Hi everyone, I'm a writer for Vassar's newspaper, and I'm working on an article that's essentially about what attracts perspective students to Vassar and what detracts them, especially in relation to Vassar's peer schools. I'm also interested in what Vassar's reputation is to high school students looking to apply to a liberal arts college. It's common that people think that Williams is sporty, Middlebury is outdoorsy, Swarthmore is nerdy, etc. These are just stereotypes, and these schools are much more complex than the labels i've given them, but what are the stereotypes attached to Vassar, and where do they come from?
Would anyone be willing to talk with me over e-mail or on the phone sometime this week. Feel free to write your thoughts below -- I really want to hear anything you've got to say! Tell me why you're interested in Vassar and what hesitations you had with applying.
Well I got the impression that the school was more artsy than others, a lot of theater, but there seemed to be a balance of things (as in the school still had sports, balance between science and the humanities, good extracurriculars). I thought Vassar to be quirky? Certain aspects were a little weird but that's why people like it.
For me, I like that the school is small and has no frats/sororities. Small class sizes, get your money's worth, "community" feeling. And also the fact that most of the people that seem to attend have multiple interests that they can still maintain while going to Vassar. & the fact that so many things are student run!
I liked that the application supplement had a Yourspace section... such a relief that they care about the actual person & not just scores.
The only hesitations that I could think of are affordability issues. I mean I know that the websites say Vassar is need blind and all, but I don't think I would end up going if I had to pay so much for undegrad education. For me at least, the problem is that I am middle class -not too rich not too poor, so I don't know if the financial aid office is going to think I can afford this or not.
Poughkeepsie? Well right now I live about 20 minutes from NYC but I was never like an obsessed city-goer anyways so I don't really mind. But some of my friend's who I've talked to don't like that it's in this type of area. But I mean as long as it's safe and has all 4 seasons i'm fine
oh & i'm a prospective student if that info's needed
Stereotype within the top liberal arts schools: artsy, theatre-y, laid-back.
Why I'm interested: great academics, interesting student body, all the basic stuff, but on top of that lots of little things like Quidditch and GREAT a cappella. Also, this shouldn't matter, but the website, the college's YouTube channel, and all the websites for student organizations (I checked out the newspaper one and the one for a lot of a cappella groups) are just very well-done, easy to navigate, and informative.
Hesitations: too close to home (I'm from NYC), doesn't offer merit aid and I know I won't qualify for need-based aid so if I get merit aid from a comparable institution it'll be hard to say no to them.
Once my D figured out she wanted to go the LAC route, we concentrated our visits on Vassar and its peer institutions. My D ended up visiting Vassar 3 times. On the first trip, my husband and I kept mentioning to each other that we felt the campus was gloomy, so during the next visit, I was under strict orders to keep my mouth shut! Clearly, there was something about the school that intrigued her...I think the name and sense of history/tradition (which is emphasized on the tour) gives the college a certain aura. More tangible things were the artsy reputation, the Your Space page (instead of another essay), the library, and the friendliness of the students when she attended a class there. Her main hesitation was a feeling that the student body may be too "out there," and the fact that although creative, she isn't a drama/theatre person, and wondered if that would exclude her in some way. Oh...and the male/female ratio!
Poughkeepsie isn't a negative to her, as she was looking for a campus-based social environment, and it seemed to her that P'sie offers more than many of the rural LACs. She didn't feel she needed immediate access to a big city.
Parental concern: cost! (No merit aid, and she will not qualify for financial aid). She's an easy going kid, and she'd have no qualms about attending a state school.
I am happy to let you know how she felt about the peer schools...just PM me.
My son is interested in Vassar for reasons that are slightly different than those posted here. He narrowed his search to liberal arts colleges that offered strong English majors and programs in Japanese. As you can imagine, this sort of search produced a relatively small number of colleges. Since he's an outdoorsy time (yes, Middlebury is also on his list), the fact that Vassar's campus is lovely is a plus. As a Californian, he's interested in attending college in an area of the country that is totally new to him.
I'm interested in Vassar because it's got a reputable theatre program (and other opportunities in the arts) as well as strong academics. As a prospective theatre major, I don't want to be limited to that and miss the chance to learn about new areas.
The campus is beautiful as well.
Overall, what set Vassar apart for me was the programs-- they just fit what I'd hope to get out of my college experience. Also, the fact that although it's subarban, Vassar is not in the middle of nowhere. New York City is only a train ride away (unlike other LACs that are really in the middle of nowhere.)
Stereotypes: artsy, hip, gay friendly, perhaps better for the non-math, non-science crowd
My son liked that it was in a city, but had a separate well defined campus. (We'd just visited Bard in the morning which he hated.) I liked the fact that the sidewalks were shoveled and snow had been removed from the roads. (Unlike Bard.) BTW there were some aspects of Bard we loved.
Hesitations for us: Like teenage_cliche, it's a little close. (Though parents like the idea of taking son out to eat at the CIA.) Also while it didn't feel too small, it's smaller than son's high school. It's the smallest school he's applying to. Finally he's considering places with more of a reputation in International Relations.
I wanted a school that was strong in a multitude of disciplines, so I can change majors and study as many different things as possible and still study with excellent professors. I loved that Vassar had no frats or sororities, and one of the biggest reasons I applied (ED) was that almost everyone I saw or met during my three visits seemed very approachable and friendly, people I would want to get to know or befriend. That was certainly not the case at other, bigger, more elite schools like Princeton. I live in a rural area now, so I really appreciate Vassar's large, green, campus and I can still jump on a train and go to NYC. Good luck!
athletics as a draw has not been mentioned so far. Vassar has top notch facilities for athletes. D3 sports are a great balance between academics and sports - and there are few colleges with as strong a combo for student athletes as Vassar. Sports are probably not as prominent as say Amherst and Williams, but as good as Wesleyan, Wellesley, Pomona, Swarthmore.
S is a recruited athlete and was pleased to see that a school with an artsy reputation has terrific athletic facilities. There was a funny and vocal student crowd at the game he attended. Loves the campus. He likes the fact that at Vassar, he could be a varsity athlete and also take advantage of writing and film courses that interest him. The variety of ways to get a degree is a plus. Attracted by the strong academic reputation. The male - female ratio generally a positive thing from the standpoint of a guy, though at least one male athlete complained that his friends tended to be his team mates and that he'd rather have a larger male population on campus.