The College, Then and Now

How did you learn about Vassar and what aspects of our College do you find appealing?

The train rambled down the tracks as smoke curled around the windows. It was 1861 and in both education and the country, a revolution was on the brink. A young girl gazed out the foggy window as she clutched a pamphlet in her gloved hand. Boldly printed across the first page were six black letters—VASSAR.

The college stands out for its history of closing the educational gap between women and men, equaling the most elite institutions when its doors first opened. As someone whose own mother was denied the right to learn, attending an institution historically dedicated to teaching pioneering women would speak volumes beyond my own determination, but the values Vassar holds true.

The beginning line of Vassar’s mission statement is striking, declaring its goal is to “inspire each student to lead a purposeful life.” Many colleges speak of equipping students for success or for the job market, but Vassar dismisses those common goals and thoughtfully peers into their students. This insightful approach to undergraduate education is rare in a world transfixed on “success” and “results.” Vassar recognizes that sharpening the mind of their students and propelling their growth as freethinkers prepares them for more than a job, but a promising future in a chaotic world.

Vassar’s dedication to their students is reflected in their residential life, with no greek houses, freshman dorms, or themed houses, students can truly connect with one another aside from labels. As a girl with many identities and a rural background, connecting with my fellow peers is instinctual, and a trait I admire about Vassar.

Vassar is also a designated arboretum, a fascinating feature about campus. From the Japanese lilac trees lining the street to the beautiful white firs sighing with the valley winds, it is exotic in every word yet it reminds me of my home here in the Shenandoah Valley.

The girl gazed out the window as forest eaves hung over the car. She clutched her phone as excited texts pinged back and forth. Her dark eyes spotted distant buildings lined with manicured gardens as a six-letter word escaped her lips—“Vassar.”

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