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First-Year Student FAQ

Admissions

Orientation

Academics

Residential Life

Student Life

Location

Admissions

When will I receive my matriculation packet with my Vassar email username and authentication code?

The Office of Admission will mail a matriculation packet to you in mid-May with important information such as your Vassar Student ID numbers, and your email username and activation code. If you have not received your matriculation packet by June 1, notify the Office of Admission at admissions@vassar.edu.

The forms included in your matriculation packet (Medical form, Self-Identification form, and Final Transcript form) are available as PDFs on this website. So even if you do not receive your matriculation packet right away, you will still be able to complete these necessary forms.

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Can I defer admission for one year?

Admitted first-year students may, with the permission of the Office of Admission, defer entry to Vassar for one year. 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. 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 wait list after May 1 are not eligible to request a deferral of admission.

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Orientation

When is New Student Orientation, and what activities are involved?

New Student Orientation begins on Monday, August 21. You are given the day to move in, and there is a President’s reception in the Chapel that evening. Other orientation events include informative sessions on the campus community, meetings with your pre-major advisor, a campus scavenger hunt, and much more. Classes begin on Monday, August 28. Orientation Schedule.

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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. Others in the general area include JFK, LaGuardia, Newark, White Plains, and Albany. 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.

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Academics

Is it difficult to get into the classes I want? When do I register?

Most students have no difficulty getting into the classes they want. Very popular courses do sometimes fill. You will have the opportunity to register for these courses in future semesters. ln some instances, multiple sections of the same class are offered. Online pre-registration for classes takes place during the summer. You will meet with an advisor and finalize your class schedule during New Student Orientation in late August.

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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 four AP/IB credits.

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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 by first semester of sophomore year.

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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-med 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 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 websites.

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What are the arts programs like?

Whether your interest lies in dance, drama, music, or studio art, Vassar offers many opportunities, bot curricular and extra-curricular, to get involved in the arts. 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). The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is open to the public with a variety of exhibitions (with “Universal Collection: A Mark Dion Project” and “In the Light of Naples: The Art of Francesco de Mura” as two recent examples) as well as a compelling permanent collection. Perhaps the best part of Vassar’s arts programs is that they are open to everyone (i.e., you need not be a drama major to be in a dramatic production).

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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 to 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.

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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.

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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!

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Residential Life

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.

See also, the For First-Year Students section of the Residential Life website.

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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. All students are guaranteed housing for all four years. 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.

Housing assignments are typically made available in August. For more information, contact the Office of Residential Life at ResLife@Vassar.edu or visit the Residential Life website.

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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.

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What is the food like?

Vassar is pleased to announce a new dining program in collaboration with the award-winning Bon Appétit Management Company. The company leads the industry in Farm to Fork initiatives, susatainability, and flexibility in meeting the dietary needs of a wide variety of students. Completely redesigned, the primary dining venue, the All Campus Dining Center, features an open and welcoming environment with a number of different dining "destinations," including non-vegetarian, vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, gluten-free, and kosher options.

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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 taxis 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 $100 per semester to park on campus.

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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 and Information Services website for more information

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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 under the "Services" tab on the Computing and Information Services website.

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Student Life

How will I 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.

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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 dorm leadership. Of course, many informal gatherings take place as well. There are lots of other things to do on campus. For example, we have a student-run café and pub. Several off-campus entertainers are brought to campus every year. Speaking engagements, music and art play a central role in campus activities. You’ll often find that you wish you could be in two places at once!

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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. Practices are scheduled so that you will never miss class. The environment is flexible for academic work. Obviously, as at other Division III schools, academics should always take priority. The term “scholar-athlete” is quite apt for Vassar College. For information on a specific team, or to contact a coach, visit the Vassar College Athletics website.

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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.

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Is Vassar a big drinking school? Will I fit in if I don’t drink?

Students are expected to make responsible choices for themselves. For example, we ask students to follow state laws for drinking. The reality is that binge drinking is typically not a part of our campus culture. Students definitely go to parties and have lots of fun, but there are so many options, it doesn’t seem like the focus is on alcohol. A recent report from the National Institutes of Health found that there is a greater prevelence of binge drinking on campuses where there is a social scene dominated by a Greek system, and we have no Greek system on campus. With over 1,000 on-campus events each year, there are plenty of activities where you can have fun without alcohol.

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I’m an international student. Will I be able to interact successfully with the rest of the student body?

Vassar is very inclusive. We have a variety of advising programs that support our international students as well as a student-run group called VISA. Vassar’s international students are not left out. Except for special functions for international students, they are welcomed in the same way any other new student. International students are a tight-knit group, but they all seem to make just as many friends outside of that group. You will meet a few people right away, and gradually meet more and more and become closer to those with whom you share similar interests. See International Students FAQ.

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Location

How far is New York City? Is Poughkeepsie interesting?

NYC is 75 miles south of Poughkeepsie. Trains run every hour, and the ride is under two hours each way, along the Hudson River for the entire trip. Round-trip tickets are approximately $30-$40 (off-peak and bulk fares are less expensive). Poughkeepsie is the home of Vassar College, 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 and Bard College. 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), countless restaurants and venues for live music, the oldest opera house in the state and other fun and interesting destinations. There are plenty of ways to get involved, and volunteer opportunities abound: environmental organizations like the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the Spark Media Project, or even the local farmers’ markets on campus. There are many options for field work and internships as well. Students often work for the mayor or DA, art galleries, law firms, the Poughkeepsie Journal, etc.

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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 color, and the winters range from no snow at all to 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.

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