Episode Notes | Episode Transcript | AskTheGuest

 Hi Fives (5 Highlights)  3-Minute Listen

Andrew Maguire is a graduate of Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor’s degree in American Studies and Psychology.

Andrew talks about his experience as a story of two halves. You can see his academic interest change from Psychology to American Studies in the second half, his social and emotional growth in his upper class years.

Andrew’s public sector future has been shaped heavily by his Model UN activities, his summers and Study Abroad in Denmark.

Hi-Fives from the Podcast are:

  1. The Vanderbilt Experience
  2. Why Vanderbilt?
  3. Challenging Transition to Vanderbilt
  4. Orientation Leader
  5. For Aspiring Students

Episode Notes

Episode Title: Andrew Maguire on Vanderbilt: American Studies, Study Abroad Decision, and Tale of Two Halves.

Episode summary introduction: Andrew liked and did well in AP Psychology in High School. He felt Psychology could be his thing. At Vanderbilt, he took courses in Psychology. Then, his interests evolved.

Andrew Maguire is a graduate of Vanderbilt University with Bachelor’s degree in American Studies and Psychology.

In particular, we discuss the following with him:

  • Why Vanderbilt University?
  • Choice of Majors
  • Campus Activities
  • Study Abroad in Denmark
  • Advice to Applicants

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Introduction to Andrew Maguire, Vanderbilt [0:53]
  • Hi Fives - Podcast Highlights [1:43]
  • The Vanderbilt Experience [4:45]
  • Why Vanderbilt? [5:52]
  • High School Interests [7:43]
  • Transition to Vanderbilt [8:58]
  • Peers - Diversity of Thought [11:33]
  • Engaging Profs [14:08]
  • Dorms - Residential College Style [16:31]
  • VUcept, Model UN and Common Center [18:19]
  • Summers - Teaching High Schoolers [22:04]
  • Study Abroad - “Best Decision” [23:50]
  • On Choosing Majors [26:07]
  • “50-50 Kind of Experience”?[29:37]
  • Vanderbilt Redo? [34:00]
  • Advice to Aspiring Students [36:59]
  • Vanderbilt Memories and Traditions [40:50]

Our Guest: Andrew Maguire is a graduate of Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor’s degree in American Studies and Psychology. Andrew then graduated with a Master’s in Public Administration from New York University. He is also the author of an upcoming book, Hidden Curriculum.

Memorable Quote: “I think every prestigious Southern University claims that they are the Harvard of the South”.

Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.


Episode Transcript

Transcript of the episode’s audio.

Venkat  0:06

Welcome to the podcast, College Matters. Alma Matters. We podcast, personal college stories, and all things college. Check us out and subscribe at alma matters.io forward slash podcasts (almamatters.io/podcasts).

Andrew  0:21

One of the most memorable things at Vanderbilt is actually the very first day you move in, Vanderbilt does a giant, recruits this giant move crew of upperclassmen, teachers and other volunteers to come.

And basically you drive up with whatever stuff you have and just hand it to people standing by your car, they take you up, they take you to your room, and they're cheering the mascot is there. I mean, it's incredible energy!

Venkat  0:53  [Introduction to Andrew Maguire, Vanderbilt]

Andrew Maguire is a graduate of Vanderbilt University with Bachelor’s degree in American Studies and Psychology.

Andrew liked and did well in AP Psychology in High School. It felt like a course he could pursue in college.

At Vanderbilt, he took more courses in Psychology, but midway through college he discovered American Studies which appealed to his Public Sector interest.

Andrew joins us today to tell his undergraduate Vanderbilt story and share his learnings.

Before we jump into the podcast, here are the High-Fives,  Five Highlights from the podcast:

Andrew  1:43  [Highlights - Hi Fives]

[The Vanderbilt Experience]

My, my university experience was sort of a tale of two halves. The first two years were, were a bit challenging, especially social elements. And then in the second two years, I found that I got much more comfortable, and hit my stride in different ways. So.

[Why Vanderbilt]

Pretty straightforward, and about by far gave me the most financial aid story that you'll hear time and again, Vanderbilt students has an incredibly robust financial aid program that meets 100% of the financial needs of families.

[Challenging Transition to Vanderbilt]

There were still some bumps in the road, you know, my intro to international politics class required us to memorize every country in the world, by sight, so we had to look at a map and know them all by heart, and that proved a bit tricky, and some of those intro you know, science or math classes sometimes trip me up. But in general, I felt pretty comfortable.

In contrast, I would say that the social transition was a bit harder for me.


[Freshman Orientation Leader]

Basically, an orientation program that you would see in a lot of other colleges. But this one is sort of unique in that you get to continue meeting with your orientation group, every week for the entire first semester. So I really appreciated that as a first year student, and then I was able to serve as a Vuceptor, one of these orientation leaders, for my other three years.

[For Aspiring Students]

You know, if you're exceptional at one thing, of course, tell that story. But, you know, if it seems like you're excellent at one thing, at the expense of everything else, and having a bit of balance in your life, I'm not actually sure that that will excite Vanderbilt.

Venkat Raman  3:37  

Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire podcast with Andrew. So without further ado, over to Andrew Maguire!


Andrew  3:45


Venkat  3:46

Hey, Andrew. Hey, welcome to our Podcast, College Matters. Alma Matters.

Andrew  3:54  

Thank you for having me. Super excited.

Venkat  3:56

Absolutely. Absolutely. Looking forward to it.

So, um, I think as we talked about, we are catering to listeners typically, who are aspiring international students, and these kind of personal stories, I'm hoping would inform and inspire them. And thanks for making the time. I think this will be extremely beneficial.

Andrew  4:26  

Yeah, happy to.

Venkat Raman  4:29  

Cool. So um, maybe we can get started and maybe start with sort of broad brush impressions of Vanderbilt now, looking in the rearview mirror, what does it feel like?

Andrew  4:45  [The Vanderbilt Experience]

Yeah, definitely. So I'll start by saying that just overall I'm really thankful for my experience with Vanderbilt University. It has been a little while and now nine years out of undergrad so you know, I think the university has continued to change and evolve, but for me, ended up working out really well.

You know, I found that to be an ideal size, it's pretty diverse place and interesting place. You know, a campus that was really close to a really dynamic city in Nashville, which, which really was interesting.

My, my university experience was sort of a tale of two halves. The first two years were, were a bit challenging, especially social elements. And then in the second two years, I found that I got much more comfortable and hit my stride in different ways. So yeah, I think, you know, looking back, I see it in sort of that, that sense.

Venkat Raman  5:45  

So, maybe before we dive in, let's start with why you picked Vanderbilt. How did you end up going there?

Andrew  5:52  [Why Vanderbilt?]

Yeah. So I think there's a distinction between why I applied in the first place and why ended up choosing it.

No, I, I applied initially, because I think it's a really good size. It's about 6000 undergraduate students, which to me felt like, you know, a nice balance of, big enough that we're constantly meeting people, it was well resourced, but still small enough that I was always seeing people I knew, you know, the dining halls or campus.

You know, I chose it because it was close to a city, but not completely urban. It sort of sits in almost in a suburb of Nashville. You still got proximity to a lot going on a lot of interest in culture. But it still felt like it had a true campus feel.

And then of course, it had strong academics. And I had a sort of interesting point of view, because I had spent most of my childhood growing up in the south. And when I was a sophomore in high school, I moved to Boston. And so as I was applying for colleges, I felt nostalgic, I guess, for the South. Yeah, a lot of the schools I ended up applying to were also in the south.

So that was why I applied.

Why staying Yes, was pretty straightforward. And about by far gave me the most financial aid and the story that you'll hear time and again, Vanderbilt students - has an incredibly robust financial aid program that meets 100% of the financial needs of families. So this was not merit based this is, this is need based. And it was an offer I couldn't turn down. So that was why I said yes.

Venkat Raman  7:37  

What kind of interests did you have in high school? What were your passions and interests?

Andrew  7:43  [High School Interests]

You know, I think I was a classically undecided high schooler you know, I, I definitely excelled more in, sort of, the humanities and social sciences, I loved my English class, I liked writing, I did not enjoy the math and science. Okay.

 So I definitely went into college, very much open minded and wanting kind of a true liberal arts experience and some room to explore.

My personal interests were somewhat global, I would say. My family is from Scotland originally. And so I always had a bit of a global point of view. And so I thought I might be interested in, you know, international relations in some way and did some work, you know, did some stupid clubs when I was in high school around that. So I thought maybe that might be the direction I would go. But I wasn't I certainly wasn't sure about that.

Venkat Raman  8:46  

So you decide on Vanderbilt and you show up there. How’s, How was that transition to college? The first year in particular.

Andrew  8:58  [Transition to Vanderbilt]

Yeah, so I think the transition, I have a very different point of view when I talk about the academics compared to the social transition. Sure.

For me, the academic transition was definitely pretty smooth. I think, you know, I had the advantage of attending a public high school in Boston that was just really well resourced. It was very focused on building sort of a culture of, sort of college going culture. Yeah. And so in doing that, they were modeling a lot of academic norms in the classroom around what a college classroom might be, like, a lot of analytical thinking, a lot of student participation, you know, an expectation that you were sort of independently managing your time and your assignments and so I felt pretty well prepared by my high school experience, and I found that most of my college classes felt pretty similar in the rigor that I had come to know in high school.

So, in that sense, I managed pretty well, there were still some bumps in the road, you know, my intro to international politics class required us to memorize every country in the world by sight. So we had to look at a map and know them all by heart. And that proved a bit tricky. And some of those intro, you know, science or math classes sometimes trip me up. But in general, I felt pretty comfortable.

In contrast to the social transition was a bit harder for me. I had never spent a lot of time away from my family before. Yeah. And I was just not prepared. In that sense, I think I was lucky to go to Vanderbilt with a few friends actually, from my high school. And that proved to be a really important social outlet, and definitely leaned into participating in a lot of different organizations on campus. And that's how I did my social connections.

But I found the dynamic on campus a little bit challenging with sort of the way people socialized, you know, a lot of focus on Greek life, you know, different sororities and fraternities.

So that proved pretty challenging, when I first got there, I was really wasn't quite sure, kind of, how to adjust to all that.

Venkat Raman  11:26  

How are your classmates and peers? How did you find the student body?

Andrew  11:33  [Peers - Diversity of Thought]

Yeah, I think Vanderbilt's a really interesting place in that regard.

You know, Vanderbilt is known, again, it's, it's sort of, well, I think every prestigious Southern University claims that they're the Harvard of the South, but definitely also tries to make that claim. So it's a school that's, you know, has a lot of really bright students.

But because it's in the south, it's also very, there's a lot of diversity of thought. So you know, from a political perspective, the students, when I was there was about 5050, more liberal and more conservative. And so you found in classrooms, a lot of really interesting debates that I think often don't happen, and some of sort of the smaller liberal arts colleges, you might find in New England, which tend to be primarily liberal, primarily left leaning, I actually felt very interesting about class, and I was actually thankful to have that diversity.

I found again, as I mentioned earlier, I also found that a lot of my classmates, and maybe on the surface, I wouldn't have guessed this, right, who, who, quote unquote, blend in well, yeah, who were also on a lot of financial aid like me.

So I think, more socio economic diversity on campus, then maybe people's first impressions might be writing, berry can seem a bit sort of overly polished kind of materialistic, you know, it's a very nice campus, they have a lot of money, you will definitely confront students who come from a lot of wealth.

But I think that sometimes masks a lot of the diversity you see in terms of people's socio economic backgrounds. And I think that brings an interesting perspective.

So I found in general, my classmates to be interesting, I found a lot of people who share the same passions as me, but came at it from a different experience, whether that was a different political perspective, a different family background, a different major, but I did find that there were sort of just a shared commitment to learning to engaging and to being present and active on campus, you know, not just sort of having our head on the book at all time. Yeah. So I appreciated that about the student body there.

Venkat Raman  14:03  

The classes. How was the teaching, the professor's? How was that experience?

Andrew  14:08  [Engaging Profs]

Yeah, I mean, you know, of course, every class is a little bit different. And there were some that I certainly liked a lot more than others. I think, across the board, teachers are super bright, I think pretty engaging.

It is a research institution. So you do have professors, you know, who are there who are focused on research and teaching as well. And sometimes maybe their research dominates, but I didn't feel like any of my professors were, like, burdened by teaching. I think I felt like people really did want to be there. They were interested in showing up in teaching and sharing their point of view with us.

So I appreciated that it felt like they were really there for that. And, yeah, and a few cases I think, you know, some of the classes and some of the professors You know, shaped the trajectory of what my career would look like and shaped a lot of my thinking. And so in that, you know, for, in those cases in particular, I'm super thankful.

Venkat Raman  15:13  

Now, since it was a smaller school, I gather the classes were not that big. I mean, even the introductory classes, right?

Andrew  15:22  

Yeah, it varied. So some of the, you know, larger intro classes. You know, the largest class on campus, I think, was 300. Students. Yeah. So that's sort of those large, the largest lecture hall was maxed out at that.

Most classes were around 30 students or so I would say that that was the average with, you know, a handful of smaller seminars, I believe they still do a first year writing seminar, which is an intentionally small, you know, 10, to 15 student course, very writing, writing intensive amounts of different topics. So you get that your first semester, which is really helpful.

So that's a nice balance to some of the larger lectures that you might have in your first year.

Venkat Raman  16:11  

Let’s kind of move over to the campus. You did mention about the transition and the Greek life. Maybe we could just start with the dorms and the living. And then we can talk about social, cultural activities.

Andrew  16:31  [Dorms - Residential College Style]

Yeah, sure. So my class, the class was 2012, was very spoiled at Vanderbilt, because we were the inaugural class for something called the Commons, which at Vanderbilt is the first year campus essentially. So they had initially launched in 2008.

eWhen I got to Vanderbilt was the first year they opened the Commons. And these are nine new dorm buildings. They were taking sort of a residential college approach where they had faculty and their families living in each of the dorms. So kind of grounding, you know, sort of that adult and faculty perspective and integrating that into the residential experience. Yeah, I think, for us, we were seeing sort of the guinea pigs.

And so that was kind of fun for us, because we got to sort of shape the space and the way we wanted to see it so that, you know, how do we use the dining hall? How do we use the common areas we had available to us? How do we use the quad even?

And so I think that we were able to send it sort of set the tone. And that has carried over, they actually are sort of continuing to expand the residential college model to other upperclassmen dorms.

So I think it's evidence that sort of the experiment of the Commons has worked out pretty well for Vanderbilt. And I think it's a great, it's a great way to be sort of introduced to the campus. So I really appreciated that. And it was nice to be the first ones there, brand new dorms.

Venkat Raman  18:09  

The cultural organizations and other than the Greek system. Yeah, assuming we were lots of different clubs and things of that kind.

Andrew  18:19  [VUcept, Model UN and Common Center]

For sure. Tons of different clubs.

You know, I think a lot of Vanderbilt students sort of the work hard play hard mentality applied. And I think that sometimes we stop play, you know, not just in sort of the party atmosphere that you typically think of, but also in the clubs, and student organizations we could be a part of.

So I know for me that student organizations were sort of my lifeline on campus, especially in my first couple of years. Most notably, I joined Model United Nations on campus. And that just proved to be an amazing outlet where I got to meet really interesting people who cared about sort of global issues, really dynamic, upperclassmen as well, who could sort of serve as mentors to me make recommendations on different classes, or what dorms to live in what to do in Nashville.

So that really helps me connect with the Vanderbilt community broadly, as a group that, you know, I stayed in, it was really my strongest community on campus. And I eventually got to become the president of the group my final year. So that was definitely sort of the most consistent presence for me. Sure.

But there were a lot of others, you know, we have a program called VUcept, which is basically an orientation program that you would see in a lot of other colleges. But this one is sort of unique in that you get to continue meeting with your orientation group, every week for the entire first semester. So I really appreciated that as a first year student and then I was able to serve as a VUceptor. After one of these orientation leaders for my other three years, and so that was a really fun way to, again, stay connected to incoming classes to provide a little bit of the lessons learned from my own experience at Vanderbilt, and, you know, learn from a few of the mistakes I might have made, and kind of passed that down.

But yeah, tons and tons of clubs, lots of student government, different alternative break trips that you could go on during some of the winter and spring breaks. So a lot of really interesting stuff happening on campus.

Venkat Raman  20:35  

Now, I also noticed that you were an operations manager, the common center, what did that can do?

Andrew  20:43  

Yeah, so that was this ideal part time job. And I would say whatever campus folks end up on if you have an opportunity to work at a desk, that is the dream. And so that's what I was able to do.

It was basically sort of helping manage this Common Center, the student center we had, so I was most of the time, you know, kind of manning the front desk, fielding different requests from students giving out equipment for, like different rec rooms that we had, and then also doing some management. So we have lots of different speakers and things. And so helping set those up to make sure that those moves smoothly.

But overall, it was nice, because probably half the time I was getting paid to do my homework. Maybe not the most efficient use of or maybe not, you know, the most productive homework time, let's say. But it was still nice to be able to do that on the clock. And that was encouraged. It wasn't like I was secretly doing it. So that was a pretty nice setup for sure.

Venkat Raman  21:56  

Let's talk a little bit about your summers during the college years. What do you do the different years?

Andrew  22:04  [Summers - Teaching High Schoolers]

Yeah, so my first summer, I worked at a summer camp, back home in Boston, you know, not a professional experience, really just something sort of fun to make a little bit of money, I felt kind of after my first year that I just wanted to be back with friends and kind of decompress. You know that your first year of college, even if it goes really well, still really intense experience. So for me, I found it helpful to be able to go home and sort of just take it easy.

But that my second and third summers, I worked at a program called NSLC, National Student Leadership Conference. So that was basically a summer program is a residential program based in DC that brought high schoolers together for 10 day international diplomacy programs. So basically, I continued doing Model UN through the summer, teaching different high schoolers about global development and international diplomacy, taking them to different embassies to the UN, and diving into some different issues and learning about different countries around the world.

So that was great. I didn't really realize at the time that was sort of setting me up for a career in Global Youth Development, which is what I did end up doing. But I did find it it was something I enjoyed. I got to be in a major city, I got to be living on a different college campus at American University. And so got to see just a very different side of things for the summers. And it was a great experience. So really glad I did it.

Venkat Raman  23:48  

Did you do a study abroad program as well?

Andrew  23:50  [Study Abroad - “Best Decision”]

I did. So I would say this is one of the hands down best decisions I made in college. I imagine you hear that a lot for people who study abroad.

I studied in Copenhagen, Denmark, or spring semester of my junior year. Amazing program, it's still going strong today. They have a lot of different focus areas. I focused on international law and human rights. And so one of the benefits of the program is you get to do a study tour for a week around your focus, your kind of sort of major while you're there. So I got to travel to Kosovo for a week and learn about sort of state building and peacekeeping in a post conflict setting which was really interesting.

But broadly, I just loved Denmark, I lived in a really interesting commune with 15 other Americans and then 100 Danish students. And it was outside of the city, so we were really kind of, in our own bubble and I got to you know make amazing friends with a lot of Danes and felt like I was I was learning about Denmark firsthand through my relationships with them.

So yeah, I loved it. I definitely felt hesitant before I went, you know, I worried as I think a lot of people do, and they make that decision about, you know, potentially sacrificing different on campus opportunities, you know, I really wanted to make sure I was going to be able to be a leader on campus my final year. 

I will say, you know, in the moment, it's really easy to get worked up about that. But whether or not I was elected to a certain position was much less important in the long run than having the experience of getting to be abroad to be challenged by that to be in a very different place. And it was an experience that also helped me sort of, you know, get a job after college because I had that global experience that was important for for my kind of work. So really, really glad that I did that, for sure.

Venkat Raman  26:07  [On Choosing Majors]

You majored in American Studies and Psychology, was it a dual major? Or was it...

Andrew  26:12

No two separate.

Venkat Raman  26:14

Two separates? Okay.

Now, how did you end up picking these, and was it something you went to college with? You said you were not quite sure. So how did this happen?

Andrew  26:27  

Yeah. So I really stumbled into both of them. I would say, Psychology was a little bit more predictable. I took an AP psychology class, my senior year of high school, and enjoyed it had a really great professor, I thought, you know, this might be something I should keep looking into. So I took a couple of psychology classes early on in college, I found that it was pretty interesting, I was also good at it and realized, I think that I was pretty close to being able to have the major, I just took a few more classes. And so I kind of just fell into that one.

It was interesting initially, and I will say that, in the second half of my time at Vanderbilt, I became less interested in it. But I was so close to having a major already done that I kind of just finished it and check those final boxes. But a lot of people in the program would end up you know, more on a psychology research path. And that was not one that I was, I was going down. But I think it's it's been helpful, you know, having sort of a broader perspective of how people and organizations work is helpful, and I think I got both of those from psych.

American Studies, though, was, I think, where my heart was, and I, I had never even heard of American Studies before I went to Vanderbilt. So for folks who don't know what it is, it's an interdisciplinary major that basically allows you to explore the history and the current state of America from lots of different perspectives. So I took classes in history and politics and literature, in Latin American Studies about you know, sort of America's position in the region. So lots of different points of view.

But I came to all of this actually, through my very first class in college, which was a writing seminar about America. And it was all about the role of the South in shaping American history, but it was taught by a British guy. And I just found that dynamic to be so fascinating. And because my parents were Scottish, I think, you know, I appreciate that even more. So. Yeah.

I don't know, it just really hooked me, I found the content really interesting. It allowed me the flexibility to take lots of different classes and, and learn from lots of different points of view. And so I really enjoyed that, that I ended up doing an honors thesis and American Studies focus on urban development processes and sort of urban planning.

And, yeah, just, you know, sort of was an early introduction, I think, for me in sort of the policy and, and public sector and that I continue to be involved in today.

Venkat Raman  29:37  [“50-50 Kind of Experience”?]

You know, before we move on, I wanted to ask you a question.

You mentioned at the outset that it was like a, you know, 50-50 kind of experience. You said the first half was not so great. The second half was fine. What, what actually happened? Shed some light on that.

Andrew  29:54  

Yeah, I mean, I think part of it was, you know, Just sort of the personal development that you go through inevitably, in college, I think it's just unavoidable. It's such an intensive consuming experience, you know, sometimes for better, oftentimes, for better, I think, and sometimes in a challenging way. And so I think, for me, the social dynamic is really hard.

I had a great group of friends in high school, and I felt very connected to them. And so I think I felt a little bit disconnected in Vanderbilt early on, you know, I wasn't sure I just didn't find my footing quickly. I found sort of the partying on campus to be something that I…, I was social, I really liked spending time with people. I'm an extrovert I like, you know, going out going dancing, but I wasn't interested in like, going to frat parties. And drinking a lot. That just wasn't something that appealed to me.

And so that was a hard niche to occupy sort of in the middle where I wanted to be social. And the people that I would socialize with were also the people who would most likely kind of seek out Greek life for some of their socializing. Yeah, so that became a challenge early on.

I think something that shifted for me, though, is that a) that became less important as you got older, so I didn't dominated freshman year, because people were also people who really wanted to participate in Greek life, we're worried about getting in and navigating all those dynamics. And once they did get into a sorority opportunity, it could be a bit all consuming initially, because they were so excited. And that all made sense. But I think one of the Yeah, that just kind of challenging for those of us who weren't participating, but maybe, you know, but that's what a lot of our friends were doing.

That became less than in our junior and senior year, I felt like we were able to focus more on exploring the community we were in to go out in Nashville and go to concerts, to eat some of the incredible foods that Nashville has in the food scene, Nashville has like boomed over the last decade, honestly, some incredible places.

So I felt, I felt like that also allowed me to get more comfortable, I also felt more comfortable navigating some of the social dynamics and knew kind of what, I was and wasn't comfortable with. And so I think that all just came with time with gaining a little bit more confidence in myself and sort of what I was kind of get out of my college experience and who I wanted to spend time with and how I wanted to spend that time.

So yeah, so I think, you know, it's not there wasn't any one aha sort of lightbulb moment, but definitely a gradual shift, I think, in the culture that I was a part of, and sort of the priorities that me and my friends had at any given time that our college experience.

Venkat Raman  33:02  

We Got it. Got it. No, I just thought it'd be good to double click and yeah, see if there are learnings there for others, or at least insights for people. Yeah, so this is good.

Andrew  33:14  

Yeah, I think it's just, it's all to say that, for me, you know, if you had asked if I had had to do this interview, you know, six months into college, I would have had no perspective on where I was headed, you know, and on the kind of trajectory that I would be on and the kinds of things I would gain from my college experience.

So I think it's, if nothing else, it's a sort of reminder to say, you know, take a deep breath. You know, the, the dynamics do continue to change over time. And, and we also change with that, that same time, so nothing is overly fixed.

Venkat Raman  34:00  [Vanderbilt Redo?]

Moving forward, I kind of wanted to ask, and I like to do this, like a game, if you were to kind of relive your Vanderbilt life, you were able to do it again, redo, What would it be like, what would you change? Oh, yeah, keep the same. You know what? Just wanted to get some thoughts on that.

Andrew  34:21  

Yeah. Well, first off, I would have packed some spices. I grew up with a very flavorful meals. My parents were great cooks. And I was shocked by how bland the food was. So, lesson number one, especially folks, for folks coming from abroad, I you know, bring some of your favorite flavors from home.

But no, in sort of a more substantive way. I think the biggest change I would make is probably changing my major. And I can say that now, based on where I've landed, I probably would not have done a Psychology degree, I probably would have done something that was focused on Policy or Management, something that kind of gave me a little bit more practical skills. Psychology, I think offered good, good orientation to help people work. But it was sometimes hard to translate that really tangibly when I was interviewing for jobs or trying to translate that experience, applying for grad school, what have you.

And then I also probably would have pushed myself harder on learning a new language. Vanderbilt does well, they did when I was there had a pretty minimal language requirement. So I just continuing French, which I was taking in high school, I was always bad at it, I continue to be bad at it in college, despite very patient professors. So I probably would have tried to learn another language, if I could do it over again.

And then I think on the social front, just like we were talking about already, I would have tried to just have a little less social anxiety in the early days to say, Yes, a little bit more to be a little bit more open minded about experiences. I think I came in saying, you know, this is how I operate, just the way I must be, and I think I had, offered myself a little bit more flexibility and might have made the early days a little bit easier. So those are probably some things I would do differently now.

Venkat Raman  36:43  

Fair enough. Fair enough.

Venkat Raman  36:48

Okay, that kind of dovetails nicely into what can kind of advice you'd have for all those high schoolers out there? Yeah, college bound?

Andrew  36:59  [Advice to Aspiring Students]

Definitely. So you know, kanebo has definitely changed. And so I want to acknowledge that I think I would be curious to hear what, you know, our current senior at Vanderbilt today would say. But one thing that I think is still true, is it Vanderbilt, is all about balance. 

So, you know, I think that the most successful people at Vanderbilt, were able to both really thrive in an academic setting, of clarity and what you want to learn and how you want to apply that learning, but also are able to engage outside of the classroom in meaningful ways.

So as much as you can, in an application to Vanderbilt, I would say, you know, emphasize your balance. You know, if you're exceptional at one thing, of course, tell that story. But, you know, if it seems like you're excellent at one thing, at the expense of everything else, and [not] having a bit of balance in your life, I'm not actually sure that that will excite Vanderbilt.

That's just from my point of view, I think that they want to see people who are who are really well rounded, who still have that passion, and can clearly kind of invest in something. And so if you have a one project, definitely, definitely tell that story. But somehow, in your application search for show how you can strike that balance.

And then, you know, when we were talking about what the student body is, like, I think the student body is continuing to be increasingly diverse. I think they've tried to become more intentionally diverse in other ways, including around racial and ethnic experience. I think they've tried to become more global. I think they have definitely greater outreach to queer and other LGBT students. And so I think there are resources on campus. So all of that I think, is great.

So, you know, in addition to the sort of diversity of thought that's on campus, there, there's increasing other identity diversity, but I think whatever you can do to show how you contribute to that diversity is important. And so if that's because you're bringing just a different perspective and thought, that's really valuable, and Vanderbilt still cares about it. And I think that that remains a priority for them.

And then one small tactical piece is I would recommend doing an alumni interview if you're able to know I know a lot of programs, a lot of colleges offer this. I did alumni interviews for a few years and I first of all, just really enjoyed them are super bright high schoolers out there applying to Vanderbilt.

I think it's a good way to learn about Vanderbilt firsthand. It's not a requirement in your application, but I think it offers a little bit more color. Just gives one more perspective. You know, if they're not sure exactly who you are, or how you might fit in on campus, how you sort of what story you're going to tell, once you get here. Sometimes the alumni interview can just help add a little bit more nuance and detail there.

Venkat Raman  40:17  

Those are quite a basketful of thoughts. They are very, very good. Well, well thought through. Thank you for that.

Venkat Raman  40:27

Okay, so I think we are sort of coming to the end of our podcast. Before we sign off, I wanted to kind of give me a chance to talk about anything that might not have covered or expand more on something we've talked about, or share some memories that you think might be worth sharing.

Andrew  40:50  [Vanderbilt Memories and Traditions]

Yeah! I don't think I have anything else to kind of expand on from what we said, you know, just to reiterate that, I think it's been a real, it's a really unique place. You know, I had a lot of amazing memories there.

To your point, you know, I went on, incredible again, actually, I kept coming back to sort of the different organizations I participated in, when I was reflecting on this.

You know, I got to travel on, Model UN conferences around the country and meet some amazing people and occasionally win an award or two, which was nice, of course, but you know, I loved getting to have that experience. I love my orientation weeks with different orientation leaders.

And you know, one of the most memorable things at Vanderbilt is actually the very first day you move in. Vanderbilt does a giant, recruits a giant move crew of upperclassmen teachers and other volunteers to come. And basically, you drive up with whatever stuff you have, and just hand it to people standing by your car, they take you up, they take you to your room, and they're cheering. The mascot is there. I mean, it's incredible energy.

And I think that actually is really representative of the energy that Vanderbilt offers. You know, there's support and enthusiasm and engagement across the board that I found to be true that I tried to contribute to and I think, prospective, you know, students should think about how you want to contribute to that. And if that's, you know, kind of the vibe you're looking for, I think it's a great place to be.

Venkat Raman  42:33  

Fantastic. So, Andrew, this has been a pleasure. I really enjoyed this conversation. Appreciate your both generosity in terms of time and all the stories and the details. So thank you so much.

Andrew  42:51  

Thanks. Yeah,

Venkat Raman  42:52  

I'm sure we'll talk some more. But for now, thank you. Take care and be safe.

Andrew  42:59  

Thank you, too. Take care.

Venkat  43:06

Hi again!

Hope you enjoyed our podcast with Andrew Maguire on Vanderbilt University.

Andrew talks about his experience as a story of two halves. You can see his academic interest change from Psychology to American Studies in the second half, his social and emotional growth in his upper class years.

Andrew’s public sector future has been shaped heavily by his Model UN activities, his summers and Study Abroad in Denmark.

I hope Andrew’s story gets Vanderbilt on your college list and research their programs and financial aid.

For your questions or comments on this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [podcast@almamatters.io].

Thank you all so much for listening to our podcast today.

Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].

To stay connected with us, Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify or visit anchor.fm forward slash almamatters [anchor.fm/almamatters] to check us out.

Till we meet again, take care and be safe.

Thank you!

Summary Keywords

US Colleges, College Admissions, University of Pittsburgh, Pitt, Study Abroad, India, China, Extracurricular, International Students, Model UN, Common Application, Common App, College Essays, Innovation, Gig Economy, Thesis, Capstone, Economics, Psychology, Sociology, Business Development, Dubai, Singapore, Grab, Ride-Sharing.

Is College in US for you?