Sunday, July 5, 2009

Epiphany at Vassar College

This morning, we woke up really early to catch the subway to get to Penn Station. Our AMTRAK train ride to Poughkeepsie, New York to Vassar College lasted a little bit more than an hour. Most of us tried to catch up on sleep during the scenic ride. When we arrived at Poughkeepsie, it was perfect weather -- sunny with a slight breeze. We walked out of the train station to find a place for breakfast. That is when Gabe came to the realization that "We're in the middle of nowhere." We ate in a small coffee shop that was next to a row of local businesses. Mrs. Lilhanand called a taxi, and we walked back to the train station so we could get to Vassar.

Once inside the taxi, all of us realized that we weren't in the city anymore. The roads only had two lanes -- one going in either direction. We passed a lot of greenery and wide open spaces. Mrs. Lilhanand asked the taxi driver what there was to do around Vassar and he said "Well, there's a bowling alley and lots of restaurants." During the ride, I did see a lot of local businesses and red brick buildings that were really pretty.

We arrived at Vassar, and the taxi driver took us to the visitor center. I thought that the college appeared small with all of it's brick buildings and Gothic architecture. We picked up some information on Vassar and Mrs. Lilhanand gave us a meaningful talk about the college application process. I realized that I still did not know what type of universities I would attend regarding the environment. I didn't know if I liked cities or small towns.

We weaved around the buildings, trying to find the admissions office. We met a student who was studying outside, and he said that Vassar had really good scenery (lakes) and that he was going there during the summer, even though he was a community college student. The program was designed to help people get ahead and experience what it is like to attend a four year university. We finally found the admissions office, where a stack of self-guided tours were in a box on the porch.

We followed the instructions on the tour guide. The more we walked around, the more I could see myself attending Vassar. It was really quiet and as Julie put it, "serene." There were trees everywhere and lots of patches of grass. We saw one of the lakes (it has a goose-chasing dog named Ben) briefly. The buildings looked very old, which added some beauty.

We were all tired, so we stopped about halfway during the tour so we could see Vanderbilt Mansion. On the taxi ride there, we drove down the main road and saw a lot of shops along both sides of the road. We saw a museum for Franklin D. Roosevelt, Marist College, and even the Culinary Institute of America. The more we kept driving, the more I loved the small town. I realized that I was not much of a big city person, and that I loved the more secluded areas. It was very peaceful and beautiful.

Matthew Vassar, the founder of Vassar College

Shakespeare Garden


Charles Tillman Ramsey said...

Thanks Cristina for your riveting post. You get it! The Ivy League Connection is about finding yourself. Our Campus Tours provide you the flexibility to find a school that fits your needs and your personality. Vassar has great programs for those who want to concentrate on an undergraduate education.

Look at our blog site for last year and read Adrianna Ramirez's comments when she visited Vassar in February. You will find it very useful. You should also speak with her when you return. Let me know and I will get in touch with her and arrange a time for the both of you to meet.

Vassar is likely a great fit for you. However, you need to do more research and learn more about the school. When Columbia has the College Fair speak to the Vassar representative and get on their list! Juan Del Toro fell in love with Bowdoin and made the decision to head to Maine where he will get a first rate education. Talk with him and he will tell you why he chose Bowdoin over UC Davis.

Cristina, there is a reason that you are in this program and that is because you have a lot of talent. I would hate to see it wasted. Vassar is a great school with a phenomenal reputation. Your post said it all and now is your chance to delve deeper into the campus.

I am glad that you had wonderful time and took away so much from the experience.

Enjoy your week.

Charles T. Ramsey, Esq.
School Board Member
West Contra Costa
Unified School District

Don Gosney said...


There’s a reason why so many people like to head off to the country for a weekend of relaxation. It’s usually serene and peaceful just as you wrote. Visiting and living there, though, may be two horses of a different color. You need to really give it a lot of thought before deciding whether to go for the rural or citified schools.

Of course, you might also want to check into the academic programs the schools offer to see if it fits there, too.

Living here in the Bay Area we get a distorted idea bout what the US really looks like. As crowded as the US is, you all might be surprised to learn that most of America actually is in the middle of nowhere.

You can get used to just about anything and it’s just as tough for a citified person like yourself to get used to a rural community as it is for a country bred person to get used to the big city.

The question for you, Cristina, is what are you looking for and what college is located there.

Madeline Kronenberg said...


Sounds like you had a wonderful trip to Vassar. One of the most important "connections" the Ivy League Connection is about is "connecting" with your own personal preferences -- and it seems you've done that. As Mr. Ramsey said, you should speak with Adrianna Ramirez who also visited Vassar.

Also, I suggest that you take a look at the "College MatchMaker" site:

That site starts with 3860 colleges and asks you to state your preferences -- stating "rural, 4-year, small" brings you down to 247 schools -- and you can go from there to make a better match regarding major and admissions standards.

I'm glad the weather has cooperated and thanks for posting the pictures.

Keep enjoying the Big Apple!

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