Vassar Admissions Essay Personal Statement

Standardized Test Requirements

Vassar requires all applicants to submit standardized test results from either the ACT or the SAT. For candidates taking both the SAT and the ACT, Vassar will use whichever composite scores are higher. The latest test dates acceptable for Regular Decision and Early Decision II applicants are the December ACT and/or December SAT of their senior year. Early Decision I applicants must complete required testing by November of their senior year. However, 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.

SAT 

Vassar will accept either the pre-March 2016 SAT or the redesigned SAT. Vassar does not require the optional essay.

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.

ACT 

Applicants submitting the ACT are not required to submit the optional writing test.

In assessing ACT scores, Vassar uses the highest subscores taken from multiple test dates and recalculates a new composite score.

SAT II Subject Tests (Optional)

SAT Subject Tests are not required, and students opting not to send Subject Tests will not be penalized. However, SAT Subject Tests will be considered if submitted as part of a testing profile. Subject Tests may enhance an applicant’s credentials, particularly for applicants from non-traditional school backgrounds (homeschooled, non-graded schools, etc.). Note that a strong score on an SAT Subject Test is also one way to fulfill Vassar’s Foreign Language Proficiency requirement.

TOEFL/IELTS Requirements

In addition, if English is neither your first language nor the primary language of instruction you have used throughout secondary school (minimum of three full years in English), you should submit the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Vassar typically expects scores of at least 100 on the Internet-based TOEFL and 600 on the paper-based version. As an alternative to the TOEFL, Vassar also accepts the IELTS. A minimum score of 7.0 on the IELTS Academic Test is required. Vassar does not grant waivers for TOEFL/IELTS based on SAT/ACT or other exams.

For applicants required to submit the TOEFL/IELTS, Vassar recommends that you also submit an interview as an additional way to demonstrate English language proficiency. You may request to meet with a Vassar alumnae/i volunteer (submit request) and/or participate in a third party interview service. Vassar accepts interviews from InitialView and Vericant. Please note that these vendors, unlike our alumnae/i volunteers, are not Vassar specific. InitialView and Vericant interviewers will not be able to answer questions about Vassar. You must complete your third party interview by March 1st to have it reviewed for Regular Decision.

We understand there is a cost for these vendors; therefore interviews are recommended, but not required. In cases where the interviewing fee would be prohibitive, you or your high school counselor can contact the vendors directly to obtain a fee waiver.

Interviews

If you would like to learn more about Vassar through a one-on-one conversation, 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 gain a unique perspective on the Vassar experience. Not having an interview will not affect your admission decision. Information about requesting an informational alumnae/i interview is available here.

Early Decision at Vassar

Each year, many students consider applying to Vassar under one of our Early Decision options. Such an application has distinct advantages both for you and for the college. If, after careful consideration, you have decided that Vassar is your first choice, then an Early Decision application can help you complete your college search mid-way through your senior year and ease the stress that often accompanies the college selection process. We believe that students are more likely to thrive in a college environment which they feel best meets their interests. Finally, an Early Decision application allows the Admission Committee to take your commitment to Vassar into account in the selection process.

However, since Early Decision at Vassar is a binding agreement, you should give considerable thought to your college plans before applying in this fashion. If admitted, you are required to withdraw your applications to other colleges and universities. If you are ready to make that commitment to Vassar, then we welcome your Early Decision application and feel it is clearly beneficial for both you and the college.

Vassar is committed to meeting 100% of the demonstrated financial need, as determined by our Financial Aid Office, of all admitted Early Decision candidates. Aid awards are sent to admitted Early Decision applicants at or near the time of the offer of admission, assuming that all the necessary information has been filed by the applicant at that point.

Vassar offers students two separate rounds of Early Decision:

  • Early Decision Round 1: All application materials must be submitted by November 15.
  • Early Decision Round 2: All application materials must be received by January 1.

Along with the Common Application and required materials, all Early Decision applicants must complete an Early Decision agreement, signed by a parent, counselor, and the student. You can submit your ED agreement form online via the Common Application website or download a copy here and submit it to our office. ED Applicants must also submit their first quarter/trimester senior grades. 

Art, Music, and Dance Submissions

If you have devoted a significant amount of time to art, music, or dance which you plan to continue at Vassar and which you would like to have our faculty evaluate as part of your application for admission, please consult our Guidelines for Optional Art, Music, and Dance Submissions.

QuestBridge

QuestBridge is a non-profit organization that connects high-achieving, motivated low-income students with educational and scholarship opportunities at some of the nation's best colleges and universities. Vassar College has been a proud QuestBridge partner college since 2007. If you are planning to forward your QuestBridge application to Vassar, please complete the Vassar College Selection Form for QuestBridge Applicants and the Vassar QuestBridge Writing Supplement. Read more about QuestBridge at Vassar.

Veterans at Vassar

Vassar is actively seeking to enroll qualified men and women who are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. In partnership with the Posse Foundation, Vassar was the first college to enroll veterans through the Posse Veterans Program, a program aimed at increasing enrollment of veterans at selective colleges and universities. Vassar also participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program to fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the amounts payable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill®. Read more about the Posse Veterans Program and the Yellow Ribbon Program. 

The Vassar College supplement, on first glance, seems relatively easy to tackle and somewhat straight-forward. What we’ve learned from years of advising students on this supplement is that a) it’s a bit more complex than it seems but also b) it’s more work than you think. There are three optional components. We implore you to explore at least two of those three, and not just because many students will overlook them (though that fact will help you). The first two responses are limited to 350 words. We assure you, 350 words is longer than you think. Keep that in mind when brainstorming. Additionally, we encourage students to keep Vassar’s culture and community in mind while they write this. Vassar is a free-spirited, very liberal place with a diverse community. This should be in the back of your mind while you’re writing. Let’s get going.

  1. Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences in the space below. Limit 350 words.

    Like we said above, 350 words is longer than you think. It’s more space to explore, and it’s certainly enough space within which to tell a story (after all, you can tell a story in one sentence). This prompt requires you to bring the admissions reader inside your actions and participation within an extracurricular or work setting through a story. We like to tell our students that it doesn’t necessarily matter which extracurricular activity they choose to tell the story about, because the story is more about the interest or quality that they want to shed light on the most. You choose the topic for this question based on something that you are proud of or an action that you are deeply connected to. So much so that might argue it typifies who you are as a person.

    We had a student who wanted to write about her work helping underprivileged children. While on the surface, this seems like a run-of-the-mill activity, she dug deep. She wrote about a breakthrough moment that she had with one of her students, but not before she engaged in an honest discussion about her challenges with this particular student. It was a very genuine story about how one small event, in the context of the situation, can be a marker for long-term change. This student will be attending Vassar in the fall.

    In the vein of authenticity, we remind you to recall that Vassar has a lot of student activism on campus. Students are passionate and often liberal, albeit privileged. It is necessary to interrogate your instincts with this essay and steer clear from writing about a service trip or a volunteer gig in a soup kitchen. This will highlight your privilege and you won’t be in the room to defend yourself. That’s no good.
  2. How did you learn about Vassar and what aspect of our college do you find appealing? Limit 350 words

    This is an interesting question. We like it for some reasons: the language, and the fact that it’s a “Why X College?” question with a twist. We don’t love it for others—namely, the first part. Let’s talk about that. It’s a hard ask when 95% of students don’t recall how they first actually heard of Vassar. Vassar is just a college that people have been talking about for a long time, because one of the top 15 schools in the nation. That is most likely how you heard about it. If we’re being honest, that part of the question mostly has to do with marketing. 50% of money spent on marketing is wasted, but it’s hard to know which category it’s wasted in, and this question can shed some light on that mystery for the college. We wouldn’t worry too much about this aspect of the question, unless you have a truly interesting story (your parents met at Vassar a year after the school went co-ed and you’ve been coming back for reunions since you were born). Don’t spend too much time on it, because the story here is Vassar’s appeal.

    Now onto the good news—we love that Vassar asked about what “appeals” to you. It’s a wonderful choice of words, and you can do a lot with it. With research. Do your research for a “Why X School?” question—find classes that fascinate you, specify a professor whose brain you want to pick, and some extra-curriculars that sound right up your alley. Talk about what major interests you and some potential minors you might want to explore. Be sure that everything is Vassar-specific. They want to know why you want to study Comparative Literature at Vassar over every other school out there. That said, very rarely do students know exactly what their major is going to be ahead of time, though they might think they do. If this is the case, don’t worry—choose a subject that interests you. Remember: there’s no right or wrong answer for this question. Vassar is interested, more than anything, in how you think, not what you want to study. Go with your gut on this one.

 If you wish to provide details of circumstances not reflected in the application, please upload a file here. Similarly, if you wish to upload your resume, include it here.

Let us be clear when we say that this portion is not optional. This is the space to elaborate on any significant events that happened in high school that may have affected your ability to execute at your peak academic or social potential. If you experienced a death or illness in your family, or went through an event that resulted in a grade drop or an inconsistency on your record, by all means tackle that here. If not, though, do not leave this space blank.

Every one of our students has a resume when they are applying to college. If they don’t have one going into the application process, then we help them format and create a resume. It’s important to have a working document that lists all of your academic, extracurricular, and work experiences in an organized format. You can upload that document here for Vassar to see—it will only help you tremendously for them to see all of your accomplishments concisely typed out in a visually appealing format on a page.

Your Space is your opportunity to allow the Committee on Admission to learn something about you that you have not addressed in another section of the application. Your Space is entirely optional. If you choose to include a Your Space submission, be sure it is labeled with your name, high school, and date of birth. Due to the volume of submissions, we will be unable to return your work. Please do not send anything that is irreplaceable.

Again, while this might read as optional, we advise that you use Your Space and fill it with something that shows Vassar a different part of yourself. Perhaps you have a piece of creative writing that you are particularly proud of that you’d like to share. If not, be creative in some other way—this is literally your space to do with what you’d like. You could write a letter to them introducing yourself. You could write a poem about your new dorm room. Don’t overlook this opportunity just because it’s a bit more work. You can make it interesting and even have a bit of fun with it. Consider this your introduction to Vassar.

You are welcome to submit a photograph of yourself to personalize your application.

This isn’t something you see that often with college applications. So we’ll reiterate what we’ve said to our students in the past:

  • Don’t send a selfie.
  • If you do send a photo, make sure it looks polished.
  • It should look professional but don’t get a headshot professionally taken. That’s too extra.
  • Don’t send a photo if it makes you feel weird.

Let us know if you have any questions at all. We know this supplement can be a bit challenging. We’re here to help.

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