An Interview On
Vanderbilt University

Background

Interview Date:January 2019

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian
Graduation Year: 2020
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
High School Experience: A really diverse public school outside of Detroit, MI with a graduating class of about 400 students. The majority of students went to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Human and Organizational Development
Minor: Business
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in a professional business fraternity, I’m in a social fraternity, and I have a student-run business.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
The business fraternity for sure. I was part of reinstalling the chapter so it’s cool to see how that grew. I also learned a lot about speaking in front of people in meetings, which is awesome. Socially, the social fraternity helped me find my social circle. At the same time, the fraternity is also something I don’t like as much though because once you get that group of friends you can become isolated and not see as much of everyone else.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
There are readings, reading quizzes, and most of the assignments are writing, but it depends on the class because they have a wide range.

Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
It trains you in the soft skills that you’re not going to get in other majors. It trains you in what you need to know to get a job, and once you get that job you learn about the job. It prepares you for working with other people of different backgrounds, public speaking, and how to navigate the professional and social aspects of a job. Another part of the HOD program is you have to do a semester-long internship. You can do it wherever, but a lot of people do it in Nashville so you can be part of the social scene. I’ll do mine in Nashville next semester.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
In my experience, it’s more collaborative than competitive, at least in the HOD program. I think it depends on how the grading in the class is set up, but for my program there isn’t a curve, so if you perform well you do well.

How accessible have the professors in your department been?
Super accessible. If you want to meet with them you can always find time to meet with them. Even if you can’t make their office hours, you can find the T.A.’s and I’ve had professors in my minor set me up with tutors in the graduate school.

Why did you choose your combination of majors? Are you happy with your choice?
In high school, I knew I was solid in math but I wouldn’t say it was my strength. I knew I was interested in business and organizations and how they run, so I felt that this gave me the best platform to grow my strengths and interpersonal skills you need for the workplace. HOD gives you so many resources to find a job, a lot of people who do consulting or investment banking will do it. If you pair it with the business minor then you’re still getting most of the hard skills as well. I think it’s invaluable to hone in on the soft skills that you need to be employed.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived over the past three years?
Freshman: Sutherland House in Ingram Commons with all the freshmen. I had one roommate who I found in the Vanderbilt 2020 Facebook Group.

Sophomore: Branscomb Quad, which is four connected buildings. I lived in Lofton House in a double room.

Junior: Towers IV in a suite of six guys. There were two single rooms and two double rooms.

How was transitioning from Detroit, MI to Nashville, TN?
I think it’s similar to any transition to college. You just have to get familiar with the area and then you settle in and feel comfortable. I think that Nashville is one of the better towns for college because there’s so much going on and there are so many things to do. There are a lot of good restaurants, and then you have Broadway, which is where the whole bar area downtown is. There are sports teams, like the Predators, and the music scene is awesome. I feel like it’s my home now.

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I’ll go to somebody’s off-campus house. Usually they’re in a residential neighborhood, so it’s pretty there, it’s a good time. I’ll also go to some of the restaurants or one of the movie theaters. There’s also Centennial Park which is across from campus.

Pros and cons of being located in Nashville, TN?
Pros:
1) Great food and great entertainment.
2) You’re in a great, central location. We do a lot of road trips. We’ll go down to Mardi Gras in New Orleans or go to Panama City, Florida, or you can drive straight up to Michigan. You’re like 8 hours from the North and the South.
3) The weather’s pretty mild. It doesn’t get too cold.

Cons: I can’t think of anything too bad about it.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities do you like to participate in?
Normally Thursday night is when the most people will go out. Somebody will have a shindig at their apartment or off-campus house and we’ll go to bars. When you’re below 21 there are 18+ bars you can go to but now that everyone’s turning 21 we go to the bars downtown. There are some really awesome places there. Friday night can be the same if people want to keep going out. Saturday, if it’s nice, we’ll go hang out at one of the off-campus houses.

What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
I think it’s pretty severe. I tend to see more of the Greek life kids going out in hordes. There’s nightlife for everyone because the honky-tonk bars are the great equalizer because everybody goes to those. In regard to doing anything before going to bars, the Greek life people will band up and figure out a plan. But, I think it’s a good city for people both in Greek life and not in Greek life.

Do freshman boys have trouble getting into parties?
For Greek life, we rush in the fall. After that freshmen know where they’re going to be and don’t need to go to other places. Even if you’re not going to join Greek life, you can go anywhere first semester freshman year. Now, my friends and I will go to other frats’ events just because we’re friends with them.

How happy were you with the nightlife at Vanderbilt? If you could change anything, what would you change?
I think it’s pretty ideal. I can’t really think of a better situation given the physical setup of our school.

What have been your favorite times at Vanderbilt?
Mardi Gras is a really fun time. It’s like the great migration of Vandy people to New Orleans. There are some concerts the school throws that some people really like. The barbecue in Nashville is insane, everyone has the one that they like the most. Some are known for different things, so I’ve liked going to those places.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
Through Greek life. For my female friends, I think I was in the position to meet them because of Greek life, but I don’t think it’s the only reason we became friends. We connected on a good level and not just on a superficial Greek life level. You can find friends wherever, and if it happens to be in one place or another you will find them.

How would you describe the social scene?
It’s definitely one of the best I’ve seen. You work hard in school and then you’re also going to have fun after you do your homework. I think it’s a good balance, and the social scene is very strong.

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
That’s honestly one of my bigger complaints. In my high school, I was friends with everyone, it didn’t matter the race, gender, or socioeconomic background. I think that’s one problem with Greek life because it’s more of an exclusive force, so the interaction between different groups is more limited. But, I think Greek life is working on that problem. My fraternity and the group I hang out with is getting more diverse by the year, which is good. Vanderbilt loves to advertise its diversity, but it lacks in being fluid.

To what extent do people outside of Greek life and inside of Greek life mix?
One of the great things about all the freshmen living in Ingram Commons is you’re surrounded by freshmen, so you meet a ton of people. I met a lot of people freshmen year who are my good friends who aren’t in Greek life. It’s a good time to meet people and set your roots. I’ve also noticed that once everyone got their Greek life group that geographically you don’t see those people as much.

Do you ever feel that you are more so a resident of Nashville than a student at Vanderbilt?
I wish, but Vanderbilt’s plan is to keep everyone living on campus in the future, and I think that’s taking away from the experience. I will live off campus next semester, and I think that will make a big difference.

How would you describe the student body?
There are a lot of different types of people there. There are the cool, humble people who just enjoy everything. There are the ritzy, obnoxious kids that exist at all [academically strong] schools. Everyone here is very career oriented. The pressure to do consulting or investment banking is annoyingly existent. I’m not going that route, but everyone is talking about where they’re doing an interview and all that. Because of the location, you get the Southern, frat-boy types and there are a lot of Northern kids from Chicago and New York areas. You get two opposites in that sense, and then just everyone in between. [Vanderbilt students come from all 50 states and 9% are international students.]

How do you like the size of the undergraduate population at Vanderbilt? [Vanderbilt has an undergraduate enrollment of about 6,800 students.]
I think it’s the perfect size. While there are fewer people than a big state school, I feel that you end up meeting more of them just because you’re in a smaller space. You’re always walking around and running into different people. Because it’s smaller, you get to meet people and know them on a more intimate level.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yeah, a girl that graduated ahead of me was posting a lot of stuff about her job, so I texted her and asked her about the job. I ended up going to Chicago and interviewing, so it’s been helpful to me. Everyone wants to help each other out, and, if you reach out to a Vandy person, I think they will be pretty open to helping you out.

To what extent have you used the career office? How helpful have they been?
Part of the HOD curriculum is a class called Talent Management where you learn to do a mock interview, you write your cover letter and resume, which was super helpful. I think that helped me more so than the career office.

Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
Part of a class we took called Judgement Decision Making, we had to learn Excel on the side. I’m now a certified Microsoft Excel Specialist.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Vanderbilt before you entered as a freshman?
The school can act [like a totalitarian government]. For example, they squeeze every penny out of every student for the meal plan and one swipe is [sometimes not enough food]. They’re also making us move back on campus, so it makes me feel like I’m being controlled.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that is worth checking out?
The Rec Center is a really nice feature.

Reasons to attend Vanderbilt:
1) Great nightlife and a good balance of work and social life.
2) Awesome professors.
3) The name of the school carries some weight and can help with getting a job.
4) A lot of students go abroad.

Reasons to not attend Vanderbilt:
1) Greek life is dying and a lot of fraternities are getting kicked off. It’s too early to see whether that is going to resurge or not.
2) How the [meal plan] is really expensive.

Notice: Vanderbilt University is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Vanderbilt University.

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