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Man-I’ve-Been-Bad-at-Pacing-These-This-Semester Monday, Part 1

Posted by on Monday, December 9, 2013 in College Life, Freshman Life, General Information, Housing, Service, Student Life, Traditions.

One of the main reasons I chose to come to Vanderbilt is because I saw the value in the first-year Commons experience. I knew that Vanderbilt was far from home, would comprise a big transition from high school to college, and would be filled almost entirely with unfamiliar faces. But most of these were true for the other schools I was considering attending. However, one of the major things that set Vanderbilt apart was the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons and the Commons experience.

At Vanderbilt, the first-year students live in 10 houses on the Peabody/Commons part of campus. We have easy access (as in an approximately 5 minute walk) to main campus from our houses, and we have our own dining center on Commons, fully equipped with lounge space, a small fitness center and a Munchie Mart.

Three houses on Commons at night.

So what are the perks of living on Commons and what is so valuable about the first-year experience? Here are three reasons why I have loved it.

  1. I get to live with and very near the people with whom I’ll presumably be seeing and spending time with over the next four years of my life. This has made the transition to a completely new community and school so much easier, as we first-years are part of a community within the greater Vanderbilt community. But don’t worry—there are still so many opportunities to get to know upperclassmen in classes, clubs, and so many other settings.
  2. Your house, including your RA’s and Faculty Head of House, comprises another small community for you at Vanderbilt. My house has East fEasts every Wednesday night, complete with fabulous snacks. We’ve had a talent show, which was so much fun, and we won the Commons Cup Flag Football Tournament (see point #3.) Within your house, you also get to hang out with your hallmates and get to know them too. My hall has gone to Sweet Cece’s for froyo (twice) and to dinner and ice skating. Some of my best friends are on my hall, and it’s a really wonderful way to get to know so many different kinds of people.
  3. Commons Cup. That is all. Well, ok. I’ll elaborate. But basically, if you like Harry Potter and think the “House Cup” is genius, this is for you. Also, if you don’t like Harry Potter, but you like winning and/or not losing, this is up your alley. Otherwise, the sports events are all voluntary. But the Cup is a yearlong competition between the 10 Commons houses. Points can be earned through academic achievement (GPA average for the house and quiz bowl competitions), sustainability (the house with the most energy savings), service (per capita service hours logged through Vanderbilt), athletics (inter-house tournaments in 6 different sports throughout the year), and community involvement (attendance at House events). There are so many ways to get involved with this, and it’s a really great way for your house to come together.
Fall on Commons campus. Props to VU's flikr for the photo.

Basically, the Commons experience is the best way I can think of to make such a big transition without feeling too overwhelmed or unanchored (<– see what I did there? #AnchorDown). There are so many opportunities to get to know my classmates, and I have made so many great memories on Commons just in my first semester. Future members of the Class of 2018, I am already jealous of the experiences you’ll have on Commons next year.

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