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Vanderbilt Student Life/Workload

mcco18mcco18 Registered User Posts: 26 Junior Member
I was hoping that some current or past Vanderbilt students could give me some insight on the workload and how much time it leaves for fun/social activities. I'm asking more for humanities majors, but any major would be helpful! Do you feel overwhelmed frequently by the workload? Does your coursework leave you much time to socialize, go to concerts/events, hold part-time jobs, etc? Do you feel like you're doing significantly more work/more difficult work than friends at other schools?
Thank you so much!

Replies to: Vanderbilt Student Life/Workload

  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,254 Senior Member
    @mcco18 : You may want to specifically ask if they are doing more difficult work than X type of school. When students compare rigor on these forums they tend to default to comparing to maybe a state flagship (or less competitive) public school, so those outside of say, Texas, California, North Carolina, Michigan, and Virginia are likely to all say the same thing. And anyone comparing it to a less competitive state school will also say the same thing: It is harder. However, if they didn't say that, you should be concerned because it is supposed to be. Whether it is harder than a comparable caliber school is up always up in the air because it depends on a lot of things (like structure of the major, does it include a senior project, does it mandate the level of courses a student must take for electives, etc?). You have to be careful how you ask this question to students at elite universities and colleges. Either way, I'll get out the way and let them advise you. I feel like you should be alright. I honestly don't know too many research universities (elite or not) where the humanities are still so consistently tough on a per instructor basis that students qualified to get an admissions offer truly have their social life interfered with. You may have to really learn how to write well and frequently in some courses but most of those teachers let you space things out. They have a heavier reading than writing load usually (unless you are talking English or creative writing). Point is, I honestly would not worry about this. If the academics were prohibitive to the success of students outside of class, I doubt these schools would be so popular. Perhaps someone will prove me wrong.
  • mcco18mcco18 Registered User Posts: 26 Junior Member
    You make several great points! Thank you for your input; this was very helpful! @bernie12
  • fdgjfgfdgjfg Registered User Posts: 472 Member
    edited October 2017
    I think it's pretty similar to what was mentioned above, in that most top 20 schools are hard, and will seem hard compared to a state program (unless you're from one of those states with one of the top publics). Among top schools, there are certain smaller cultural differences in how intellectual the interests of the student body are, so a place like UChicago or WashU compared to Vanderbilt might seem to lean more on the "work" side of the work/life scale.

    I think the only situations where you would run into interference between academics/social life would be pre-med and engineering (and maybe possibly econ super gunners). Even in those things, it's only a certain subset of neurotic people who are really up against it (i.e. if you're not only a pre-med, but you're also aiming for a top 20 med school, or some super-competitive engineering firm/grad program, or need to work at goldman. Or alternatively, if you have a bad math/science background, like you didn't take any APs in high school, and so you're bad and need to study extra just to be average). Everyone else in the humanities/peabody, and the people with reasonable backgrounds and less lofty goals in those other things, is seemingly able to have a strong work/life balance. The music scene, bar scene, greek life, etc. are all pretty big, and plenty of people I knew went out ~4 nights a week and still had a job waiting for them at a top consulting firm, or went to a T14 law school, or went to med school, or whatever they wanted to do. It all just depends on your expectations for yourself and your goals.
  • mcco18mcco18 Registered User Posts: 26 Junior Member
    Perfect, this is exactly what I wanted to know; thank you! @fdgjfg
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,254 Senior Member
    edited October 2017
    @fdgjfg : "or needs to work at Goldman".....An elite private classic so stuck up and stupid it makes my head hurt.

    @mcco18 : Be careful about interpreting the jobs thing when you are talking about these expensive privates. A decent amount of students are so wealthy and/or well-connected that even if they didn't do that well, they were set upon enrolling at the school provided that they graduate. This seems more common than it perhaps should be. The law school thing : the standards for admissions into most T-14 Law Schools and those right outside of it have shifted so much that you need not be perfect for admissions to them either. Interpreting career trajectory from these schools gets very tricky when you consider the background of students, Some can literally afford to take a "party pathway" (this phenomenon has been written about actually and it does happen at some if not most elite schools) to success that some others cannot because of their background. However, there are cases where some majors or departments have courses so consistently easy that almost anyone, regardless of background can borderline skate in terms of grades and superficial achievement, however of course certain people will still have an edge among that group.
  • ultramarshmallowultramarshmallow Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    I'm a freshman here who's taking three humanity courses, and I'd definitely say it's exhausting but extremely rewarding. The classes are fascinating and expertly taught, and have large amounts of work (just like any other top ~20 school). What makes Vanderbilt different in my experience, compared to what I've heard from friends at like Emory, Cornell, JHU, and Princeton, is that though every college has a lot of social stuff that goes on on campus, it's way easier to get involved at Vanderbilt with a ton of different things then at other schools. I'd say if you can handle stress and exhaustion, Vanderbilt might just give you the most comprehensive and fulfilling college experience you can get.
  • transferdore17transferdore17 Registered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
    I'm a current sophomore here, and even though I'm a transfer student, I haven't had too much difficulty adjusting to the academic workload. I'm taking a philosophy course and a humanities course among others. If you plan out your time well and you don't slack off too much, Vandy academics can be very manageable, leaving you time to enjoy the fantastic social life we are lucky to have here.
  • transferdore17transferdore17 Registered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
    edited November 2017
    As for jobs, there are PLENTY of firms that recruit here. I get weekly email blasts from the Career Services office, and there's always a long list of companies coming here to do info sessions. I've seen Google (both technical and non-technical), McKinsey & Company, Booz Allen Hamilton, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, etc.
  • bernie12bernie12 Registered User Posts: 5,254 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    @ultramarshmallow : Is that fair? I just get this feeling that those ideas are just not true (it may also depend on the major). Those places tend to get more students who are more likely to bog themselves down in academic work (or co-curricular pursuits) than get overly involved in purely EC pursuits. To those would have preferred a campus where students were more likely to decouple academics/intellectual from EC and social life, it may make it appear as if things are not as "social" or that social options are less accessible, but I imagine at a place like Princeton, it really just is not the case (social choices may just be different). I feel like for all these places, more students are wrapped up in professional development ECs (they are extremely populated by professionals in comparison to VU), many of which are damned near co-curricular. That is simply a "different" college experience that is no more or less fulfilling. There is nothing that stops students at any of those schools from choosing other options. Most just choose certain routes and clearly have a different idea of what is considered a "fullfilling" experience. The routes taken by such students are certainly not as "stereotypical" based upon how we were trained to envision the American college experience (via the media), but I hate that word "fulfilling" and "enjoyable" being thrown around loosely in a manner that basically almost holds something like scenes in "animal house" or any number of college based films as "ideal". Just say that VU is "busy" and "rigorous" but that students do like to pursue more traditional social and EC pursuits so it makes the experience seem more stereotypical. Accessibility to social outlets is not a problem at any of those places. The contrary idea likely comes from the fact that some ECs and social venues are highly concentrated (this makes sense. Some of these schools have a a much less evenly distributed profile of majors, meaning that even academic interests are heavily lop-sided).

    Point is, I think the differences lesser so reflect the school than the students who chose to attend.
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