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Why Apply? Student Perspectives on Applying to VU

Posted by on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 in Application Process, College Application Guides, Uncategorized.

As a Vanderbilt alumna, Class of 2014, I am often asked by prospective students, “Why did you apply to Vanderbilt?” The truth is there were a lot of things that drew me to Vanderbilt University: the gorgeous campus, the residential life, Vanderbilt’s proximity to the vibrant city of Nashville, the academics that would challenge beyond the rigor of my high school curriculum, and the strong emphasis on student balance. Looking back, I realize that my reasons for applying barely scratched the surface of what Vanderbilt has to offer.  I did a lot of research when creating my list of colleges and universities, but only after I became a student did I realize there were so many other wonderful aspects of Vanderbilt which made it the best fit for me.

A rigorous academic experience was at the top of my college wish-list.

Vanderbilt really welcomed me from day one with the diverse student community, where I was able to learn about so many other cultures, traditions, and perspectives, while also being a place where I felt like I could just be myself. I also discovered the beautiful weather in Nashville where for the first time, as a California native, I needed a coat during those crisp, winter days, or even actually got to use my umbrella and rain boots.  And of course there was the AMAZING FOOD! Now I know that with most universities and colleges comes a standard meal plan, but the food on Vanderbilt’s campus really takes it up a notch — not only is the food delicious but you have so many options of where to eat on campus that you will NEVER BE BORED! Beyond the three main dining halls on campus, there are also restaurant style options, like the Kosher restaurant Grins, or the delicious comfort food at The Pub.

Even though I am a Commodore through and through, my Vanderbilt experience is slightly dated, so I solicited the help of some current Vanderbilt students to get the answers to your tough questions during the college search and application process: Why did you apply to Vanderbilt? What advice do you have for current high school seniors going through the process? When did you know you made the right choice, in ultimately picking Vanderbilt?

Collaboration, not competition, at VU.

Derek Brody is a current junior, a mentor to first year students (a VUceptor in Vanderbilt lingo), and a Vanderbilt Tour Guide. When asked why Vanderbilt made his list, he told me, “…the most important component of my future college was the people: I wanted to be surrounded by people who would push me to think in new and different ways, and a university that fostered that kind of thoughtful discussion and debate. When I came to visit Vandy, I wandered through Rand and I saw almost every single student engaged in lively debate and conversation with their friends, rather than the singular student studying in dining halls that I had seen elsewhere.”

Andrew Brodsky, also a current junior, is a student who really does it all, as a Resident Advisor, a VUceptor, and Tour Guide. He, like many Vanderbilt students, hit the ground running the moment he stepped foot on Vanderbilt’s campus. When I asked him what advice he would give to current high school seniors he did not beat around the bush when he said, “Don’t stress about what you want to do. Focus more on who you want to be. Who will you be at whatever school you’re applying to? Plot twist—not everyone knows exactly what they want to do for the rest of their life, even if they think they do. What matters most is focusing on what you love and what makes you happy. Once you figure that out everything else will fall in line.”

Raven Delk, a current junior who is actively involved with Project I Am and the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, opened up when she spoke about the moment she realized she made the right college choice: “I realized I made the right choice shortly after I bombed the very first exam that I wrote at Vanderbilt. I was absolutely devastated; I had never done so poorly on a test in my life! I went to office hours to figure out where I had gone wrong…and I wasn’t greeted by a TA. I was greeted by my professor…He appreciated my initiative and walked me through the concepts. By regularly visiting office hours and taking advantage of the collaboration that my professor encouraged, I pulled the grade up by the end of the semester. I share this because sometimes getting into college is about acting like you are perfect, but academics here are challenging, and you may find out that you are not perfect. However, you have a community to help you through that. You have class sizes that are conducive to so much individualized attention and resources to keep you constantly improving.”

Founder's Walk 2016

Current sophomore Abigail Wei, a member of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and a Vanderbilt Tour Guide and Inside ‘Dores student blogger, shared why Founder’s Walk, an annual part of first-year orientation, confirmed her “fit” at Vanderbilt: “I remember running through a winding path to alumni lawn to be greeted by the Chancellor, and being bombarded with high-fives and screams by upperclassmen representing different organizations along the way. The amazing energy that surrounding move-in just continued, and seeing all these students get to school early simply to welcome the freshmen was so heartwarming. From day one I was able to feel part of the Commodore family.”

I hope this helped many of you going through the college search and application process. To learn more about why Vanderbilt might be a good fit for you, check out our contact a student page where you can ask your own questions to our current students, or visit the Inside ‘Dores student blog where you can read about the student experience. And to learn more about applying to Vanderbilt visit our Application QuickGuide or contact your Vanderbilt Admissions Counselor.

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