Study: LS students feel stigmatized

Kogon conducted a study which showed that LS students feel inferior to other NYU students.

LS students feel inferior to other NYU students, according to a study conducted by CAS junior Drew Kogon. The study included 110 participants, all of whom were freshmen.

Originally an LS student, Kogon said his time in Liberal Studies served as a motivation for the research — he wanted to see if there was empirical data to support the stigma he felt surrounded Liberal Studies.

“I became pretty aware of the stereotypes that exist regarding the different colleges,” Kogon said. “I myself was a member of LS so from that and from observing my peers in how they perceived themselves and how some of them really felt they were, to some degree, second-class students added more bulk and more foundation to doing a study.”

Kogon said most LS students apply to CAS but the university places them in LS. Kogon added that this contributes to the feeling of perceived inferiority.


“A lot of it has to do with the fact that people perceive someone to be less intelligent because NYU is making the decision of where they want them to go to school as opposed to the individual,” Kogon said.

Initially, Kogon thought he would find a difference between those who were referred to Liberal Studies by the university and those who applied to it directly.

“I thought I’d find a significant difference in how they felt about themselves and their school and what I found was there was no difference,” Kogon said. “It seems that even if you get rid of the reference program, there is a stigma behind Liberal Studies. It sinks deeper than why you ended up there.”

From start to finish, the research took about a year and a half. Kogon constructed a questionnaire of 65 questions and went to freshman residence halls searching for participants. Participants also included CAS students to collect data from students in other schools about the perception Liberal Studies. Kogon received the CAS Dean’s Undergraduate Research Fund to pursue the study.

LS freshman Tori Porada said she found the results of the study in line with her own experience, as she has sometimes felt as though students in other colleges did not respect students in the LS program as much.

“While LS is a great program, and I’m happy to be a part of it, I think some students think it is a joke because it is two years,” Porada said. “I’ve had friends insinuate that my classes aren’t ‘real’ because they are general courses and aren’t necessarily specific to a certain major.”

Not everyone agreed with the results, however, as LS freshman Christina Marini said Liberal Studies has offered her a valuable college experience due to the small number of students.

“I do not resonate with that claim because I have a passion for the Liberal Studies program,” Marini said. “I think it is a great way to begin college because — due to the small class sizes — students are able to truly form relationships with each other and with their professors.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 27 print edition. Email Marita Vlachou and Alanna Bayarin at [email protected]



  1. Was the study conducted among LS New York freshmen only? Because I think that the freshmen who went abroad their freshman year a) were more likely to have applied directly to the program and b) enjoyed their unique experience too much to worry about feeling “stigmatized.”

  2. As a sophomore in the Core Program of Liberal Studies, I have encountered the same “identity crises” that many of the first-year students have most likely experienced in this study. Although I initially thought that I didn’t fit into the typical NYU experience in a two-year program, after speaking with advisors and peers in LS, I quickly understood that there is not typical fit at this university. It’s important to take the negative remarks that others use to stigmatize Liberal Studies students, as statements of empowerment. We are lucky, as LS students, to be big fish in a small pond as we start our undergraduate degree programs. Not only that, some students have the luxury to begin their NYU experience at a study away site – this is an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Why would I want to sit in a large hall, be lectured on Plato’s Republic, and later have to sit in an early Friday morning recitation for the same course? In Liberal Studies, I have discourse alongside my professor and peers in a safe and open environment. Being in LS allows me to kill two birds with one stone – having the classic NYU experience that allows me to actually learn in my general courses rather than sleep through them. Students in LS need to be willing to educate themselves and understand Liberal Studies in order to have passion for the program they’re in. Why waste time talking bubbles about something that could actually help you in the long run?


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