Vassar College - Comments and Student Experiences|
Academics in general are an awesome experience, there are many venues for intellectual discussion with peers and the speakers that the college brings in are often quite inspiring and thought provoking.
The thing that I love most about Vas (well, if you leave out our awesome campus which is a must visit) is the academic freedom. There is no core here, only three extremely loose requirements, 2 of which are so easy to fill they shouldnt be considered required.
1) Freshman Course: Each year there are a colelction of about 20 to 30 courses which are limited to 19 freshmen and provide an introduction to college level work through a specially selected course plan designed to introduce students to an area of major intellectual importance.
This year I took Markets Institutions and State: an Introduction to Political Economy. This covered an introduction to varied forms of political economy (socialism, communism, capitalism, interventionism pretty much all of the good "isms" :) ) in a great round table format which was great for lively discussion and debate.
Other freshman courses include (but are not limited to) The Dark Ages, Problems of Philosophy (the description was really cool), Literature of the Underground and many many others covering just about every department at the college.
2) Quantitative Requirement: Easily fulfilled if your doing anything math/science/econ related, and also there are some classes like "Physics for Poets" which can be used here if you are really averso to math.
3) Foreign Language Requirement: There are about 10 different ways to pass out of this (sat 2's, ap scores, on site test ... yada yada) and if you cant you need only do 1 semester of an intermediate/advanced language or 2 of a beginner language.
Other than these three there is absolutely nothing you need to take during your career! (tho some majors have certain requirements ie. linear algebra for econ). And to top it all off you can (as i am) take your requirement and up to a quarter of your classes NRO (non recorded option) where you set a minimum grade of say... A- and anything below that (excluding an F) will not be shown on your transcript and will not count towards your GPA!!
The only bad thing about the big V is that poughkeepsie really sucks. There is basically nothing going on - one needs to hop an hour and a half long train to get to new york for major cityish excitement.
Dont let this discourage you however, because vassar students rarely venture into poughkeepsie (save perhapps for a haircut or some groceries) as there is a quite alot to do on campus. We are innundated with theate related productions (this is a very competitive thing on campus and many people are involved on some level) and have a nice assortment of clubs for all types of people (intramurals, Frisbee team (oh yeah), computer gaming/anime club, outdoors club, all sorts of things)
Also, because we have no frats the parties are not always the greatest. There is a good amount of drinking tho and some of the parties can be a hell of a good time. Overall, I heartily encourage you to apply - It will be the best descision you ever make if you are looking for an awesome education at a small, laid back school with both an intellectual and friendly atmosphere.
The thing is that Vassar is not for that single-minded kid who wants to major in business and is just coming to Vassar because it was the best school he or she got into. Vassar is for people who are still wondering where to go with their lives and it is a wonderful place to find out. I am taking classes in the English, History and Geography departments and find my professors to be both challenging and boundary-breaking. Liberal bias does seep through nearly everywhere on campus, but it should be expected, as the school has its own Anarchist zine and other leftist orgs.
The work load is not intense at all. other than a lot of reading (which you don't really need to do all of anyway), there are probably 3 to 4 papers per class. However, despite there not being a lot of work, the papers you do write should grant you a lot of freedom in choosing what to write about and allow you to express yourself in a way that you believes tailors towards what you want to get out of college. Moreover, these assignments are actually challenging and stimulating, not just generic essays.
Vassar has a beautiful campus that is just breath-taking in autumn and spring. The architecture, while predominantly Victorian, is beautiful and surprisingly varied. The biggest irony of Vassar is that while it looks like a preppy east-coast institution, the vibe is more counter cultural than it originally appears. I feel like at least half of the kids who go to Vassar move to Brooklyn to be artsy and businesslike simultaneously in a young hip neighborhood, while at another, similar looking school like Williams, kids move to Manhattan and work in business firms or something.
There are a lot of drugs on campus, and a lot of them go unnoticed by the administration, but you can avoid them easily if you want to. However, if you are into "getting fucked up" or reliving your parent's hippie adventures, if you know the right people, you can find just about anything.
This campus is politically involved and people seem to actually care about issues. People in the dorms tend to talk about lots of random things, but every so often, a really intellectual thought provoking discussion arises. To the person who said that Vassar students love the sound of their own voice, they obviously just do not understand the idea of stimulating oneself intellectually through engaging in discussion about the topics at hand. You will find yourself having a lot of discussions in class, and if you really love your classes, you should find yourself contributing, unless you're introverted in which case you should take pleasure in listening.I love Vassar and feel like anyone independent-minded unique and free-spirited individual should love it as well. Apply if you are interested in social sciences/politics/the arts (especially drama)/and english.
The campus is gorgeous year-round, and the library is fantastic.
The students that I've met are hilarious, open-minded, smart, and creative. I think the reputation for crazy liberal weirdness is kind of unfounded, although there is definitely more of that here than your average college campus.
Poughkeepsie, while not a thriving college town, is really not that bad. There are plenty of cool restaurants and if you make an effort, you will find things to do. This usually unnecessary though, as there's always so much to do on campus: lectures, plays, concerts, parties, dances, etc.
My only complaints:
1) Popular classes fill up fast, and its easy to start panicking and fretting that you won't be able to take everything you want. However I think that if you absolutely need a class for you major or something you can get in.
2) My peers are fantastic for the most part, but there's slight tension between the tragically self-aware artsy hipsters and everybody else. Nothing too major, though.The only people who are usually unhappy at Vassar are the ones who didn't consider fit when they decided to come, and chose Vassar because it was the best school they got into. If you are close-minded, judgemental, unaccepting of unique or quirky people, or dull, you will not fit in at Vassar. Other than that, everyone can find a place here.
Are you a student and about to sign the very first lease in your li... more→