Prospective FAQs

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for High School Students

What are your application deadlines, and when will I find out Vassar’s decision?

For Early Decision Round I, applications are due by November 15 and decision will be available in mid-December. For Early Decision Round II, applications are due by January 1 and students will receive notification around February 1. Finally, for Regular Decision, applications are also due by January 1. Students applying under the Regular Decision plan will be notified of the Admission Committee decision around late March.

After I apply, how can I check to see if everything's been received?

Within 10 days of receiving your application, we will send you an email with your Vassar ID and directions on how to access an online checklist for your application.

Due to the heavy volume of applications and supporting materials received by our office, it generally takes us a few weeks to enter supporting documents such as transcripts, teacher's recommendations, test scores, etc. on our system, especially around the January deadline for regular decision applications. If there are items missing from your application, you will be notified by the beginning of February.

Does Vassar give admission decisions online?

Students will be able to check their admission decision online on the same website you used to check the status of your application. Decisions for Early Decision I applicants will be available in mid-December, Early Decision II applicants by February 1, and Regular Decision applicants in late March. Instructions on how to receive your decision online will be sent to you via email about a week before decisions are available. Vassar does not release admission decisions via telephone.

What are your average SAT/ACT scores and how much do they weigh in the admission process?

The middle 50% of last year’s admitted class scored between 1360-1500 on the SAT critical reading and math sections (2050-2250 overall). The ACT middle 50% range was between 30-33. These scores are important, but are secondary to the applicant’s high school transcript. Remember, we look at your application as a whole, and not just one particular element.

Candidates for admission to the freshman class must submit EITHER the SAT Reasoning Test and two SAT Subject Tests OR the ACT with the writing test.

Since you have the freedom to take and submit any of the subject tests, we hope you will choose to take the tests in areas that you feel are your strongest, though we do prefer that each be taken in a different academic subject.

Does Vassar "superscore" standardized testing?

Yes, we will take your highest combined test scores, so if you have taken the SAT or the ACT multiple times, we will combine your strongest scores on each section. Likewise, if you have taken both the SAT and the ACT, we will take whichever scores are higher.

What is the latest date I can take standardized tests?

For candidates who elect the Early Decision Round I (November 15) deadline, the November sitting for the SAT/SAT Subject Tests and October sitting for the ACT are the latest allowed.

For those who elect the Early Decision Round II (January 1) deadline, the December sittings for the SAT/SAT Subject Tests and the ACT are the latest allowed.

Candidates who elect the Regular Decision (January 1) deadline, the January sitting for the SAT/SAT Subject Tests and December sitting for the ACT are the latest allowed.

How many recommendation letters are required?

Vassar requires two recommendations: one from your guidance counselor or school advisor, and one from a teacher in a core academic subject. If you wish, you may submit a third letter, either from another teacher or from someone else in your life who can share pertinent information.

What is Poughkeepsie like? Is there stuff to do there?

Poughkeepsie is a city of about 100,000 people. Located in the heart of the scenic Hudson Valley, it is approximately 75 miles north of New York City. Within Poughkeepsie are numerous opportunities for entertainment and shopping, including: the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, which brings in such talent as the Louis C.K. and Bob Dylan; a roller-skating rink, an ice-skating arena, bowling alleys, the Bardavon Opera House, numerous dance clubs, and shopping malls. There are loads of delicious and affordable restaurants, including the Culinary Institute of America. There are a couple of movie theaters in town as well as two drive-ins. To our north and west you will find great opportunities for recreational and outdoor sports — including hiking, skiing, kayaking, rock climbing and camping. There is definitely stuff to do — both on and off campus. Additionally, we are a short (under two hours) commuter train ride from New York City. Poughkeepsie is a great place to go to college. The city itself provides access to any social, dining, educational, and recreational needs that you might have. At the same time, we are just a short distance from rural settings and a major metropolis.

What is the current male to female ratio?

Vassar is currently 56% women and 44% men, at national average for national liberal arts colleges.

What are your entrance requirements?

The typical candidate has taken a very challenging curriculum at his/her high school, taking full advantage of all that his/her school has to offer. We recommend students take four years of the five main academic core subjects: English, Math, Foreign Language, Natural Science and History/Social Science. We seriously consider the quality of the senior year program. Our typical applicants have an unweighted A- average, are within the top 10%-20% of their class, and have SAT and ACT scores that are within the above ranges (see question #4). They have been actively involved in extracurricular activities and have shown leadership and other accomplishments.

What is the social life like?

Vassar is not a commuter campus or a suitcase school. 85-100% of students stay on campus every weekend. Popular on-campus hangouts include the Mug, the Café at the Students’ Center, and the Retreat Snack Bar. Throughout the year, nationally known speakers, writers, and musicians appear on campus. There are many stores and restaurants within one block from campus, including the Beech Tree Restaurant, Billy Bob's BBQ, Pizzeria Uno, Delforno’s Deli, Baby Cakes, Pizzeria Baccio's and Zorona’s. Each weekend, students have the opportunity to attend a cappella concerts, drama productions, lectures, dance recitals, and athletic events. Students typically go to New York City one to two weekends per semester. Student-run organizations and residence houses plan numerous social activities. These can range from afternoon tea in the Rose Parlor to comedy shows, dances, movies, and study breaks.

How much do interviews count? Are they required? How do I schedule one?

Off-campus informational interviews are available for first-year applicants. These are conducted all over the world by Vassar alumnae/i and are available from November through February. These conversations are non-evaluative and are not required, but they are a great way to learn about Vassar from a different perspective. Not having an interview will not affect your admission decision. Please submit your Common Application to us prior to requesting an informational alumni interview.

Please note the deadline to request an interview for Early Decision I is November 11; Early Decision II is December 13; and Regular Decision is January 6.

What is the average class size? What about the student-to-faculty ratio?

The average class size is 17. Many of our upper-level classes have fewer than 10 students. All of our classes are taught by professors. We do not have teaching assistants or graduate student instructors on campus. Our student-to-faculty ratio is 8:1.

How large is the school?

The student body numbers 2,450 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 60 foreign countries. Recent classes have been about 1/3 students of color. 60% of our students come from public high schools and 40% from private/parochial schools. Our campus is 1,000 acres and is maintained as an arboretum with over 200 species of trees. The campus includes the Vassar Farm, a nine-hole golf course, Sunset Lake, the Shakespeare Garden, an astronomical observatory, and the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, as well as athletic facilities, residence halls, and academic/administrative buildings.

Are there fraternities or sororities?

No. Vassar College does not have a Greek system.

Can I have a car on campus?

Yes, all students (including freshmen) are allowed to bring cars. Parking is $100 per semester. About one-quarter to one-third of students have a car on campus.

What about financial aid?

Vassar adheres to a need-blind admission policy, which means that admission decisions for all first-year students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are made without regard to the student's financial situation. Vassar meets the full demonstrated need of all admitted students, international or domestic, for all four years. Aid is need-based only; no merit scholarships are awarded (meaning no scholarships for music, art, athletics, or academic performance). In addition to meeting 100% of all demonstrated financial need for all admitted students, Vassar will eliminate or reduce loans in the aid awards of students from low-income families. More on financial aid

I’m a QuestBridge Scholar applying to Vassar. Will I be looked at differently in the admission process?

QuestBridge applicants are given all the same considerations as any first year applicant to Vassar College. Additional information on QuestBridge at Vassar is available at our QuestBridge FAQ.

What is Vassar’s policy on admitting undocumented students?

Vassar College will give admission applications submitted by undocumented students the same consideration given to any other applications it might receive. Undocumented students who are admitted to Vassar will be offered financial assistance based on demonstrated need following the same procedures Vassar uses to grant aid to accepted international students.

How many and what types of student organizations do you have at Vassar?

We have over 120 active student organizations, including theater groups, a cappella groups, student government, political organizations, and several student publications. We even have a juggling/circus troupe. To see a current listing, go to the Vassar Student Association website.

What should I submit for the “Your Space” part of the application?

"Your Space" is an optional section of our application...so don’t stress over it! This is a chance for you to show the admission committee something else about yourself. There is no “right” answer on what you should submit. For example, in the past, applicants have sent poetry, cartoons, art projects, photography, collages, short stories, videos, short films, and CDs. It is your space, so if you choose to complete it, send something that is a reflection of you!

What are your most popular majors?

The most popular majors, in terms of sheer numbers, are English, Political Science, Psychology, Economics, and Biology. However, no matter what particular discipline you choose to major in, Vassar will provide you with the depth and breadth critical to a strong liberal arts education. Since Vassar does not have a core curriculum, students are able to complete a double major within four years. Some students create their own majors, combining disciplines of particular personal interest. A large number of our students complete a major and a correlate sequence (minor), sometimes in academically disparate fields.

Do you accept AP credits? What about the IB diploma?

Vassar accepts AP credits for scores of 4 or 5 on the AP exams. The IB diploma is recognized, and higher level exams with scores of 5, 6, or 7 are accepted for credit.

Do you require my mid-year report?

For either Early Decision or Regular Decision applicants, Vassar requests each applicant's most recent grade report to be sent by their school counselor. For Early Decision I or II, Vassar requires a first quarter/trimester grade report, which should be sent as soon as it becomes available. For Regular Decision, a mid-year report with first semester grades is required when available, typically by February 1. Students admitted during Early Decision I or II will also be asked to provide their first semester grades as soon as they become available.

What are your pre-med and pre-law programs like? Do many of your students continue on to graduate school?

The Office for Fellowships and Pre-Health Advising provides guidance and assistance to students planning to pursue careers in medicine and other careers in the health professions. In collaboration with the Faculty Pre-Medical Advisory Committee, the office typically offers pre-med information sessions for first year students within the first weeks of the semester. Students considering medicine, or one of the other careers in health care, are encouraged to attend this session and to make regular use of the services of the Pre-Health Advising Office throughout their Vassar careers. Vassar students have a high rate of acceptance into schools of medicine, dentistry, veterinary, etc. (between 70-90% annually) and are regularly accepted at prominent schools, including Vanderbilt, Columbia, Dartmouth and Harvard.

Pre-law Advising is handled by the Office of Career Development, also with faculty support. Both encourage students to come to their offices to discuss any questions they have with respect to pre-law studies and the law school application process. Vassar students and alumnae/i also have a high rate of acceptance into law school (between 80-90%) and are regularly accepted at prominent schools, including Yale, Stanford, NYU, Univ. of Chicago and Univ. of Pennsylvania. Two-thirds of Vassar students ultimately pursue advanced studies.

Will I have a chance to do an internship or study abroad?

Internships/field work opportunities are available in the Poughkeepsie, Albany, and New York City. Nearly 70% of Vassar students participate in field work for credit at some point during their Vassar careers. Field work placements include hospitals, law firms, literary publications, nonprofit organizations, educational facilities, government offices, art galleries, museums, and financial firms.

Vassar students (usually juniors) may study abroad for one semester or for a full academic year. About 40% of our students participate in our study-away programs prior to graduation. These programs are located in more than 60 countries. Financial assistance is available for students who wish to study away.

Is housing guaranteed for all four years, and what are the residence halls like?

Housing is guaranteed for all four years. 98% of our students live on campus. We have nine residence halls. Eight are coed, and one is for women only. The coed residence halls have both men and women living on the same floor. The Town Houses, Terrace Apartments, and South Commons offer apartment-style living accommodations. There are no special residence halls; however, there are wellness corridors (quiet, substance-free housing) located within each residence hall. The Vassar House Fellows Program has 15 faculty members and their families living alongside students in the residence halls. Every student’s room has an Ethernet connection, as well as Wi-Fi, allowing internet access for Macs and Windows PCs. Computer labs are located in every residence hall, as well as in the Computer Center, library, and College Center. Wireless internet is available in all buildings and most public spaces on campus. Vassar’s residence halls are mixed; we do not have housing reserved for freshmen, student-athletes, international students, science majors, musicians, etc. Students are mixed together in residence halls regardless of academic/extracurricular interest, which creates active and diverse environments in each of our residence halls.

How big are drugs and alcohol on campus?

As on most college campuses, some Vassar students choose to participate in these activities. However, our campus culture offers plenty of alternatives, and most social activities focus on other aspects of recreation, culture, and intellectual growth. While there are definitely parties on campus, there are many options for students who are not looking for the stereotypical college party scene. Common weekend activities include concerts, theater performances, dances, film screenings, athletic events, and art exhibits.

I’ve heard that Vassar has a large gay population. Is that true?

Vassar is a very accepting environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves openly. Vassar students feel that on campus they have a safe place to express their sexual orientation, whatever that might be, without fear of discrimination.

What is the weather like in Poughkeepsie?

Poughkeepsie is located about 75 miles north of New York City. We have four distinct seasons. We do get snow, but rarely more than a few inches at a time. Most students love spring and fall, and it is common to see professors hold classes outside on nice days. While you’ll need a hat, gloves, and scarf in the winter, you’ll definitely be able to wear shorts and t-shirts other times of the year.

If I'm admitted to Vassar, can I take a gap year?

Admitted freshman students may, with the permission of the Office of Admission, defer entry to Vassar for one year. Students must first confirm their intent to enroll at Vassar by submitting the Candidate's Reply Form and the required enrollment deposit by May 1. A written request outlining specific plans for the gap year should also be submitted, preferably along with the enrollment deposit, but by no later than June 1. If deferred status is approved, a formal letter stating the conditions under which the deferral has been granted will be sent to the student. However, students who may be offered admission to Vassar from the waiting list after May 1 are not eligible to request a deferral of admission.

I keep hearing that Vassar is a “diverse” place. What exactly does that mean?

Vassar is diverse in every sense of the word. Geographically, our students come from all 50 states and 60 foreign countries. Recent classes have been about 1/3 students of color (African-American, Asian-American, Latino/a, Native American). Our students practice many different religions and are of different sexual orientations. Vassar students have academic diversity — our campus is a mix of students interested in the natural sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, as well as some interesting combinations of these disciplines. Extracurricular diversity is characteristic of our campus culture. A number of students are varsity athletes; others have an inclination to sing, dance, act, improvise, sculpt, film, paint, write, or otherwise create. Some do it all! Politically, our campus is open-minded. Vassar students span the political spectrum. Diversity of opinion is respected, critical thought encouraged, and communication of ideas held as central to a liberal arts education. Students bring their own perspectives and contribute in unexpected and exciting ways by sharing those ideas with the Vassar community.

The Barefoot Monkeys perform their fire show at dusk on the library lawn.