College Spotlight: Vanderbilt University

By Ryan Luse

Vanderbilt University logo

Last weekend was my first time in Nashville and it quickly skyrocketed near the top of my list for favorite destinations of all time. The music, the friendly people, and electric energy provided little down time over my brief stay, but I wasn't going back to Minnesota without a Vanderbilt visit. This is a hot school that continues to radiate in popularity like a hot Tennessee summer with increased attention and applicants.

My fiancée and I were able to be a part of an information session that filled up fast because it’s peak season for college visits. Finding a place to park was a bit challenging and a learning experience in itself, but we were in the heart of Nashville, not Iowa. I was immediately struck by the old fashion grandeur of the campus with a rustic, rural feel despite the big city surrounding it. I was also impressed by the clockwork organization of the admissions office which had my reservation upon arrival including reading materials, paper and pen on hand, all served up with that down-home Nashville smile.

Vanderbilt University

We sat near the back of a large and at capacity auditorium among the wide-eyed perspective students and parents and I couldn't help but wonder how I blended in as a new Independent Educational Consultant—looking too old to be a high school student but way too young to be a parent. We were greeted by an enthusiastic bow-tie wearing admissions counselor named Patrick Boswell who had an uncanny command of the hour long presentation and our attention. He related the college search with amusing metaphors of driving, and won me over with his philosophy that college is not about the best school, but “finding the best fit.” My pen could barely keep up with the constant, interesting flow of information, facts and unique tidbits on Vanderbilt. Here are a few that have still resonated with me a week later:

  • Vanderbilt has one of the best financial aid programs in the country, and does not consider family financial circumstances when determining admissions.
  • Incoming freshmen have a unique experience right off the bat with move-in day, where current students volunteers help with the entire move!
  • For those considering Vanderbilt, it is impossible not to factor in the location that truly shapes the student life experience. Nashville is not just another big city, it is “Music City” and best and busiest in the country with 20,000 live performances and over 200 recording studios. This is not surprising that Vanderbilt's Blair School of Music is acclaimed and rightfully competitive.
  • Music may be at the heart of Nashville but Vanderbilt is also known for athletics being a Division I school with strong teams and spirit including 80 club and intramural sports. Athletics are intertwined with Vanderbilt history. Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt founded the university in 1873 which is why the Vanderbilt athletic team is named The Commodores or as fans refer to as 'Dores with The Commodore as the official school mascot. Vanderbilt is also the only private institution in the South Conference (SEC.)
  • Vanderbilt's recently built “The Commons,” a unique 10-dorm complex designed specifically for first-year students.

The campus was truly an eye opener for me. I had in my mind more of a spread out, urban environment but when once you are on Vanderbilt soil, it is like walking into a different world. Instead of the busy, bustling Nashville streets, you have more of a tranquil nature preserve with an assortment of trees and plants, beautiful lawns and sculptures, and as our guide Patrick boasted, “three squirrels for every student!”

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