What Makes Vassar Exciting?

… and Berkeley is where I got mine!

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@backbeat1, thank you for that encouragement! My daughter’s UCB PhD is now my long shot life dream!

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So sorry that I didn’t see this when it was on-going; son is finishing first year at Vassar and it has been beyond his or our expectations. He continues to talk with three of his four faculty from the fall as he prepares to take his spring finals; he knows the chairs of every program that he is considering for his major (and none are pushy, but all are encouraging and helpful in working through the ramifications and possibilities of his different choices - he has found it so easy to meet with them); the academic experience in the classroom has been superb - faculty and peers; he was led to a large grant for this summer that will pay for him to work on his language acquisition abroad (not as a major, just as an intellectual interest); he has a friend group that appears to be profoundly supportive and surprisingly diverse in interest and background; when he is struck by an idea to “fix” something at Vassar, he has had no problems getting meetings with administrators and Deans who gently mentor him; he is so involved in a rotating cast of activities that we can’t keep track of them all … he has truly flourished in this first year, and his world seems to be filled with so many possibilities.

I just can’t overstate the excellence of the faculty not just as instructors, but as mentors to young people figuring out how they’re going to live lives of purpose and meaning.


@kaslew, thank you so much for your response. No worries that it is coming now; clearly I (and, judging from the thumbs up you’ve gotten, many others) are still reading the thread and thinking about Vassar.

It is hard to single out any one thing from your reply, as it’s all so encouraging. I’ll just say, as a college teacher myself, I really appreciate your emphasis on the excellence and the personableness of the teachers. To help students figure out how to “live lives of purpose and meaning,” that is point of a liberal arts college. I’m so glad Vassar is doing that your your son.


This is of course subjective so there’s no right or wrong answer but I and my gang would disagree on this point. We’ve toured several times and one of my kids closely considered it, versus other peer LAC’s, after acceptances. It’s true the Hudson Valley is pretty, but the campus is in the middle of Poughkeepsie which doesn’t feel anything like the picturesque scenery of the Hudson Valley. It’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not an exceptionally beautiful town. And the campus is literally a walled garden separated from it. The campus itself is nice but none of my kids ranked it in their top 5 of attractive campuses they visited.

The school is awesome. Not dissing it. Just have a different opinion on its surroundings being one of its major selling points. Location relative to NYC is great. Theater is amazing.

Ahem, I never said Poughkeepsie is beautiful!

But Vassar is self-contained, and is widely acknowledged to be gorgeous. That’s fine if you don’t think so, we all don’t like the same things.


@citivas, I reckon you’re including the surrounding neighborhood and possible city in terms of “campus.” In that sense, I agree that Vassar lags behind, say, Reed or Brown or Berkeley, or even Bard, (depending on one’s taste). But it’s tough to critique the campus per se. As cinnamon1212 says, it’s pretty darn gorgeous. Separated from Poughkeepsie, which matters and didn’t impress us, but still gorgeous.