Vassar vs Wesleyan (Need to make a decision soon, please help!)

I’m between applying ED to Vassar or Wesleyan. I initially liked Vassar the most but now I’m not sure, especially after the wage issues they’re having.

I want to major in Neuroscience, maybe minor in drama or music performance (but neither Wesleyan or Vassar have minors for drama, only majors). I really want theater to be a large part of my college life as well as a cappella.

I also want to go pre-med.

I don’t want an extremely cliquey environment, I just wanna feel happy and relaxed.

I don’t mind Vassar being in the middle of nowhere, but Middletown is a plus for Wes.

I also love the free tuition masters program for Wes. I’m not sure if the BA/MA in neuroscience is free. If anyone knows, please tell me!

Vassar seems like it would be less cliquey but I’ not sure. It also seems like it has better a cappella from what I’ve heard.

Basically, I’m a STEM, theater, and a cappella lover.

Which school do you think would be better for me?

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Vassar alum here. I can tell you all sorts of wonderful things about VC but it sounds like you prefer Wesleyan. Follow your heart.

No bad choices between the two.


Agree that your post indicates a preference for Wesleyan University. Go with your instincts as both have enough of your interests to be reasonable choices.

Wesleyan & Vassar are overlap schools regarding applicants.


For theater and singing see what student run programs they have. Even community programs.

I have a child at Vassar who is very happy there and didn’t care for Wes at all. I do think while there is overlap on paper many students really prefer one or the other. They are both great schools so no reason not to go with the one that feels right. I think there is more emphasis on sports at Wes (no football team at Vassar; women’s rugby seems to be the only sport my kid even knows exists). There are many a capella groups at Vassar but I don’t really know anything about them, and lots of theater opps in both faculty-run and student productions (my kid did sound design for a student production her first semester - just expressed interest and they were happy to have her; I assume acting is a bit harder to break into). As far as the lawsuit sadly I suspect the issue isn’t isolated to one school. At vassar the faculty feels empowered enough to speak out. Hopefully it gets resolved soon. There was a large student protest the other day - my kid posted a photo on Instagram so kids are engaged. It definitely hasn’t affected the teaching and learning. Finally, Vassar isn’t exactly in the middle of nowhere. The train can take you to NYC in less than two hours. Poughkeepsie is definiteiy grittier than Middletown but it is a small city not countryside. There are restaurants/stores right by campus albeit not the choices by Wes. Any way it’s fine to prefer either - both great schools!


They are peer institutions. Two reasonable people could make two different choices. Go with YOUR personal preference.


Were you/are you able to visit? I agree with another poster that these are the sorts of LACs which can seem very similar on paper, but then your intuitive, in-person reaction could be very different.

And personally, I think in a case like this, you could very reasonably visit and just choose whichever felt best. In my view, you wouldn’t even need to be able to rationalize this, I would be perfectly fine just going with a pure gut reaction.

If you can’t visit–I know this is heresy in some circles, but I might consider not EDing to either and then taking it back up after I have actual admissions in hand. I don’t want to send this thread off on a tangent about the merits of ED, but I personally think it is really problematic to ED somewhere without first confirming you truly love it.

That doesn’t necessarily require a visit, and if you love both colleges and want to just pick your favorite, that’s fine. But if something inside you is telling you that you might not love one, or either? I am the sort of person who thinks you should take that inner voice seriously, and try to figure out why it is saying that to you, before committing.


Yeah, in the greater scheme of Northeast LACs, I personally consider Vassar to be one of the ones with a relatively convenient location. And then Wesleyan even more so, but I see them as both in that part of the curve, unlike the ones truly in rural locations (which of course some people really want).


This post includes brief comments on Vassar in the context of comments on other liberal arts colleges: Struggling with D21's List. ED & ED2: Amherst, Hamilton, Wellesley, Vassar - #7 by merc81. I believe your range of interests would be well supported at Vassar. Regarding your perception of Vassar’s isolation, it seems relatively convenient by train to all of what New York City has to offer.

In terms of public transportation, at least, Wesleyan resides off the beaten track from major East Coast cities.

Either of these schools would be topnotch for neuroscience. It’s too bad, however, that neither offers a theatre minor.

Of note, perhaps, at both of these colleges is the gender disparity in admission. Vassar recently has accepted male applicants at a rate 62.5% greater than that for female applicants; Wesleyan recently has accepted male applicants at a rate 58.3% greater than that for female applicants.

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My kid is interested in both—not a STEM kid but definitely a theater kid—but prefers Wesleyan and plans to apply ED2, so I’ll share their perspective:

Academically, they seem very similar. Kid loves open curriculum, which both schools have (although slightly different flavors), and kid could happily pursue their intellectual interests at either one.

Kid also didn’t perceive a big difference in the theater/arts scene, although it seemed like more of a focus on the Wesleyan tour. If kid wanted to pursue theater/arts academically, Wesleyan would have the advantage. But as an activity, theater seemed equally robust at both.

The students and campus at Wesleyan felt livelier than Vassar. We visited Vassar, by far the more beautiful campus, on a perfect early fall day when class was in session, and it was very quiet everywhere we went. I would have guessed it was a break. Our visits to Wesleyan’s campus have just felt more alive.

Middletown has a nicer town feeling, and the connection of Wesleyan to town feels organic. Poughkeepsie just felt like a downer, and the area right outside of campus felt very quiet.

I think that overall Wesleyan felt more fun, and Vassar felt more quiet/contained. Still, Vassar remains on my kid’s list; they’re both great schools.

Often missed on the structured tours at Vassar are the upperclass student housing known as Terrace apartments and townhouses. I can assure you quiet (on weekends in particular) would not be an accurate description.


Another Vassar alum here (and neuroscience major, though back then it was called biopsychology). Great research opportunities to do, if you wish (my whole senior research project was funded by the school) and be sure, if you haven’t already, to look at the powerhouse theater programs on campus.

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Probably slightly better research opportunities at Wesleyan, and Middletown strip nicer than Poughkeepsie downtown, with the latter however much better connected to New York. Middletown is definitely more in the middle of nowhere than Poughkeepsie. Very very close call. Whether you care re NY and/or campus looks probably only material differences. D22 liked Vassar best of the two, which ended up being second and third choices among those where admitted, as she felt more welcome and brought in; Vassar seemed to me like better place for introverts and Wesleyan for extroverts. Have you considered Skidmore?


Most Vassar students (assume this is still true) hang around the shops and restaurants on collegeview and Raymond avenues. Most don’t go downtown.


Literally half a block of not particularly nice shops, to be honest. Loved the campus, but not much beyond it, other than the train station and the bridge over the river at a distance away.

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Ridiculous to think Wesleyan is all party people and Vassar is all nerds. Come on now.

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No bad choice here! I echo the comment that, if at all possible, visit - the two schools are not that far apart if you can swing a trip … for my two kids, these two schools seemed almost indistinguishable on paper, really different in person.

Current Vassar student last spring posted the best description of the college and its town (Poughkeepsie): Vassar Class of 2027 Official Thread - #107 by swallowtail

It suggests quite a bit more available within five minutes walk of campus than most realize.

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Oh: And don’t sweat the no-minor-in-drama thing … just take the classes you want to take in Drama/Theater in their open curriculums, and enjoy them! When you’re applying for grad school or jobs, really and truly, no-one will really care if you have a minor in Drama, versus having taken 6 drama courses and participated in 4 productions, or whatever :slight_smile:

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Your words, not mine.

Financial support for students in the one-year BA/MA program includes tuition remission for two semesters of post-BA work .
Masters, Graduate Student Services - Wesleyan University.