Skip to main content

Why Did You Choose Vanderbilt?

Posted by on Wednesday, December 26, 2018 in Admissions, Admissions, College Life, Early Decision, Freshman Life, Scholarships.

In October of 2015, I wrote this article (in italics) to become an Inside Dores blogger. Now, it’s December of 2018, and honestly, every word still applies.

What did change since writing this is that I didn’t know how much Vanderbilt would challenge me socially, academically, spiritually, or otherwise. I think part of these challenges is meeting so many people, being exposed to challenging academics at a prestigious institution, and just growing up. But I’m glad I got to experience these challenges at Vanderbilt.

I’m adding this, because I’ve had people ask before: When I chose Vanderbilt, I was between several offers of full-ride scholarships at Texas A&M, UT Dallas, and admission at Notre Dame (I was a Hesburgh-Yusko finalist but had not won the scholarship, which paid for half of tuition), and Washington University at St. Louis. Long story short, I found the environment and opportunities at Vanderbilt greater than those at state school, and with the Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship, the price for ND and WUSTL didn’t seem nearly worth it.

I was looking for a couple of factors at a school: (1) a really great math department (2) a strong music program (3) a good Catholic center and (4) a wonderful premed program and, hopefully, a medical center. At Vanderbilt, which I had only applied to because I was applying to similarly-ranked schools, I found everything. I could’t believe that. (For those of y’all who are wondering: they weren’t totally equal in ranking (I would have taken a school with great math and premed programs without the Catholic center or music, but I really did want to find a school with all of these things. I was fortunate enough to do so at Vandy).

“Dear Sophia,

Congratulations! You have been admitted to the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt University for fall 2015. Although we will mail your official admission packet by April 1, we are notifying you now because you have been selected as a Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship recipient…”

The day was March 6th and the time about 4:00 PM. Standing in my kitchen, I stared at the email. Later, I would learn that many of the other CV Scholars had the same experience; was it even real? After applications to eleven schools and an uncountable number of scholarship essays, I couldn’t believe that Vanderbilt actually wanted me. Me! The incredibly unathletic girl who wore the scar from running into a wall her sophomore year of high school during a particularly intense game of Keep Away. The valedictorian who was always late to class. The girl who wanted more than anything to attend a university with red brick buildings, lots of trees, an intellectually vital student body, and an amazing Catholic group just a block off campus. The girl who never knew it until The Email, but who was a true Vanderbilt student. I couldn’t believe it, but Vanderbilt wanted me.

A month later, I still can’t believe I’m walking around on Vanderbilt’s campus. I’m walking on the same paths I toured as a potential student; only this time, I’m carrying my math and chemistry textbooks, heading to office hours. This time, I’m carrying my Commodore card (which has a picture that took me hours to take) and my dorm room key, safely tied around my wrist. This time, I’m a real Vanderbilt student. And I still can’t believe it’s me.

In my first few weeks, I’ve explored the coolest of the red brick buildings. I’ve swing danced in the rotunda of the Wyatt center (gorgeous!), reviewed math proofs in Cohen, and spent many, many hours in office hours in the Stevenson Math Center (which is the coolest building on campus, obviously).

I’ve also spent so many afternoons under the trees on main campus. Last Thursday, after a particularly tiring day, I carried a chocolate milk and Caesar salad from Rand, one of the main campus dining halls, and took it to the courtyard near Stevenson 6. I sat on the wall by myself, taking in all the trees and sunlight, feeling as if I were a tree nymph just watching all the well-dressed, incredibly good-looking people walk by (dressing up at Vanderbilt is totally a thing).

When I applied to Vanderbilt, I was thinking a lot about “intellectual vitality.” I thought that I would never find the intellectual vitality of the Ivy Leagues at Vanderbilt, but I was so wrong. Through my math class (Math 2500!), I’ve discovered people so excited about light equations that sometimes, it is necessary to stop the conversation to write down an equation and admire it. I’ve discovered people so fascinated with proofs that they research new ones for fun, and one classmate is even auditing a graduate-level class–-as a freshman!

I’ve talked about the connection between neuroscience and music till the late hours of the night at University Catholic’s Awakening retreat. I’ve walked out of the Honors biology seminar “Why is Biology Complex?” with my head spinning from the amazing nature of Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem. I’ve sat in the Stambaugh lobby zooming in and out on a Prezi of the size of the universe from quark on up with a fellow CV Scholar, both of us enthralled with the sizes of the various elements of our existence. Don’t be afraid to embrace Vanderbilt; the intellectual vitality is here.

As for University Catholic, one of my last reasons for coming to Vanderbilt, I could write pages and pages and pages about how wonderful they are, and you will hear SO much more about them and all my classes, as well as the rest of my extracurriculars! I wish you the best of luck with your endeavors, and if you have any questions about Vanderbilt, contact me at! I’d love to talk to you!

Tags: , , ,