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First Impressions

Posted By Vanderbilt Magazine On October 31, 2008 @ 2:36 pm In Fall 2008, Featured | No Comments

“Welcome to the greatest university in the world,” proclaimed Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos to first-year students as they arrived on campus in late August with duffle bags, twin-size bed linens and teary-eyed moms in tow.

They are the first entering Vanderbilt class to live and learn in The Commons, in close community with one another and with 10 of their professors.


 
They made it through the most competitive admissions pool in Vanderbilt history—16,944 applicants for 1,569 slots. They come from 934 different high schools. They are the most academically prepared and the most ethnically and geographically diverse class ever.  

They are leaders in 1,569 different ways. One is a state debating champion. Another owns a baking business and founded the high school culinary club. A third was the only student member of the state board of education.

A fourth earned one of 10 National Caring Awards after helping raise more than $60,000 for school supplies for two villages in India.

And talk about bright. “The light from up here is almost blinding,” Frank Wcislo, dean of The Commons and associate professor of history, remarked during Convocation as he surveyed the Class of 2012. Their average SAT score is 1400, and 25 percent of the class scored 1500 or higher. This year’s average is a 21-point increase over last year; in 2000 the average was 1313.

More than 84 percent ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class. More than 130 were valedictorians or salutatorians. One hundred seventy are National Merit scholars; eight are National Achievement scholars.

These students hold a unique place in university history, but as they embarked on their college journey in August, they shared the same mixture of exhilaration and apprehension as generations of Vanderbilt first-year students before them.

“It’s a great idea,” said first-year student Yousuf Ahmad when asked for his impressions of residential life on Move-In Day. “By putting freshman students together, we can share the same anxiety that comes with being a first-year student and learn and grow together and make mistakes together.”


Move-In Weekend

First-years say their goodbyes

Navy ROTC first-year orientation graduation.

First-years say their goodbyes

Chancellor Zeppos on the hall.

Move-In Weekend

Dorm life, week one.

Dorm life, week one.

Frank Wcislo, dean of The Commons

Dorm life, week one.

Games on The Commons Lawn.

Games on The Commons Lawn.

Habitat for Humanity service work

Party at the Hank Ingram House.

Dancing and cruising on the showboat.

Signing of the honor code.

“I know how you feel. I was a little homesick when I moved in,” Murray House faculty head Sharon Shields tells students.

Dodgeball and pizza at the Student Recreation Center.
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Games on The Commons Lawn.
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Dancing and cruising on the showboat.

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