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A common Bennington stereotype is that we're all rich hipsters here major in liberal arts snobbery. While the stereotype is b...
A common Bennington stereotype is that we're all rich hipsters here major in liberal arts snobbery. While the stereotype is based on a certain degree of truth, I would say that the vast and overwhelming majority of students do not conform to it. If anything, I think a better stereotype about us is that we're very passionate about our work to the point of driving ourselves crazy.
Bennington College is hands down one of the most fascinating, exciting, and strange experiences of my life. Seated at the top...
Bennington College is hands down one of the most fascinating, exciting, and strange experiences of my life. Seated at the top of a hill in rural Vermont it is like a wee microcosm of creativity and very rarely fails to surprise. Because of our rather isolated existence the students are forced in many ways to make our own fun and keep things interesting on campus and we do so with great enthusiasm. Although there is no shortage of wonderful things to get involved in outside of the classroom, because of the strenuous work load people sometimes tend to get a little too wrapped up in their studies . However students often manage to intertwine their social life and work life very well, in a way that enhances the both of them. There are no required credits or 101-classes, but instead highly specific, highly engaging and challenging seminars that are designed solely by the students needs and requests and the teachers interests. It is highly unlikely to find yourself in a classroom where neither the teacher nor any students is disengaged with the course. There is an emphasis on learning through experience (hence the introduction of their required 7-week off-campus Field Work Term experience every year) and designing ones education through their own curiosity and exploration. During their four years at the college each student integrates different areas of the curriculum that are of interest to them around central ideas or questions – this ultimately results in their Plan, Bennington’s equivalent to a major. The 8:1 student-teacher ratio and the close-knit nature of the campus means that there is a huge support system and sense of community that is often hard to find. Despite strengths in many different academic fields, many students declare, either with great enthusiasm or resentment, that it is undeniably an art school. There is definitely a very creative, arts-oriented feel to the place (as well as being the birthplace of modern dance) however it is very possible to successfully pursue interests or all fields.
If you are free-spirited, liberal-minded, do not have an aversion to body hair or clogs then Bennington could very well be the place for you. Most students tend to hail from the East Coast or California. Exotic hair colors, face paint, dreadlocks, piercings, homemade clothes, or no clothes at all are fairly common sights – however there is also a fair share of hipsters and Vermont farmer types to be seen too. It is often said that Bennington is the place where those that were outcasts or freaks in high school go to become part of the majority...this is fairly accurate. Though for the most part all types of people are able to find their place on this campus you probably wont find many republicans, churchgoers, math-enthusiasts, or fraternity bros. In fact the total lack of Greek life or competitive sports means that most students become involved in more alternative methods of fun, such as tea parties, didgeridoo building, poetry readings, tree-climbing, and interpretive dance. Those on financial aid make up a big part of the student body but it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between those paying full-tuition and those paying nothing – wealth is not something that is obvious at all here. Walking through the dining hall you can sense there are distinct social groups, something that is hard to avoid in such a small community, however it does not feel cliquey and because of the small class sizes and housing environments it’s easy to weave your way through several different circles. There are far less men than women on this campus, which certainly puts an interesting spin on things, and is the source of great frustration and lots of dysfunctional, incestuous dating situations.
There are no required credits or 101-classes, but instead highly specific, highly engaging and challenging seminars that are designed solely by the students needs and requests and the teachers interests. Some of the classes that I have most enjoyed and that reflect this the best are Moving Image History of the 1970s, Traditional Music of North America, Understanding Children and their Worlds, A History of Rock'n'Roll, and so on. It is highly unlikely to find yourself in a classroom where neither the teacher nor any students is disengaged with the course. Perhaps it is simply because my own personal work ethic is not as good as it should be, but I am continually amazed at the dedication and passion with which students face their work. It is very, very rare that someone will turn up to class without having done the reading and despite their laid-back appearance Bennington students are amongst some of the most hard-working I have come across. There is an emphasis on learning through experience (hence the introduction of their required 7-week off-campus Field Work Term experience every year) and designing ones education through their own curiosity and exploration. During their four years at the college each student integrates different areas of the curriculum that are of interest to them around central ideas or questions – this ultimately results in their Plan, Bennington’s equivalent to a major. This requires students to be extremely self-directed and active in their work. The intensity and self-run nature of the work has been said to develop students that are at times a little too self-focused, however at the end of the day the 8:1 student-teacher ratio and the close-knit nature of the campus means that there is a huge support system and sense of community that is often hard to find. Despite strengths in many different academic fields, many students declare, either with great enthusiasm or resentment, that it is undeniably an art school. There is definitely a very creative, arts-oriented feel to the place (as well as being the birthplace of modern dance) however it is very possible to successfully pursue interests or all fields.
Bennington is a bit of a bubble, plain and simple, however it is very possible to flourish within this bubble in ways that are very difficult within the real world. Though there are no more than three bars in town and not many opportunities for fun, the large amount of things to do on campus often begs the question, why would you even want to leave? Although this is certainly not a healthy way to live your life in the long-term, for four years students have a most culturally rich, busy, and exciting microcosm on their doorstep. Said to be the birthplace of “the themed party”, there are very creative soirees hosted every weekend in the house common rooms that are almost always open to the whole school. Last year students attended parties such as, Daddy Daughter Dance, Bacchanal, Prom, Dr. Seuss, Risky Business, Outer Space Ocean, Mardi Gras, Roll-o-Rama, Ultraviolet Masquerade as well as lots of plays, gigs, and opportunities for contra dance. Drinking is something that can be hard to avoid at Bennington. It is definitely very possible and I know some people who have managed to avoid it completely however the norm is for people to drink a lot of boxed wine and then go run around the fields. I think this is partly down to the fact that people are working so hard during the week they feel they need to find an easy way to unwind on the weekends. During weeknights it is very quiet on campus and it's rare to see anyone wandering around outside after 11pm. There are also a bunch of activities and clubs that are on offer though in my own experience I get excited and sign up for a bunch and then end up never showing up -- this seems to be a fairly common experience.
Exotic hair colors, face paint, dreadlocks, piercings, homemade clothes, or no clothes at all are fairly common sights – however there is also a fair share of hipsters and Vermont farmer types to be seen too. It is often said that Bennington is the place where those that were outcasts or freaks in high school go to become part of the majority. Though for the most part all types of people are able to find their place in this campus on thing you wont find many republicans, churchgoers, math-enthusiasts, fraternity bros, or preppy athletes. There is however a lot of body hair to be seen as well as clogs. I think the stereotype of forward-thinking, open-minded, passionate individuals is fairly accurate but it comes in many shapes and sizes.
Bennington is a place for exploration, home to those with hearts filled with passion that are eager to share their work and e...
Bennington is a place for exploration, home to those with hearts filled with passion that are eager to share their work and experience with the world in a variety of mediums.
My classmates are talented beyond measure; they are quiet yet outspoken, driven and genuine, and some of the most innovative and creative individuals I've ever met in my life.
Don't worry about names and reputations when you're applying to school; find what you're interested in studying and go from there. Rejections and wait-lists will fade with time's passing. When you actually get to college, it will be intense. Don't fear it- brace yourself for the impact, absorb it, and learn from it. You will make mistakes and you will feel upset from time to time; that's okay too. But more importantly, you're about to enter a world filled with opportunities. Don't be afraid to explore and follow your heart and your passions. Meet new people, go on adventures, take advantage of the opportunities your school has to offer. There are no accidents in the universe. So even though you may feel disheartened to be where you are at first and you might even question whether you should be in college- don't. You are meant for a higher education and you are going to do just fine. Believe in yourself, remember to take deep breaths, and get ready for the best ride of your life. College is one of the best investments you'll ever make. Good luck!
When I was in high school, eleven and a half years ago, I was confused and angry going through one of the hardest periods of ...
When I was in high school, eleven and a half years ago, I was confused and angry going through one of the hardest periods of my life. I had to take care of my mother single-handedly, a bi-polar patient, hallucinating and paranoid, who was manic and sometimes refused to wear clothes. I began to work right after graduating from high school, earning for us. I acted on stage and television and taught Art in a school part time. In Pakistan, earning from either profession is not lucrative at all. I earned up to a $1000 from acting and less than $500 from teaching. However, these years of working and earning taught me a lot about myself. I learnt who I was and what I wanted; I feel this is essential to college learning. However, being older has it's disadvantages in a small college. If I could redo it, if things were different, I might have tried to leave only a few years after graduating college.
For me, the best thing about Bennington is the freedom it provides, the independence it promotes and the quality of education it offers. As a non-traditional student, I cannot imagine a college more suited to my needs. After working for ten years in Pakistan and being trapped in a regimented cycle, Bennington provides me with exactly what I need; the opportunity to explore every avenue that interests me, regardless of it's connection to other courses. That I can take a biology class and a voice class simultaneously, is thrilling and liberating.
I brag most about the size of my college and the closeknit community we have with the seven hundred or so students. I love that everyone knows each other, that we live in houses instead of dorms, that we're active and involved and aware of everything going on, on campus. I love the personal attention in classrooms, the close relationships with faculty and staff. I love the lack of formality in relationships and the tremendous amount of affection built with everyone. I feel like I am at home with family.
Bennington is a unique instutition offering students the ability to work closely with successful practiotiners in their field...
Bennington is a unique instutition offering students the ability to work closely with successful practiotiners in their field and to form long-lasting, important relationships with those mentors. While I was in school, I was one of a handful of science students that pursued independent research study with my chemsitry faculty advisor. This experience set me up for a career that I may not have been prepared for without a higher degree. Additionally, Bennington requires students to get field work experience every winter. This helps in many ways, but most importantly it gives graduates of the small institution a leg up when they enter the workforce. We have a realistic understanding of resume writing and the job-interview process and we have already added a significant amount of experience to our background, making us competitve applicants in a variety of industries. In particular, Bennington is known for its successful arts programs. But the nature of the curriculum and the high faculty:student ratio (1/10) make for a uniquely fulfilling science education as well. Five years after graduation I am still in close touch with my chemistry faculty and I still feel like an important part of theHey Bennington community.
The culture of praise can be debilitating, allowing students to believe they are masters in their craft when they are not. This is not always helpful for students, sometimes more constructive criticism would be better.
seeing funds going towards new student centers and the like instead of academic resources, such as the library (which hasn't been updated since the seventies) and the science laboratories.
Sitting down for a chat with my college self would have made that last year of high school far easier. My anxieties about co...
Sitting down for a chat with my college self would have made that last year of high school far easier. My anxieties about college were abundant, and ranged from the important ("What if I'm not up to par with the other students?" "What if Bennington doesn't offer the courses I want?" "Will I lose discipline without a rigid academic structure?") to the inane ("Won't it we awkward to share a bathroom with eight people?"). Knowing what I know now, I can tell Little Me that the college environment has pushed me to both compete with and benefit from my talented and insightful classmates, and that my school anticipates the need for new courses and gives students the freedom to create their own classes, and take charge of their academic experience. This level of control has given me the confidence to take risks with my education and explore my interests, and rather than flounder without a framework to adhere to I'm instead becomming the chief architect of my own unique curriculum. If I knew all this then, I could have slept a little easier. ...And yeah, sharing a bathroom with eight people is a little weird.
I wish that I had known how steep the price of my Field Work Term could be, and had been better prepared to fund it. For Field Work Term, every student has to find themselves a seven-week-long job or internship and they are responsible for finding their own housing and funding. While the teachers and staff are incredibly helpful and supportive in finding help for students, it would have been good to know more about what to expect.
In the higher levels of school governance there is a beurocracy firmly in place that sometimes jeopardizes the freedom of criticism among students. Friends of mine have gotten in trouble for writing articles that portray the administration in an unfavorable light.
A small artsy place, good for those looking for a niche in the college world, worthwhile if you manage to befriend several st...
A small artsy place, good for those looking for a niche in the college world, worthwhile if you manage to befriend several students.
Bennington's a good place for doing your own thing and making friends; therefore a good place for you. Plan ahead better.
Trying to find a place to live for Field Work Term that is not home: You're on your own with pretty much no help from the college. Unfortunately, you don't necessarily realize this until it's too late to plan for it.
If I could go back in time and advise my high school self about college life, I would counsel both open-mindedness and courag...
If I could go back in time and advise my high school self about college life, I would counsel both open-mindedness and courage. Going to college is a major change, a big step forward, and it can be frightening, but it is also an adventure, and I would tell my high school self to enjoy every minute of it, as much as she could. I would tell her to take full advantage of all available opportunities for learning and for financial aid, for if she didn't, she would regret it later. I would tell her to talk to different people, and to take as many different classes as possible. I would warn her not to get stuck in an academic or emotional rut, or to perform the same activities over and over. Most of all, I would tell her not to be afraid: college can be frightening and challenging, but it is one of the most exciting periods of a person's life, a great opportunity. Seize it.
I think the best thing about Bennington is the availability and friendliness of the professors and students. They really want to help you.
Someone who can't stand being buried in the country or who needs constant external stimulation. Anyone who is not serious about their studies.
Talk to your guidance counselors about what you want to do after high school and after college; figure out if you're career o...
Talk to your guidance counselors about what you want to do after high school and after college; figure out if you're career oriented, trade oriented, or if you just want to explore your options. Start making a list at the beginning of your junior year, and put down any school that catches your interest. Don't worry about narrowing it down until the start of your senior year, when you should bring the list down to around 10 schools. If you want to apply to more, go ahead, but don't over burden yourself with applications, as it may become stressful going into midterms and finals if you're still writing application essays. You should visit as many of your final schools as possible, and talk to alumni whenever you can. Talk to your parents and teachers before you make a final decision, and remember, you can always transfer if the school doesn't fit. Most importantly, dream big. Don't be afraid to apply to expensive or competitive schools, and don't sell yourself short. Many schools offer financial aid, and a great essay is just as valuable as good test scores; it can't hurt to apply.
The administration doesn't offer tenure to the faculty, which results in a lot of temporary staff, visiting faculty, and course selection that's almost constantly in flux.
We can design our own curriculum, which means that with input from professors and advisors, a student can tailor their education to best suit their long term needs or future careers. This also opens up the possiblity of individual and group tutorials for specific interests, and there is an abundance of specialty courses with very small class sizes.
I would wholeheartedly suggest a student begin her college search by considering not going to college. Finding an academic h...
I would wholeheartedly suggest a student begin her college search by considering not going to college. Finding an academic home is nothing, if not daunting. And the result can be confounding. In some cases, an unthinkable amount of money is required for a student to engage in a process whose only physical yield is a piece of paper. If the document is the ultimate goal; if the evidence, and not the experience, is what she ultimately values, that is a problem. College students enter an environment so experientially volatile that almost all those who earn a degree encounter some sort of disaster, tragedy, or malady during their time in school. And, during the time it takes to earn this scrap, her very sense of self will questioned, obscured, or changed completely, guaranteed. That said, you will be beguiled. Colleges will beckon to you with majestic white pillars, with open fields of bachelor buttons and buttercups, with high towers in the heart of the city. They will call you with shouts of joy, smiling faces, and soft grass. But the right college will know you before you arrive. The right place already likes you. Your job is to learn why.
There are people here who do not believe they contribute to the whole organism that is the specific community at Bennington. There are people who hold their tongues, when on them lie not honeyed words but rich milk that would benefit a colleaugue. Most of all though, knowing exactly how to navigate the ever-changing environment here would be a whole lot easier if information about graduation requirements and concentration requirements was more readily available. The school needs a better information dissemination infrastructure.
A driven, focused, passionate, yet un self-concious person who seeks to do serious work because the work excites them, not because they hope to gain an extrinsic reward that may mean something to someone else. Multi-faceted people thrive here. However, without commitment to focused practice, perserverance in answering one's most persistent personal and intellectual questions, or confidence in one's journey, it is easy to lose onesself here, as it is anywhere. The creeds, trades and skills of the people who leave here are myriad; their resolve to make good work unifies them.
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