A Typical Day
A question I get asked frequently (and used to wonder a lot myself) by high school students applying to colleges, my parents, and friends back home is “What’s a typical day like at Vandy?”
A typical weekday for me in Vandy Land:
- Wake up around 8
- Commons breakfast!
- Start class around 9
- Lunch around noon or 1-ish at Grins, Rand, or Bamboo. –> done with class wooooo
- Do homework and studying during afternoon at Eskind library or on a picnic table if it’s nice outside, except for thursday chem lab
- Work out around late afternoon, such as Zumba at the Rec!
- Dinner with friends at Commons
- More studying and homework
- Depending on the day, attend a club meeting or one of the many on-campus events during the evening
- Sleep around 11 or 12, or later if I have a lot more studying to do
Everyone has a different schedule that works best for them, of course, and you’ll figure out yours during your first semester. I knew I would be fine with having morning classes, but after suffering through 8 am gen chem last semester, I knew better than to do that to myself again. I do like starting relatively early in the day though, which enables me to have my afternoons free. A fantastic aspect of college life is how much free time we have, and one way I like to make use of that is through cultivating hobbies such as working out, part of my philosophy of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
For me, working out is an essential part of my day because it lets me take a break from academics to relieve stress and focus on developing a skill set unrelated to school. My dad taught me how important it is to be able to take breaks from working so you can enjoy it more when you come back to it. Whether it’s some form of physical exercise, playing a musical instrument (jam sessions with friends are sooo much fun!) or some other creative outlet, I highly recommend having some type of hobby.
A few words on the concept of “studying”:
Some of my friends were talking about how they didn’t anticipate studying so much in college and they felt like that’s all they’ve been doing. I definitely study more here than I ever did in high school, even for AP courses, but it’s different. In high school, I had 7 classes in one day, followed by extracurricular activities and hours of homework.
Now, though, I have a few hours of class each day and more flexibility in my schedule for fitting in extracurricular and volunteer activities. I do study a lot, at least a few hours every day, but it’s not overwhelming because unlike high school classes, which were mandatory, I chose to take most of my classes because I was actually interested in the material, which makes studying much more enjoyable. The material is typically more comprehensive than it was in high school, and some of the learning takes place outside of class because there simply isn’t enough time during lecture for the professor to cover everything.
In the end, this is college, Vanderbilt, no less, so studying more than you did in high school is expected. The nice thing is that you get to choose what you spend hours studying, so it should be a relatively more pleasant experience than trying to cram for AP US History. I enjoy learning, and since I like my classes, I don’t mind studying a lot. Of course, there are days when I don’t feel like doing school work, so then I let myself take a break. That’s also a nice thing about being in college: you are in charge of your own schedule and you can choose how you want to allocate your time.
Real talk though, sometimes studying is boring, especially when everyone else doesn’t seem to have homework. I admit there are times when I either procrastinate or simply cannot bring myself to focus and would rather watch Netflix, and that’s OK. We can’t be expected to always enjoy work, no matter how interested we are. That’s why having other activities and being able to take breaks are so imperative to staying motivated.
Final tip: I try to study a little bit most days instead of waiting until right before a test, a strategy I finally took up after my first semester and realizing that college tests are harder than high school tests and require deeper understanding of the material that can’t be achieved by cramming. And even if a teacher never collects homework, he or she assigned it for a reason, so it can’t hurt to just do it and make academic gains in the process.