The Myth of Love at First College Tour: A Highly Indecisive Student’s Guide to Choosing Vandy
Dear prospective students,
Now would be a great time for me to tell you that from the minute I stepped onto Vanderbilt’s campus, there was no question as to where I would be spending the next four years of my life. It would be a great time for me to tell you that as I walked across the bridge from main campus to Commons, I knew in my gut that it would be the first of many treks across campus. It would be a great time for me to tell you that as I flew across the country on my trip home, there was nothing on my mind but Vanderbilt University.
But I can’t tell you any of those things, because none of them are true. Here’s the truth: when I sent in my deposit on that fateful Sunday afternoon, I was not 100% sure that Vanderbilt was the place for me.
Here are some other truths:
-Throughout the application process, I don’t think I could give a single person a straight answer about why I was applying to Vanderbilt
-Making a pros and cons list did not help me nearly as much as I thought it would.
And finally, one last truth:
-Choosing to come to Vanderbilt was the best decision I have made in my entire life, and I cannot imagine being happier anywhere else.
I think the moral of this story is that for a lot of us, there is no one selling point or transcendent moment that makes us realize that a college is the “right choice.” Without actually experiencing things like impromptu jam sessions in the common room or the exhilaration of cheering your house soccer team on to their first Commons Cup victory, it’s hard to say whether or not you’ve found the perfect school. There is no 100% certainty in making a decision about college, and there is not always love at first sight. Doubts are normal. Don’t let them stop you.
Choosing Vanderbilt, then, was a leap of faith. It required me to put aside any fears I had about leaving home, living in the South, making friends, fitting in, taking difficult classes, and becoming like a part of something bigger than myself. Taking this chance, however, has served me well. I may not be able to tell you exactly why I chose Vanderbilt, but I can tell you why I am so thankful that I did.
First, I’m thankful that I chose Vanderbilt because it has taught me that it’s a good thing when you leave your room at 10 AM and don’t come back home until 8 PM. Don’t get me wrong, I love lying in bed and watching Netflix as much as the next person, but since coming to Vanderbilt, I’ve come to realize that there is nothing better than a busy day. Because at Vanderbilt, a busy day is not one stuffed full of boring classes and meetings. A busy day is a day brimming with tutoring at Metro schools, classes about Harry Potter, and vibrant discussions about minority identities on campus. A busy day is a day that requires a bit of running and a great deal of time management, but it is a day that is well worth the exhaustion you feel after it. Before coming to Vanderbilt, I was content with very few commitments, but being here has taught me how to seize every opportunity available to me. Vanderbilt is a place where saying “yes” to things as often as possible is one of the smartest things you can do. It’s busy, but it’s a good kind of busy.
I’m thankful that I chose Vanderbilt because it has surrounded me with people who not only impress and inspire me, but also support me and make me actually want to ask for help. From mentors like my RAs, Faculty Head of House, and VUceptor to peers like my classmates and friends, Vanderbilt is a place where extraordinary people come together to learn from each other. The fact that my RA knows pretty much every single person on campus and is involved in about a thousand different activities was intimidating at first, but now, it just reminds me of what I can accomplish on this campus if I work hard enough. Vanderbilt is a place where you don’t just learn from the best professors – you learn from the best students as well.
I am thankful for Vanderbilt every time I realize I can’t imagine life without the friends I’ve made here. I am thankful for Vanderbilt every time I speak to a prospective student and catch myself talking a mile a minute because I can’t say enough good things about my school. I am thankful for Vanderbilt every time I think about how much I don’t want to leave, even if just for the summer.
I am thankful for studying with friends at 1 in the morning in Rand, and for waving hello to Dean Wcislo when I see him on his afternoon walks, and for the Branscomb Munchie Mart, and for the time we were about to finish breakfast, but then ended up staying for three more hours because we kept running into people we knew. I am thankful for the fact that when I got our kite stuck in a tree yesterday, like fifteen friends showed up and spent the good part of an hour engineering a way to get it down.
I am thankful for Vanderbilt because of the way it serendipitously brought me all of the things I didn’t know I wanted in a college.
Maybe I should have saved this cheesy post for my senior year, or at least the actual end of my freshman year, but I wanted the potential Class of 2019 to hear this before making their decision. The factors that go into choosing a college are different for everyone, and there’s no way to say for certain how your individual experience will turn out. But I urge you, future Class of 2019, and any future admitted students – take the leap.