Staying Home to Go to College

Community colleges make the grade for Valley students looking to save a little cash and prepare for their careers — without sacrificing the A-plus education


(page 15 of 15)

A view of the Vassar Library interior
Luxe library: With its buttressed ceiling and stained-glass window, Vassar’s library resembles a Gothic church

Vassar College

By: Evan Sparling

Since its founding in 1861 as an all-girls school, Vassar College has consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the nation. While it went coed in 1969 (and now has a male/female ratio of 40/60), the school maintains both its academic edge and its upper-crust reputation.

The 2,450 undergraduates, almost all of whom live on the beautiful Gothic-style campus, have no core curriculum to follow, but majors in English, political science, and economics are among the most popular. Students can also take advantage of one the largest undergraduate library collections in the country, a top-notch art museum, and a strip of trendy shops and cafés right across the street from campus.

Recently, Vassar has become increasingly aware of its standing locally as well as nationally, and has even launched a new Web site ( to promote ties with the surrounding area. According to Jeff Kosmacher, the college’s director of media relations, Vassar “emphasizes to its students the importance of learning beyond the classroom and the laboratory.” With help from the college, hundreds of students each year complete internships, field work, and research in the Valley and in New York City. A free shuttle that traverses the city of Poughkeepsie, stopping at key locations like Poughkeepsie High School and Vassar Brothers’ Hospital, encourages students to get off-campus. And under a new program, students can receive federal work-study compensation for time spent working with local nonprofit organizations such as Dutchess Outreach and the Grace Smith House (a shelter for victims of domestic violence). The college also hopes to bring more members of the local community onto campus. A scholarship program instituted last year offers a full ride to eligible students from Poughkeepsie High School, and the college has begun to replace loans with grants for students with family income below $60,000. Local youngsters can come to Vassar to receive homework help from collegians, or attend summer sports and arts camps. On-campus events are open to the (adult) public throughout the year, including free stargazing evenings at the Class of 1951 Observatory, dance and music recitals in Skinner Hall, and the Arlington Street Fair and Farmers’ Market. “We encourage the public to take advantage of the resources that the college has to offer,” the Web site states.
124 Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie. 845-437-7000;


Alma Matters
Graduates, we all know a picture is worth a thousand words — so show us some of your most memorable photos from your college days in the Hudson Valley. Our favorite picks could be shown on Please include your name and hometown, college, major, graduation year, and a few lines about your photo (be sure to identify yourself). Send your digital images to


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