First-Year Student FAQ
- When will I receive my Vassar email username and authentication code?
- Can I defer admission for one year?
- When is New Student Orientation, and what activities are involved?
- What is the best way to get to campus?
- Is it difficult to get into the classes I want? When do I register?
- In general, what AP scores do I need to receive credit? What about my IB diploma?
- When do I have to declare a major?
- Is Vassar a good place to start a medical career? What about preparation for law school?
- What are the arts programs like?
- Where are the best places in the library to study?
- What's the library’s collection like?
- Will I have trouble finding the books I need to write papers or do projects?
- What should I bring with me? Any special items?
- What is housing like? When will I find out my housing assignment and roommate?
- I hear each of the residence halls has a kind of personality. How do I know if I will be put into the “right” residence hall?
- What is the food like?
- Can I have a car on campus? Do I have to pay for parking?
- Are Macs or PCs more dominant on campus? Do I need to bring my own computer?
- Can I print to anywhere on campus?
- How will I find out how to get involved on campus?
- Are there social events on campus?
- I want to play sports. Will I be able to balance athletics and academics? Are there open tryouts for teams?
- What are the athletic facilities like on campus? Will I need to buy a gym pass?
- Is Vassar a big drinking school? Will I fit in if I don’t drink?
- What additional support is available to international students on campus?
When will I receive my Vassar email username and authentication code?
The Office of Admission will email important information such as your Vassar Student ID numbers, and your email username and activation code in mid-May. If you have not received your matriculation email by June 1, notify the Office of Admission at email@example.com.
Can I defer admission for one year?
Admitted first-year students may defer entry to Vassar for one year with the permission of the Office of Admission. Students who are taking a gap year must confirm their intent to enroll at Vassar by submitting the Candidate’s Reply Card and the required enrollment deposit by May 1, and must complete the Deferral Request Form no later than May 22. If deferred status is approved, a formal letter stating the conditions under which the deferral has been granted will be sent to the student. Students who may be offered admission to Vassar from the wait list after May 1 are not eligible to request a deferral of admission.
When is New Student Orientation, and what activities are involved?
New Student Orientation begins on Monday, August 24, 2020. If campus has reopened by this time, you will be given the day to move in, President Elizabeth Bradley will welcome your family and friends in the Chapel that afternoon, and you will take your class picture before they depart. Other orientation events typically include informative sessions on the campus community, meetings with your pre-major advisor, finalizing your registration, and much more.
What is the best way to get to campus?
If you live close enough, or enjoy road trips, the best way to get to campus is to drive with someone. There is programming for family and friends during move-in day, and it may be worth it to stay the night before at a local hotel. Of course, not everyone can drive here. The closest airport is Stewart International Airport (SWF) in Newburgh, New York. Others in the general area include:
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York, NY
- LaGuardia Airport (LGA), New York, NY
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), Newark, NJ
- Westchester County Airport (HPN), West Harrision, NY
- Albany International Airport (ALB), Colonie, NY
Many students will arrive with their two airline-allowed suitcases and then either ship their remaining belongings or just buy the necessities while they are here.
Is it difficult to get into the classes I want? When do I register?
Absolutely not. Most students have no difficulty getting into classes. If there is great demand, multiple sections of the same class are offered. In the rare instance you are unable to register for an upper-level class initially, you will be able to do so by the time you become a junior.
In general, what AP scores do I need to receive credit? What about my IB diploma?
Generally, credit is awarded for scores of 4 or 5 on AP examinations. Additionally, credit is granted for performance on Higher Level IB examinations, typically for scores of 5 or higher. Students can bring in up to two AP/IB credits. Find out more about pre-matriculation credit.
When do I have to declare a major?
Students have until the end of their sophomore year to declare their major, unless they plan to participate in a study away program, in which case they must declare during the first semester of sophomore year.
Is Vassar a good place to start a medical career? What about preparation for law school?
Vassar students are very successful when applying to medical schools; not only are the science programs well-regarded and rigorous, but students are well-advised. The pre-health committee is dedicated to ensuring that you are taking the right preparatory classes, tests, etc. Many of our science students also have the opportunity to do graduate-level research with professors on campus through the Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI) program. That makes them particularly desirable to medical schools. Our acceptance rate into medical school is substantially higher than the national average. Roughly 70-80% of applicants are accepted into medical school each year. Vassar does not limit the number of applicants in a given year. Our acceptance rate into law school is also very high, well above the national average. More information is available at the Office of Fellowships and Pre-Health Advising and the Career Development Office.
What are the arts programs like?
Whether your interest lies in dance, drama, film, music, or studio art, Vassar offers many opportunities to get involved in the arts. Any student is welcome to participate in all of these programs, regardless of major or previous experience. Performance organizations include the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre, the very popular Philaletheis (drama society), and music groups ranging from a cappella to the college choir and orchestra. Art students can take classes in both art history and studio work (such as painting, drawing, and sculpting) and take advantage of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center right on campus. Recent exhibitions include “People Are Beautiful: Prints, Photographs, and Films by Andy Warhol” and “Fluid Expressions: The Prints of Helen Frankenthaler” in addition to a compelling permanent collection.
Where are the best places in the library to study?
There are lots of study spaces all over the library. We invite you to explore and discover the place that best suits you: downstairs in one of several quiet spots, the main floor by a window, upstairs on a balcony, or outside. You can also book a group study room to work on group projects.
What's the library’s collection like?
Excellent, especially for a small liberal arts college. Research librarians can help you find what you need, whether it’s online or on the library shelves.
Will I have trouble finding the books I need to write papers or do projects?
Not if you start the search process with plenty of time (one to two weeks in advance, rather than the night before your assignment is due). If you need books or articles we don’t own, you may borrow them through our interlibrary loan service and ConnectNY. If you have trouble finding information, the library’s Ask a Librarian service can help you find virtually anything!
What should I bring with me? Any special items?
Residential Life provides a comprehensive list of what to bring as well as a list of what not to bring with you. Other items that current students have suggested: a thick mattress pad to provide lots of cushioning, an extra pillow and sleeping bag for visiting friends, and a collapsible bookcase.
What is housing like? When will I find out my housing assignment and roommate?
Vassar has nine residence halls and three apartment complexes. Each housing option has its own architecture and characteristics, adding to a unique sense of home. Over half of all housing options are single rooms, though the majority of first-year students live in a double, or possibly a triple. With no “standard” floor plans, you’ll want to check out what each house has to offer. To view the interior of each residence hall, as well as examples of different rooms, visit the Residential Life 360° Tour.
I hear each of the residence halls has a kind of personality. How do I know if I will be put into the “right” residence hall?
While it is true that various residence halls do gain some personality-like characteristics, those vary greatly from year to year, based on the current occupants. Placement is somewhat random (roommate matching is a much higher priority), so no residence hall ever stays the same. The majority of students will not change their residence hall until they move to a campus townhouse or apartment as a senior. Remember that Vassar has never had you as a resident before, so the personality of your dorm also depends on you.
What is the food like?
Very good! Vassar partners with the award-winning food service company Bon Appetit, a leader in Farm to Fork initiatives, sustainability, and flexibility in meeting a wide variety of dietary needs. The primary dining venue, Gordon Commons, features an open and welcoming environment with a number of different dining “destinations,” including a fresh produce bar, the Grill, Your Kitchen (self-prepared), pizza, and much more! It also caters to nearly all dietary needs, including vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, gluten-free, allergy-friendly, kosher, and halal options. Students have unlimited access to Gordon Commons, and can swipe into the dining hall any time it is open (weekdays until midnight and weekends until 1:00am), whether they want just to grab a quick snack or a piece of fruit or to sit down for a full meal. In addition to Gordon Commons, there are several other dining options in convenient campus locations for grabbing a snack, beverage, or full to-go meal.
Can I have a car on campus? Do I have to pay for parking?
Yes, you may bring a car, but you will certainly not need to have one on campus. The campus itself is easily walkable, and there are all sorts of shops and restaurants within walking distance of campus. The college has a shuttle that goes to the supermarket, malls, etc. There is public transportation, and taxi/Uber/Lyft options are not very expensive. There are always students who are willing to give others a ride. First-year students are encouraged to wait a semester or two before bringing their car to campus in order to see if they find a car is really necessary. First-year students can park their cars in either South Lot or the New Hackensack Lot. There is parking in our student lot, and it costs $130 per semester to park on campus.
Are Macs or PCs more dominant on campus? Do I need to bring my own computer?
Students will find that the campus network supports both Macs and PCs with ethernet, and the entire campus is also wireless. The Computer Center on campus is staffed with people who can help troubleshoot computing problems. Although it is not necessary to have your own computer, as there are clusters all over campus, students do find it a major convenience. Visit the Computing, IDs, & Phones FAQ and Computing and Information Services for more information.
Can I print to anywhere on campus?
VPrint is Vassar College’s print management system. This system allows students to print to virtually any public printer from any computer on the campus network. Students have access to both black-and-white and color laser printers. You can find more information about printing on at the Computing, IDs, & Phones FAQ and under the Services section of Computing and Information Services.
How will I find out how to get involved on campus?
There will be an activities fair for all new students. Every Vassar organization will have a table where you can learn about the group, ask about meetings and events, and join their mailing list. Current students welcome all new students and are happy to have new faces in their groups.
Are there social events on campus?
Vassar students work very hard, but they play hard as well. There are several all-campus social events sponsored each semester by the various student organizations and house leadership teams. Vassar boasts close to 1,000 events each year, ranging from guest speakers and performers—Philippe Petit, Solange Knowles, Jessica Williams (The Daily Show), and Piper Kerman (Orange Is the New Black), to name a few—to athletic events and music, dance, and theater performances. Of course, many informal gatherings take place as well. With so much happening, you’ll often find that you wish you could be in two places at once!
I want to play sports. Will I be able to balance athletics and academics? Are there open tryouts for teams?
Absolutely—we are a Division III school and firmly believe in an academic-athletic balance. Opponents are rarely more than a few hours away, and practices are scheduled so that you will never miss class. Our varsity athletes compete at a high level, but academics always take priority. The term “scholar-athlete” is quite apt for Vassar College. In addition, you are also able to take advantage of all the same extra-curricular clubs and organizations on campus as every other student. For information on a specific team, or to contact a coach, visit Vassar Athletics.
What are the athletic facilities like on campus? Will I need to buy a gym pass?
Whether you are a varsity athlete or you enjoy the occasional workout, Vassar has excellent, state-of-the-art athletic facilities for each level of interest. Some of Vassar’s indoor facilities include dance studios, an elevated running track, and an indoor rowing complex. Outside, Vassar is home to numerous athletic fields, nine miles of trails, and even a nine-hole golf course. Vassar students are not required to use a gym pass to take advantage of the athletic facilities.
Is Vassar a big drinking school? Will I fit in if I don’t drink?
Students are expected to make responsible choices for themselves, including following state drinking laws. The reality is that binge drinking is typically not a part of our campus culture. Students definitely go to parties and have fun, but there are so many options that the focus is not on alcohol. With close to 1,000 on-campus events each year, there are plenty of opportunities for socializing without alcohol.
What additional support is available to international students on campus?
Vassar has a variety of advising programs that support our international students as well as a student-run group called VISA. The Office of International Services (OIS) offers a range of services to international students, and supports them in becoming acquainted both with Vassar and American culture. OIS offers assistance on matters ranging from visas to taxes and employment, as well as connecting students with organizations on campus and organizing exciting events. In addition, we strongly encourage all international and overseas students to attend International Student Orientation, as we believe it will greatly facilitate the initial adjustment to Vassar and provide an opportunity to build long-lasting relationships. For more information, see the International Students FAQ.
How far is New York City? Is Poughkeepsie interesting?
Poughkeepsie (that's puh-kip-see) is located about 75 miles (120 km) north of New York City. Metro-North trains run every 20 to 60 minutes seven days a week, and the ride down the Hudson River to Grand Central Station is less than two hours. Round-trip tickets are approximately $30-$40 (off-peak and bulk fares are less expensive).
The greater Poughkeepsie area has over 100,000 residents and is situated in the scenic Hudson River Valley, with vast wilderness and outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, hang-gliding, and rock-climbing. Just north of the city are the historic sites of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home and the Vanderbilt and Mills mansions. Within a short drive of the campus are four movie theaters (including two drive-ins), the Poughkeepsie Galleria mall, countless restaurants and venues for live music, the oldest opera house in the state, and other fun and interesting destinations.
Poughkeepsie is home not only to Vassar, but also to Marist College and Dutchess Community College, and the renowned Culinary Institute of America is nearby. Within an hour’s drive are the United States Military Academy at West Point and Bard College.
What is the weather like on campus?
You will see very distinct seasons at Vassar; just look around the website for pictures. The fall has brilliant autumn colors, and the winters range from no snow at all to a ground covering of over a foot. The campus is absolutely gorgeous during and after a snowfall. Spring has beautiful, sunny days with temperatures in the 70s and clear blue skies, a few days of rain, and budding trees and green grass. By the time finals come around in late spring, temperatures are well into the 70s and often 80s. See what the weather in Poughkeepsie is like right now.