What’s On My Mind: Building the Class of 2022

This regular column is aimed at opening another channel of conversation with you about the opportunities and challenges we face, together as the faculty, students, staff and leaders of our great university.

The academic year has a cycle of its own. As the spring semester draws to a close, we look forward to Commencement, when we send our next class of graduates out into the world. That bittersweet feeling is bookended by the excitement of wrapping up admissions decisions for our incoming first-year class, which we did last week, sending admissions offers to 2,199 students who applied through regular decision.

The incoming Class of 2022 promises to be impressive. Their SAT and ACT scores put them among the very elite. Fully 100 percent of them are leaders in their high school communities—in school groups, academics, athletics, the arts and service organizations. We can’t wait for them to get here.

Our admissions numbers this year are just as impressive. We received 34,299 applications for just 1,600 spots on The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons—9 percent more applications than we received last year, and a 102 percent increase from the number of applications we received a decade ago.

Our undergraduate admissions have become increasingly more selective over the last decade. In 2008, we admitted 35 percent of applicants. We are still crunching this year’s numbers, but we believe for the first time in Vanderbilt’s history, our undergraduate admissions rate for the Class of 2022 will drop into the single digits.

These results are testament to the value of a Vanderbilt education and a response to the incredible stories we are sharing about what makes this university special. Stories of our outstanding faculty, who continue to push the boundaries of excellence in teaching and research. Stories of incredible scholarship students, who through Opportunity Vanderbilt, are extending their seemingly limitless potential. Stories about our incredibly diverse student body coming together on The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons and in our residential colleges to live and learn and solve problems by leveraging their talents and differences. Stories of the investments we’ve made to advance our Academic Strategic Plan. All these chapters come together to form the Vanderbilt story.

As we continue to push our geographic boundaries through the efforts of the International Strategy Working Group and other initiatives, we see that the draw of a Vanderbilt education increasingly reaches across borders and oceans. In a marvelous example of this, Brett Benson, an associate professor of political science specializing in Chinese politics and East Asian international relations, was recruited this year to be one of five judges on a game show in China.

On Star of Outlook, high school contestants compete in a general knowledge quiz for an invitation to apply to one of the five judges’ schools—all elite global institutions like Yale, University College of London, University of Pennsylvania and, of course, Vanderbilt University. Judges switched on their lights for contestants based on their answers to complex topics. If a contestant won the notice of more than one judge, then that contestant got to pick their college. Think Jeopardy! married to American Idol.

Yutian “Ivy” Yang drew the attention of all the judges, putting her in the driver’s seat. After Brett effectively sold Ivy on Vanderbilt and all it has to offer, she chose to join our remarkable incoming class this August.

The story of Ivy’s road to Vanderbilt has been viewed tens of thousands of times across social media and other web platforms, including thousands of views in China.

Ivy’s road to Vanderbilt is just one of the 1,600 stories of the Class of 2022. Admissions necessarily is a discussion of numbers, but at its core, you will find that it is really about connecting with people about the one thing we, and the Class of 2022, all have in common: a love for, and desire to be a part of, the Vanderbilt story.

“What’s On My Mind” is a regular column from Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos on the life, people and mission of Vanderbilt University and issues affecting higher education today. Share your thoughts at