During the spring of my senior year of high school, as I sallied forth ready to do battle with everything life threw my way, one herculean task remained: my college choice.
I had been admitted to Yale but was awaiting scholarship notifications from other universities—including Vanderbilt’s College of Arts and Science. On March 12, 2010, I received word that Vanderbilt had offered me the phenomenal Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship. How was I ever going to make up my mind? On top of that, how was I going to describe my choice to readers around the world?
The latter question had emerged during a lunchtime phone call in February, leading to one of those moments I’d never envisioned: The New York Times wanted me to outline my college decision-making process as a guest blogger.
I enthusiastically signed on—but I was also nervous. The pressure to live up to the Times name was enormous. I felt up to the challenge, though, so as I dove into my deliberation—replete with campus visits to Vanderbilt and Yale and talks with students, admissions officers and deans—I made it my goal to have fun with every word.
As spring progressed and I continued my blog series, my gut slowly but surely transitioned to Vanderbilt, my writing serving as a means of distilling and clarifying my feelings. After announcing my choice, I ended my blog series in late June, but as I submitted my final post, faint pangs of second-guessing began to settle in. Had I made the right choice?
After finishing a lightning-fast first year in the College of Arts and Science, I turned out to be right; it was an incredible start to what ought to be an unforgettable four years. My classes—covering everything from the significance of the nonhuman in German literature to the neuroscientific underpinnings of consciousness—have expanded my world view and pushed me in ways I needed to be pushed.
About two weeks into my first year, I auditioned for Vanderbilt Off-Broadway—probably the single best decision I made first semester—and performed in the group’s production of the musical Nine. I also moonlighted as vice president of my Commons house, teaming up with administrators to bring a six-band concert to The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons’ end-of-year festivities. And I spent last summer with Vanderbilt’s VISAGE program in Costa Rica.
The more I’m steeped in Vanderbilt, the more I love it—so much so that I applied to be a VUceptor for first-year students last fall. I know I made the right choice. I hope that they, too, will feel the same.
Michael Greshko is a sophomore majoring in ecology, evolution and organismal biology and minoring in Spanish.