Vanderbilt University Panel
Interested in applying to Vanderbilt University and want to know more? Join former Vanderbilt University Admissions Officer Ferrell and Vandy alum Diamond as they share their stories!
In this webinar, you’ll have all your questions answered, including:
- What is the application process for Vanderbilt?
- What can I do to submit a strong application?
- What extracurricular activities can I participate in?
- What is life like on campus?
Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-10-27 – Vanderbilt University Panel
Hi everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on Vanderbilt University. I’m McKenzie and I’ll be your moderator tonight. So if you have any tech issues, you can direct message me and I will be putting some additional information in the public chat. But other than that, to orient everyone with the webinar timing will started with the, we’ll start up with the presentation, then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar.
You can download our slides and you can start some, many your questions in the Q&A tab. Now it, let’s meet our panelists.
Hi, my name is Diamond Williams and I’m a an advisor with CollegeAdvisor. I attend Vanderbilt and graduated in the year of 20.
Cool. My name’s Ferrell Armstrong. I am a, um, I’m the, excuse me, former Assistant Director of Admissions at Vanderbilt, uh, where I served as the Chief of international admissions. Uh, and I was also one of the five admissions committee members making me one of only five people out of 42 officers there that got to vote on who was accepted.
Uh, so I’m excited to be with you this evening. So much power just can decide the theta student . Um, but, uh, real quick, we’re just gonna do a poll. So what grade are you currently in? Eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th or other. And other can be if you’re a transfer student or if you’re taking a gap year, and if you’re a parent on call, you can select the grade that your student is going into.
But while we’re ready for that, can y’all tell us what was your favorite tradition at Vanderbilt?
I would have to say my favorite tradition was the commons ball. It was just a fun time. Get dressed up. Go eat fancy food with your friends.
I’d have to say the anchor dash, which is where the, uh, the freshmen get to lead, uh, the football team out onto the home field for the first home game, uh, each year. So, uh, that’s a pretty cool thing to see. It was a pretty big part of my, uh, my year every single year, getting to walk out there for the freshmen.
Pretty cool. Aw, that’s, both of those are very cute. Um, it’s looking like we have 11% ninth graders, 17% 10th graders, 39% 11th graders, 31% 12th graders, and 3% others. So we have a really good mix. And Diamond, you can control the slides. All right,
so when it came to my college applicate process, I personally found that time management was key. There’s just so much going on and you don’t wanna miss the deadlines, especially with scholarships. In addition to your allocations, of course, I found the best thing to do is to set smaller goals. So rather than try and focus on, Oh, I have to get these 10 applications submitted by this deadline instead, focus on, I wanna get this a done on this date, and then I’ll work on the next one.
That was really for me. I also found local resources like my teachers and guidance counselors, really helpful just to ask for advice to see what they know about the college application process. A second set of eyes on my essays. It was just really helpful to have them there for guidance. I also, surprisingly, found resources in my local libraries just for bringing help with the writing process and application process in general, which was surprising for me.
And then in terms of virtual resources, um, when it came to touring schools and hearing from current student perspectives, it was really important to make use of those virtual resources just because for me personally, I wasn’t able to just travel from Florida to Nashville to see the school. And so that’s something that I think sometimes gets missed out is go to the school’s websites, see what there is to see and get a fill for the campus and, oh, sorry about that.
So, When it came to deciding on Vanderbilt, I was between two schools, the University of Florida and Vanderbilt University. The key considerations that helped me with making my decision were financial aid. Um, my package from Vanderbilt was very generous and I also had several scholarships that I made use of, and I decided that financially Vanderbilt would be the better option than in terms of opportunities.
I am and was a pre-med student. And so things like research, shadowing and volunteering were very important to, and a fun fact is that Tennessee is the volunteer state. I mean that there would be plenty of opportunities to contribute to my community, which was so important to me. And finally, location. As I said, I’m from Florida, so.
This was a hard decision for me. Did I want to completely venture out of my comfort zone and go to a new state or venture a little bit closer? And ultimately I decided I wanted to explore a little bit and learn what was like to live on my own in a way. You’re not on your own too much in college, but a little bit of independence.
And then when it came to studying at Vanderbilt, I was a double major in biochemistry and Spanish. So as a pre-med student, I found that bio history would help satisfy coincided really well with all of the prerequisites for pre, But also I really enjoy that connection between biology and chemistry and just how.
They’re so interconnected, especially when studying the and anatomy and things of that nature. In terms of Spanish, that was something that I found to be so important to me because it is the second most used language in the US and as a future healthcare provider, I’d like to be able to communicate directly with Spanish speaking population.
I also found they had a really cool opportunity to take medical Spanish classes and volunteer as a Spanish interpreter, so I got to connect my STEM major and my Spanish major in a way I didn’t expect really when I started.
Yes. So now we’re gonna do another quick poll. So where are you in the application process? Haven’t started. I’m researching schools, I’m working on my essays. I’m getting my application materials together. Or if you’re really lucky, I’m almost done. And while we wait for those uh, responses to roll in, what is something you think students should know about Vanderbilt before applying or attending?
That’s a good question. I would say something students should know is that there is a whole wealth of opportunities. Um, for me personally, research became a really big part of my career. I’d spend upwards of 20 hours in the lab and that’s not something I expected. And I really did enjoy what lab experience.
And so don’t be afraid to make use of the opportunity, especially career center if you do end up attending this university. Cuz there are just so many opportunities that you might not even think of.
Uh, there, did you have anything that you wanted to add? You know, I think the biggest surprise for me was just, you know, the resources in one location. You know, I think the, the big thing is for students just having, I mean, obviously the Christer are a huge part of it, but, um, having the ability to kind of have multiple opportunities to do research as early as freshman year.
You know, internships, shadowing experiences, all are available to students during all four years of the undergraduate pathway. And coming from a, Before working at Vanderbilt, I worked at a, a large public, uh, school in the SEC and, um, you would think that perhaps they would actually have more opportunities considering it was a large public research institution and Vanderbilt had like more than triple of what that institution had.
And only reason I’m not naming the school is I don’t like bad mouthing schools. It’s a wonderful school. Um, But it, it’s really impressive in, in the mid-size institution that Vanderbilt is, uh, just the amount of opportunities you have to not only get involved socially, um, but also academically in, you know, as it relates to your career field of interest as well.
Mm-hmm. So it’s looking like we have 20% haven’t started. 41% are researching schools, 11% are working on their essays. 6% are getting their application materials together and 22%, that’s actually a record are almost done. And you can control the slides. hats off. So that almost done. That’s, that’s big man.
Congrats. So, well, you know, for me, the application process, what is it like, um, obviously, you know, if, if you have as a parent done this process before, um, it, it is on the common application. So if you’re familiar with the common application, it kind of runs very much the same. For those of you that are going through this process, uh, for the first.
You will use the common application, uh, for a variety of your different schools. And with the way the common application works is all your demographic information is, you know, one part of the process. And then each school will have their own kind of supplemental information they would like to gather from you, uh, to include supplemental essays.
So you will complete your demographic section, your personal statement, which would go to every school, uh, that you are applying to via the common app. And then you’ll have the Vanderbilt supplement, uh, which has essentially been what is your favorite activity and tell us why. We didn’t even really consider it an essay at Vanderbilt.
It was more or less a paragraph. Um, but it still matters. And, and so that’s your supplemental essay that you technically have there at Vandy. So in, in, in terms of that, what the application process is like is we’re really, you know, looking for you to have your credentials in order. So we wanna make sure that your transcripts are in cuz we can’t evaluate you without them obviously.
Your letters of recommendation are very important to us, and, and I’ll tell you why in, in the next slide. Um, obviously your letters of, um, recommendation allow us to get to know you, and that’s why they’re so important. I’ll go into more detail in a second, but your activities are a big part of this. And of course, your essay, your personal statement is what we really feel like we used to get to know you.
Uh, and, and so it’s really about looking at this and seeing of you the applicant can kind of put it all together and kind of give us this direction of what you are in pursuit of. So that’s, that’s how we’re kind of starting to go through the process now, in, in terms how can an applicant stand out? It’s to build on what I kind of just kind of ended with, I, I think the big thing here about Vanderbilt that so many families and students miss today is that its direct competition is Yale, Harvard, Duke, and Wash U.
Right? So if you’re looking at a Yale, Harvard, Duke, Wash U or any school in the top 20, uh, you’re, you’re competing, you know, with students. They’re also probably applying to Vanderbilt, Emory, uh, Tulane. And so these are all, you know, students that you’re in direct contact with, or contact, I’m sorry, um, competition with.
And it, it’s very difficult to stand out in an applicant pool like that. What most students fail to do is they fail to be revealing. So the number one thing that you can do to really stand out and be known in the Vanderbilt process, and you will probably still hear me refer to it as our process since that’s where most of my career was on, it’s very near and dear to my heart.
The way that you stand out in that process is to become vulnerable, first and foremost. You need to become comfortable letting people get to know you, and you need to be comfortable opening up. Uh, now, how do you open up? Well, it really comes down to you being detailed and specific to the individual that you are in your personal statement.
Um, I, I would suggest that you pick a personal statement that allows you to be more revealing as to what you’re in pursuit of and why. Uh, than choosing a predetermined topic. That’s a personal opinion. You take that as you may see fit. Um, but it’s what allows us to understand who we’re getting and, and who we’re adding to our community.
So the more that you can personify yourself, the, the more that we can kind of understand who you are going to be within our community, within our culture, that’s the student that we start to focus on first because it’s a comforting factor, right? It’s when I’m reviewing some, you know, an application when Diamond was applying, it’s, hey, like, where are we gonna see Diamond getting involved?
Like, how are we gonna benefit by Diamond’s presence? Well, that’s all on you, the applicant to let us know about. No, nobody else is gonna do it for you. So, becoming vulnerable, and in many cases it may seem as if you’re being forward, that’s okay, because if you’re not putting yourself out there, we’re never gonna know who you are.
And, and I think that the important thing here, What holds a lot of students back to kind of, you know, give the opposite of how you stand out. A lot of times it’s the students that are, you know, more humble, um, very concerned about coming across as respectful and, and all that. And, and I appreciate that.
Let me lemme say that first and foremost, a lot of times it’s that student though that struggles in this process because they don’t give us enough to go off of, right? And, and I kind of associate that to being the stranger knocking on the front door. If I don’t know you, I’m not opening my door to you at 11:00 PM at night.
Well, it’s really on you to reveal yourself to us. Don’t be worried about being too forward or arrogant or rude as long as you choose to utilize the proper language and tone with your activity descriptions, your letters recommendation. Uh, well you can’t control letters recommendation, but, uh, your essays that is going to allow us to, you know, look at you in a way that you’re professionally representing yourself, which is what we’re asking you to do.
Yet so many students don’t do it. So that’s the number one way that you really stand out. First and foremost, just to cut to the chase though, before that even gets determined, you need to have the proper academics. Vanderbilt is very focused on your academic performance. There are a lot of other great schools.
NYU’s a wonderful example. You know, you, you can get an NYU with a 3.4, 3.3 gpa and I, I see it happen every year. That’s probably not gonna happen at Vanderbilt. Right? They, they are very driven to your academic performance. They would expect you to be taking the most challenging curriculum that your high school has to offer, and they expect you to do well.
Right? Uh, and then to supplement that, they really do put a, a preference on leadership. Okay. And, and I think the, the big thing here that is missed by a lot of families is, is what I think a lot of students or, or parents consider leadership. Leadership is, is certainly vice president, president, secretary, having, you know, a title in a club or an organization.
But leadership is also very much about what you’re doing in your local community, right? Maybe, maybe you saw a need, uh, in your local community that you decided you wanted to go, you know, make a difference for, that’s leadership. You don’t have to go create an organization. You don’t have to go, you know, founder find, excuse me, uh, found your own company from the ground up.
Uh, you don’t have to be become president of the student body to be viewed as a leader. Um, one of the number one things that I use to evaluate the leadership of a student were the letters of recommendation. Can that teacher or you know, mentor or coach, whoever’s writing this for you, can they gimme some semblance of, of who you are in the classroom and who you are in the school community?
Or are you someone that students come to you for advice or guidance? Are, are you the one that’s taking ownership in the classroom and helping students kind of stay focused when things get a little rowdy from time to time? Right. Um, are you the one that the teacher, uh, the teacher, I’m sorry, that a teacher or a school leadership team member.
It kind of goes to, to kind of get their vibe for how the school, maybe you’re reacting to some news or to a policy change, something like that. That’s leadership. Leadership is not defined by title. Always remember that. Uh, so it’s imperative when you’re picking your letters of recommendation. Who’s gonna write them?
I should say that you’re picking people that know you. Uh, and that’s kind a third piece here. Um, and I make a little joke whenever I say this, but for the love of the world, please do in fact pick people that like you. You need to know that. And if you’re unsure, you should avoid that person. Uh, because we get some honest letters for recommendation.
We really do. And, and we put a lot of value on those because, um, what someone can kind of tell me about who you’re gonna be on a daily, you know, level, makes me have a better understanding and idea of who you’re gonna be in our community, right? Cause you’re transitioning from a smaller community to a larger community with a little bit more freedom.
I need to know that you can handle it, right? Uh, so pick the people that are gonna represent you. Talk about your abilities and ideally you need to be picking individuals that can really identify what you’re in pursuit of. When you can have the student putting together kind of an outline or a kind of futuristic layout of what they’re passionate about, what they’re in pursuit of via their essays and their activity descriptions.
And then kind of cap that off with a letter of recommendation or two, kind of backing that up, serving this, you know, kind of like secondary evidence to support what the student’s saying about themselves. Like, yeah, Diamond is gonna go off into medical pathway. She’s been telling us about this since her sophomore year here in high school, and here’s what she’s been doing to execute that plan forward.
That’s kind of making sure that everything’s meshing together and we put a lot more value and trust in that applicant. So it’s kind of being that, you know, total applicant. The last piece of it is being definitive. The number one thing that we would always talk about at Vanderbilt and that they still talk about to this day is they don’t care about the well-rounded applicant.
They care about the defined well angled applicant. I would much rather accept a student with three or four activities that relate to what you are applying to study versus being involved in 10 or 12 different things where maybe only one of them relates to what you’re wanting to study. I, I take a lot more comfort in knowing you’re serious about a certain pathway when you have historical evidence to back it up, right?
And, and so the more that you can be doing to get in alignment with what you are applying for, the better. You should not apply for a major that you have no connection to. Uh, a lot of families like to try to gain the system. You’ll get denied. Um, you know, the number one thing that we would see is students applying to engineering.
Um, you know, it’s the number two biomedical engineering program in the country. So you get a lot of, you know, students that weren’t necessarily engineering qualified, They didn’t have the right credentials for the engineering department wanted. And so students would go apply for education, thinking that education, uh, was an easier pathway.
There’s a problem there. It’s, it’s the number two school of education in the country, as well. So, you know, we’re at that level. You know, you’re looking for extremely significant contribution in connection to the education pathway. We can tell what you’re doing right? When we see activities and you know, kind of side projects that you’re doing that relate to engineering, and yet you’re applying for education, we know exactly what you’re doing.
We’re gonna auto deny you right there cuz you’re not really coming in for education. So you want to be in alignment and you wanna have things backing that up with what you’re applying for. When you can tie it all together, that’s the student that we first focus on more than anybody else. And, and then we start to fill our class with everybody else after that, right?
So those definitive applicants are the ones that capture our attention from the very beginning and we give our attention to then the pockets that we have left to fill. We’re kind of going through and just filling up with, you know, what our needs are at the last second. So that, that’s how you really can make a difference there.
So for students that want to apply to Vanderbilt, uh, or parents that are hoping their student would want to apply to Vanderbilt, um, number one thing, make sure it’s the right community for you. Right. Um, I think the beautiful thing about Vanderbilt is it is a community of social academics. Uh, and that is something that we really, I think, did a great job of trying to maintain and yet also represent, uh, in the admissions department.
You know, Vanderbilt is is a place where you’re gonna find students that are in the lab all day. You’re also gonna find students that, um, are, you know, getting involved in a lot of different activities. And our hope is that we’re making an admitted class that will do both. Right. Uh, we wanna see a very active community, uh, in the Vanderbilt, you know, Campus or on the Vanderbilt campus.
And, and so that is something that, uh, you need to be prepared for. Now at the same time, um, it’s not an overly competitive environment. Um, you know, a lot of schools today, I think students aren’t prepared for the fact that when you go to that campus, you’re gonna be in direct contact with your roommate or one of your best friends, or not contact, I’m sorry, competition with one of your roommate.
Best friends. Vanderbilt is not that way. It’s a very supportive community. Um, it’s a, it’s a school that places a lot of appreciation and attention to the comfort of its students, making sure that everyone feels welcome, uh, and supported. And they really do encourage a lot of, you know, student support of one another, which I’ve always appreciated.
Um, so it, it really is a place that if you’re more, that ultra competitive person may not be the proper, you know, daily environment for you. Um, it’s a very come as you are institution, a very welcoming institution, but I would encourage you to go visit it. Um, it is a unique location. Nashville is beautiful.
I, I’m born and raised in Nashville. I live here now. Um, and, and at the end of the day, It is located in a metropolitan area. Uh, it’s a 320 acre campus. Uh, and you are surrounded by the city, but it’s unique in that you do have 320 acres of uninterrupted campus that you have complete access to, um, every day of the week.
Right. Um, it’s with about, you know, a five minute drive to the technical, you know, downtown area where like the predators play the NHL team. Um, but for old timers like me, at 35 years of age where Vanderbilt is located, is considered downtown Diamond. I know for you that’s not downtown, uh, but for me it’s still considered downtown.
Um, so it’s unique. It’s not a traditional college town feel like in Athens, Georgia, Right. Uh, or like a Starkville, Mississippi. Um, it is a metro area. Me, you know, metropolitan area with a lot of, um, businesses, you know, a lot of growth happening. Um, yet it. All of the resources of a college town and then some.
So it’s a very unique place and you need to be comfortable, um, being active in an environment like that. Right? Uh, if, if you’re looking for a super laid back, low key experience, Vanderbilt’s probably not the right fit. It’s not overly, you know, energetic, but it’s also not for the student that just wants to kind of lay around, let’s put it that way.
So I would encourage you to go visit, um, make sure you enjoy the national cuisine, make sure you’re prepared for the humidity. If you’re not ready for that national humidity, you need to prep yourself because it’s coming. Uh, but other than that, I, I think it’s just a great environment that, I mean, we had a very low transition rate in terms of retention.
They had a 91% retention rate while I was there, and they still do. So it’s a very low turnover of transfer students. Um, I think that speaks a lot to the focus on the community environment, um, and the resources that students have available to them from day one.
Yes. So that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful. And remember, again, that you can download the slide from the link in the handouts tab. And this webinar is being recorded if you would like to view it again later on our website at app.CollegeAdvisor.com/webinars.
Moving on to live Q&A are your questions you submitted in the Q&A tab and read them aloud before a panelist gives you an answer. As a heads up, if your Q&A tab isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that you join the, uh, custom links into your email and not from the website or else you won’t get all the features of big marker.
Uh, real quick, I have been putting some information in the public chat if you would like to view it again. Uh, Vanderbilt is a private research university in Nashville, Tennessee. Um, as was said, uh, this webinar we won’t be going into like specific details on specific majors and programs that we might touch on pre-med since STEM is pre-med.
Um, but um, What you, I call it. Uh, so if you wanna know more information about, um, specific majors and stuff, please do go to their website. Um, Vanderbilt is test optional for this application cycle. We won’t know if they’re going to be next year, but they are this year. Um, so any current seniors or students that are applying now, it’s test optional.
Um, they have, uh, for, in terms of financial aid, they have, they require the CSS profile and the FAFSA. They have needs based financial aid as well as merit based scholarships. Um, Vanderbilt is need blind, so your admissions isn’t affected, um, by how much financial aid you need. They do have a priority deadline for merit scholarships of December 1st.
So keep that in mind. If you’re applying, they have one. Um, they require their personal statement and they have one supplement. This year, you get to pick from two options, both related to community engagement, uh, 250 words. Uh, they require one counselor recommendation, two teacher recommendations, and then you can have one optional.
Uh, faro. Can you tell us, are those teacher recommendations, like core teachers or, Yes. So they, they prefer core curriculum instructors. That would be math, science, social science, so history, English, and foreign language. Um, they prefer that technically on paper it’ll say junior and senior year instructors.
That’s not really a problem. It can be ninth through 12th grade, but just make it from a core curriculum instructor. Okay, cool. Uh, and yeah, and then there’s some information about ROTC and, uh, the Navy version and the Army version, um, in the chat. And they do have scholarships for students interested in that.
Um, and it is a D1 school. Okay. So going onto the application process, let’s start off with Diamond. So Diamond, what do you think was a highlight of your application that helped you get into Vanderbilt? I would have to say, It would be my community, um, community experience, volunteering and leadership roles.
In that sense. I think when I applied, I had probably around 500 hours of volunteering, So really demonstrating that I had a commitment to my community, and I think that was such a large part of my application and show shown through in all aspects, including my personal statement. Mm-hm, uh, Ferrell, you kind of touched on this a lot, in that, uh, second slide.
Uh, can you, um, if you had to pick, what do you think would be the most important part of the application really and truly credentials for what you’re applying for? Um, I mean, just, it’s such a, I mean, it’s such a competitive process at Vanderbilt now. You know, coming in for their Econ program, their human and organizational development program, um, their pre-med program is nuts.
I mean, I’ll, I’ll let Diamond speak to all the extent in detail on that. Um, all the, you know, just all the things on engineering. So it’s, it’s incredible and, and you really do need to have, you know, experience that relates to that. So ideally you have shadowing experiences. Ideally, um, you know, internships and shadowing in internships are interchangeable terms.
Um, you really want that experience. And, and frankly, the, the next level kind of step up is do you have research? Um, you know, if you can have some type of lab research experience, you don’t have to have something published. Uh, but the fact that you’ve been in a research lab, uh, that, that’s a big deal to these schools.
Passion projects are, are really nice. Uh, when you can demonstrate, you know, experience in the field that you’re applying to, um, all that matters to Vanderbilt. Um, without it, you’re just, it, it’s, it’s difficult to put a lot of trust in a student that’s saying, Hey, I wanna do a certain major. When we have all these other kids that are applying with connection to that major, even though you might be a killer academic, you know, applicant, it’s just hard to put a lot of trust, no offense to, to a 17 or an 18 year old that doesn’t necessarily have a connection to it when so many other kids do.
So, um, it that that’s the way that you can really create a benefit for yourself. Mm-hmm. , going off of that diamond, uh, what courses did you take during high school and what extracurriculars, uh, did you participate in? You could just give a general idea. So, I participated in the I program. Um, I focused on my chemistry courses.
I did Psych as well, was a big one. I also, in terms of volunteering, volunteered at a hospital, volunteered at a community center. Um, also was part of National Honor Society Key Club.
Probably a couple other things that have just faded with memory at this point. , Yes. Those are all great. Um, and Faro, can you talk about are they looking for students to be in activities like that? Or is it more about what the student is, um, interested in and committed to? Yeah, I, I think it’s now more about what the student is interested and committed to.
We certainly wanna see, you know, a, a, you know, a, a value, a value, you know, kind of a variety of different things. But I, I do place greater emphasis on the fact that, you know, you do have ideally three or so things that relate to what you’re applying for, um, in addition to other interests as well. So it’s, it’s great to have a student that comes in with eight or nine things that they’ve done, but I do wanna see two, three things ideally that directly connect that that’s the ideal student.
Now does everybody get in that gets in, have that? Absolutely not, but I’m saying if we could design a perfect applicant, You, you’d have 8, 9, 10 things if you’ve been a part of, were done at some point during high school, and ideally like three of those to have some type of direct connection to what you’re want.
Mm-hmm. , uh, kind of going back to courses, uh, does Vanderbilt prefer AP, IB dual enrollment? Um, how does it look if you have honors level? Um, do they like people that graduate with, uh, an associate’s degree? Yeah, so this is gonna be hard to hear, uh, for a lot of families and just understand that I’m just telling you Vanderbilt’s policy.
Okay? So, um, you need to hear this as clean and clear as possible, but if you have, if you go to a school and APS available to you and you want to get into Vanderbilt, you should be taking AP and you should be making an A, because if you’re not, you’re most likely gonna be denied. And I know that’s very difficult and it’s very kind of direct to hear, uh, but the reality here is the most common question that we received at Vanderbilt is, Hey, should I take honors and make a B or should I take AP and make.
you should take AP and make an A cuz you’re gonna get denied otherwise. So, a B here, one or two, no big deal. But if you’re all B’S in an AP curriculum, unfortunately you’re not gonna be competitive at Vanderbilt. Um, it’s, it’s very much, you know, the same level as the Ivy’s in terms of the academic expectation.
Um, so now keep in mind this is based upon what is available to you at your school. So if your school, the top level curriculum offered is honors, you’re not being compared to a student that’s applying with an AP curriculum because your school did not have AP available to you. Okay? So it’s based upon what’s available to you at your school.
Now, if you had the choice between AP or dual enrollment, take AP dual enrollment is in most cases not viewed as being as competitive as ap. The qualifications of the instructor change every single year. Ap you have to be certified to teach it. So the curriculum is the same globally, right? Um, in the very rare circumstance that you go to a high school that offers both IB and AP, take IB, okay?
IB is viewed as being more challenging than AP, but that is extremely, extremely rare. And honestly, no university in the world understands why a high school would offer both IB and AP. Um, but IB, AP dual enrollment, honors College Prep, that’s your word, my high school offered all three . Um, they were trying to keep students, but, uh, that’s besides the point.
Um, going on to the next question, um, in terms of financial aid, uh, this is a question for both of y’all. Would y’all say that, um, Vanderbilt is affordable? And can you, uh, also go into some detail on if it applies to out-of-state students, international students, DACA, uh, et.
So from a student’s per perspective, I will say Vanderbilt was surprisingly affordable for me. I know that when you look at the cost associated with Vanderbilt tuition, those numbers are very large. And as an out-of-state student, I was fortunate enough to also just have a very nice financial aid package.
And that is something that I will say Vanderbilt does very well, at least from what I can see as a student and from what I’ve heard from my friends who also attended Vanderbilt, that it was very, um, I’m trying to think of a synonym for nice, but that’s all that’s coming to mind. Yeah, so I think a couple things to cover here.
So first and foremost, As a former employee, I mean, I’m biased. Uh, I love Vandy, so I, and I didn’t pay to go to Vandy, so I’m not gonna tell you that it is, it is or it is not affordable. What I will tell you is this, it’s a need blind school, so your financial need will not play a role in your admissions decision, which is a huge deal.
Okay? That’s, you know, big, big ups and props to Mandy on that bias. I know former admissions officer there. Uh, number two though, it is a loan free school. So if you qualify for financial aid, I don’t care if you make $30,000 a year or a million dollars a year, and yes, people did get financial aid that had a household income over a million dollars a year, whatever you qualify for, they will give you a hundred percent and you as a family will never pay them back.
It is a gift. It’s not a loan. There is no expectation or anything like that. So whatever financial aid you qualify for, they will give it to you and you never pay them back. So that is a significant piece right there, right, that I think a lot of families don’t understand and miss. So from that perspective, that’s a big deal cuz most schools, when you’re getting financial aid, most schools, that’s a loan that you’re paying back.
So that’s a significant difference in the fact that at Vanderbilt, much like a lot of the schools in the top 20, top 25, you’re never paying that back. So that, that’s affordability, yes. But of course, that’s based upon your family’s household income. Secondarily to that, let, let’s look at numbers. So my, in my 23 through 28 year old self, my arrogance of my younger years, uh, the very, my very favorite thing I used to kind of compare ourselves to other schools when I was at Vanderbilt was our, not our average cost of attendance, it was our average debt.
So no school ever wants to talk to you about the average debt of a, of a four year graduate. Um, and for the record, the industry’s standard to publish is a five. Debt, uh, Vanderbilt publish publishes a four year debt, and it’s only four as of three years ago. It’s still only $14,000 was the average debt of a graduate in four years.
The national average at this point is over $36,000 per person. And, um, we can all talk about in the news right now, um, the situation with college debt. Right? Uh, so to that end, it is, it’s, you know, a leader in terms of leading, uh, leading, uh, limiting, um, the amount of debt that students are walking away with.
So from an affordability standpoint, yes, I, I, I think it is affordable if it makes sense for your own pocketbook. And I, I mean that respectfully because everybody’s financial situation is totally different. Um, and, and, and that is a lot of times also affected by the United States federal government, not, not by Vanderbilt.
So for example, you may have a home that you have equity in, right? Well, the United States federal government, based upon FAFSA. You can pull equity from that home to pay for college, they’re gonna tell you you can afford college with that equity in the home. So that can affect what financial aid you qualify for, right?
That’s not a Vanderbilt, not saying you don’t qualify for aid, that’s the federal government. Um, so Vandy can only give you, you know, what the, you know, FAFSA determines you qualify for, right? And, and CSS profile as well. Um, so to that end, a lot of it is also kind of out of their control in, in terms of what they will be able to award in terms of, you know, that kind of, um, guarantee in terms of financial.
So keep that in mind as well. Uh, real quick, um, we have other webinars on this, but dual enrollment is taking, uh, college courses at a local college or university. Yeah. Um, for your high school and college credit. IB is the better version of the AP program, just when we’re writing. Uh, and it’s an international program.
I was an IB student also, so, um, I’m biased on that one. But, um, IB and AP are usually comparable. Dual enrollment is where it gets a little bit trickier cuz usually, um, it’s better if you’re gonna stay in state for college. If you would like to transfer over that credit. Uh, Ferrell do you have any inputs on that?
And then Diamond after that, can you tell us about pre-Med ? Yeah, I, so I think the thing with dual enrollment. A, a lot of people get this, and, and I hate to say this, but they get, you know, kind of sold on the idea of dual enrollment. Dual enrollment is nothing more than your state’s legislature’s attempt to get you to enroll in an in-state school.
Okay. Even when I was at, I’ll just say it now, I guess. When I was at the University of Georgia before Vanderbilt, we dissuaded students from doing dual enrollment. We, as a state legislator owned and run school, we still wanted to see AP courses over dual enrollment courses at UGA. Um, and, and so the difference here is a lot of people get hooked or, or sold on this idea that you’re graduating with so much college credit.
Most schools will never give you that college credit because you’re using that dual enrollment course to suffice high school graduation requirements. Therefore, they view that as you just meeting high school graduation requirements, the only time that you’re more elite schools, any school in the top one to 1 21 50 is really gonna consider giving you any credit for a dual enrollment course is if you’re taking that dual enrollment course in addition, That high school graduation requirement.
Right. So you are doing extra work at that point? That’s when mostly more elite schools are actually gonna show college credit for that. Um, but in my experience, the vast majority of students are not doing that. They’re using dual enrollment to suffice high school graduation requirements. Um, they may give it to you in state school, um, but even the top instate schools publicly won’t.
We didn’t do it at Georgia. We certainly didn’t do it at Vanderbilt. Uh, Diamond, can you tell us a bit about, or tell us about what the pre-med program at Vanderbilt was like? Uh, if it’s prepared you, um, what you plan on doing with that and so on. Yeah, so I would say that the med program at Vanderbilt definitely prepared me for the application process.
It is definitely rigorous. Um, the prerequisite classes prepare you. Very well for the mcat, which is a big deal. In fact, I feel over prepared, which is not a bad thing by any means. I also felt very supported by administration, particularly with the pre-health advisors. Um, they’re there, they’re very honest.
Sometimes it to the point it hurt a little bit, but sometimes you had to hear the hard things to make sure you stayed on the right track. Um, and in terms of what I am planning to do with it, I’m currently in the process of applying to that school. So we will see how that goes in the future. That is great.
I know a lot of students on the call were interested in pre-med. A lot of people in general are interested in pre-med, so it’s good to know about their programs. Um, so Ferrell, you mentioned that, um, well, students saying you discussed the connection between your extracurriculars and, um, your major. What if you’re in between deciding on two majors, What did, um, what, what if you did volunteer work based on one major, but now decided to switch to another major involved, Um, but not that exact major.
Uh, and then also can you touch on, if you’re going in undecided, pick a major, go with it, that, that’s your number one thing. If you’re between two majors, I, I would pick one that your credentials are and better in alignment with and, and lead with that because credentials, more credentials that align up with a certain major, the better off you’re gonna be.
If you wanna change once you get to a school, It’s not the most popular answer. Um, but. Change once you get to the school, but you’re gonna be more strategic by picking the major. Um, you’re gonna be more strategic by, you know, picking the major that you have, um, the cred, more credentials for, Okay, Undecided.
Undecided is, is the most common applicant to college today. Right. You’re, you’re not giving us a great sense of confidence because how do you, and I mean this respectfully, but in the eyes of admissions department, how do you know that we’re the right place for you if you don’t know what you’re coming here to afford to begin with?
Right. And that’s a bold statement. That’s a direct statement. Most parents don’t like it when I say it, but it’s the truth. That’s how we look at undecided applicants. And the reality is, is that if you’re looking again at a school in the top 50, you’re one of tens of thousands that are applying, they’ll go to the next one.
So you look better by being a defined applicant if you have to go in undecided. Right. You need to be able to show that you’ve actively been trying to narrow it down between one or two different things. Right. And, and how do you show that kind of activity? Internships once again, shadowing experiences once again, right?
Summer programs trying to show that, you know what, hey, I am not a hundred percent def determined yet on what I’m gonna pursue, but I have been bouncing between A and B, and here’s what I’ve been doing to try to make that final call. You need to be able to show them that you are actively making an effort to make that final decision on what you’re locking yourself into.
You know, I think that’s a really good kind of point to talk about why getting assistance in this process matters. I mean, today, I, I think so many students are starting this process too late. They’re not giving themselves the time to build the credentials necessary, um, to be getting into these top schools, right?
And, and the realities here is that if, if you are a junior and you haven’t even started developing the outlines for your essays, you’re already behind, right? And if you don’t have credentials that are aligning with your major of interest and, and your in junior year right now, that’s a problem as well.
Ideally, sophomores, you’re already lining up. Summertime activities, a lot of the priority, Um, summer activity program applications go live November 1st. Um, you need to be planning through that now. Sophomores, seniors, even freshmen. So getting assistance in this process, being aware of which particular summer programs might be the best fit for you.
Helping yourself find internship and research opportunities, that is all stuff that we can help you do. We have our own databases, summer of opportunities to do that. We, when we work with students, work to put together an initial list of 40 or so schools. Now we start to explore weekly based upon your financial need, your academic interest, right, Your geographic concerns of whether you wanna be hot or cold.
I suggest being hot over cold, personal opinion. Uh, but the reality here is that we work to guide students through every single step of this process and make sure that you don’t overlook something. And the significance of that is that now most schools have shifted to using algorithms in the review process.
Uh, the modern college admissions review is actually a data science. Called enrollment management and people go and get PhD programs for, uh, PhD degrees for work now. So it’s imperative that you understand the data that is also being used when schools are making a decision on your application. 42% of all US applicants are getting third party assistance today.
Without it, you’re almost at a disadvantage. So if you have questions, if you have concerns, what I would encourage you to do is to scan the barcode that’s in front of you. Right now. There’s no commitment. All you’re doing is getting an opportunity to sign up for a free meeting with one of our advisors.
They’ll be able to sit down and kind of evaluate where you are in the process, what some of your areas of need might be, and then we can facilitate some steps that might be the best route for you to follow in order for you to, you know, be more competitive in the environment of the school you’re looking at.
And if we identify some areas of need that perhaps you might need some assistance with, we can kind of walk you through some of the options of what we have here at CollegeAdvisor to facilitate a greater outcome for this process for your. Yes. So that is a great reason to join CollegeAdvisor. And then again, with your advisor, you really get to know them in the admissions process, especially if you sign up your junior year or really early in the admissions process.
They really get to know you over that period of time, get to see what your likes and dislikes are, as well as just getting to know how you speak, how you interact, what your needs, wants, interests are, so that they can really help you, not only with building your college list, but also with putting your essays together so that it really demonstrates who you are and really shows that you’re interested in Vanderbilt, that you are really committed to what you’re, um, applying to do.
And then also you may even get paired with someone who is currently at Vanderbilt or at the least has gotten into it. So that is also a plus. Um, but now back to the Q&A and um, Diamond. So a student is asking, what is diversity like at Vanderbilt?
So I would say that campus is very diverse and something that I really appreciated was even among this diversity, there were still spaces that you can make your own. So for example, I was part of an organization, um, known as the Black Student Association. And of course they put on events that were open to all of campus.
But in a way it was just always nice able to be surrounded by people who are at similar experiences that I had growing up. And so, as diverse as it is, and it’s also has these safe spaces that you can make your own. And the same can be said for other communities such as the LGBTQQIAA think I got.
And um, I think there were like, Hispanic associations, Latino associations, um, Asian associations, and also a really big thing, the cultural showcases, which were massive events. They had it for several, um, different, um, celebrations that spanned different cultures. And it was just always so great to see all of campus come together to put on these massive events and go and sit and see the dances, the acts that they put on.
And so diversity in that way. But I would also say there’s a diversity in thought and not, and when I say this, I mean that it’s not that everyone thinks in the same way, and that’s something that’s accepted and celebrated, which I think is so important, especially for a university that’s so focused on research as well.
Mm-hmm. . And I also wanted to make a correction. Um, Vanderbilt’s, uh, supplement has a maximum of 400 words, which you’ll see on the common app, though on the website it does say 250 words. Um, the range on the common app is a minimum of 200, maximum of 400. So you need at least 200 words to be able to submit it.
Um, I’m guessing the 200 that they put on the website is just to give you an idea of where to shoot for a little bit more. Um, we always recommend going a little bit closer to the maximum just to make sure that you’re really getting your point across. Uh, also Vanderbilt is test optional, and I’m, uh, the, I do not think that merit scholarships are affected by test scores.
Fair. Okay, cool. Um, so yeah, so you don’t have to worry about that. Um, but kind of going off of that, a student is asking, they have a 1300, should they go test optional? Okay, . Um, and I believe they probably do have the ranges, um, for SAT/GPA and average admitted students, um, uh, what sort of scores you should be looking at.
So, um, you can’t always check that out on their website. Uh, going onto the next question, um, Diamond, what is Camp Aunt Farrow team? Uh, what is campus like? Is it, is the surrounding area safe? Um, is it nice? Uh, what, what is it like living there? So, as a freshman, all or first years, I should say, all of the first years live on one half of campus known as Commons.
And there the other, there’s the other half of campus. All the other students live. I would say that it definitely felt very safe. In a way it’s, we call it the Vandy bubble. I, that there were times there’d be weeks where I did not leave the Vandy bubble just because it is a very large campus, very used to be entrenched in what’s happening.
Um, in terms of safety, I personally never felt unsafe. I will say that Vanderbilt does take, um, action to ensure that students are safe. There is the VUPD, which is the Vanderbilt Police Department, which is separate from the Nashville City Police Department. In addition, um, at nights there are these buses or shuttles that run campus is also very well lit and there are the blue safety buttons for things to press.
Um, and I do wanna say that there was also the option to call for a personal escort if you ever felt unsafe for any reason. So yes, I do wanna acknowledge that Nashville is big city that you, that Vanderbilt is located in. And of course it has big city issues, but I never felt life on campus and Vanderbilt did take the measures to help ensure that students felt safe.
Yeah, I mean, I, I just, I love the attention that the administration places on student safety and security first and foremost. Um, you know, the cool thing is, Uh, the Vandy van system, which is what Diamond was referring to the nighttime shuttle system. It actually has GPS trackers, so this is awesome. So like, if you are like worried about like getting soaking wet in a rainstorm, you can get on your phone and like track ’em and they’re pulling up to a stop, like spring outside and avoid the weather.
So that’s awesome. Um, and so that’s a cool thing to it. The other thing, you know, being born and raised in Nashville, um, yeah, it’s the city’s exploding with growth right now. Um, and there has been a slight, and I wanna be very clear about this, slight uptick in crime in comparison to historical crime rates, um, in years past, but it is still minimal.
Uh, it’s an extremely safe city. Um, my wife works downtown in Nashville right off of Vanderbilt’s campus every day. She’s literally three blocks off campus. Um, feels very safe. My, both of my daughters are in a daycare, uh, two blocks off of Vanderbilt’s campus. So, great area for the most part, really, you know, feel comfortable having my own family there.
Um, and what I will say is that Nashville, in and of itself is a very welcoming and friendly city. Um, it, it’s a place where we, we try to embrace and help one another, and we do have a lot of people from all around the world moving here now. And it’s, it’s cool because I think a lot of people are surprised by this kind of like community atmosphere that we have here in Nashville.
Um, and a lot of people I think are surprised by that. They don’t come maybe from an area that maybe has that community, that embracement and, um, people pick up on that and really appreciate it very quickly. So, um, definitely I think a place that, um, you know, it’s obviously is a male, and I wanna say respectfully, it’s, it’s different as a male, uh, in my opinion being downtown.
And, um, but my wife tells me in a regular, you know, occurrence that she. Totally fine if you know, she’s, you know, going to a, an event for work in the later evening, uh, walking to her from her car right off of Vanderbilt’s campus on her own. So that makes me still feel very strongly about the safety and security and the overall community, uh, of the institution.
Uh, I just wanna note a few quick things. Um, in terms of study abroad, you can look in the school’s website for more information on that. In general, and I just wanna preface this, most schools have the same exact study abroad programs. That should not be a top concern for you when you are applying to college, because even if your specific school doesn’t offer that study abroad, you can usually apply to go to another school’s program, um, and do it.
So study abroad should not be a top concern. Most schools offer the same exact things, uh, in terms of getting financial aid to pay for that. That’s where it can differ. School to school, being able to afford financial, um, being able to afford study abroad. Um, and then it also, if they just have really specific programs like partnered with another school, that can be a thing.
But in terms of general study abroad, going to Spain, that is not an important thing. Most schools have the same exact one and then also, What you gonna call it, uh, for AP scores? Um, Vanderbilt said that you need like a four or five in order to get credit and then a six or a seven on the IB exam to get credit.
Um, they don’t care about your AP scores unless you took them sooner and you wanna submit that. Usually you’re applying your, um, well typically you’re applying your fall senior year, so you haven’t taken your AP exam, so they won’t know about it until later. And when you’re reporting your scores, that usually means that you got into the school already and you’re looking to get credit for a class with that AP score.
But, um, what matters more is your grade you got in the class. Cuz that’s what’s they’re actually gonna be able to see at that time. Yeah, don’t, If you make below a four or five though, don’t submit that test score on the ap. Don’t do it. Uh, going on to the next question. Uh, Okay. We’re, uh, coming up on the last six minutes.
Uh, but, um, what are resources that Vanderbilt offers, um, what did you take advantage most of when you were there? Diamond, but in general, what are some good resources for both y’all?
Hm. Let me, I would say that the best resource for me, of course, was the pre-med advisors. Um, they really helped me keep on the right track. Um, and also I really enjoyed how they helped me navigate the system and find shadowing opportunities. And I did, was able to shadow such a variety of doctors from clinical experiences and seeing how a hematologist oncologist would interact with patients in clinic.
To being able to shadow a surgeon. So there’s just so many different opportunities and they were pretty critical to my Vanderbilt experience. And then what was your second half of the question? Uh oh, I like, um, what are some good resources in general and then which one you took advantage of since you attended.
Uh, but then Ferrell where also some good resources. I mean, I was paid to be there, so resources for me, I don’t think are a fair question for me to answer, but I will say that the resource of the dining hall are phenomenal. Um, it contributed to, uh, a couple of extra pounds on my frame, but what I will say is Vanderbilt does not alter their, their food for, you know, campus visit days or anything like that.
You do get really good food, um, every single day of the week and you know, it’s great to have Hillel there as well. So it’s awesome. You’ve just got a lot of variety of options. To meet all diet requirements. Um, I, if there is a, uh, a certain kind of, uh, allergy that you carry as well, uh, the head chefs of the different dining halls will work directly with you to make sure that you have properly prepared meals.
So it’s that, I think it’s a great resource as well for students. And, um, having been, uh, an admissions officer there for as long as I was, I’ve definitely benefited cuz um, I ate quite well. And I’ll leave it again. Yes. And, uh, just again, um, if you have current AP scores from exams that you’ve already taken, likely your junior year, you can submit those, um, recommend a four or higher, so a four or five.
Um, but most of your scores you won’t get until after you’ve applied. Um, so it isn’t going to affect as much. But the ones you do have, if you’ve done really well, then submit those scores. Um, going on to the, oh, and, um, Vanderbilt is a mid-size school, so they’re in 2021. They had an Undergrad population of about 7,000 students.
Um, that’s, that’s a good mix. Um, and then, okay, so since we are coming up on time, is there any last advice or any questions you saw in the chat that you wanted to answer, um, for students?
That one, do you wanna go? Um, actually don’t have the chat open if I see any questions. Uh, so I will say there was a question about freshmen living on campus. Uh, all students are now required to live on Vanderbilt’s campus for all four years. Um, and so you will come through, um, as a freshman, uh, a move in process a little bit earlier than a little bit earlier than the rest of campus, um, to kind of get you familiarized with everything, get you moved in, learn the, the layout of everything to great little program.
Um, and, and so to that end, Um, that being the case, um, you’re not gonna live off campus. Now, they used to allow, uh, students within a, a 35 mile radius of campus to live off campus, and that is no longer the case. They want everybody having the Vanderbilt experience all four years. Um, and then the reality here is that Vanderbilt students being admitted to early decision.
Typically in recent years, it’s been as high as about 56%, 56, 55. There was one year, it was 56.8% of their students came in early decision. Um, regardless if you sign that contract, you are going to that school and they will chat with you about it if you try to back out. So do not sign the early decision contract unless you are 1000% confident that you can afford to go to that school.
If they do not give you, uh, the amount of scholarship or financial aid that you think you need to go to that school. But early decision at Vandy is 100% your best shot of admission. Um, that being the case. Um, the last thing I saw that I, I did want to address is, uh, kind of going back to the ROTC question at the very start, um, I was actually the ROTC liaison for the admissions department.
Uh, Vanderbilt offers both a Naval and an Army ROTC detachment on campus. You can, however, uh, utilize an Air Force ROTC scholarship on campus as well because there is an Air Force detachment about 15 minutes away, and you can, uh, commute to that detachment, uh, for their classes and PT requirements, um, during the week.
So you can also utilize an Air Force ROTC scholarship to Vanderbilt at the same time. Oh, wow. That’s great. Um, Diamond, do you have any last advice you wanna give to students about Vanderbilt? Um, I, The last advice I would give is, , if you have the opportunity, go see the campus because when I did have the opportunity to go, I fell in love.
It is a beautiful campus. The atmosphere, as we’ve been saying throughout this whole presentation, very welcoming. Everyone was super nice and I knew that I could see myself there for four. It’s that southern hospitality that we love. Uh, so that is the end of the presentation, uh, in the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful, and thank you again to our wonderful panelists.
Um, here’s the rest of our, uh, October series, which will be. This is actually our last day on the October series. Um, but our upcoming November series will have more webinars on various schools as well as different parts of the application process, especially for different school supplements, if that is something you are still working on.
For students that are applying early decision, the first deadlines are coming out this Tuesday, so keep an eye out for that. Uh, and then also make sure you’re staying on top of your FAFSA and CSS profile for certain schools, especially if you’re applying to Vanderbilt, um, they do have that priority deadline for scholarships of December 1st.
Um, if your questions do not get answered tonight, we highly recommend looking at our upcoming webinars or look at our past webinars if they fit more with your question or even going online and typing in your questions or going to Vanderbilt’s website to figure it out. And then also signing up for CollegeAdvisor where your advisor can really help you with, um, giving.
Personalized, uh, assistance throughout the admissions process to really help you navigate, um, the admissions process. Figure out what you’re gonna do, how to put your application in the best light. Uh, so yeah. So thank you everyone for coming out tonight and goodnight.