vassar supplemental essays

Vassar Supplemental Essays 2023-24

As one of the best liberal arts schools in the nation, it’s no surprise that Vassar College attracts its fair share of applicants. This means that the Vassar supplemental essays are a crucial part of your application. But, to write an outstanding Vassar essay, you’ll need to be prepared. With so many parts to college applications, students need to plan their time wisely—especially with multiple Vassar supplemental essays to write!

Although writing an impressive Vassar College supplemental essay requires some time, it’s certainly not impossible, so don’t stress about the Vassar supplemental essays. Instead, look at each Vassar essay as an opportunity to bolster the strength of your application as a whole. 

In this guide to the Vassar supplemental essays, we’ll cover: 

  • Vassar essay requirements for 2023
  • Vassar essay prompts and word limit
  • How to write your Vassar supplemental essays
  • The importance of Vassar supplemental essays in the admissions process
  • Application requirements and deadlines, and more!

With that, let’s kick off our guide to the Vassar supplemental essays with some quick facts on this prestigious school. 

Vassar Admissions: Quick Facts

Vassar College Admissions Quick Facts

  • Vassar College Acceptance Rate: 19%—U.S. News ranks Vassar College as #16 on their list of Best National Liberal Arts Colleges. 
  • Vassar Essay Requirements: 
    • 1 required (~300 word) essay
  • Vassar College Application: First-year applicants must apply to Vassar through the Common Application, Coalition Application, or QuestBridge Application. Be sure you’ve met all of the Vassar requirements by your preferred deadline.
  • Vassar College Application Deadlines: 
    • Early Decision I: November 15
    • Early Decision II: January 1
    • Regular Decision: January 1
  • Vassar Essay Tip: Carefully choose between the two Vassar essay prompts provided. Write your required Vassar essay for the prompt that most excites you.

Please note that essay requirements are subject to change each admissions cycle, and portions of this article may have been written before the final publication of the most recent guidelines. For the most up-to-date information on essay requirements, check the university’s admissions website.

Does Vassar have supplemental essays?

Yes, in addition to the personal statement, students will need to write one required Vassar essay. Applicants will have a choice between two Vassar essay prompts for this 300-word essay. Both Vassar essay prompts are classified as community or diversity essays. This means that students will need to reflect on their background and experiences to write their most meaningful Vassar essay. But, don’t worry—we’ll get into how to do that shortly.

Although there is only one required Vassar College supplemental essay, there are also two optional responses. In most cases, we encourage students to respond to optional portions wherever submissions could strengthen their application. Later, we’ll look at the optional Vassar essay prompts and evaluate what responses would best enhance an application. 

How many essays does Vassar require?

vassar supplemental essays

As we’ve mentioned, there is only one required Vassar College supplemental essay. Of course, students must also complete the personal essay when applying on the application platform of their choice (Common Application or Coalition Application). All students will have the opportunity to choose between two Vassar essay prompts for their required Vassar essay. 

Before writing your Vassar essay, it might be helpful to look at Vassar essay examples. While you shouldn’t mimic stories or themes, reading Vassar essay examples might inspire you when writing about your own unique experiences. Specifically, cultural and community diversity essay examples can be very helpful when preparing to write Vassar supplemental essays.

You’ll need to select one of the Coalition or Common App essay prompts too in order to write your personal statement. Additionally, check out these college essay topics to jumpstart your brainstorming process. Even if the prompts are different, approaching the Vassar essay prompts from a new angle may spark new ideas.

Vassar Supplemental Essays

vassar supplemental essays
Vassar College Library” by joseph a | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Between required and optional prompts, there are multiple Vassar supplemental essays that applicants may write. However, for now, let’s focus on the required Vassar College supplemental essay. 

Here are the two Vassar essay prompts presented to applicants: 

Vassar College Supplemental Essay Prompts

Option A:

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 what makes you unique and what you hope to add to our community.

Option B:

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 more about the community (or communities) you come from and how it has shaped who you are.

These Vassar supplemental essays are considered to be community or diversity essays—common themes for college essays. There are many routes that students could take when considering how to respond to either of these prompts. 

You have many unique qualities and are a member of at least one “community.” You could talk about a weekly virtual knitting circle or your school drama club—the prompts are intentionally open-ended. That’s why brainstorming is such an important part of writing the Vassar College supplemental essay.  In other words, you should choose your most impactful experience, anecdote, or community when writing this Vassar essay. Likewise, you need to choose carefully which of the Vassar essay prompts is best for you. 

Choosing the Right Vassar Essay for You

vassar supplemental essays

While both the Vassar essay prompts are essentially cultural diversity essays, there are slight differences between the two. Let’s check out each prompt in more detail to see which is the better fit for you. 

Option A: What Makes You Unique

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 what makes you unique and what you hope to add to our community.

This prompt asks students to reflect on their unique qualities. While this may be construed as an extracurricular or skills essay, it is presented in the context of a cultural diversity essay. While researching Vassar (which you should do), you’ll likely encounter their explanation of engaged pluralism, which speaks directly to diversity. So, you’ll need to not only show a unique facet of your personality but also relate it to future contributions to campus. 

If you have a hobby or interest that’s deeply meaningful to you, then this may be the essay for you. However, don’t forget about the “engaged pluralism” aspect of the prompt; Vassar Admissions wants to admit a diverse student body. Diversity can mean many things, so there are many ways to work this into your essay. Overall, you need to show what fresh perspective you have and how you’ll bring it to the campus community. 

Option B: Your Community 

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 more about the community (or communities) you come from and how it has shaped who you are.

We know what you’re thinking: another community-centered essay? How can you choose between the two? Well, yes, essentially both Vassar essay prompts are based around community and diversity. This means you’ll need to touch on important aspects of your identity no matter which prompt you choose.

Contrary to the first option, which looks inward at your uniqueness, this prompt looks outward towards your community. In the second prompt, applicants will need to hone into a community that has shaped them. Similar to diversity, community can mean a myriad of things. Think about your upbringing and important things that have made you who you are today. 

Are your parents chefs and food has been an integral part of your life? Did you grow up spending afternoons at the local park where you met kids from different cultures—expanding your worldview? Or have you been in jazz dance classes since your childhood, and the studio is your home away from home? You can choose to write about any community that has played an important role in your identity. In other words, there’s no “wrong” community to write about as long as it has been meaningful to you. 

How to choose your prompt

If you’re stuck between the two prompts, that’s okay! They are quite similar, which might make choosing between them difficult. The key to choosing the right prompt for you is finding the most personally meaningful theme. Writing and reflection exercises like freewrites and timed brainstorming sessions can be very effective for getting started.

Set a timer and list anecdotes, experiences, skills, and communities that have played an imperative role in your life. Which ones stand out the most to you? Is there one that excites you to write about? Then go back to the prompts. Which stories answer one of the prompts? If an idea seems right for both prompts, try drafting an essay for both to refine key points and your final prompt.

How to write the Vassar supplemental essays

vassar supplemental essays

There is no magic trick to writing the best Vassar supplemental essays. Rather, there are certain tips and guidelines you can follow to write your best Vassar essay. 

Here are some tips you can follow no matter the prompt you choose to respond to. 

Start early

The most stressful part about writing essays is having to do so in a time crunch. Allow yourself plenty of time to write the Vassar supplemental essays. Normally, schools release the most updated prompts in August. If you start then, you’ve got plenty of time to write your best Vassar College supplemental essay. 

Choose your prompt mindfully

Although both Vassar essay prompts fall into the general category of a cultural diversity essay, there are subtle differences between them. In one you’ll focus mainly on your identity, and in the other on your larger community. Of course, there is a lot of overlap between these two expansive themes. Choose the prompt to which you can write about something that is most meaningful and impactful to you.

Answer the prompt fully

This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to get caught up in an entertaining anecdote and skip the entire second part of the prompt. This is a huge mistake! Make sure that you’ve answered every aspect of the prompt. Your anecdote should be evidence for your main point, where you…

Show you’re a perfect fit

Your essays are, of course, expanding upon you as a person. However, just as you made sure Vassar was a good fit for you when deciding to apply, Admissions does the same when reading applications. Luckily, Vassar tells applicants what’s important to them right in the Vassar essay prompts. Show that you share these values and will bring a unique, positive perspective to campus—you’ll be sure to wow them. 

Edit carefully

There’s nothing worse for admissions officers than reading a Vassar College supplemental essay that’s peppered with spelling and grammatical errors. Have one or more people read your essay for mechanical errors as well as for content. Ask people who know you well, so they can tell you if your essay portrays you authentically. 

Does Vassar care about essays?

As one of America’s top liberal arts colleges, Vassar wants students who think critically and can express themselves well on paper. Therefore, yes, the Vassar supplemental essays play a crucial role in the admissions team’s evaluation process. Moreover, Vassar is one of many schools that have adopted a test-optional standardized test policy. If you don’t submit standardized test scores, your responses to the Vassar essay prompts are that much more important. In either case, Vassar supplemental essays are opportunities to show admissions officers who you are beyond your transcript. 

That being said, Vassar does specify their evaluation criteria on their website. Academic achievement and rigor both play an important role when it comes to admissions decisions. They want to see not only good grades but challenging courses. Ideally, applicants competing for a spot at Vassar should be taking AP or IB classes during their junior and senior years. 

However, grades aren’t everything. Admissions is looking for the whole package in each candidate. Therefore, they want to learn more about each student and what they’ll bring to campus in these essays. As we can see, Vassar deeply cares about the Vassar supplemental essays when evaluating students.

What is Vassar looking for in essays?

vassar supplemental essays

Vassar Admissions wants to see several important qualities in each candidate; qualities that can be clearly expressed in the Vassar supplemental essays. Vassar looks for evidence of “personal strengths, motivation, and potential” in each Vassar College supplemental essay. And, which may be obvious from the required Vassar essay prompts, students should demonstrate community involvement. 

Successful Vassar essay examples showcase the writer’s positive characteristics, skills, and values. Are you a natural leader? Show Vassar with a story of how you organize the yearly block party to create a stronger sense of community. Are you an avid reader? Show Vassar how you relate the stories you read to your everyday life. Do you have big dreams for your future? Show Vassar what practical steps you’re taking in your present life to get you there. 

Use the Vassar supplemental essays to highlight your best qualities that haven’t yet had a chance to shine in your application. Just remember, community involvement is of the utmost importance! Even in an essay about your unique qualities, your ultimate goal is to paint a picture of yourself at Vassar. How will your experiences and qualities help you contribute to Vassar’s community?

Include the qualities that Vassar looks for when drafting Vassar College supplemental essays—show them through your experiences and anecdotes. But don’t make things up or plagiarize. Be authentic—you already possess these qualities, so find a way to write them into your Vassar supplemental essays.

When is my Vassar application due?

Having the most amazing Vassar supplemental essays won’t matter much in your “how to get into Vassar” plan if you miss the submission deadlines. So, let’s check out what options you have when it comes to submitting the Vassar requirements and application. 

The three Vassar deadlines are: 

  • Early Decision I: November 15
  • Early Decision II: January 1
  • Regular Decision: January 1

Be sure that you give yourself sufficient time to write each Vassar essay. Of course, don’t neglect the other requirements of your chosen application platform, like transcripts and recommendation letters. Be sure you have plenty of time to write your essays, complete the application, and get recommendations before your deadline of choice.

Of course, in addition to the required Vassar essay, students must also write a personal statement essay. Applicants may also submit optional Vassar College supplemental essays, which we’ll get into now.

Vassar Application: Your Space

vassar supplemental essays

In addition to the required Vassar essay and personal statement, students may submit optional Vassar supplemental essays or other materials. Quite literally, Admissions is giving applicants “a space” to use however they like. Let’s check out the prompt. 

Vassar College Optional Supplemental Essay Prompt #1

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. For example, in the past, applicants have shared poetry, short stories, cartoons, digital images of art projects, photography, and collages, and/or links to videos, and short films. It is your space, so if you choose to complete it, send something that is a reflection of you! Your Space is entirely optional.

This is a chance to share more about yourself with the admissions committee. If you felt like you couldn’t share an important part of yourself when responding to the Vassar essay prompts, then now’s the time. Do you have a hobby that’s an integral part of your life? Are you a creative writer, serial sketcher, or avid foodie? Whatever it is, use this space to include it!

Keep in mind that you don’t need to submit a traditional essay; in fact, this question accepts uploaded files. Maybe you want to share one of your short stories or original songs; you have total freedom here. Of course, since Vassar is such a competitive school, make sure that you’re submitting high-quality work here. You wouldn’t want this space to weaken your application. 

Ask others for feedback on what you plan to submit so that you can be objective when deciding. And of course, if your work was made in collaboration with others, get their permission before submitting it. We highly recommend submitting a Vassar College supplemental essay or other material here if it strengthens your application. 

On the other hand, the following is another optional Vassar essay prompt. 

Vassar Supplement: Unique Circumstances or Resume

Vassar College Optional Supplemental Essay Prompt #2

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. (optional)

Most universities have a space like this for their applicants to explain any discrepancies in their grades or extracurriculars. If you’ve had extenuating circumstances that have affected your academic achievements, now’s the time to mention them. You might also choose to submit a resume. However, this section is completely optional! Don’t force yourself to answer if it doesn’t apply to you. 

How do I make my Vassar application stand out?

vassar supplemental essays

Writing college essays is a crucial part of the application process. Vassar is no exception—the Vassar supplemental essays play an important role in every applicant’s “how to get into Vassar” strategy. In light of that, how can you make your entire application impress admissions?

First and foremost, prepare early for the college application process—not “senior fall” early, but “sophomore spring” early. Vassar is an elite and selective institution. Maximizing your admission odds means taking challenging courses and focusing on academics throughout your high school career. Additionally, get involved in extracurricular activities and take leadership opportunities. Explore your interests outside of school; if you fall in love with something, make the effort to explore it further! 

Community involvement is an important part of the Vassar supplemental essays; however, Vassar isn’t the only school that prizes community. Most colleges want applicants to be active participants in their communities. Show what positive attributes you’ll bring to campus through both your actions and in your Vassar College supplemental essays. 

Through a combination of academic achievement, course rigor, and impressive essays, your application is sure to stand out to admissions. Reading successful college essay examples will help you see what works. Even if they aren’t specifically Vassar essay examples, they’ll help you write your Vassar essay and other college essays. 

Vassar Supplemental Essays – 5 Takeaways

We’ve covered a lot about the Vassar supplemental essays in this guide, so let’s review some key takeaways. 

Five Takeaways for Vassar College Supplemental Essays

1. There is one required Vassar College supplemental essay

However, students must also complete a personal statement for their application platform. Additionally, there are two optional Vassar supplemental essays. We highly recommend submitting something to “Your Space.” 

2. Vassar is a competitive liberal arts college

You might know this from your incessant googling of your dream school. Because of Vassar’s high ranking in U.S. News and Forbes, it has a low acceptance rate of 19%. This means your application needs to be carefully crafted—especially your essays. If you know how to get into Vassar, you know that impressive grades and essays are paramount. 

3. Answer the Vassar essay prompts completely

Don’t forget to answer any part of the prompts. No matter the prompt you choose, they are both two-part prompts. So, be sure to answer every part of the questions asked completely and comprehensively. 

4. Be authentic and get personal

The Vassar supplemental essays are the time to share more about yourself with admissions—the best parts, of course. Choose the experiences and anecdotes you use carefully. Your essays should be specific, engaging, and unique to you. Avoid clichés or generic responses.

5. Start your essays early!

Your Vassar supplemental essays are an extremely important part of your application. Give yourself plenty of time to write them. Remember they are only one part of the Vassar requirements. Plan carefully so you can put your best work forward and meet the deadlines!

Remember that CollegeAdvisor is here to help you with your whole college journey, from writing the Vassar supplemental essays to understanding financial aid. While reading Vassar essay examples (or any college essay examples) is a good way to get started, sometimes personalized guidance is necessary. If you need personalized coaching, reach out for help with your Vassar supplemental essays from one of our admissions experts. Good luck, and happy writing!

vassar supplemental essays

This essay guide was written by Sarah Kaminski. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how can support you in the college application process.