I recently visited Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where I toured the campus and spoke with the admissions office about the latest trends in admissions. Here are some takeaways from my visit:
· Vassar is a small liberal arts college with just under 2,500 students located in the scenic Hudson River Valley. The liberal arts are prized here, with students participating in a wide range of majors and no one major representing more than 6% of students. The average class size is 17 and student research opportunities abound.
· Vassar is known for its open curriculum, which has minimal requirements: one freshman writing seminar, one quantitative analysis class, and completing (or placing out of) a language requirement.
· Although Vassar went co-ed in the 1960s (it was formerly the sister college to Yale), women make up 60% of students. The campus vibe is artsy and intellectual and there is no Greek life. Similar to Yale, freshmen live in one of nine residential houses, each with its own particular flavor. Each house features a “parlor” with a Steinway piano, as well as a resident House Fellow: a faculty member who lives at the house and organizes regular social events for its members. 97% of students live on campus.
· The main campus is 400 acres, but the entire campus also includes a 400-acre farm where some science students will complete lab work. The campus is also a nationally registered arboretum, which also opens up avenues for scientific research in environmental science.
· Located in a suburban area of Poughkeepsie, students can take public transit into the city. When not attending activities on campus (which has five separate theaters and over 150 clubs), students can choose from multiple off-campus options, including hiking, biking and kayaking, the Bardavon Opera House (which features performances and talks), nearby art centers like Dia: Beacon and Storm King, eating at local restaurants staffed by chefs from the nearby Culinary Institute of America, or shopping in the Poughkeepsie Waterfront Farmers Market. New York City is also about 1 hour 45 minutes away by car or train.