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Vassar College


A distinguished institution with a history of academic excellence, Vassar College has an annual enrollment of around 2,450 students. The college has a reputation for being exceedingly selective with its admissions. However, this selectivity is one of the factors that makes this such a desirable place to earn an undergraduate degree.

The Vassar College campus is located in Poughkeepsie, New York. This notable liberal arts college admitted only female students for approximately 100 years after its founding in 1861. It was one of the Seven Sisters colleges, institutions meant to be the sister schools of their Ivy League counterparts. An offer to merge with Yale University was turned down around 1969, and Vassar became a coeducational institution.

Matthew Vassar, a successful brewer, founded the college as Vassar Female College, though he shortly did away with the “female” in the name. Noted astronomer Maria Mitchell was the first instructor appointed to the faculty in 1865 and the institution still has a strong astronomy department today.

Vassar’s 1,000 acre campus is designated as an arboretum featuring hundreds of species of trees and plants. The campus is dotted with buildings from the college’s earliest days and some that are of a more recent vintage. Approximately 98% of the school’s population lives on campus, making for a lively and invigorating atmosphere.

Students choose from among 50 undergraduate majors at Vassar. A flexible curriculum requires fluency in one foreign language, a freshman writing course and a quantitative course. Otherwise, students are only required to complete their degree-specific courses. Many students choose to study abroad, particularly during their junior year, for a semester or a year.

Graduating with an undergraduate degree from Vassar College is a notable achievement. Students who are accepted can expect a challenging curriculum offered by faculty members who are noted experts in their fields.

Vassar College Accreditation Details

Accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools ensures that Vassar College programs have been thoroughly reviewed and judged appropriate for providing a quality educational experience. This accreditation is regularly reviewed and updated to make certain that the college continues to offer the same high level of education.

Vassar College Application Requirements

Vassar College is extremely selective. In any given year, only about 25% of applicants are accepted. This means that prospective students must be prepared to compete by not only submitting outstanding grades from high school, but also demonstrating participation in extracurricular activities and community involvement. The admissions process is need-blind, meaning that the financial situation of individual students is not considered as part of the application. Students who want to be given serious consideration must demonstrate participation in rigorous academic classes for their junior and senior years of high school. This means taking advanced placement or accelerated courses in math, science, English, history and a foreign language. Students who demonstrate a particularly broad resume of academic experience in high school may be given special consideration.

Prospective students must fill out the online Common Application, which is submitted with a nominal fee. High school transcripts and results from standardized tests should be included. At least two recommendation letters from a guidance counselor and a teacher are also required. Students interested in learning more about the Vassar experience may ask for a local interview with an alumnus. This is an informal meeting and does not affect the admission decision.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Students who attend Vassar full time for fall and spring terms can expect to pay about $47,000 in tuition. On campus rooms will cost an additional $6,000-$7,000 per year while board will run approximately $5,000. Nonrefundable student activities and health services fees each cost between $300 and $400 per year. Financial aid is available to students who qualify.

Student Experience

Vassar College is known for offering an enriching and vibrant campus experience. The signature event of the academic year is the Founder’s Day Festival that takes place in April or May. It involves a wide range of recreational activities including plays and musical performances.

All enrollees are automatic members of the Student Association, but individuals may choose a more active role on the council. Students with an interest in journalism may write for the Miscellany News, a famed weekly paper. Music and other performing arts are the subject of several on campus clubs including the a cappella group the Vassar Night Owls and the theater group called the Philaletheis Society. The Vassar Greens club promotes environmental efforts on campus while the Barefoot Monkeys is the college’s circus arts club. Regardless of what types of activities students are interested in they will likely find a suitable club or other organization.

Of course, the main focus of the college is academics. Students may choose from a range of 50 different degree disciplines. These range from Africana studies and philosophy to physics and astronomy. Students who don’t wish to commit themselves to a single area of study may select the Independent Major option. This allows the student to craft a highly customized curriculum that best meets their interests and goals. Vassar does not have the core curriculum classes that are required at most liberal arts colleges. This provides students with a better opportunity to gain a depth of education that is more in line with their goals for life after graduation.

English is the most popular degree program on campus. Other programs that receive many enrollees are psychology, political science, biology and economics. Regardless of which major is chosen students can expect plenty of individual attention from their professors. With only about 2450 students and 290 faculty members the student to teacher ratio is 8:1. Most classes average approximately 17 students. As well as being able to develop meaningful relationships with their professors, students can also rest assured that they are receiving quality instruction. Nearly all of the college’s instructors hold a doctorate or equivalent degree.

Vassar’s library facilities are particularly exceptional. The Thompson Memorial Library is the main building, but the college actually boasts eight libraries. The collection is recognized as one of the largest in the U.S. and Vassar’s library is a Federal Depository library, a distinction it has held since 1943.

With a reputation for academic excellence and a remarkably flexible curriculum, students are guaranteed an enriching experience at renowned Vassar College.