Hey, let me just briefly preface my question. I plan on majoring in film in college and thus appropriately applied to schools with a film major. Right now, I'm choosing between Vassar and Syracuse's Newhouse School of Communications. In all honesty, I think Syracuse's program is more specialized, but i would really just like to know if anyone has anything to say for Vassar's film program.
Also, I just want a little input on Vassar's social life. How are the parties? I often read about campus-wide-school-functioned parties, so how are those? In all honesty, I plan to party a good amount in college, all in good fun, but I'm just not sure if Vassar would provide the proper means for this. Basically, I just want to know about the social life in general, please!
@thisireal... It really depends on what class we're talking about... this sort of thing varies by the nature of the subject, professor, and department. That being said, the majority of the classes I've taken (in the humanities, the social sciences, the physical sciences, and languages) have been a mix of discussion and lecture. Sorry if that's not the best answer... if you want to ask about a specific department, I might be able to give you more of a sense of the typical rhythm of the courses in it.
@thebigcheese... I know several economics majors here at Vassar and they're all very pleased with the department. I haven't actually taken an economics course yet, so can't personally comment, but am under the impression that the department is quite strong. There are actually a fair amount of Economics majors at Vassar, so a nice range of courses are offered in it (As an interesting, if random, aside: our president is actually a professor in the department). If you haven't done so already, be sure to check out the economics website for more information: Vassar Economics.
The math department at Vassar is on the smaller side, but is definitely respectable. Although a good amount of Vassar students take math, there aren't all that many majors, which has it's pluses (individual attention from profs) and minuses (more limited course offerings). I took one course in the department with a visiting professor (he's gone now) which wasn't very good, but I think my experience was atypical. I know several people who've taken courses in the department (Single Variable Calculus & Linear Algebra) and have found the professors to be quite good. I would say that if you're looking for a school with a huge math department, Vassar might not be your best option, but if you're looking for a more personalized, intimate program, it's an excellent fit. The math department website is: Vassar College Department of Mathematics.
I've yet to take a train into the city from Poughkeepsie (the times I've gone have been via bus for class trips), but have friends who have done so. They really haven't complained about the hygiene of the train, so I'd assume that it's serviceable, if not particularly special. The train from Poughkeepsie takes you directly to Grand Central Station, which is pretty convenient: it's the last stop on the Hudson line. I believe that the round trip ticket costs about $25, but I'm not 100% sure on that.
@sir oprah... Unfortunately, I haven't taken any film courses at Vassar yet, nor am I very good friends with anyone who has. If you haven't checked out the department website yet, that might be a good place to start: Vassar Film.
The social life at Vassar is really what you want it to be: just about every weekend there are a variety of different things to do. Personally, I've enjoyed the campus-wide parties I've attended. Most are centered around dancing, but have their own individual flavors thanks to their themes (they've included Arabian Nights Prom, Moulin Rouge, Roaring 20s, Halloween, Seven Sins, Anything But Cloth, Heaven & Hell, Day-Glo Toga, and several Raves). In addition to these parties, there are also dances in the Mug (an on-campus sort of night club) both during the week and on weekends.
If you're interested in more "illicit" activities, you'll definitely be able to find that here as well. The all-campus parties serve alcohol only to those of age; however, there are definitely private parties on-campus where underage students can drink. There's no pressure to drink, and not everyone on-campus does, but drinking definitely happens (usually in the senior houses, but there are also parties in the dorms at times).
So, I'm considering two other colleges right now, and I just can't make up my decision. I'm a gay guy from Mississippi (we do exist!). I'm interested in doing International Studies and drama and also going to law school afterwards. Does Vassar sound like a good school for me? I really want to enjoy my experience, but I also want a school that offers incredible academics as well. Is Vassar that school? Also, side question. I see that Vassar is associated with Yale. How often to people go to Yale after Vassar? Is the association evident?
I'm currently a senior film major at Vassar.
Just wanted to pop in and say a few words about the film dept after I saw Sir Oprah's questions.
There are basically 2 parts to the film program: production and theory.
Since we are a liberal arts college, theory is a large part of the film major. If you are looking solely at production, Vassar would not be the right choice. If you want a broad education in all aspects of the liberal arts in addition to learning about film, then Vassar is the place to be.
You can't start the film major until you are a sophomore. There is one class for Freshman, but it doesn't count towards the major if you take it. Sophomore year all majors take a year long class on World Cinema. It's basically a history of cinema course and I really enjoyed it. It gives you a solid base in film theory. From then on you can take more specialized classes which can be genre classes (this year horror and scifi, next year they are doing the western, documentary, and romantic comedy) or other types of classes (in recent years we've had Southeastern Asian film and film in the McCarthy Era). You can also take classes in other departments that are film based. Junior year I took computer animation in the art dept, it was my favorite class I've taken at Vassar.
You don't take production classes until your junior year. One thing unique about Vassar is that students are still taught using film stock.
Junior year you shoot small projects on black and white, silent film.
Fall of senior year students are split into teams and shoot documentaries on digital. You submit proposals for docs, the class chooses the ones to be made, and whoever submitted the proposal is the director. Also in the fall, you take a class where you write short narratives, the class chooses the best ones, and the short narrative films are shot spring semester on color film, with sound. Each team has a director, cinematographer, sound person, and editor.
If you are interested in screenwriting, we have a wonderful screenwriting professor, he is the one who founded the film department when he first came to Vassar as a drama professor. In the screenwriting class you write a full-length screenplay for your project.
There's been a bit of a regime change in the last few years, so the dept now focuses more on theory than it did in the past, but I believe the vast majority of film students are happy with the major. There is also the option to study abroad, which can be a bit tricky to maneuver, but seems worthwhile.
Hope this helped, if you have any more questions, feel free to ask.
i would really like advice on english 101 classes - are there any professors that are preferable to others? which classes are the best? i saw that this past year there was an american gothic course in english 101 and im really upset that its not being taught in fall 09. hawthorne is one of my favorites.
^ I can't believe American Gothic isn't happening! I was going to recommend that to you. Not that I took it, but I have the professor (Julia Rose) for composition this semester and she is a rock star. I love her.
There's an English 184, which is also a writing seminar, taught by Natalie Friedman, who I took for American Lit (ENGL 225) last semester. She's amazing and wonderful and I couldn't recommend her more highly. The course she's teaching is cross-listed with Jewish Studies.
Rate My Professors is actually a pretty good source for reading about professors. Some people don't agree with me, but it's always done well for me...
bkt0991- What are the other two schools? Vassar sounds like a good fit for you. (you might want a current student's opinion too though..). But yeah, Vassar's law school acceptance rate is usually between 70-90%, and drama at Vassar is very good, obviously. Dunno about Intl. studies.
I'm not sure if the Vassar/Yale association exists anymore, though, I thought it ended when Yale wanted Vassar to move there and Vassar went co-ed instead? Meryl Streep went to Vassar and then Yale, if that means anything, but I think that was when Vassar was still all girls.
@bkt0991... I agree with afaceinspace: Vassar sounds like a great fit for you. Both our international studies and drama programs are, to the best of my knowledge, quite strong. I don't know all that much about the drama department, but one of my good friends is an International Studies major (she loves the department), so I can tell you a bit about that. The department is an interdisciplinary one, meaning that you have a big say in determining which courses you'd like to take to satisfy your major. There are a core group of courses that all majors take; however, the majority are chosen by you, with the approval of your advisor and the director of the program. The idea is that you choose to have three focuses to your major: a language and two other categories (my friend's are history and political science). Thus, you fulfill your major by taking classes in these three different departments. International studies majors are also strongly encouraged to go abroad for a semester or a year. For more information about the major, check out the program website: Vassar: International Studies.
I've found that Vassar does offer a good balance between strong academics and an ability to enjoy the "college experience." Most of the courses I've taken have been demanding, but not to the extent that I feel that I need to constantly be studying to do well.
Historically, you're right on. Vassar was associated with Yale prior to the 1960s when both schools went co-ed. Now, no real connection exists. That being said, Vassar students definitely go to Yale for graduate school: because the school is so well-respected, it's a great place to come out of.
@nmatth... dc89 gives you some good advice (in particular, to check out Ratemyprofessors.com). I didn't take an English 101 course for my freshman writing seminar, but know several people who did and have a couple friends who are English (or English-related) majors, and can give you some thoughts on a few of the seminars/professors:
101-01: Early British Literature. Amodio is supposed to be pretty good: I had a friend who took his Founding of English Literature course (200-level) and really liked it. Another friend took this actual Seminar and found it to be tough, but interesting at times. His one complaint was that Amodio spent a lot of time on Paradise Lost, which he didn't enjoy.
101-02: Symbolic Quest. I have a friend who was going to take The Fairytale (200-level) with Darlington this past semester, but after meeting her, she chose not to because she found Darlington to be a bit of a nut (a la Professor Trelawney from Harry Potter). I would definitely check out Ratemyprofessor to see if my friend's feelings were right though.
101-03: Inside Story: What's News. As I was reading the course description for this one, I was surprised to see that Foster is teaching it. He co-taught the Founding of English Literature course my friend took last semester, and according to her, his specialty is Shakespeare. That being said, she really liked Foster and is planning on taking more classes with him, so that's probably a good sign.
101-17: Such Were the Joys. My friend has Robertson as her advisor and absolutely loves her. She's also taken a course with her (on Shakespeare), and has greatly enjoyed that as well. I don't know about this course itself, but can tell you that I've heard very good things about the professor.
Sorry I can't help you more with deciding. Since the English department is so big and I'm not very involved with it personally, I don't have all that much firsthand knowledge of it.
afaceinspace- the other two schools are Tulane and Emory. I've toured both of them, and I found that I like Tulane more than I like Emory. I will be touring Vassar on Monday, so I can see how my tour compares with the other two schools. I just don't know how much I can get out of a tour. Hopefully, I will get enough to make my decision much easier.
littleatheist- Thanks for all the information! Just one more question. What does getting interdisiplinary degree mean? Will I recieve a B.A. in international studies or just a B.A. in liberal arts?
the "new voices, old stories" english/jewish class looks AMAZING, but it would conflict with elementary italian!
also, i wanted to know about italian 105a-106b and intensive elementary italian. whats the difference and does 105-106 mean a full year class? it said intensive was 2 units and 105-106 was a single unit. explain please?
Writing and journalism are two of the most major things in my life and something I would like to continue with in after college. I would like to focus on journalism, but also do novel writing and screen writing. I'm not a big partier, don't drink or smoke, and identify as lesbian. Does Vassar seem like it would fit me well? I'm currently choosing between Vassar and Wellesley (I've written off Smith only because it's damn near impossible to visit it whereas I'll be visiting Vassar and Wellesley for their admit days).
Also, what's the social life like off of campus- as in, what does Poughkeepsie and the surrounding area have to offer? Is it a good college city; do you get benefits at restaurants/stores (such as discounts) for being a student?
And my biggest question: how does music lessons at Vassar work? I would like to get involved with piano, guitar, and voice in college and I wanted to know how I'd be able to do that at the beginner level. I looked at the site and read about 'auditions,' but how can I audition if I don't know how to play in the first place? If someone could help me out with that, that'd be fantastic...
Thank you so much Littleathiest and everyone else who has been active on this thread.
I took Italian 105-106 my freshman year. It is considered a year long course, and is every day for 50 minutes plus a one hour drill session each week. You commit to the year when you enroll, and in order to get credit for first semester, you have to take second semester.
Intensive Italian covers in one semester what 105-106 covers over a year. It's every day for an hour and 15 minutes, plus a drill session. You also are assigned more homework. It's very rigorous and is 2 units because it is the amount of work of two classes. So if you do intensive, you would only need to take 2 more classes to have a full course load (4 units) instead of 3.
I would recommend taking the year long class if you know you want to take Italian, I think the risk with learning that much so fast is that it won't stick with you. Plus, you'll get tired of the same class every day for that long. Italian 105-106 felt overwhelming for me at times, I can't imagine Intensive. I think 105-106 would be a more enjoyable experience. I loved the Italian dept, they are a fun group of people. Each semester they planned a trip to the Met to see an opera, it was a lot of fun, I'm not sure if they still do that.
If you're looking specifically for journalism classes, I don't believe Vassar has any, but I have heard good things about the writing classes in the English dept, they teach a wide variety of writing forms. Also, the screenwriting classes in the film department are wonderful, I really enjoyed the ones I've taken. And the drama dept has a class in playwriting if that's your thing too. There is also a campus newspaper that you can get involved in, and many of the student groups produce publications that showcase student writing, including one which is a literary magazine.
Okay, on to music lessons-
Most music lessons are nonaudition, except voice, piano, and possibly guitar (I'm not sure about guitar). Also, I am pretty sure they only teach classical guitar at Vassar, which is a bit different than regular acoustic or electric. The lessons are $500 a semester, and are a half unit.
Voice and piano are pretty much impossible to get into at the beginner level, unless you have a lot of raw talent. It's very competitive because these lessons are so popular and they only have so many professors.
However, there is a voice teacher who gives lessons once a week in the drama dept. She takes all levels and is cheaper than the Vassar lessons, but you do not receive school credit. I took lessons from her for two semesters and she was wonderful. If you are interested, I would email the drama dept over the summer and they can put you in contact with her. You do not have to be involved in drama to take lessons from her. Also, I emailed the music department chair to ask about area teachers in Poughkeepsie, but this can be tricky if you do not have a car. I took lessons for a semester from a teacher in Poughkeepsie, and I also enjoyed her lessons as well.