Will DS Fit in at Vassar?

DS is seriously considering Vassar. It is appealing in multiple dimensions. We visited the campus recently but it’s tough to get a feel for the campus vibe in these covid times. What we know about the vibe has been gleaned from college guidebooks and what we can find online. What we read online is often contradictory. DS is trying to connect with current students.

Given its artsy, very progressive reputation, we are wondering if DS would feel at home there and find “his people” in adequate numbers. He is liberal but not an activist, has varied interests (sports to video games to playing a musical instrument) but is not artsy, and will likely major in something on the quantitative end of the spectrum but will probably minor in something completely different.

Would welcome input from people with fairly recent, firsthand experience with Vassar.


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My DS is likely to attend. Non-athlete, academic-type for those areas that interest him. Plays an instrument and will likely want to take lessons and perform with the Wind Ensemble…but def not artsy in any which way. Was looking at bio until I was informed otherwise last night, lol. Lots of bio majors and those doing pre-med. From what I understand, small but good physics, chem, and related departments. For engineering, Vassar has a dual degree program with Dartmouth. While some may view Vassar as ‘small’, from what I have heard here and elsewhere it is plenty big for everyone to find their own like-minded peers. Those who like to study will find others to study with. Those that like to party will find others too. Humanities, sciences, etc. are all well-represented. My son was also accepted at Reed, which has many similar academic-type qualities, but while my son is left-of-center, the general tone was that the baseline at Reed was far, far more radial.

What are his other options that would be serious contenders??

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S19 is at Vassar. He is the least artsy person imaginable. He has some friends that like to watch movies and play video games. He has other friends that like to party. Some friends are athletes who also play an instrument or sing. Some friends will never enter a gym during college. None of his friends are activists.

I totally agree with @Laterpater that Vassar is big enough to find your people.

He is very happy at Vassar. He has had great professors and enjoys the small class sizes and classroom discussions.


My daughter will attend this fall as a freshman. She is into theater, singing, fluent in French. She plans on a biology degree and maybe med school after. Vassar has a 85% med school acceptance rate and 90% law school acceptance rate. These stats are as good as they get anywhere!! I am very happy with her choice and believe its a perfect match for her After Vassar - Admission - Vassar College


@Laterpater Yes, Vassar seems to be strong in a wide range of disciplines. Data in the most recent Factbook, linked below, indicates that some STEM majors are among the most popular.

The serious contender at this point is the University of Rochester, which would offer a very different experience since it is a mid-size research university. DS applied to a mix of SLACs and mid-size research universities.

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Collegekid2 was a physics major, her bf was a chem major who switched to math, and their friends are all over the academic spectrum.

I’m not even sure what "artsy’ means anymore (seriously). Vassar has a lot of students who have some ‘arts’ involvement (for example, the BF loved the access to Steinway pianos, and the collegekid loved the French film class). Vassar is too academically intense for people who waft about! There are some very ‘activist’ types, but in the collegekid’s experience they are the minority that you would expect on most college campuses.

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Great reference, ty. Interesting to see the trends of what has changed and what has sometimes come back full-circle over the years. While no school is perfect, it’s clear that Vassar is holding its own vs peer institutions. I have seen nothing that gives me pause for supporting his decision to attend. At the most is that Poughkeepsie is not exactly a traditional college town, but I know that mid-week they’ll be on campus 99% of the time, that the surrounding area is quite lovely with a nice variety of seasons, and of course NYC is relatively nearby (for someone from easter MA; though not inexpensive via train).

@Laterpater Same assessment on our end. My son has spoken to a couple of current Vassar students and the message he is hearing is consistent with what has been voiced in this thread. We are scheduled to head up again next weekend to check it out (our first visit was in November when students were away).

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Enjoy the trip and safe travels! We did a drive-through but I know a quick glance in the library and science bridge would have given greater lasting impressions. Poughkeepsie is not a traditional college town by any means, but we did scope out the Bardavon Opera House and Civic Center where many national and regional acts perform along with the train station and, of course, the local Popeyes. Having lived in Syracuse for two years as a kid the only comment I can offer about Rochester is “Lake Effect Snow”. Just saying… :slight_smile:

@Laterpater Thanks. Yes, would have been nice to take a peek inside the library and other buildings. We ate at the Popeyes (our first fried chicken sandwich) near campus when we visited in November!

A niece went to Rochester and the lake-effect snow is certainly on my mind! My son has never been exposed to anything like it. I lived in southern Maine for a few years but I don’t think even that compares.

I posted a similar question in an online forum that largely serves the DC metro area. You might find the responses there helpful.


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My D is a senior English major who is fairly artsy and has become more of an activist since being at Vassar. However, she has a variety of friends and has really enjoyed meeting kids through participating on the Quidditch team. There is a lot to get involved in on campus and my D has really enjoyed her classes and professors. It’s definitely the type of academic environment she wanted. Hope you have a good visit!

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Happy to report that DS committed to Vassar. He has had good conversations with a number of Vassar students and our visit to campus last weekend went well–we were fortunate to have sunshine. We followed guidance and stayed in our car but drove around the campus a couple of times at different times of the day. The campus really is gorgeous and students were taking advantage of it.

The walk across the pedestrian bridge over the Hudson was another highlight of the trip.

Thanks for your input, and all the best to those still deciding!


Congratulations to your son! I hope he has a wonderful four years. Don’t forget to join the parent Facebook group if you’d like a place to get a lot of your questions answered.

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Thanks @elena13. Have joined the FB group for parents. I have to say that it is a mellow group of parents compared to the other FB parents group I am in (for other child) :grinning:

Yes, it is quieter than the group for my son’s college, but his school is also more than twice the size. Still, if you have a question, Vassar parents usually chime in pretty quickly with some answers.

When you go back, a visit to Rhinebeck, two towns north, is a must. Lovely town with Hudson valley charm. Delightful just to take a walk around town. Wonderful restaurants due to the fact that the Culinary Institute is just in the next town and provides chefs and other staff. It’s only a half hour drive from the Vassar campus, so it’s a great place to stay when you’re visiting Vassar. In addition to a couple of inns in town, there are lots of B&Bs in the area.

The Culinary Institute of America sits right on the Poughkeepsie border in Hyde Park. It has 3-4 restaurants on the grounds, run by CIA staff & students. Tipping is not allowed. Overlooking the Hudson River, views are spectacular!


Hi @elena13 didn’t mean to suggest that it wasn’t an active group. It’s just pleasant not to see a lot of disgruntled parents and near-weekly petitions to change some college policy that sounds pretty reasonable to me, especially in these covid times! College administrators have had a really tough year.

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Thanks, Bill. A friend had mentioned Rhinebeck. We will definitely have to check it out, along with the restaurants run by the CIA.

Totally agree! Some of those parent groups can be pretty intense. I’m so excited for your son!

I enjoy reading your responses as they are informative, eye-opening, persuasive, and sincere.

As an aside to which no reply is sought: I bet that you live in Fairfield County.

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