How to Write the Vassar Supplement 2019-2020

Vassar is a small liberal arts school in Poughkeepsie, New York. The school is liberal, diverse, and students are encouraged to study multiple disciplines. For the class of 2023, just over 2,000 students were admitted. The acceptance rate was 23.4%.  

We would like to include a shout out to Vassar’s website! We’ve done deep dives on student body compositions in the past, and rarely do we find colleges that are transparent with the breakdown of stats such as percentage of athletes, early decision info, percentage of international students, etc. We appreciate that Vassar includes this information in an easy to read format.

 Now, onto their writing supplement. Vassar asks one question:

How do you see yourself adding to the vibrant academic and campus community at Vassar? (350 words) 

The wording is a bit confusing, but there are a few key words that you’ll focus on: academic and campus community. Vassar wants to know what you plan to do inside of the classroom and outside of the classroom. You have 350 words to tell the admissions committee why Vassar is the only place you want to go to school, and you’ll do that by writing about your academic and extracurricular plans that can only be fulfilled by attending Vassar.

ACADEMICS:

The first thing to do is spend time familiarizing yourself with the list of majors at Vassar. You should give yourself a lot of time to look through the options. Think about classes that you enjoy, projects you’ve worked on, and other academic areas of interest.  

You won’t be formally declaring your major until later on in your college career, but you need to tell Vassar what you plan to study in this essay. You won’t be held to that major should you get in, and it’s fine if your academic plan changes once you get there. But Vassar is looking for students with a well thought out academic plan, and writing about your intended major in the first part of your essay is the first step.  

But here’s the thing. You need to be very specific. You can’t say “I want to go to Vassar because I want to major in math.” You can major in math anywhere, and at any school. An ideal answer would contain the information below: 

“At Vassar, I plan to major in math. I’ve taken X math classes in high school, which piqued my interest in statistical inference and I’m working on a project on differential geometry. I found class “X” on differential geometry and class “Y” on statistical inference. I want to take these classes at Vassar because they’re taught by Z professor. I’ve been following their work and plan to apply to a research opportunity.”  

  • If you dissect this example, you’ll see that it has:

  • A desired major

  • Upper level classes that you plan to take (Look at the 200-300 level courses. You can’t write about 100 level or introductory classes because those are offered at most schools)

  • Note that you need specific reasons for wanting to take those classes. In this case, our example student made the case for wanting to take a class by writing that they’re slightly familiar with the subject matter already, but want to delve deeper.

  • A professor that you want to work with

While you’re still on the website, read everything you can about your major. It can also be helpful to look at social media. This is a research assignment and it is your opportunity to show Vassar how familiar you are with their programs. If you find anything else that you find interesting, you should include it here.

CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS:  

Next, you need to find an extracurricular activity to join. Students at Vassar are VERY engaged and passionate. And there’s a lot of cool/fun/interesting things happening on campus. If you aren’t excited by the opportunities, then Vassar might not be the school for you.

The student club or organization that you write about needs to be related to what you are currently doing. The example student above would pick something related to math, and that would be a good fit because it’s related to their major and also an extension of their activities in high school. You can’t pick something random, it needs to be something that you have experienced in some way during high school.

As we said earlier there are a lot of options, so make sure you look through everything. If you plan to major in drama, you could look into the student theater options. Just don’t write about a major and pick an extracurricular activity that doesn’t compliment it. (Once you get in, you can join any club that you want. But for the purposes of this essay, you need to write about something that flows seamlessly from the paragraph about your major.)

With only 350 words, you won’t have much space for a conclusion. End the essay cleanly. The most time consuming part of this supplement is the research, so make sure you allot enough time for that. Vassar will know right away if your essay is surface level. Once you start writing, edit it numerous time to make the writing as tight as possible. 

 

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