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How to Complete the 2023/2024 Vassar College Supplemental Essays

Vassar College is a private liberal arts college located in Poughkeepsie, New York with a history, unlike many other colleges. Founded in 1861, Vassar was originally an all-women’s college that became co-ed in 1969. Vassar’s mission is to provide a thorough liberal arts education to all their students. Vassar wants to see applicants that demonstrate strong academic potential and an interest in being involved in the Vassar community. One great way to show your potential is through your Vassar College supplemental essays!

Before you apply to Vassar College

Vassar is proud of its history. Their mission today is still largely inspired by their original mission from when they first opened their doors in 1861. They strive to create a college that supports diversity, creativity, and intellectual exploration. Knowing what they support and what you want from a school should be a crucial step in your college search. So, before you start, spend some time on their website, and social media accounts and, if possible, take a tour!

How to apply to Vassar College

When applying to Vassar, first-year applicants may apply through the Common Application, Coalition Application or QuestBridge. Applications are then viewed by a need-blind review board. This means applicants are not admitted or declined based on their financial standing. There is a $65 non-refundable application fee. A request to waive the fee can be made. You can check out the most recent years class profile here!

The Vassar College supplemental essay prompt

Vassar’s application only has one prompt for you to answer, though you’ll have two prompts to choose from. You should respond to either prompt in 300 words or less. Carefully read through each prompt to decide which one is right for you. If you have time, it may benefit you to respond to both prompts and choose the response that you like more. Let’s go!

Option #1

At Vassar, we aim to foster an inclusive community through our philosophy of engaged pluralism. Engaged pluralism is rooted in “the conviction that collaborating across differences is necessary for social transformation and critical for the well-being of any community and its members.” In short, we believe it’s our differences that make us stronger. Tell us a little bit about an important part of your identity and how it has shaped your life and/or interactions with others. (300 words)

Before we get too far into the prompt, let’s discuss the term “engaged pluralism”. While the prompt does define it, take some time to put the definition into your own words. Having a deep understanding of the term will help you understand the question more and choose what part of your identity you’d like to talk about.

Now comes the more thoughtful part of the essay, picking a part of your identity to talk about. There are many parts to each of us, so take some time to write down more than one. You may even take some time to write more than one version of this essay. 

Vassar really wants to get to know you and how you will fit in on their campus. So, be sure to give them just that! 

Questions to ask yourself

  • When was a time you felt you really connected with someone who you did not expect to?
  • What parts of yourself do you think people might be surprised by?
  • What interactions with fellow students, someone from your community, or other individuals have permanently shaped how you think about something?

Option #2

Vassar is a diverse community that inspires positive change through open inquiry, deep dives into society’s most difficult challenges, and collaborative problem solving. We care deeply about one another, the communities that have forged us, and the community we build together on campus. Tell us about the community (or communities) you come from and how it has shaped your lived experiences and identity. (300 words)

The second prompt is not all that different from the first one. They still want to hear about a lot of the same themes. They want to know how you currently collaborate with the communities around you and how you’ve personally experienced growth or change through those collaborations. The difference is what they are asking to hear about. Instead of talking about just a specific part of your identity, they want to hear about a specific community that has shaped a part of your identity. 

So, let’s start by examining your communities. Think through all the communities you are a part of, this can include everything from sports teams, to religious affiliations, communities related to your family heritage, clubs about certain topics you enjoy studying or anything else in between those examples. 

As far as choosing a community goes, you should pick the community that has shaped you the most. It might take some thinking and list making to figure out which community that is, but it will be worth it. Read your essay back over when you are done and ask yourself if you’ve answered what the prompt is asking. If you haven’t, that’s okay. Take some time to go back through and edit your answer where needed.

Questions to consider

  • What communities have you been a part of the longest?
  • What communities have you joined on your own and what communities have you joined because your parents, or others have pushed you into them?
  • Which community pushes you the most either academically, emotionally, mentally, or physically, and how has that helped you grow as a person?

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • Do your research about Vassar before you start writing your essay
  • Give yourself plenty of time to read through each prompt and respond to them
  • Remember to be open and transparent with the admissions committee so that they can really get to know who you are
Key Takeaways

Additional Resources

As you work on your college applications, there are a lot of decisions to make. That includes how many colleges to apply to, which safety, reach, and match schools to choose, and when to apply for college. You can also check out our insider’s guide of what happens inside an admissions office, how to decide whether to apply Early Decision and/or Early Action, schedule college visits, and finally, choose a college!

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