I've read a lot of student reviews about the school and it's made me reconsider having Vanderbilt as my first choice university.
Academically, I know I could fare well. I am incredibly academically driven so I know that I would fit in well with the prestige.
However, social aspects are a whole different story. Throughout high school I never really fit in with the "cool crowd" and more or less established myself in the "AP community" where everyone loves me because I'm one of the smartest students in my class. I don't "dress to impress", I wear t-shirts, and on occasion a nice dressy shirt, and I wear jeans almost every single day, and when I don't, I wear yoga pants. I don't wear makeup and I don't paint my fingernails. I'm pretty chill and I don't find the need to look perfect all the time. I've never dated (I'm a high school junior), so I'm not sure what the dating scene would be like for me. When walking through the halls at school I try my best to not make eye contact with the preppy girls because they annoy me. And I know that supposedly the majority of the girls here are "preppy".
Honestly, when I first started researching colleges, I saw Vanderbilt as a top choice because of the level of prestige and the beautiful campus, as well as the incredible financial aid (my family doesn't have much money). It wasn't until I read all the student reviews that made me change my mind. After high school I want to be able to find a place where I fit in, and I don't really think the rich preppy sorority girl community is my niche.
Any advice? :/
Last edited by weaponcaptain27; 03-04-2012 at 06:09 PM.
"because of the level of prestige and the beautiful campus, as well as the incredible financial aid (my family doesn't have much money)."
This describes probably the majority of top 25 schools in America, so I think maybe you should look at other schools that meet such a description minus the possibly intimidating social scene. (ex WUSTL, Duke, Rice, Emory)
As a junior you have plenty of time to do plenty of research on schools and you will soon find your perfect fit. Although it seems that Vanderbilt is an option, it does not seem like it is your #1, especially since you are expressing concerns in fit.
I suggests fleshing out what you are really looking for within a school besides prestige, financial aid and beauty, because these traits generally go hand in hand for the top schools. Perhaps specific majors, specific locations, specific size, specific social scene should help you find a better #1?
Vanderbilt's preppy culture is misprepresented. Yes, there is a lot of preppy dressing, but there isn't any sort of social pressure to do the same. Besides, you're much more likely to see girls going to class in jeans/yoga pants or leggings than some nice outfit.
And dressing nice doesn't mean girls have a "preppy" personality. I mean, a lot of girls here have rich dads, but that doesn't mean they aren't great people.
While as a whole Vandy is pretty preppy, you won't get exiled if you aren't wearing polos and sperries. In fact, you'll probably see more kids in sweats and a t shirt than anything else. It is college, after all. Everyone is actually pretty nice too
and don't worry about the dating scene, there isn't one at Vandy
You can rest assured that you won't be judged by the way you dress. I had similar concerns before matriculating but I quickly discovered that Vandy's reputation as a predominantly preppy school was vastly overstated. Moreover, the student body is actually quite diverse if you ask me.
I've heard many refer to Vanderbilt as a predominantly "Southern" college that is overrun with Greek life and tradition. Is this true or not? I am considering Vandy as a top choice because they are VERY generous with Financial Aid. However, I am looking for diversity and opportunities to explore different lifestyles in college. Overall, would you say Vanderbilt offers these qualities? (Really trying hard not to be stereotypical here--I just want to get some insight.)
Greek scene is definitely big at Vanderbilt, but the school isn't "overrun" with Greek life, and the school certainly isn't predominantly "southern."
What exactly are you picturing when you hear Vanderbilt is "southern?" We all know a few country songs because we're in the country music capital of the world, but that's about it. People do dress nice for football games and there's a bit of a higher standard for looking put-together than there is at other schools, but that just makes us classy, not necessarily southern. More than half the school is NOT Greek, and while much of the party life does revolves around the Greek system, there's plenty of ways to have fun and fit in without it.
Don't be too down on the Greek system either. People always fear it for no good reason. It's a great system and something everyone should at least give a fair chance. Going Greek is really a life changing experience for many people.
Like Chicago said, the "preppy" stereotype is really exaggerated by outsiders, and people just assume we're southern because we're not in New England.
Feel free to ask more specific questions, but in general, yes, there's plenty of room to "explore different lifestyles."
^ How well do Asians at the school fit in? I'm an Asian male from cali and have become accustomed to a tremendous amount of diversity--something Vanderbilt seems to lack a little bit of but is becoming better at acquiring.
Vanderbilt seems like a great school, but I'm just a bit worried about how well I'll be able fit in and not feel uncomfortable with the lack of Asians.
The school is pretty low in Asians percentage-wise compared to many schools, something like 10%. But how well you fit in is totally up to you. Some of my best friends here are Asian, but others do choose to self-segregate and really limit how many friends they make on campus.
@Pancaked: Thanks for your reply! It was really helpful. I live near the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa where it seems like much of life revolves around football and dressing to impress. Not that there is anything wrong with the lifestyle; instead, it's not something I prefer to do myself. Because I'm looking to "escape" (I guess you can call it that) this sort of environment, I just wanted to affirm that Vanderbilt's "Southern" environment is not the same as Alabama's.
Thank God. I'm originally from a coastal city in TX, so I never heard too much about football. Then I came to Alabama where life in all respects is very well-integrated with football. On the night when Bama beat LSU, there were fireworks, airhorns, drunken yelling, and barking well past twelve on a school night. I can't go anywhere WITHOUT seeing a Bama flag, shirt, cross, etc, etc. It drives me nuts. You can see why I would like some change and just absolutely HOPE I can reach out more and explore various options at Vandy.
Vanderbilt had to add a rule that all tailgating must end 30 minutes before kickoff because people would skip the games and just hang out on frat row. People go to games to pretty much just to socialize. There's of course school spirit for the games but we just don't get excited. Probably because we're a prestigious academic university of 6000 undergrads competing in the strongest football conference... the odds are against us.
Hahaha yeah. So in terms of academics, how well do you think Vanderbilt measures up? I still can not believe that their rate of acceptance was only 12% this year! Has Vandy always been this competitive and I was just blind the whole time? Also, in-between classes and homework, how much free-time would you say students have? I'm looking to join some clubs and definitely get a TON of jobs to pay off on loans.
And (even though I realize this question is somewhat personal... You do not need to share if you're not inclined to...) was Vanderbilt your first choice last year? What other colleges did you consider? And what made you choose Vanderbilt??
Sorry for the out-pour of questions. I really appreciate it!
merryli, Vanderbilt's financial aid packages do not include student loans, so I'm not sure what you are referring to with your statement about jobs to pay off loans. Also, federal work study sets a limit as to maximum hours/funding, in part to insure that students have enough time to study.
Vanderbilt has been a selective school, but the no loan policy has seemed to really fire the number of applications in recent years. It's an outstanding school for student involvement on campus, particularly with regard to community service (Alternative Spring Break, Best Buddies, Habit for Humanity chapter all come quickly to mind). As for academics, I think you should do your own research on the many outstanding academic programs. I'm a bit surprised that you would ask that.