Vanderbilt Road Show

Last week, just as school started up, Vanderbilt University’s Road Show came through town. MM’s on their mailing list but hasn’t really expressed any interest (or disinterest) in the school. But, it is within driving distance so it’s on my list. She didn’t complain about going to the presentation, so that was a good start.

The presentation, given by two people from the admissions office, went over the school’s policy for admissions, financial aid, and an overview of the various colleges, campus life, and the city. Immediately, I was impressed by their admissions policy. There are three components:

First: Since talent and promise recognize no social, cultural, economic, or geographic boundaries, our admissions process is need-blind for U.S. Citizens and eligible non-citizens.

– Vanderbilt University Financial Aid Website

What does this mean? It means that the applicant’s financial status does not factor into the admissions process. Students are accepted, or denied, on talent and merit. Why does this matter? Not all schools are need-blind, as discussed in this October 2013 Forbes article. I don’t know exactly where my income would fall on the spectrum for need-aware schools, but I’d feel a lot better knowing it wasn’t a consideration. Why not cross that bridge when we come to it instead of having it dropped in front of the bridge as a roadblock?

The second and third components really go together:

Second: Vanderbilt will meet 100% of a family’s demonstrated financial need.
Third: Financial aid awards do not include loans. Instead of offering need-based loans to undergraduate students, Vanderbilt offers additional grant assistance.

– Vanderbilt University Financial Aid Website


I don’t know if any other schools make the second promise, but it’s the addition of the third component that makes this significant. Now, before you get too excited, they’re not saying they’re handing out $63,000 to every student. What it basically means is after you’ve completed your FAFSA and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) has been determined, as well as any other financial awards you received, then Vanderbilt puts together a financial aid package that covers the rest. Of course, you still have to be accepted, but hey, not too shabby. Not all schools are need-blind. Some are very much need-aware. And just because a school is need-blind, it doesn’t mean it will meet full demonstrated need. Wikipedia has a page of schools and their need-blind statuses. It’s a good place to start, but the school’s Office of Financial Aid is, of course, the best source.

As I mentioned, they also went over the campus itself, Freshman life, Nashville, school clubs and organizations, etc. But, honestly, at an off-campus information session, it’s the admissions and financial aid that I’m more focused on. However, after this session, I think MM is open to a visit and considering Vanderbilt when she has to come up with her short list.

Next up is her school’s college fair in September. We also have school visits planned to Mississippi State University and University of Southern Mississippi in September and October. 

This is going to be a buuuuussssyyyy year!



Time to Regroup

Thinking about writing this post there were several quotes that came to mind. One, that has always stuck with me for some reason, is from Dances with Wolves. I believe it’s when Kevin Costner’s character is first going to his new post. He and his driver, Robert Pastorelli, come across a skeleton and Pastorelli says, “I’ll bet someone back east is going, ‘Now why don’t he write?'” Kind of morbid, I know, but the point is, someone out there might have been wondering why I haven’t written. Well….

I honestly had very legitimate reasons for putting the blog down last fall. Work, school, and life got to be a bit overwhelming for the both of us and there just weren’t enough hours in the day nor days in the week. My last post was about just how busy we were at the time. In addition to work and MM’s activities, I had to manage ticket sales for the school musical and, oh yeah: MM turned 16! What started out as just another birthday and no party to mark the occasion turned into a full blown affair. Next thing I know, it’s Christmas and we’re off to London for the holiday, only to be stranded overseas for an extra week.  This also canceled our trip to California to visit UCLA. 😦 Then we came back and…well…

I would say we fell off the wagon, but it’s more like the horses went crazy and we were violently thrown off the wagon. I’ve learned a lot of times, things just don’t go how we planned.

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,

Gang aft agley

“To a Mouse” by Robert Burns

So, here we are. MM’s junior year starts Monday and today I had a mini panic attack as I realized not only do we have to get back on track with the scholarships, but I also only have two short years to teach MM as much as I can to prepare her to go off and be on her own in the world. No, I’m not abandoning her, but who knows where she will land. She may be on the other side of the country and I can’t just pop over to show her how to sauté vegetables or balance her checking account. Even if I could, is that what she needs? No, she needs the basic tools to be able to do these things on her own. Or, if not, how to figure it out when she can’t immediately turn to me for the answers.

Now, not that this year will be any easier. My fall is just as busy at work this year and my other obligations are still there. MM is not in band anymore, but that’s been replaced by yearbook. In addition, both of us have new things that are only adding to our schedule. If anything, it will be even harder this year. You know, because, why do things when they’re easy? But, this time we can’t mess around and put things off because