Out of Class
While Vanderbilt Summer Academy is academically focused, it isn’t only about the academic experience. We believe that life outside the classroom is just as important as what goes on inside. VSA staff work hard to create programming that enlightens and excites VSA students when they are not in class. Each weekday evening, students will be able to participate in a wide range of activities—from Ultimate Frisbee and field days to tie-dyeing and talent shows, there is never a dull moment. In addition, time is built into the schedule to allow plenty of opportunities for you to unwind and socialize with new friends.
Below are typical weekday schedules for VSA. Please keep in mind, however, that “typical” days are rare at VSA, and students should expect schedule modifications, as necessary.
Information about check-in and check-out times can be found on the VSA Admitted Students page. As a reminder, students flying alone must be old enough to travel alone without the Unaccompanied Minor Service. Vanderbilt Summer Academy cannot provide Unaccompanied Minor escorts for individual travelers.
Housing: The Ingram Commons at Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt leads the country in its commitment to create the best possible undergraduate learning environment. At the heart of this objective lies the mission of The Ingram Commons—a unique program designed to make the first-year college experience challenging, fun, and fulfilling. This collaborative community nurtures and develops proactive, intentional learners and invites an invigorating exchange of ideas. Learn more at commons.vanderbilt.edu.
At Vanderbilt Summer Academy, students don’t have to wait until they are a college student to enjoy The Ingram Commons experience. The Ingram Commons will be “home away from home” at VSA. This array of first-year residence halls combines the best of modern conveniences within classically elegant architecture. The Commons residence halls are centrally air-conditioned and include access to laundry facilities. Dorms and/or floors are separated by gender, and communal bathrooms are available on each hall. Large common areas for games and social interaction are also prime features of each residence hall and provide students with shared space to take part in their living and learning community. A temporary home on The Ingram Commons will provide a sneak peek into Vanderbilt’s residential experience for first-year students.
Vanderbilt Summer Academy students eat most of their meals in campus dining halls, which offer a wide variety of healthy and savory selections including vegetarian and vegan options. Students with food allergies and/or dietary restrictions will find VU dining to be an accommodating partner. We understand that dietary restrictions can be serious in nature. Don’t hesitate to call our office to discuss meal accommodations. All meals served in the dining halls or at VSA–wide events are covered in the tuition. However, students may choose to bring some money from home to purchase coffee drinks and snacks from on-campus markets.
S.O.F.T. Time (Rising 11th/12th Grade)
After the academic day, 11th-12th grade students will typically have about two hours of S.O.F.T. (Sign Out Free Time) time. During designated S.O.F.T. times, 11th-12th grade students will have extended boundaries that include designated off-campus locations. Students often use this time to visit CVS, check out the Vanderbilt Bookstore and explore Hillsboro Village. VSA Staff members are available at the perimeter or vicinity of the boundaries. Please note that, apart from S.O.F.T. time, students are not able to leave campus.
Asynchronous Work (Rising 11th/12th Grade)
Each afternoon during S.O.F.T. time, VSA rising 11th/12th grade students will complete 30-45 minutes of a carefully curated asynchronous assignment from their course instructor. Asynchronous assignments are designed to reinforce, synthesize, and support the rigorous VSA classroom experience so that the instructor can maximize students’ in-class learning time. Examples of asynchronous assignments include, but are not limited to, scholarly readings, reflection posts related to course material, problem set completion, or final project preparation.
Either a computer or iPad will be needed for completion of assignments during asynchronous times because students will need to log into Brightspace, Vanderbilt’s learning management platform, to access materials.
Please note, all students will also utilize Brightspace to access important residential life information such as activity sign-up forms and the VSA student handbook. We also have restrictions on the use of these devices, which we will ask students to follow. The policy for use of electronics will be outlined in the student handbook. VSA is not responsible for lost or stolen items. VSA has a limited number of loaner laptops. Please contact our office (firstname.lastname@example.org) by April 1, 2024 if you will be unable to bring an iPad, tablet, or laptop to campus.
Evening and Weekend Options
Each of our VSA programs has a slightly different blend of evening activities depending on the age of the students and length of stay. Programs for 7th-10th grade students feature a more structured blend of post-dinner options, while programs for 11th and 12 grade students offer more flexibility and independence. Regardless of session or grade level, VSA strives to offer a variety of low-, medium-, and high-energy activities so that each student may select the activity that best matches their interest and curiosity. For our two-week program, students have the additional benefit of a VSA weekend. During this time, other events are arranged—from theme dances to VSA carnivals, scavenger hunts, and movies, weekends on campus are engaging and fun. All outings and activities are included in the tuition cost. Students may wish to bring spending money to purchase souvenirs/ snacks.
Winding Down Each Day
After a full day of class and events, students have time to wind down each night with a stretch of free time. This time is designed to allow students the chance to catch up with floormates, have one last conversation on the floor’s common area, and begin preparing for bedtime. Students also check in with their proctor group during this time for proctor group bonding, daily reflection, and important reminders for the days ahead.
Safety, Health, and Student Supervision
Vanderbilt Summer Academy recognizes the importance of proper health and safety for everyone in our program. Our trained staff live in the residence hall, supervise activities, and maintain the overall well-being and safety of students during the program. Students spend the majority of their evenings and weekends participating in supervised events and activities. Discretionary time will vary by session. The VU Police Department partners with VSA in securing the residence hall and campus. The VSA residence halls house only program participants and authorized Vanderbilt staff. All students are provided with electronic access cards to their residence hall.
Because Vanderbilt Summer Academy is an opportunity to experience communal living, some of the responsibility for health and safety rests with students. Students will be informed of the program guidelines for behavior, participation, and campus boundaries in the Vanderbilt Summer Academy Student Handbook, which will be provided upon admission. All rules are designed to foster a healthy, respectful environment where everyone can find success and enjoyment. In the event that a student needs medical attention while at VSA, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which includes the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, is located next door to the campus. Specific policies about personal medications, health history, student health concerns while on campus, and insurance requirements are outlined in the required welcome paperwork and VSA student handbook.
Our leadership team includes full-time PTY staff who move into the dorm and work closely with carefully selected and trained residential proctors. Proctors foster community within the residence hall and guide students through evening and weekend activities. Each VSA proctor lives on the same hall as their assigned same-gender proctor group of 8-12 students. Students meet each evening with their proctor groups and enjoy occasional group outings together. VSA residential staff is large in number, and positions range from program assistants to the head of student support, head of operations, and residential program assistants. Our staff (some of whom were VSA students years ago) is eager to welcome each session’s students to campus and provide a warm and encouraging environment for new and returning students.
Click here to view the VSA Frequently Asked Questions page.