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Vassar vs. Kenyon?

mayabettmayabett Posts: 3Registered Users Harvard Champion
edited May 2013 in Vassar College
So I'm really in love with Kenyon College and always thought I'd be happy there since I visited. I enrolled and filled out my housing form.

However, I just got accepted to Vassar from the waiting list, and now I don't know what to do. I do like Vassar; it's a great school with a great English program (my interest) and the size is perfect for me. Also the location is better (maybe too close to home though). I feel kinda tempted also because Vassar has a really amazing reputation. (Although they are both amazing schools.)

Could anyone talk about what the people are like at Vassar, maybe compared to Kenyon? At Kenyon I got such a sense of community and enthusiasm. I visited Vassar once and it seemed artsier but the school gave off a sort of prep school vibe.

I'd love to hear some thoughts on Vassar students from people, because I feel like Vassar could theoretically be a good place for me.
Post edited by mayabett on

Replies to: Vassar vs. Kenyon?

  • CMcollege13CMcollege13 Posts: 4Registered Users Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    Hi mayabett,
    I can't be too helpful but maybe other people will want to comment to help us out, because I'm in the exact same situation you're in. Just got off the Vassar waitlist, not sure if I should stick with Kenyon or not! I'm also interested in english, and I know both schools have great reputations in that department. I'd most like to get a sense of the social atmosphere and what kind of kids go to each school. Any advice would be much appreciated!!!
  • mayabettmayabett Posts: 3Registered Users Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    @CMcollege13
    Wow, that's so funny! Have you visited Vassar before?
    I visited once, and it didn't really stand out to me. The campus is gorgeous. But the visit all together was not too memorable, which I guess probably says something about how I feel about the school.
  • CMcollege13CMcollege13 Posts: 4Registered Users Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    I visited a year ago, but I was looking at so many colleges back then and I didn't have the full understanding of actually living there for four years that I have now, if that makes sense. I remember thinking it was beautiful, especially the library, and not being a big fan of Poughkeepsie. But the proximity to NYC is nice, and definitely an advantage over Kenyon. I just feel like I need to learn a lot about Vassar asap so I can decide by wednesday! It's tough!
  • IvylogueIvylogue Posts: 3Registered Users Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    You must be kidding. Comparing Kenyon to Vassar is like comparing a camel-changing station in Turkey to 1st Century Rome. If that doesn't resonate with you, go to Kenyon.
  • CMcollege13CMcollege13 Posts: 4Registered Users Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    @Ivylogue Do you go to Vassar? What makes you say that? Is it the prestige factor? More advice would be appreciated because I think they're both excellent schools and it's a close call, at least for me. Clearly not for you
  • greetasolagreetasola Posts: 7Registered Users College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    We love the people and community of Kenyon. The academics are amazing, and the campus is beautiful. My son preferred the more midwestern vibe to the more urban eastern vibe of Vassar, both in terms of community and geographic setting. It is a completely subjective and qualitative preference, however, and your own may be different. It really comes down to where you think you will be happiest. You will receive a wonderful education at either school.

    There is no question that Gambier/Mt Vernon is a smaller and more localized community (some might say isolated, but I would not use those words) than Poughkeepsie. Not everyone wants to live in a metropolitan area, not everyone is happy in a smaller town -- where do you see yourself? The choice really was not difficult for my son when he thought about which community and place he wanted to be a part of for 4 years. Congratulations on having your choices extended and good luck with your decision.
  • IvylogueIvylogue Posts: 3Registered Users Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    @CMcollege13 -- no, I went to Williams, but met a number of Vassar grads while there who talked highly about the school -- but I was skeptical. Eventually I took a position at Vassar and realized that while they were the **** equals of Williams students, they were so much more sophisticated and had tremendous depth. The English program is exceptional, and if you want to write or work in journalism or publishing, the college's NYC literary connections are legendary. If you're interested in Art History, you'll see works on screen in lecture, then can jump on the train to the city and see the real thing in person. Vassar is ranked #10 by USNWR, compared to Kenyon at #32. I don't believe in choosing simply based on rank, but it should be considered, especially if you have post-graduate ambitions. Vassar's name is widely recognized nationally (and to a lesser extent internationally); Kenyon's is relatively unknown outside the Mid-West. Vassar's endowment is four times that of Kenyon's, which translates into tremendous resources. Vassar's student body is about 1/3 larger than Kenyon's and I believe more diverse. That is not to say that you can't get a great education at Kenyon, but the experience will be dramatically different. Sort of like choosing to vacation in Rome v. Ankara -- both great capitals, but one is grander and more worldly than the other. It ultimately comes down to what kind of environment you are comfortable with and what your post-grad ambitions are.
  • bidsmombidsmom Posts: 1Registered Users Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    From the perspective of a mom who has visited both schools and has friends with kids at both, a few thoughts: 1) Vassar is better known and more respected in literary circles on both coasts; 2) Kenyon has a very good sense of community, but the nearest town of ANY size is a good 40 minutes away by car and Columbus is more than an hour, again by car, whereas Vassar is an easy Metro-North ride into New York City; 3) perhaps because of the very small town it's in, with not much else to do, Kenyon has a more unidimensional nightlife/entertainment scene (i.e. mostly Greek parties). For what it's worth, my daughter says anyone who has a choice between Kenyon and Vassar should choose Vassar.
  • greetasolagreetasola Posts: 7Registered Users College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    I personally recommend to my own children that they look beyond those USNWR rankings when making their major college decisions, which it sounds a though you both are. I do not envy your choice between two wonderful and respected schools, mayabett and cmcollege13.

    Hopefully, as you have both received Kenyon literature and visited campus, you know how hard Kenyon works to ensure diversity in its entertainment scene, bringing in varied and many activities, from swing-dancing to Ted talks to comedians. Nightlife is another matter, and I am sure op is correct, there are not nearly as many bars and places to obtain alcohol and drink while underage in Gambier as there are in Poughkeepsie.

    We have lobbied our own clear favorites, do you mind sharing your decisions and perhaps helping others who may face the same choice, either this year or in the future? I know many prospective students check these threads.

    I don't know if Kenyon has moved to drawing from its waiting list yet, but I know there is also interest in your decisions on the Kenyon waitlist thread :).
  • mayabettmayabett Posts: 3Registered Users Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    Thanks to everyone who answered this.

    I chose Kenyon because I feel like I really belong there. The main reason I would've chosen Vassar would've been because it's ranked higher and more publicly recognized, which I think is really not a reason to choose a college.
    (On that note, I do believe that Kenyon is highly underrated.)

    The rural setting is one element that's perhaps not the best, but I live in NYC, and therefore the idea of being so close to NYC doesn't appeal to me at all. I think it's nice to get a change, and Kenyon is stunning.

    I appreciate your advice and I hope that maybe I helped some other people out.
  • CMcollege13CMcollege13 Posts: 4Registered Users Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    I chose Kenyon too! It just felt right to me, for whatever reason, and having visited both schools, I felt I was making at least a somewhat informed decision. I still think Vassar is an incredible school, and I agree about the prestige being hard to pass up, but I'm sure we'll both have a great experience at Kenyon and I'd advise anyone looking at either college to recognize that they are both a good choice, so don't stress out too much!
  • mythmommythmom Posts: 27Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    I realize that the OP has already decided, but I want to say that Kenyon is very respected in literary circles. The Kenyon Review launched the career of many poets and was a bastion of New Criticism in the Fifties. Yes, that was a long time ago, but literary people have the imaginations of proverbial elephants. (I know, I am one of them.)

    The son of a very close friend chose Kenyon for its writing program, and it's been spectacular for him. He is graduating with leads to write for favorite TV shows. He has also completed a novel, I think.

    @Ivylogue: Your posts are very dogmatic. Things aren't usually as cut and dried as you imply. With a kid at Williams and a very close friend's kid at Vassar I would really challenge the assertion that Vassar kids are more sophisticated than kids at Williams.

    Numbers don't mean much.

    All three are excellent schools with their own strengths, and very successful alums have come out of all of them.

    My kids wouldn't venture that far west, so we didn't look at Kenyon, but I don't think any of these schools is a foregone conclusion.

    And for what it's worth, if one is a young woman and looking for a strong writing program, I think Barnard has a really incredible program.

    I don't mean to be disrespectful on a Vassar board because I think Vassar is truly one of the most beautiful schools I've visited, and it really has a lot of offer, and for many, would be the front runner.
  • IvylogueIvylogue Posts: 3Registered Users Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    @mythmom--you may characterize my post through your own world view. While I would expect your perceptions, based on your acquaintance with one Williams and one Vassar student to be palpable in your mind, my friendships and encounters over several years at both schools with upwards of 200 students is probably more statistically valid. But let's not argue; you have your opinion and I have my "dogmatic" world view based on my experience over several years at the front lines. OP, enjoy your experience at Kenyon. As I said previously, you can have a great experience at either school, but the environments will be dramatically different, and hopefully you have found the right fit.
  • greetasolagreetasola Posts: 7Registered Users College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    Congratulations, mayabett and cmcollege13! My son will meet you there. He also chose Kenyon based on its rightness for him, over and under various rankings and in spite of higher costs, which will keep us all working really hard for awhile. Don't forget to check out the David Foster Wallace commencement address from 2005 that is making its way around the internet -- I recommend the transcribed full version over the abridged youtube video.

    I also do not mean to be disrespectful in any way to Vassar on the Vassar forum. It is well known to be truly wonderful school and I have friends who hope to send their children there in the next few years, as they cannot go back themselves.
  • elle232elle232 Posts: 1Registered Users College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    Mayabett, I stayed out of this until I saw you decided. I am all warm fuzzy as a kenyon parent, there is just something magic about the place. From what I hear, Kenyon brings in so much that everything you do is on campus, last year second city, TEDx talkers, michelle obama was there...always something to do...and that is not a bad thing that it is all on campus. It creates very close groups, creative groups of people. And keep in mind, its 8 months with breaks....no one can get that bored...
    My S is going into his sophmore year and is tremendously happy there on all levels. Good luck. I posted a vlog of his called tour de kenyon, on you tube on another thread...just a great place to be.
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