Class of 2023: The Senior Survey

What kinds of jobs did seniors earn after graduation? What are their thoughts on divestment? How many have had sex in nonresidential buildings? All your questions about the Class of 2023, answered.
Class of 2023 students at their commencement ceremony, as photographed on May 12, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt University)
Class of 2023 students at their commencement ceremony, as photographed on May 12, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt University)

As Vanderbilt welcomes a new class of freshmen to campus, we reflect on the recently-graduated Class of 2023’s time here. In The Vanderbilt Hustler’s first large-scale survey of its kind, we asked members of the Class of 2023 questions about everything from their satisfaction with campus administration and the UCC to their use of alcohol and drugs to their post-graduate salaries.

We delve deep into graduating seniors’ demographic makeup, including many factors that are not usually disclosed by the university. It’s a cohort that’s 65% white, 85% heterosexual and almost 10% with household incomes of $1,000,000 or more annually. 

Looking back

2019-2020, freshman year: The survey provides a portrait of a historic class, who was accepted into the university from a larger pool of applicants than in any previous year. This class’s first year on campus was marked with much unexpected change, including a tornado in March that devastated nearby areas of Nashville and the first outbreak of COVID-19, which caused students to be sent home for the semester later that month. 

2020-2021, sophomore year: Change seemed to be a constant as students came back to campus with restrictions and safety protocols in place. The school was also introduced to a new chancellor, Daniel Diermeier.

Some students called for the end of Greek Life at Vanderbilt, sparking the national Abolish Greek Life movement, which about 44% of the class later voiced support for in the survey. At the end of the year, the university lifted most COVID-19 restrictions for fully vaccinated students; however, requirements such as masking were reinstated by the start of students’ junior years.

2021-2022, junior year: Carmichael Towers I and II were imploded over the summer to make way for another residential college — Residential College C — which is still in progress. The spring semester was delayed and extended due to the rising prominence of the omicron variant. 

A number of sociopolitical issues affected campus in 2022. A speaker event with Rudy Rochman hosted by Chabad sparked allegations of racism and antisemitism in response, while students protested the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We found that 65% of respondents reported they were liberal when starting college, while 76% identified as such by the end of their studies.

2022-2023, senior year: VUMC was put in the national spotlight as Governor Bill Lee called for an investigation of its transgender health clinic due to allegations made by conservative commentators. Peabody College also became the subject of national headlines after responding to the Michigan State University shooting with an email written using ChatGPT, and another tragic shooting happened at the Covenant School in Nashville later in the semester.

The Class of 2023 completed their Vanderbilt journey at Commencement in May, hearing from Nobel Prize-winning journalist Maria Ressa. A little over half of the seniors are off to a full-time job, and the most popular postgraduate locations are the American Northeast and South.


To learn more about the Class of 2023, explore all of our survey findings through interactive charts and graphs:

I. Demographics

II. After Vanderbilt

III. On campus

IV. Lifestyle

V. Politics

VI. Methodology

Demographics

The majority of the class is composed of domestic students, as reported by Vanderbilt.

The Class of 2023 hails from a number of states, with the highest proportions being from Tennessee, Illinois, Texas and New York. Few students reported being from Louisiana, Vermont, Maine, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

Most of the graduating class identified as white. A majority, 78%, also identified as heterosexual, 18% identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community and 4% identified as questioning or unsure. Around 49% of the Class of 2023 identified as female, 47% as male and 3% as nonbinary. 

“Diversity at Vanderbilt is probably one of the most significant contributors to my education and growth as a person,” former Dores in Solidarity with Palestine President Laith Kayat (’23) said. “While Vanderbilt’s campus still has a long way to go in terms of providing equitable access and further diversifying, it is clear that we’ve come a long way and are constantly working toward growth.”

Kayat added that Vanderbilt’s cultural showcases and organizations “help build community in a place that historically was not built to be inclusive to a diverse student body.” 

Elise Miller (‘23) worked at the K.C. Potter Center during her time at Vanderbilt and stated that students in the university’s LGBTQ+ community experience unique struggles.

“A big way queer students might experience Vandy differently is in how students find community,” Miller said. “A large portion of Vandy participates in Greek Life to create community, but that leaves out many LGBTQ+ students who feel they don’t fit in in the Greek space. Those students have to find community and friends in less obvious ways.”

Miller added that living in Tennessee creates additional stressors for LGBTQ+ students at Vanderbilt.

“We face stressors during the school year due to politics and lawmaking that other students might not have to think about,” Miller said.

The same proportion — about 10% of students — come from households with income below $50,000 or over $1,000,000. The largest proportion of students have household incomes between $200,000 and $499,999.

For those with household incomes under $500,000, the majority of students attended public schools. Conversely, those with incomes over $500,000 were more likely to attend private schools compared to their counterparts in lower household income ranges. 

The proportion of first-generation students was also lower in higher-income households compared to those from lower household income brackets, with the exception of those with household incomes above $1,000,000.

From early decision to waitlist acceptances and junior-year transfers, the Class of 2023 joined Vanderbilt in various ways. The largest proportions of students were admitted through early decision I or regular decision, at 36% and 37%, respectively. 

A majority of students in the Class of 2023 did not receive any merit aid to attend. An additional 17% received partial merit aid, while 9% received full merit aid for the cost of tuition. Only 2% of students stated that they were recruited athletes.

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After Vanderbilt

The Class of 2023 is off to even bigger and better things after graduating from Vanderbilt — 52% will begin a full-time job, 26% will matriculate to graduate school and 4% will start a fellowship or internship. Among the rest, 8% plan to take a gap year, and 10% said they were unsure. Most graduates are either headed to the American Northeast (30%) or will remain in the South (29%). 

The top three industries graduates are entering are business/consulting, finance/investment banking and computer science/technology. Other popular industries include engineering, healthcare/pharmaceuticals, education, entertainment and research/academia. 

No survey respondent expects to earn more than $200,000 as a starting salary, though 12% of incoming finance/investment banking employees and 8% of incoming computer science/technology employees expect to earn between $150,000-200,000 during their first year. 

By comparison, a majority of those entering healthcare/pharmaceuticals and education expect to earn a starting salary between $25,000-50,000.

Marina Wang (‘23) will enter a software engineering position at Google after graduation, where she will join a 30+ person team with four women on it. She described the computer science industry as male-dominated, particularly in “technical roles,” though she praised both Vanderbilt and Google’s efforts toward inclusion and gender equality.

“I would like to say that Google is making a significant effort towards a more gender-equal workspace,” Wang said. “For example, it offers scholarships and internship opportunities towards racial minorities and women.”

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On campus

About two-thirds of students in the Class of 2023 started their time at Vanderbilt in the College of Arts and Science, but many changed colleges and majors in the four years. Out of the students who transferred out of the College of Arts and Science, 75% went to Peabody College, while 25% went on to study in the School of Engineering.

By graduation, School of Engineering students comprised 18% of the graduating class, while Peabody College students comprised just over a quarter. The proportion of students in Blair School of Music remained the same from matriculation to graduation at around 3%. 

While less than a third of students switched colleges, 82% of students switched majors in their time at Vanderbilt, with 55% graduating with more than one major and 62% graduating with at least one minor.

Vignesh Chennupati (‘23) graduated with a degree in biomedical engineering on a pre-med track, a combination that he said gave him a unique perspective on medicine.

“It prepares you for the MCAT science sections really well, and you get to see medicine from a different angle than usual pre-med majors,” Chennupati said. “It’s also super helpful in research because you usually have a different mindset and skill set than the average pre-med or bio major.”

The majority of students were not satisfied with the Vanderbilt administration’s responsiveness to student concerns, but more students expressed satisfaction with the work of Vanderbilt Student Government. Significant differences in responses were not found based on race or income bracket. 

In terms of Campus Dining, more students were satisfied with food offerings before COVID-19 than after.

About a third of students strongly agreed with divesting from fossil fuels, but opinions on abolishing Greek Life were more varied. Of those who strongly disagreed with abolishing Greek Life, 73% were in a Greek organization when they graduated. 

Greek Life remains relevant on Vanderbilt’s campus, however. Including all Greek Councils, 30% of the Class of 2023 reported being members of a Greek organization upon graduation.

On the other hand, 55% of students never participated in Greek Life. The remaining students either rushed and were not offered membership, dropped or were expelled from their organizations. A greater percentage of women than men were in a Greek organization upon graduation. 

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Lifestyle

The Hustler also took a look at sexual habits and drug usage among Class of 2023 graduates. A majority of male (90%) and female (76%) graduates had sex prior to leaving Vanderbilt. Among these graduates, around a third of students admitted to having had sex in non-residential buildings on campus. 

Just over a third of the class owned a fake ID — with 13% having owned more than one. The top five most common states listed on these IDs are Illinois, New Jersey, Connecticut, Indiana and North Carolina.

Regarding alcohol and marijuana usage, over 70% of graduates reported drinking at least once per week, while over half have used marijuana at least once per semester. 

These statistics are greater among Greek Life participants: no Greek respondents reported consuming alcohol less frequently than once per month, and nearly 60% have used marijuana at least once per semester. 70% of students have never used a hard drug, but experience with hard drugs was just as or more likely for students in Greek Life, in all instances except for LSD.

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Politics

The majority of the Class of 2023 reported becoming more liberal throughout their time at Vanderbilt, and the majority reported voting. With 87% of the class casting their ballot, they beat the national average of only 27% of 18-29 year olds voting. 

Maddie Amberg (’23), an March for Our Lives Nashville organizer, said she appreciated the “sense of community” among Vanderbilt students and alumni when it came to organizing around political causes.

“After the tragedies at Uvalde and Covenant, I was able to work alongside other activists at Vanderbilt to help inspire change on a national level — something that I wouldn’t have been able to do without the support of Vanderbilt’s community,” Amberg said.

Race-based affirmative action — a process that was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in June — was more contested. Only 11% of survey respondents strongly agreed with this practice. Prior to the Supreme Court decision, Vanderbilt “considered” race in its admissions process. Over two thirds of students supported abortion being legal in all or most cases, access to gender-affirming care for minors and stricter gun control.

Sorting data by gender showed that 79% of women strongly support stricter gun control, as opposed to only 50% of men. Similar trends can be seen with strong support for legal abortion, with 70% of women strongly supporting it, as opposed to 50% of men. All nonbinary respondents strongly supported gun control and legal abortion. 

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About the Contributors
Katherine Oung
Katherine Oung, Data Editor
Katherine Oung ('25) is majoring in political science and computer science and minoring in data science in the College of Arts and Science. They are from West Palm Beach, Fla., and were previously Deputy News Editor and Managing Editor. Katherine enjoys working on freelance journalism projects and making incredibly specific Spotify playlists. They can be reached at [email protected].
Aaditi Lele
Aaditi Lele, Former Editorial Director
Aaditi Lele ('24) is majoring in political science and climate science with a minor in South Asian Language and Culture in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as News Editor. Outside of The Hustler, you can find her crocheting, practicing calligraphy or counting down the days until she can see her dog. She can be reached at [email protected].    
Brina Ratangee
Brina Ratangee, Editorial Director
Brina Ratangee ('24) is a student in the College of Arts and Science majoring in medicine, health & society and neuroscience. She previously served as News Editor. When not writing for The Hustler, she enjoys trivia nights, solving NYT crosswords and biking around Nashville. You can reach her at [email protected].
Jacob Stoebner
Jacob Stoebner, News Editor
Jacob Stoebner ('26) is from Franklin, Tenn., and is majoring in biomedical engineering in the School of Engineering. When not writing for The Hustler, you can usually find him running, hiking in parks around Nashville or reading. He can be reached at [email protected].
Parker Smith
Parker Smith, Former Deputy News Editor
Parker Smith ('24) is majoring in computer science and political science in the School of Engineering. He enjoys playing guitar in his spare time and is a former Starbucks barista and self-proclaimed coffee expert. He can be reached at [email protected].
Rhea Patney
Rhea Patney, Managing Editor
Rhea Patney (‘26) is majoring in medicine, health and society and communication of science and technology on the pre-med track in the College of Arts and Science. She is from St. Louis and previously served as Deputy Data Director. When not writing for The Hustler, Rhea loves reading, starting new TV shows and struggling to finish them, playing sports and watching sunsets with her friends. She can be reached at [email protected].
Subha Mostafiz
Subha Mostafiz, Deputy Survey Editor
Subha Mostafiz (‘26) is from Dhaka, Bangladesh, and studies neuroscience and computer science with a minor in digital fabrication in the College of Arts and Science. When not writing for The Hustler you can find her binging “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” challenging her cooking skills or figuring out her life. You can reach her at [email protected].

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