounds and nationalities. I wanted her to "'fit in" easily and so was careful to select a college that had a number of students of diverse nationalities.

What specifically did SLC do to help you overcome these concerns?
From my very first encounter with the international advisor, Shirley Be, at a college fair at the Shanghai American School, I was able to see that SLC gave attention to its international student body. We were able to be in contact with Shirley right through the four years of Noor's schooling. She put Noor in touch with other students of similar interests, even before Noor moved to New York. Furthermore, the quality of the SLC students themselves (the school is selective, of course, in the type of student it accepts), meant that despite being of a different nationality, Noor was amongst students with similar backgrounds, values and interests. There was no great distinction between her and the other students.

How difficult or easy was Noor's transition into SLC as a first-year student?
As we had already visited SLC the summer before Noor moved, and knew what to expect, the transition was comparatively easy. The orientation really helped with this, right from giving her the opportunity to go shopping for odds and ends to set up her dorm room, to meeting the other international students at lunches and concerts.

What was the transition like for you?
Obviously, it takes some adjusting to lose a member of one's family, but knowing that Noor was well-settled at college and successful in her studies made us very happy with our decision to send her to SLC.

What kinds of changes did you notice in Noor after she became an SLC student?
We saw much growth: she has far greater self-confidence, socially as well as educationally. She is not hesitant to join in to conversations with other adults on any number of subjects and is self-reliant. She has left SLC with a very positive attitude on life, people, and her own abilities.

Would you recommend SLC to others? If so, why?
Of course; I have, in fact, recommended it to several other students at the schools where I have been teaching.

The focus on the individual student at SLC is one of its greatest strengths. The teacher-student ratio allows the students to develop close relationships with, not only their Dons, but the other faculty as well. At each point of the learning process, the student knows that there is a mentor, someone he/she can be in touch with, who can guide them along the way, to whom their education matters. This 1:1 attention really helped build Noor's confidence. Because of the small classes she was able to form strong relationships with both teachers and students; she developed both intellectually and socially.

The faculty is dedicated and genuinely wants each SLC student to achieve their potential.

However, I do believe that SLC may not be the ideal school for every child. There is a special kind of student who will be happy and successful at SLC: one who is passionate in his/her interests and who is hungry for intellectual stimulation.

Note: Noor Sandhu is a second year student for the MA degree at the Manhattan School of Music, where she studies voice.