Homeschooled: Attending Vanderbilt as a Nashville native

Students explain what it’s like to go to college in their hometown.


Emily Gonçalves

While the city skyline is an exciting marvel to many out-of-state Vanderbilt students, its a landmark of home to Nashville natives. (Former Hustler Multimedia/Emily Gonçalves)

Andy Carr, Staff Writer

For the past several years, close to forty percent of Vanderbilt’s incoming first-year class have been from the state of Tennessee. According to the class of 2023’s admissions statistics, 669 first-year students come from Tennessee, making it the most represented state by far. While its Music City location is a definite allure for many students who attend Vanderbilt from out-of-state, going to school in Nashville can be seen as a deterrent for those who have lived here since childhood. However, the university itself still appeals to many students who live nearby. 

“I picked Nashville because of Vanderbilt rather than Vanderbilt because of Nashville. I had wanted to go out of state and then saw Vandy’s academics as a major plus, and I liked the idea of having SEC sports,” junior Ryan Sheehy said.  “Since being in school here, I’ve actually come to love Nashville and Tennessee a lot more.”

Junior Aaron Hunt also had his doubts about attending college so close to home. At first, he struggled to accept the fact that his dream school was located in his home state because he feared missing out on new experiences.  

“I really wanted to get out of the state for new experiences, but I also had wanted to go to Vanderbilt my whole life. As soon as I got in, it was too good of a chance to pass up,” Hunt said.

While it seems that most students feel that Vanderbilt’s unrivaled academics make up for being so close to home, it can still be difficult at times to watch those around you get to explore a setting that’s all too familiar. Nonetheless, being from Tennessee has its advantages as well.  

“At first I hated it because it just felt so familiar. But after a while, it really helped cement my identity and show me that much of who I am has come from being a Tennessean,” Hunt said. “I see people talking about the state who would have otherwise never thought about us, and it makes me so proud to be from where I’m from.”

Sophomore Frances Lavey, born and raised in Nashville, originally didn’t consider going to school nearby and only applied to schools in California. However, she could not ignore her draw to Vanderbilt after touring and recognizing the school was the right fit. Since becoming a student, her original fears about attending college in her hometown have disappeared. 

“I feel like I did not know as much about Nashville in terms of different restaurants and experiences that I have been able to explore while being in college,” Lavey said. “When I go home, I am viewing Nashville through a different lens than I do when I am at school. I like being close to home but my life at school is very separate from my home life.”

Students have found that the “Vanderbilt bubble” remains very relevant to their academic careers, whether home is 10 or 1,000 miles away. No matter the physical distance, being on-campus still feels like an isolated experience— shining a whole new light on Music City and the opportunities it offers young adults.