Prospective Student FAQs
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for High School Students
- What are your application deadlines and when will I find out Vassar’s decision?
- What are your entrance requirements?
- After I apply, how can I check to see if everything's been received?
- Does Vassar give admission decisions online?
- I’m a QuestBridge Scholar. Will I be looked at differently in the admission process?
- What is Vassar’s policy on admitting undocumented students?
- If I'm admitted to Vassar, can I take a gap year?
- How do I request a fee waiver for the application?
- How much do interviews count? Are they required? How do I schedule one?
- Do you require my mid-year report?
- How many recommendation letters are required?
- What should I submit for the “Your Space” part of the application?
- What are your average SAT/ACT scores and how much do they weigh in the admission process?
- Does Vassar "superscore" standardized testing?
- What is the latest date I can take standardized tests?
- What are your most popular majors?
- Do you accept AP credits? What about the IB Diploma?
- What are your pre-med and pre-law programs like? Do many of your students continue on to graduate school?
- Will I have a chance to do an internship or study abroad?
- What is the average class size? What about the student-to-faculty ratio?
- How large is the school?
- What is the current male to female ratio?
- I keep hearing that Vassar is a “diverse” place. What exactly does that mean?
- What is the social life like?
- What about the meal plan?
- How many and what types of student organizations do you have at Vassar?
- Is housing guaranteed for all four years, and what are the residence halls like?
- Are there fraternities or sororities?
- I’ve heard that Vassar has a large gay population. Is that true?
- How big are drugs and alcohol on campus?
- Can I have a car on campus?
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 decisions 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 5 days of receiving your application, we will send you an email with your Applicant 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 before decision release for your specified application round.
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 access 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 standardized tests does Vassar require?
Candidates for admission to the freshman class must submit EITHER the SAT OR the ACT. Click here for details of the standardized testing requirements.
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 1370-1500 on the SAT critical reading and math sections (2060-2250 overall). The ACT middle 50% range was between 30-34. 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.
SAT middle 50% ranges are based on the pre-March 2016 ("old") SAT. Please Note: The CollegeBoard has indicated that scores for the redesigned SAT are higher than scores from the pre-March 2016 SAT. To determine how your scores from the redesigned SAT compare to these middle 50% ranges, please use the CollegeBoard Concordance Tables to convert your scores.
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.
In assessing SAT scores, Vassar uses the highest individual subscores of the same version of the SAT from multiple test dates. For applicants submitting both the Pre-March 2016 SAT and redesigned SAT, the results will not be superscored across the two versions.
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 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 and the ACT are the latest allowed.
For candidates who elect the Regular Decision (January 1) deadline, the December sitting for the SAT and ACT are the latest allowed.
Important Note: Applicants are advised not to wait until the last test date available for your application round. In the event of test date postponements due to weather, or delays in test score releases, Vassar tries to work with students but cannot guarantee scores will arrive in time for applicants to be considered in their chosen application round.
How do I request a fee waiver for the application?
If the application fee poses a financial hardship, a fee waiver can be requested on the Common Application or the Coalition Application. Fee waivers are automatically offered to students who participated in the Vassar View program, QuestBridge Finalists, Veterans, and International applicants who are unable to use a credit card to pay the application fee.
If you apply via the Common Application, under the Vassar College Member-Specific section you will be asked “Do you intend to use one of these school-specific fee waivers?” Please select “Yes, I will be using a Vassar fee waiver.”
If you apply via the Coalition Application, use the fee waiver code: Vassar Fee Waiver.
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 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 you might have.
What is the current male to female ratio?
Vassar is currently 58% women and 42% men, which is at national average for national liberal arts colleges.
What are your entrance requirements?
The typical candidate has taken a very challenging curriculum at their high school, taking full advantage of all that their 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 about the meal plan?
Starting in the fall of 2017, Vassar will implement a new, all-access dining plan through Bon Appétit Management Company in a newly renovated campus dining hall. All students will now be on one standardized meal plan, providing them unlimited access to the main dining hall from 7 am to 1 am, as well as expanded options at Express, the Bridge Café, a food truck, and cook-your-own ingredients. Matthew’s Bean and the Retreat dining venues will take cash and credit, and students will also receive $200 on the plan that can be used at local vendors and restaurants on Raymond Avenue, as well as on campus for Tasty Tuesday. Click here dining.vassar.edu for more information.
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. Requests for alumnae/i interviews will not be processed until we receive your application. Please submit your Common Application to us prior to requesting an informational alumni interview. Click here for more information.
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 regions of the United States and 55 foreign countries. Recent classes have been about 1/3 students of color. 65% of our students come from public high schools and 35% 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 amd Ecological Preserve, 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. All students planning to bring a car on campus must register with the Department of Safety and Security and pay a parking fee for each semester. About one-quarter to one-third of students have a car on campus. More information is available here.
What about financial aid?
Vassar seeks to make a college education affordable and accessible to all admitted students. 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 considers applications submitted by undocumented or DACA-mented students with the same consideration given to any other applicants when reviewing their application. The College is committed to meeting the full, demonstrated financial need of undocumented or DACA students admitted to Vassar following the same financial aid packaging policies for U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents.
How many and what types of student organizations do you have at Vassar?
We have over 100 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. See a list of majors and correlate sequences (minors) here.
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. A maximum of 4 units of pre-matriculation credits will be awarded.
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/Community-Engaged Learning 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. Community-Engaged Learning opportunities 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 45% 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 athletic events, concerts, theater performances, dances, film screenings, 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 weather is close to that of New York City, with a temperate climate and four distinct seasons. The average temperature in the winter months is about 35ºF (2ºC), and in the summer months, is about 80ºF (27ºC). We do get snow, but we are not located in a “snow-belt”, so moderate snow is the norm during the winter. 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 be able to wear shorts and t-shirts at 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 regions of the United States and 55 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.