I recently visited Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where I toured campus and spoke with the admissions office about the latest trends in admissions. Here are some takeaways from my visit:

· A mid-sized, private university with just over 7,000 undergrads, Vanderbilt has risen fast in popularity to become one of the most selective colleges in the United States. While Vanderbilt offers rigorous, high-powered academics, it emphasizes balance as well as student collaboration. Nearly all students reside on campus four years, an experience Vanderbilt views as essential to growth and learning.

· Vanderbilt houses four undergraduate schools: Arts & Sciences, Engineering, Music and Education. Once admitted, students have the flexibility to double or triple major across all four schools. Each college has general education requirements, but there are flexible ways to fulfill them.

· 80% of classes have 30 students or less. Undergraduate research is accessible and popular (60% participate), and all undergrads are required to complete a culminating, student-driven project, whether a thesis, internship or civic engagement project. Many majors require internships, which departments often help students secure, and some are available for academic credit. Experiential learning is generally emphasized.

· All freshmen live together in one of ten houses on the Commons portion of campus. Each house has an attached faculty member, and most dorms feature faculty-in-residence. Like Yale, Vanderbilt offers residential colleges that feature classrooms, dining, programming and live-in faculty. 30% of undergrads reside in residential colleges, but Vanderbilt is building more to move toward a full residential college system.

· While there is no business major (there is a minor), many students with an interest in business major in Human and Organizational Development, housed in the Peabody College of Education and Human Development.

· Despite the strength of the Blair School of Music, non-music majors still have access to a wide range of ensembles, which they can audition for the summer before starting at Vanderbilt.

· Vanderbilt fields DI athletic teams that compete in the SEC.

· 25-30% of students participate in Greek life. Only six students live in each Greek house (and usually only for one year), so most Greek students reside in the dorms.

· On-campus dining is relatively high quality, and The Princeton Review rates Vanderbilt as a having some of the best college food in the country. This is generally in keeping with Vanderbilt’s overall focus on balance and quality of life.