See You next Year!
Vanderbilt Summer Academy wrapped up its 2013 summer sessions a few days ago. Once again we broke records for number of courses offered and student enrollment. If there were a record for fun, we would have broken that, too!
In 2013 we admitted 518 students to 36 courses over three different sessions. Vanderbilt professors and scholars challenged students in courses ranging from nanotechnology and medicine to creative writing and calculus. Instructors challenge our students not only to learn new material quickly, but also to develop a deep understanding of course content. That is why students take just one course while they are here, and it is why we keep classes small. We are an intense academic community, but we also support each other. Instructors and teaching assistants have a lot of one-on-one time to spend with students, and our students collaborate and work together.
Our students tell us that one of the best parts of VSA is forming friendships with people “get” them. They get to know each other better in their residential proctor groups and at various evening activities. During any given evening at VSA this summer, you might have seen students playing a game of cards in the Commons Center or doing Zumba in the residence hall.When class ends for the week, students get to let off steam at our dances and other weekend activities. Every dance has a theme, and it is a lot of fun watching students get creative with clashing colors at the “Wacky Tacky Dance” or flipping up the collars on their bright polo shirts at the “Decades Dance.”
The hardest part of VSA is watching it end. There are a lot of tears at the end of Session III, which is our longest session and includes our oldest cohort of students. About half of them are rising seniors, and the reality hits them that this is their last summer at VSA. The difference between the beginning of session and the end of session could not be more striking! When students arrive at check-in, they are often a bit nervous. Some of them have never been away from home for this long before, with people they do not know, and in an academic environment that can frankly be a bit intimidating. But there is just something about this place. At least, that is what our students say. After a few days, they have stopped calling home and have started spending every free minute having fun with their new friends. After a couple of weeks, groups of students begin finding PTY staff to tell us we should start a boarding school. Students form deep bonds with each other. As one of them said at the end of session, “Three weeks ago, I left my family to go live with strangers. Now I’m leaving my family to go back home.”
Now we get ready for next year! We started planning for VSA 2014 back in March. Over the next few months, we will meet with instructors to confirm our course offerings, and we will start planning exciting new weekend activities. You can track our progress in the PTY monthly newsletter, but the most up-to-date information will come via Facebook and Twitter. Look for available courses to come out in early December, maybe sooner. We will start accepting applications beginning January 2, 2014. Mark that date on your calendars! Some courses will fill during the first round of admissions. So apply early!
If you have graduated out of Vanderbilt Summer Academy, thanks for the time you have given us, thanks for the memories, and thanks for contributing your incredible talents to our scholarly community. Whether you have been with us for one year or five, you are a part of the VSA family. If you are a rising senior, you are now eligible to join our alumni group. So, please, keep in touch!
For the rest, we can’t wait to see you again in 2014!