Vassar vs UCLA: Which College is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a female student reading a book at the library

Vassar vs UCLA: Which College is Right for You?

If you are in the process of choosing a college to attend, you may be considering Vassar and UCLA as two potential options. Both schools offer excellent academic programs, vibrant campus communities, and a wide range of extracurricular activities. In this article, there are distinct comparisons between Vassar vs UCLA that may make one a better fit depending on your personal preferences and goals.

Location and Campus Size: A Comparison between Vassar and UCLA

Vassar College is located in Poughkeepsie, New York, a small town located about 75 miles north of New York City. The campus spans more than 1,000 acres and is situated along the scenic Hudson River. In contrast, UCLA is located in the heart of Los Angeles, with a sprawling campus that spans nearly 419 acres. In terms of location and campus size, the two schools could not be more different.

However, both campuses have a lot to offer. Vassar’s campus is known for its picturesque beauty, with historic buildings and lush gardens. UCLA’s campus, on the other hand, is known for its modern architecture and state-of-the-art facilities. Whether you prefer a more traditional or modern aesthetic, both schools have something to offer in terms of campus environment.

UCLA students walking in front of a school building.

Another difference between the two campuses is the climate. Vassar College experiences all four seasons, with cold winters and hot summers. In contrast, UCLA has a Mediterranean climate, with mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. This difference in climate can greatly impact the types of activities and events that take place on each campus.

Despite their differences, both Vassar and UCLA are highly regarded institutions of higher education. Vassar is known for its strong liberal arts program, while UCLA is known for its research and graduate programs. Both schools offer a wide range of academic opportunities and extracurricular activities, making them great options for students who are looking for a well-rounded college experience.

Admissions Requirements: What You Need to Know

The admissions requirements for Vassar and UCLA are similar in some ways but differ in others. Both schools require applicants to submit transcripts, test scores, essays, and letters of recommendation. However, Vassar also requires students to participate in an evaluative interview, which is not a requirement for UCLA.

Additionally, the two schools have different average test score ranges for admitted students. The middle 50% of admitted students at Vassar have SAT scores between 1430 and 1535, whereas the middle 50% of admitted students at UCLA have SAT scores between 1360 and 1550. This may be a factor to consider if your test scores fall within a certain range.

Another important factor to consider when applying to Vassar and UCLA is their acceptance rates. In recent years, UCLA has had a higher acceptance rate than Vassar. In 2020, UCLA had an acceptance rate of 9%, while Vassar had an acceptance rate of 19%. This means that it may be slightly easier to get into UCLA than Vassar, but it’s important to keep in mind that both schools are highly selective and have rigorous admissions processes.

The Cost of Attendance: Which School Offers the Best Value?

The cost of attendance at Vassar and UCLA varies depending on a variety of factors, including your residency status, financial aid package, and personal expenses. According to the College Board, the average cost of attendance for a year at Vassar is around $85,220, whereas the average cost of attendance for a year at UCLA is around $30,900 for in-state students and $63,474 for out-of-state students.

However, it is important to keep in mind that these prices are just averages and may not reflect your individual financial situation. Both schools offer robust financial aid packages for students who qualify, which can significantly reduce the cost of attendance.

A graduation cap and a coins

In addition to financial aid, there are other factors to consider when determining the value of a school. For example, Vassar is a small liberal arts college with a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1, which allows for more personalized attention and smaller class sizes. UCLA, on the other hand, is a large research university with a wide range of academic programs and resources.

Another important consideration is the location of the school. Vassar is located in Poughkeepsie, New York, which offers a small-town feel and easy access to New York City. UCLA is located in Los Angeles, California, which provides students with access to a diverse range of cultural and entertainment opportunities.

Academics and Majors: A Comprehensive Look at Vassar and UCLA’s Programs

Both Vassar and UCLA offer a wide range of academic programs, with majors ranging from the humanities to the sciences to engineering. Vassar prides itself on its small class sizes and individualized attention, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1. UCLA, on the other hand, is a larger institution with more than 47,000 students, but also boasts world-class faculty and a diverse array of academic programs.

In terms of specific programs, Vassar is known for its strong liberal arts curriculum, which emphasizes critical thinking, writing, and communication skills. UCLA has a wide variety of academic programs but is particularly well-regarded for its programs in film and television, engineering, and business.

Additionally, both Vassar and UCLA offer opportunities for students to engage in research and hands-on learning experiences. Vassar’s Undergraduate Research Summer Institute provides funding for students to conduct research with faculty members, while UCLA’s Undergraduate Research Center offers a variety of research programs and opportunities for students to work with faculty on cutting-edge research projects. Both institutions also offer study abroad programs, allowing students to gain international experience and broaden their perspectives.

Student Life: Vassar vs. UCLA

Both Vassar and UCLA have vibrant campus communities, with a variety of extracurricular activities and social opportunities available to students. Vassar has a strong tradition of student activism, with many students involved in community service, political groups, and social justice organizations. While UCLA also has active student groups and community service opportunities, it is perhaps best known for its athletic programs, with a strong culture of school spirit and fan support.

Ultimately, the social scene and extracurricular experiences at Vassar and UCLA will differ based on your personal interests and preferences.

One notable difference between the social scenes at Vassar and UCLA is the size of the student body. Vassar is a smaller liberal arts college, with a student population of around 2,400, while UCLA is a large public university with over 32,000 undergraduate students. This means that Vassar may offer a more intimate and tight-knit community, while UCLA may provide more opportunities to meet a diverse range of people.

In terms of extracurricular activities, both Vassar and UCLA offer a wide range of options. Vassar has a strong arts scene, with many students involved in theater, music, and visual arts. UCLA also has a thriving arts community but is perhaps best known for its film and television programs. Additionally, both schools offer opportunities for students to study abroad, participate in research projects, and engage in internships and other professional development activities.

Housing Options: Vassar vs. UCLA

Both Vassar and UCLA offer a variety of on-campus housing options for students, ranging from traditional dorms to themed living communities. Vassar has a residential college system, where students are assigned to one of nine residential colleges and are encouraged to participate in community-building activities and events. UCLA’s housing options include traditional residence halls, suites, and apartments, as well as themed housing communities.

In terms of off-campus housing, both Poughkeepsie and Los Angeles offer a variety of rental options, although the cost of living in LA is generally higher than in Poughkeepsie.

Two students talking in their dorm room.

At Vassar, students also have the option to live in special interest housing, which are living communities centered around a particular theme or interest. These communities are student-led and provide a unique opportunity for students to live with others who share similar passions and hobbies.

UCLA offers a unique housing option called the Transfer Experience and Community Living (TEC) program, which is designed specifically for transfer students. TEC provides transfer students with a supportive community and resources to help them transition to UCLA and make the most of their college experience.

Athletics: Vassar vs. UCLA

Vassar and UCLA have very different athletic programs, with Vassar participating in Division III sports and UCLA participating in Division I sports. While Vassar does not offer athletic scholarships, it does have 23 varsity teams and a variety of intramural and club sports. UCLA, on the other hand, is known for its powerhouse athletic programs, particularly its basketball and football teams.

Both schools have impressive athletic facilities, but UCLA’s facilities are larger and more modern. Additionally, UCLA has a strong culture of school spirit, with students and alumni showing up in force to support their teams.

Despite the differences in athletic programs and facilities, both Vassar and UCLA prioritize the health and well-being of their student-athletes. Both schools have dedicated athletic trainers and medical staff to ensure that athletes receive proper care and treatment for injuries. Additionally, both schools emphasize the importance of academic success for their student-athletes, providing resources such as tutoring and study halls to help them balance their athletic and academic commitments.

Career Services: Vassar vs. UCLA

Both Vassar and UCLA have impressive career services departments that offer a variety of resources and support to students. Vassar’s career development office offers one-on-one career counseling, workshops and events, and resources for internships and job searches. UCLA’s career services center also offers individualized career counseling, as well as workshops, job fairs, and networking events.

Ultimately, the career services at both schools will help prepare you for life after graduation, but it is up to you to take advantage of the resources available to you.

In addition to the resources mentioned above, Vassar’s career development office also offers a mentorship program that connects students with alumni in their desired career fields. This program provides students with valuable networking opportunities and allows them to gain insight into their chosen industries.

Similarly, UCLA’s career services center offers a program called “Career Communities,” which connects students with alumni and employers in specific industries such as entertainment, technology, and healthcare. This program provides students with industry-specific resources and networking opportunities.

Diversity and Inclusion: Which School Offers a More Welcoming Environment?

Both Vassar and UCLA prioritize diversity and inclusion, with a focus on creating welcoming and supportive communities for all students. Vassar has a dedicated dean of diversity and inclusion and offers a variety of resources and support for marginalized groups on campus. Likewise, UCLA has a strong commitment to diversity and offers a variety of resources and support programs for students from all backgrounds.

Friends spending time together outdoors, walking and talking.

Ultimately, the campus culture and sense of community at Vassar and UCLA will be something to consider when making your decision.

It is important to note that while both schools prioritize diversity and inclusion, they may have different approaches to achieving these goals. Vassar, for example, has a strong focus on intersectionality and recognizes the unique experiences of students who may face multiple forms of marginalization. UCLA, on the other hand, may have a larger and more diverse student body, which can also contribute to a sense of inclusivity.

Faculty and Staff: Vassar vs. UCLA

Both Vassar and UCLA have highly qualified and experienced faculty, with a commitment to teaching, research, and innovation. Vassar’s small class sizes allow for more individualized attention and personalized instruction, whereas UCLA’s large size and extensive resources allow for cutting-edge research and world-class faculty.

Both schools have faculty members who are leaders in their fields and dedicated to their students’ intellectual and personal growth.

At Vassar, many professors incorporate experiential learning into their teaching styles, such as field trips, internships, and community-based projects. This hands-on approach allows students to apply their knowledge in real-world settings and gain practical skills that will benefit them in their future careers.

Meanwhile, at UCLA, professors often collaborate with other departments and institutions to tackle complex, interdisciplinary research questions. This interdisciplinary approach fosters creativity and innovation and allows for a more comprehensive understanding of complex issues.

Alumni Network: Vassar vs. UCLA

Both Vassar and UCLA have strong alumni networks, with graduates who are leaders in their fields and dedicated to giving back to their respective communities. Vassar’s Alumni Association offers a variety of resources and events for alumni, including professional development opportunities and social events. UCLA’s alumni association is one of the largest in the world, with over 500,000 members, and offers a variety of networking and mentorship opportunities.

Ultimately, the strength of the alumni network may be something to consider when thinking about your long-term career goals.

It’s worth noting that the strength of an alumni network can also have an impact on the value of your degree. A strong alumni network can provide valuable connections and opportunities for job placement and career advancement. In addition, alumni networks often have a strong presence in philanthropy and fundraising efforts, which can benefit the university and its current students. When choosing a university, it’s important to consider not only the academic programs and campus culture but also the strength of the alumni network and its potential impact on your future career and the university as a whole.

Campus Safety: Vassar vs. UCLA

Campus safety is an important consideration when choosing a college to attend. Both Vassar and UCLA have measures in place to ensure the safety and well-being of their students.

Vassar is located in a relatively safe area, with a low crime rate and a campus security team that is available 24/7. UCLA also has a strong campus security team, as well as emergency response measures in place, such as text alerts and a campus escort service.

Campus patrol service

Overall, both schools prioritize campus safety and take measures to ensure a secure environment for their students and staff.

However, it is important to note that campus safety is not just about crime rates and security measures. It also includes creating a culture of respect and inclusivity, where all students feel safe and supported. At Vassar, there are various resources available for students, such as counseling services and a bias incident response team, to address any issues related to discrimination or harassment. Similarly, UCLA has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, with programs and initiatives aimed at promoting a welcoming and supportive campus community.

Conclusion: Choosing Between Both College

Deciding between Vassar and UCLA can be a difficult choice, as both schools have a lot to offer. Ultimately, it comes down to a variety of factors, including your academic interests, personal preferences, and long-term goals.

Consider the location and campus environment, the admissions process and cost of attendance, the academic programs and extracurricular opportunities, and the campus culture and community. By weighing these factors against your personal preferences and goals, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about which school is the right fit for you.

It’s important to also consider the resources and support available to you at each school. Vassar and UCLA both have a range of academic and personal support services, such as tutoring, counseling, and career advising. However, the size and structure of each school’s support system may differ, so it’s worth researching and comparing these resources to ensure you have the support you need to succeed.


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