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  • Writer's pictureNancy Adis

Marist and Vassar - Two Impactful Liberal Arts Colleges in Poughkeepsie, NY

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

Last week I visited Marist College, located right on the banks of the Hudson River, where over 5,600 students study in 47 majors and 85% of them participate in internships and other hands-on experiences to solidify their education. Well known for their Marist Poll (in the Institute of Public Opinion), centers of excellence, continued on-line learning options, honors program, and as a Top 50 School for Game Design, Marist touts its core values as excellence in education, sense of community, and commitment to service. With a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio and all classes taught by professors, there are many opportunities for student research as well as a unique approach to the core curriculum with 1st year seminars and capstone projects for all seniors. Approximately one half of Marist students study abroad, many of them at the Marist campus in Florence, Italy.

Vassar College is also in Poughkeepsie and serves 2,500 students with its long history of curricular innovation and its motto that “Vassar education opens minds and doors.” There are 51 majors offered as well as a “design your own” major through the Independent Program major. The recently renovated Integrated Science Commons supports a collaborative, multidisciplinary focus featuring state-of-the-art labs, with “smart” classrooms, and sophisticated instrumentation for each discipline. Vassar students have easy access to their professors with the very small 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The beautiful campus includes a 415-acre Farm & Ecological Preserve for recreation trails, athletics, and field-based education and research. As a residential college, students live on campus all four years, but Vassar commits to meeting 100% of demonstrated need with an average aid award that covers over 80% of the tuition price. Vassar attracts a community of distinctive character with people of divergent views and backgrounds and there are many unique opportunities for student involvement with over 165 clubs, a commitment to civic engagement, and even a Quidditch team inspired by the Harry Potter book series.

Both schools are in the Hudson River Valley with social options that include a drive-in theatre, film festivals, concerts, and coffee houses as well as food options galore (thanks to the nearby Culinary Institute of America). Conveniently located about 90 minutes north of New York City and 90 minutes south of Albany, there are many transportation options for students, including trains and buses. Finally, I want to mention the town’s Walkway over the Hudson, the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge. I didn’t have time to walk it on my visits, but I am going to have to make a trip back to the area just for that!

There are so many colleges to choose from! Every student has their own unique needs and interests and Confident College Planning guides families along the college selection journey. Whether you’re just starting the process and need some guidance on steps to complete, would like help researching colleges for your specific interests, are looking for tips to get scholarship money, or need help fine-tuning your application and essay – we can help! Contact me today at to set up a meeting and find out more about what I can do for you.


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