Mere days ago, Vassar welcomed its newest class of future alumnae/i to the college: the Class of 2016. As usual, it was a competitive group that posted the college’s highest ever average combined SAT score (2093). Nearly 8,000 students applied. The resulting 22.8 percent acceptance rate matches last year, making the classes Vassar’s most selective to date.
A total of 660 accepted students matriculated with the Class of 2016, 45 percent of whom are male. They are a diverse lot. The class as a whole hails from 500 schools in 46 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 31 foreign countries. Its members speak 32 first languages, including Bemba, Punjabi, and Twi. Nearly 37 percent self-identify as students of color. More than 80 members of the class are first-generation college students, and 58 percent are receiving Vassar scholarship funding.
Not surprisingly, the Class of 2016 is no stranger to the arts and literature. Nearly 50 of them were the editor-in-chief at a major high school publication. One is a winner of the National Scholastic Gold Medal in Art. One is the winner of a national poetry competition. Two students play the pipe organ (take note, college organist Gail Archer!). Two more have performed (vocal and cello) at Carnegie Hall. And speaking of performing, another is the head of a circus troupe (a future member of the Barefoot Monkeys, perhaps?).
That’s not to say the class is all brains and no brawn. Some 125 were varsity sports captains in high school. Two are Junior Olympians in fencing. Four hold black belts in either tae kwon do or karate. One is a nationally ranked flowboarder (indoor surfing). Another was an ESPN award-winner in soccer. Yet another represented the United States at a track competition in Australia.
It’s also a caring and engaged group. Its ranks include several certified EMTs, a volunteer firefighter, and a service dog trainer. Three established nonprofit organizations: one organization rebuilds homes in the community, another is a summer camp to teach English to low income children in China, and another provides people in developing countries with access to clean water.
They don’t shy away from the for-profit sector, either. Some have interned and/or written for places such as CNN Money, Fortune magazine, and prestigious Los Angeles restaurants. Several started successful businesses while in high school, such as technology consulting, skin care, jewelry, and a promotional film company.
They aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, an ethos that should fit right in at the Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve. One is a beekeeper (chemistry professor/resident beekeeper Chris Smart, take note!). Another is an “eco-farmer.”
And last, but certainly not least, one student made an entire telescope—including the lens—by hand. Maria Mitchell would be proud.