BackgroundInterview Date:January 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Graduation Year: 2019
Sexual Orientation: Straight
High School Experience: Public high school in Overland Park, Kansas with a graduating class of 350 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Engineering Science and Economics
Minor: Engineering Management
Extracurricular Activities: Housing and Residential Education staff member, and Greek life.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
I’d say both of these organizations have defined my extracurricular experiences in college. Being an RA is an actual job, and as has helped improve my skills in organization, communication, logistical planning, and working as a team. I’m a leader in my fraternity which also helped me built my skill set in these areas. The fraternity is where I made the majority of my friends and I now have lifelong connections.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your majors?
When I was an underclassman, I took a lot of science courses. The work for these included problem sets, quizzes, prepping for exams, and labs. I usually had one math course each semester, on top of one or two science courses. With each science course, I’d have a corresponding lab. I added Economics as a major, which allowed me to take more liberal arts and humanitarian courses.
Is there anything you feel that your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
For Engineering Science, the department is flexible in terms of what classes you need to take within the major. Within other majors, you don’t have that much of a choice because you’re required to know certain math and conceptual concepts to be an engineer. Engineering Science is much more freeform, which I like.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
The learning environment is pretty collaborative. I’m lucky to have the classmates I have because there is a feeling that we can get through the work together. Studying in groups and getting help from the TA (teaching assistant) is really common. Typically, a group of students will go to the TA or professor to get information, then disseminate it amongst the rest of the class. The collaboration happens more so in engineering classes because the coursework is more difficult, and there are problem sets that have specific right answers. In some Economics courses, the work is much more subjective or you’re writing papers where you can’t collaborate as much. Many classes are graded on a curve and most people’s primary goal is to beat the curve, but I wouldn’t say getting to that point is especially difficult.
How accessible have the professors in your department been?
I would say the professors are pretty accessible and are required to have office hours. Even if you can’t make it to those times, you can message them to meet at another time.
Why did you choose your majors? Are you happy with your choice?
I’m really happy with my choice. I started in engineering, but I realized I didn’t want a job after college specifically in one engineering discipline, so I switched to engineering science and added my Economics major. I have a job lined up, so it all worked out.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived during college?
Freshman: Gillette House with 1 roommate
Sophomore: Bronson Ingram with 1 roommate and 2 suitemates
Junior: Worked as an RA in a single room
Senior: Worked as an RA with 5 suitemates
How was transitioning from Kansas to Nashville, TN?
Nashville is a little warmer which is nice. I’m basically living in the city, and there are lots of young people and things to do. It’s definitely in the South, and Kansas is in the Midwest, so there is a regional difference in the types of people.
Pros and cons of being located in Nashville, TN?
1) You’re in the South at an SEC school.
2) There are lots of different types of people in the city at all times. People come here for vacation, or work, which gives you different perspectives.
3) There are many entry-level job options in the city.
1) The transportation infrastructure isn’t the best, so it can be difficult to drive places.
2) Housing prices are a little high but not outrageous.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Because I’m in a fraternity, I have lots of opportunities for events like parties and tailgates. You can register parties all around campus so students everywhere will host parties with and without alcohol, because it’s a wet campus. There are stress relief activities and events hosted by the school, and you can go to the Rec Center to play in an intramural league. Off-campus you can go down to clubs and bars around Nashville.
What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
I’ll usually go out on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We hang out in a dorm for a while then go to the party or a bar. We’ll then come back to the dorm and hang out some more.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
Nightlife isn’t really dictated by Greek life that much. If you’re in the organization, it matters to you. If you throw a party, you will probably have underclassman show up. In the grand scheme of things, you don’t have to be in Greek life to have fun at Vanderbilt. [Approximately 42% of undergraduate students are in Greek life.]
Did your nightlife activities change when you joined the fraternity?
When I went out freshman year, I’d go to 18+ places, and hang out in the freshman commons more. During rush, you get to go hang out with a lot of Greek organizations. Now, I’m more involved in my fraternity and go to 21+ bars.
How happy were you with the nightlife at Vanderbilt? If you could change anything, what would you change?
I’m pretty happy with it. If I could change anything, I wish there are fewer rules, but that’s not possible.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Through the rush process. You get to meet a lot of people going Greek then. Usually, you’ll have something in common with them, whether that’s your major, extracurricular interests, or the fraternity you are trying to join. I’ve also made friends through my coursework or walking around campus. People are friendly so you can sit down in class and start up a conversation.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
It’s a great place to thrive socially. There is a lot of stuff to do, so no matter your interests you can find something. People are friendly and generally aware of other people on campus.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I’d say that Greek life is predominately White. Despite this, different Greek organizations have more minorities. There are also different organizations for different cultural groups. If you want to learn more about a culture or currently identify with one, you can participate in these events, and they have social activities as well. I’m doing a Latin American Cultural Showcase where we have dances. These showcases are common, and you learn the routine for the performance and then perform in front of the school. [The undergraduate population is 11% Black, 15% Asian, 10% Hispanic, and about 55% White.]
To what extent do people of inside and outside of Greek life mix?
I would say there is a solid amount of mixing because of coursework, and the way dorms are set up. Being in a Greek organization is almost like being in a club, and is not the only thing you do.
Do people generally seem happy with their college choice by senior year? Do people love your school?
Yes. There is a large amount of pride, and that pride is earned as you get older.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yes. [An alumnus] of my fraternity was able to recommend me for a position, which got my foot in the door. From there, the company contacted me.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I use it a lot for interview prepping. I met with a professional career employee who helped me with a practice interview and gave me advice in navigating the internship and job search. The career center hosts resume, cover letter, and internship workshops. A lot of companies will go through them to set up events where students can learn more about the company.
Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be especially helpful professionally?
I’ve learned Microsoft Suite in my classes. I also have learned MATLAB.
Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs? Were they responsive to your questions?
The office is good about responding, and the amount of financial aid given is pretty solid. [66% of undergraduates have financial assistance, with the average aid package being $52,794.]
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Vanderbilt before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I knew what the common jobs students pursue after graduation were, for certain majors. For example, what percent of Economics majors end up going into consulting or banking. [In the Class of 2017, about 11% of students are working in finance and about 7% are working in consulting.]
What is something somebody who is interested in Greek life should know that has not been mentioned?
[During rush], be open to having a conversation with everybody regardless if they are in the Greek organization, or just another kid rushing beside you. It’s a good way to network and meet people that’ll end up in other organizations.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that is worth checking out?
I’d go to Thai Satay, which is a popular restaurant around campus.
Reasons to attend Vanderbilt:
1) Great financial aid.
2) Great academics. You will be challenged and will learn a lot.
3) Amazing Greek life.
4) SEC sports.
5) Upward trajectory in everything we do, including research, academics, sports, residence life, etc.
6) It depends on what you want to do. If you’re trying to go into consulting, coming to Vanderbilt is a great choice.
Reasons to not attend Vanderbilt:
1) If you’re not the type of person to capitalize on opportunities, or am not a super involved person, I’m not sure how much the offerings of Vanderbilt will be worth it.