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The Requirements: 1 essay of 350 words
We’ve got another Why essay on our hands, people! Before you write out the whole saga of how your mom’s best friend’s grandma went to Vassar before it was coed, pull up the school website and do a little research. Spend some time getting to know the school and finding examples of what you like about it. If it’s something like the small size, learn more about the kinds of research opportunities students have. Or perhaps it’s simply the draw of a classic liberal arts education, so learn more about departments and clubs that embody these values. When you have a few specifics in hand, you can begin to map out your story. After all, you can’t answer the question without it, and it could present an opportunity for you to show admissions what aspects of Vassar matter most to you, or toss in a disguised humblebrag (a Vassar alum once told you that you’d be a great fit!). So structure your narrative around your first encounter with Vassar, and fill it with specific details that show how well you followed through!
While this section is also optional, there’s no reason not to take advantage of it! If you have a more detailed or prettier resume/CV than what the Common App can accommodate, why not upload it here? For students in good academic standing, this is a freebie. On the other hand, if you have some gaps in your resume or blips on your transcript, consider this an invitation to tell your side of the story. You might consider writing what we call an “additional info essay” where you shed light on the personal circumstances (like an illness or family emergency) that may have caused these inconsistencies.
Creative types will likely already have a few portfolio pieces saved up for just this type of question. Visual art, writing samples, and music clips are just a few of the basic forms your submission could take. Unlike the other optional questions, though, we’ll ask you to proceed with caution here. Yes, this is a truly optional question. Your submissions, like your essays, should represent you to admissions: they should reveal something new or provide a deeper understanding of something you have listed as an activity. Don’t waste your reviewer’s time by submitting something just for the sake of submitting it. Select your absolute best work and share a limited sample. And if you’re not sure you have anything that fits, no worries! Your essays can do the talking.