Vassar vs William & Mary - Sociology


I have just gotten accepted off the Vassar waitlist, but I’ve committed to WM earlier this month. I love both schools, so it’s really hard for me to decide which. I hope I could get some advice or experience in attending either school:)

Some background info:

  1. I applied to the Sociology major for both schools and my alternative interest lies in Anthropology/International Relations. I’m not sure but I might also consider a pre-law track.

  2. I am an international student so I am definitely looking for a community that is more diverse and more welcoming :smiley:

  3. I am going to grad school (90%) so I hope to go to a school that can support me more on that.

  4. I am really interested in Study Abroad Programs, so I can learn different cultures, languages, etc.

  5. I really do like research, like field work and stuff, so I hope to attend a school that has plenty of research opportunities (as well as internships).

  6. Again, I am an international student so I can’t visit the schools in person but I hope to be living on a safe campus and neighborhood.

  7. I am not really a party person but I do enjoy small parties between close friends. I am okay with parities going on at the school, but I just don’t hope to feel separated if I choose not to attend one. I probably won’t do Greek life so I hope the school isn’t toooooo crazy on that.


Tagging @elena13 who’s the parent of a current Vassar student and always helpful. Good luck!


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Both are an hour plus from the city with vassal being the bigger city.

Weather better w and m. W and m will give you a more complete experience…sports etc.

What’s the cost difference.

You chose w and m because you weren’t into Vassar. Had you gotten into Vassar initially what would you have chosen ? Just because you got off the wait list doesn’t mean you need to consider it.

Both are strong in Intl Studies. One is private and small. The other public and double the size. Both great campuses.

You can’t go wrong. Unfortunately when you have to say no to a great choice it gives you an empty feeling but both are FANTASTIC.

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We did back to back re-visit days to W&M and Vassar.

Both will meet and exceed all seven of your requirements/preferences. There is no such thing as a “pre-law track”, but both have strong pre-law advising.

If there is no meaningful difference in $$ go with the one that feels more like you. Trust yourself.

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You can’t go wrong here! W&M was my D19’s first choice and Vassar was her second. They are both beautiful, traditional campuses, and both emphasize academics and community. Neither is known as a party school.

I can tell you why my daughter chose W&M in case that helps you. I think there were three basic reasons:

  1. Politics. D19 is politically progressive and grew up in a very liberal area near NYC. She wanted to go to college with more people with moderate or even conservative views in order to spark healthy debate and expand her horizons. W&M is also liberal, but D19 felt that diversity of political and economic thought was more welcome there.
  2. Size. D19 wanted to join clubs and teams that had a critical mass of participants. For one of the activities she was interested in, it turned out that Vassar didn’t have it the semester we visited because some of the students went abroad and there weren’t enough to continue. She also was thinking that although she would definitely “find her people” at Vassar, there might not be that many of them due to the small student body.
  3. Gut feeling. D19 had an advantage here in that she was able to visit both campuses twice. She liked Williamsburg more than Poughkeepsie, and W&M just felt right. Maybe YouTube or Google earth could help you get a better feel for the two settings.

Best wishes, and congrats!! You have two awesome schools wanting you👍🏼


Greek life is huge at William & Mary while Vassar has no fraternities or sororities, so on that basis alone Vassar would seem to be a better fit for you.

In terms of diversity, both schools have a similar profile, BUT William & Mary is a state school so almost 2/3 of its students are drawn locally from the state of Virginia. Vassar students are drawn from all over the United States with only 25% from in state New York. The other difference is that William & Mary is much larger with about 6500 undergraduates + another 2000 graduate students while Vassar has only 2500 students total.

On all of the other points that you listed, I checked off Vassar in my head as offering a better experience. Both will meet your needs academically very well.


Congrats on having two great choices! Here are some impressions. I have visited W&M and taken a college tour (pre-covid) and visited Vassar more than once. My son committed to attending Vassar last week. He did not apply to W&M. However, I know a student who attends W&M and a professor who has taught there.

  1. Vassar’s much smaller size will likely imply closer interactions with faculty and smaller class sizes. Some googling will allow you to compare class sizes.

  2. Vassar has a stronger Sociology program from what I read, but W&M has the stronger IR program. W&M might also have a wider range of study abroad programs. This is something to research.

  3. IMO neither Williamsburg nor Poughkeepsie has much going for it as a “college town”. But we preferred the area immediately around Vassar to the area immediately around W&M. This is very subjective!

  4. Both campuses are very attractive, but we thought the Vassar campus was gorgeous and much cozier. The Hudson Valley, in which Vassar is located, is much more scenic than the area around Williamsburg.

  5. From what I read and hear, W&M is more stressful and pressured than Vassar.

  6. Vassar likely has the more liberal/progressive student body and a larger concentration of students with interests in the arts. W&M has a more pre-professional vibe than a liberal arts vibe.

  7. Both schools have very high law school acceptance rates; Vassar’s might be a bit higher than W&M’s given statistics on their websites. What really matters for law school admissions is GPA and LSAT scores.

  8. Colder winters for sure in Poughkeepsie than in Williamsburg.

  9. I have been very impressed by the “high-touch” character of Vassar’s administration, based on their virtual sessions, communications, and presence on Facebook groups for students and parents. They are very accessible and responsive. Watch the recordings of the virtual events.

As others have said, you really can’t go wrong with either choice.


Greek life is in no way “huge” at W&M. I say this as an alum with a D19 there now and D21 headed there in the fall.

32% of men and 36% of women join Greek organizations. Far more students join all kinds of other activities. Greek life does not dominate the social scene, and for women at least, being in a sorority is not about drinking/partying. (Can’t speak directly to men as I don’t have recent experience.)

The culture at W&M favors everything from intramural sports to outdoor adventure to D&D over partying. The most common reaction to binge drinking is concern, and smoking, marijuana and other drugs are not common. If the OP simply doesn’t want Greek life on campus, that’s one thing. But Greek life at W&M is very low key—not “huge.”


You can compare class sizes using the following web pages:

Vassar’s Sociology class sizes seem to be capped at 20, even the intro ones. W&M has intro classes around 80 and 180, but upper-level courses are typically in the 30s or less. (Only did a quick look around.)

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Thanks for the additional info!! I don’t mind Greek life going on around me, but I probably wouldn’t join one myself and I don’t want to feel excluded because of that:)

This is a quote from a student at W&M, just one person’s point of view:

“The Greek scene on campus is huge. If you are not an athlete and you want to have a social life, you basically have to be in a fraternity or sorority. I personally think people take the Greek scene far too seriously, and it is one of my least favorite aspects of William & Mary. It limits many people’s social groups and to me it doesn’t seem necessary. If you are interested in going Greek, however, most frats don’t haze too much. That’s a good thing.” - Samuel

More than a third of the students at W&M belong to a fraternity or sorority. That’s a pretty significant presence.

Obviously there are different points of view. Here’s the link to the quote above:


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Not sure why the link isn’t posting accurately, but the blocked out part is unigo dot com.

Most kids have a top choice going into decision period…meaning before any school gave u an answer you probably knew where you wanted to go. And if that school didn’t come through you probably had a second in mind.

When Vassar put you on the WL you accepted. Why ? Just to see if you can get in or because initially you wanted to go there (over W and M).

Again just trying to see where your mind initially was because you may have already decided b4. Stick with your gut.

It gives an empty feeling when you have multiple great choices and have to say no to one. But do it and don’t look back, only forward.

You win either way.

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Both are excellent, so choose the most affordable one. If both are equally affordable, trust your instinct. :slight_smile:

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Bill, I am more or less “local” for W&M (a number of my kids’ friends have checked it out, attended it, or are planning to attend it) and we really haven’t heard mention of a strong frat presence.


I really think you can’t go wrong and it seems that both schools will help you meet your goals. If cost is the same, try to get a feel about the environment from videos, and hopefully talking to a few students. If you have a feeling about the size you prefer, that might make the difference but both will be great. My D has loved the small classes with lots of discussion at Vassar. The reading and writing load is heavy, but has prepared her well for a variety of paths. She is not a partier, but enjoys small gatherings of friends where they watch movies, play games, or bake. The campus is beautiful and provides a lot of opportunity for enjoying nature (but cold for sure!). Best of luck!


One quote from one anonymous William & Mary student should not carry any weight in my book. I could easily find disparaging quotes like that about any college on Niche or Unigo. In all my years as a student, alum, and parent I’ve never heard Greek life at W&M referred to as huge, dominant, or anything like that.

It sounds like that quoted student:

  1. Wanted to party.
  2. Didn’t reach out and join other groups that are big on campus such as: acappella, Tribe Adventure Program, Tribe sailing (welcomes beginners, has about 70 members), theater, dance, service organizations, cultural/language groups, etc.

If the OP chooses Vassar, it should be because they want what Vassar has to offer—an awesome education, smaller community, great hiking nearby, etc. But it would be a shame for them to think Greek life at W&M is similar to Florida State, USC or Dartmouth.

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So it shouldn’t have been mentioned?

It’s no different than taking a tour of a campus and forming impressions from them.

I posted it because this student specifically said that she’s not interested in Greek life AND because more than 1/3 of the students at W&M are in fact members of fraternities and sororities.

It really doesn’t matter whether this should carry any weight in your book or mine. It only matters how she feels about it. Now she hast the information that there is a Greek scene and how several different people feel about it. She’ll do with it as she feels most comfortable with that knowledge.

I certainly appreciate your comments and am glad that you posted them.

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Thank you so much @3SailAway and @Bill_Marsh for your kind comments! I can’t visit the schools personally so it’s always nice to hear different ppl’s opinions:)

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