There's a nice air at Bennington where anything can happen. It's interesting because there can be a lot of negative attitudes and skepticism but at the same time, I would feel perfectly comfortable wearing a feather boa to go eat dinner. Bennington is a place that stresses a lot of people because it can be very intense. There's a constant drive to do something cool, for your work to be out of the box. This leads to some general silliness and an upper crust of people. Some people compare it to high school but it's only that way if you actually let yourself care about it. I only know one person that has peed out of a window and interpretative dances are not accepted as a plan essay anymore. And there is a feeling that art can change the world that what we are doing, what our work is, is important. As far as the Bennington girl is, I have seen a lot of drama happen, but really, Bennington girls are great, at least the ones I've known. While the social climate can be trying, at the same time you are surrounded by passionate, driven people that go a small country college in the middle of the Vermont wilderness often away from homes, families, boyfriends, plunged into a curriculum of hardcore difficult things that expect crazy things from you, and you either deal or wilt under the pressure. Bennington girls are definitely dynamic, and when blowing off the pressures of the day, do sometimes get a little wild. And don't wear shirts. Not all Bennington boys are sluts but there is a definite advantage to being male in going to Bennington. They are just as great as the girls.
50% of the stereotypes you will here will be true. No, we are not all "Hippies", in fact you will find very few "Hippies" (depending on how you define "Hippie"). You will very rarely see someone topless, and it is an extremely rare occasion when someone is fully nude. The college used to allow students to be nude on campus if it was not disrupting anyone else, however they have recently changed the rule, and nudity is no longer allowed on campus (after a conflict with an orientation leader who wanted to be nude while introducing freshman to the school in the Fall). Bennington is a very expensive school and so most of the people who attend are "well-off" and you will run into some snobs however once you get to know the right people you find out that they know, just like you, that there is and will always be more to life than money, and everyone will agree that its 50 grand being well spent. At Bennington, you can choose to be labeled a "Burn out" or pot smoker or you can not, people are not going to judge you if you aren't and you will not be ostracized either way.
In some ways. There are a lot of really wealthy people on this campus, yeah. But just because an artist can from a wealthy background, it doesn't lesson his or her merit. Most artists on this campus seem pretentious, but that's because they really know their stuff, most of the time. And the really obnoxiously pretentious people usually aren't wonderful artists anyway. People do dress like hipsters here. Not really a problem, though, if you ask me. Bennington students aren't hippies at all, really. Sometimes people sunbathe naked on the lawn, but not very often. And besides, that's legal in VT. Usually people wear bathing suits, or just go past the end of the world, where its a bit more private. And all Bennington women are NOT lesbians. Trust me. If they were, then the ratio wouldn't make such a vast difference to the way we all act. Strong woman and lesbian are not necessarily synonymous.
Not really. Bennington students tend to be driven and self-motivated, but we don't all make art; many Bennies are interested in Math, Computer-science, Law, and other less traditionally "creative" fields. There traditionally has been a group of students who flaunt the lack of nudity restrictions, but they are far from the majority. Many of us eat meat, and we even have a few republicans. There are probably more lesbians, gay men, transpeople, and anyone who falls into the "alternative lifestyle" category at Bennington because the campus community is pretty accepting. But guys seeking girls still have better luck than girls seeking girls.
The stereotypes about students are absolutely false. Every person at Bennington is a completely unique individual with vastly different backgrounds. There are definitely groups of people who could be seen as hippies and there is a fair amount of rich kids but classifying every student at Bennington into one group would be impossible unless you were to go as broad as they are all college students. As far as the education at Bennington, it is very different from what I remember in high school. I've finished two years now and only had one actual test.
Not at all. Yes, there are very many crunch, hippyish type people, but I have not experienced any crazy drugs. Everyone I know is very much their own person and very excited about their studies. I love the energy of Bennington. Everyone is very immersed in their work, but also immersed in other's work... people are always sharing their work/studies/projects. It makes it a very innovative and exciting place.
Partially. Hippies care more about the environment than anyone seems to at Bennington (as we've been even having trouble getting recycling off the ground.) The college is beautiful, the students are artsy...the girls can be desperate...the ratio isn't in their favor...it is small...and then there are those days when it feels like this big family, and it's wonderful.
Not at all: students come from a variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Our financial aid here is actually very good (there's merit-based aid also) so low-income families are still represented. Students also come from EVERYWHERE...just because our campus seems to be primarily white doesn't mean that people all come from the same place or background.
No. Crazy things do still happen at Bennington, (i.e., everyone running out to the lawn banging pots and pans when the power goes out, waging wars against other houses with rotten apples-- just like any other small liberal arts college with creative people), but no more giant orgies, (that I know of), and not everyone has dreadlocks and smokes pot.
To some extent the stereotypes about Bennington and its students are true. But despite the lack of tests, grades, and structure Bennington is more work than anyone outside of "the bubble" can ever understand.