Vassar Education Collaboration

Exploring College

Exploring College is a four-year enrichment program designed to support and prepare high school students for college admission and general life after high school. The program encourages collegiate aspirations and aims to improve college readiness among its participants, many of whom will be first-generation students and/or come from low-income backgrounds, and to increase the number of those students who attend college. In keeping with the mission of the Vassar Education Collaboration, Exploring College also aims to create a community of learners which includes both Vassar students and students from Dutchess County public schools–with a focus on Poughkeepsie High School (Vassar’s nearest neighboring school) and Arlington High School. Our programming meets 2 days a week and focuses on creating meaningful and supportive relationships between Vassar mentors and high school students through one-on-one tutoring, college preparation workshops, community building activities and extracurricular projects.

We invite students from all grades and levels of academic achievement to join us, including students who are not sure what their plans are after high school. We work to create programming based on the interests and needs of our students.

Though we meet two days a week, students are not required to attend all three days. We understand that high schoolers are busy and have many extracurricular commitments, so we would like our program to be accessible at whatever level our students desire. We also offer other opportunities for students to be involved with Exploring College, including individual tutoring and one-time events. Students can indicate which aspect of programming they are interested in on their application. See below for more information on each aspect of our programming and how to get involved!

Exploring College Programming:

Our program meets on Mondays from 3:00pm-5:30pm and Wednesdays from 3:00pm-5:00pm at Poughkeepsie High School. Each day has a different programming format and focus. We may also schedule additional programming during other days of the week based on student desire and mentor availability. We are always open to hearing what our students would like to do—so feel free to send us your ideas by emailing

On Mondays, we offer readiness workshops to prepare students for life after high school followed by SAT prep. Example topics of workshops we have provided in the past include “Navigating Financial Aid,” “Writing the College Essay,” and “The Guide to Time Management.” Workshops provide information on the college process, tips for college life, and useful skills for post-high school life, regardless of whether students decide to pursue college. Workshops are led by Vassar mentors and include interactive activities to engage with the material. Workshop topics are informed by student interest and need. We allow students to submit requests for topics at any time!

On Wednesdays, we offer “Community Building” programming, where students are able to get to know each other and mentors a bit better while participating in fun activities. Our intention is to provide students with a space to de-stress from school and build relationships within the program community. Examples of community building activities include a robotics project, a self care day, cookie decorating, and Among Us tournaments. These activities can also be suggested and developed by students!

Exploring College Summer Intensive

In addition to our programming during the school year, we also offer a three-week residential summer program. In this program, students get a closer look into college life by attending a course taught by a Vassar professor, participating in an academic project, and working closely with current college students who serve as mentors. Check here for more information in the spring!

Interested in Applying?

We would love to have you! We are currently accepting students in grades 9-12.

As mentioned, students are welcome to participate in our program based on their availability/interest and are not required to attend all sessions. Regardless of how involved students would like to be, all students must fill out the initial application below.

We accept applications on a rolling basis and will contact you once we review yours. In order to formally join our program, you will meet with our Program Manager, Sara Inoa, to talk more in depth about the program and then will need to fill out our official student and parent forms. If you have any questions about our program, please contact Sara Inoa at

General Application Form

Information for Vassar Students

Vassar students interested in volunteering or work-study opportunities through Exploring College should have an interest in education, college readiness and/or high school tutoring. In addition to work-study and volunteer opportunities, students may also sign-up for credit as part of Community Engaged Learning. Participants will be responsible for planning community building activities, designing and presenting workshops, organizing collaborations with Vassar organizations and developing other academically-related programming for high school students. If you are interested in getting involved with EC, please fill out the interest survey below:

Volunteer Interest Form


Please email Program Manager, Sara Inoa at