Thursday, July 26, 2012

To Vassar College

Today, we had the wonderful opportunity to visit Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. We traveled by train for roughly an hour and a half; of course, by that time, N.Y.C. was far from sight.

Before we sat in on our informational session, we took part in a tour around campus. Vassar has a rich history in regards to its buildings; in the main hall, the halls are unusually wide due to the fact that it was constructed so as to provide enough room for women to walk past one another while wearing large hoops under their dresses.

Vassar is coeducational; this was immediately noted when we visited the dorm rooms and bathroom facilities. I did not particularly like the idea of bathrooms open for both sexes, although coeducational floors I enjoy. 

Almost all students live on campus, as housing is guaranteed for all four years. 

There are roughly 2,400 students - all undergraduates. This means that the undergraduates are the professors' priority; all classes are taught by faculty members, and class sizes are minuscule, which ensures an engaging class experience where each student is able to communicate with their professors on a much more intimate level.

Vassar emphasizes the transcript as one of the most crucial aspects when considering applicants. Challenging courses and taking advanced classes when offered the chance to do so is noted, and an emphasis on standardized test scores (ACT, or SAT & SAT IIs) is apparent. I noted that students may submit ACT scores, or SAT scores. If students choose to utilize the SAT in their application, they must also include two Subject Test scores as well. 

We would be able to learn much more later in the evening when we sat down with Vassar representatives for dinner.

Tonight we dined at Gordon Ramsay along with a handful of current and past students of Vassar College. We had the opportunity to ask them questions that usually go unanswered during typical informational sessions and tours, and for this we are very grateful. 

Vassar is a rather small liberal arts school, and this in itself provides an educational opportunity where a tight-knit community thrives. Students and faculty are able to build a close relationship due to the incredibly small class sizes, which can lead to greater participation in class and support. Its convenient location is perfect for commuting by train to city of New York for internships, recreational activities, and so on. However, it is located far enough away from the urban area to provide a learning environment free of distractions that the city can cause.

The representatives spoke to me about how the student government plays such a prominent role in the college; the administration is very hands-off and allows its students to carry out events and plan activities for the student association. Each house/dorm building elects a governing body, which composes a part of the student council. Being a part of the student association is a great way to be involved on campus and hone leadership skills.

This being my first time in such a school, I found that I did not particularly enjoy smaller institutions outside of cities.However, Vassar is without a doubt a wonderful school; if you are seeking a school that is small, comfortable, and has a close community feel, along with a great liberal arts program, it is a college to consider. 

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