School Profile: Find Your Social and Academic Balance at Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University, a private research university and medical center in suburban Nashville, Tennessee, ranks #23 on the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. The university, built in 1875, sits on a beautiful and tranquil campus that has been designated a national arboretum; the Peabody College is a registered National Historic Landmark; and the Dyer Observatory is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here, students tailor their educational plans to their aspirations in liberal arts and sciences, engineering, music, and education and human development. In addition to global study opportunities and a chance to do independent projects, students also have unprecedented access to assisting researchers who are going about the business of solving some of the most difficult and complex challenges facing society.

Vanderbilt draws from among the best and brightest students in the world; admission to the university has become increasingly competitive in recent years. Students can earn bachelors, masters, and doctorates from the university’s ten colleges; College of Arts and Science, Blair School of Music, Divinity School, School of Engineering, Graduate School, Law school, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, Owen Graduate School of Management, and Peabody College of Education and Human Development.

Vanderbilt University has a long tradition of excellence. Its alumni and researchers include six Nobel Laureates, including former Vice President Al Gore. The school’s research library is among the most important in the nation. Vanderbilt’s Medical Center specializes in nursing, medicine, psychiatric, rehabilitation, and more. They have the only Level I trauma center in Tennessee, plus comprehensive burn, pediatric, cancer, and organ transplant centers. Students who are looking to work hard and be part of exciting, meaningful, cutting-edge research not only in medicine, but law, social issues, and more, would do well at Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt, or Vandy as it’s affectionately referred to by students, has a great idea in place for helping incoming freshman acclimate to college life. All freshmen, from each of the four undergraduate programs, live in one of ten houses on the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, where they share a diverse living learning community. Residential choices open up for students their sophomore year. There is a strong Greek presence at Vanderbilt, lots of student organizations in which to participate, a plethora of sporting events, extraordinary live music events, and a local college bar scene. In fact, some students may have trouble finding a balance between social and academic pursuits.

Many students stay close to the university in what is commonly referred to as the “Vandy bubble,” which includes the Hillsboro Village neighborhood adjacent to the university, rather than going into Nashville. Those who do venture into Nashville are richly rewarded; Music City, U.S.A has been rated the friendliest city in America for three consecutive years. Nashville is home to the Tennessee Titans NFL team and the Country Music Hall of Fame, to name two of the more famous of the city’s many attractions. Students won’t be at a loss for things to do both on and off campus.

The Vanderbilt University Commodores have a total of 15 varsity sports teams; six men’s teams and nine women’s teams. The NCAA Division I school is a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The football team has had several players go on to play in the NFL, most famously Jay Cutler, and the team has risen to a Top 25 school for the first time in years. Their long-standing football rival is Ole Miss. The Vanderbilt men’s basketball has long been a powerhouse, and the women’s basketball team has a long history of success as well. The University of Kentucky is the primary rival in basketball. The men’s and women’s tennis teams are also among Vanderbilt’s most successful teams.

One of the most unusual, and perhaps most welcoming traditions ever is Move-In Day, where upperclassmen storm the cars of incoming freshmen and help them move all their things into their rooms. Freshman Walk is another bonding tradition where freshman rush the football field before the start of the season opening football game; even the school’s chancellor gets in on the action. Students display the VU hand sign at athletic events, and win or lose, sing the “Alma Mater” at the end of each game. The annual music event Commodore Quake is another popular tradition at Vanderbilt. Traditions at Vanderbilt are more about unity, community, and having fun than stuffier traditions at some other elite universities. Vandy is for the student who is looking for the challenging demands of a highly respected research university, but who also embraces the camaraderie of a close-knit academic and social community.

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By Colleen Hill