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.
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.
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.
Finding the right college is all about finding a place where you can transform yourself into who you would like to be. There are many websites and books that can help narrow down choices for schools based on preferences such as location, size, programs and majors offered, etc... pretty much anything you could have an opinion on. Visit prospective schools, and talk with the admissions offices and the students to get a feel for the schools. College visits are the most important factor in choosing the right school. In order to make the most of the college experience, the best any student can do is to get involved. Dive into the academics, and work hard. Take pride in your work and in everything you do. Live on campus, eat in the dinig hall, and go to the events put on by the school. Get involved in clubs, sports teams, and extracurraculars. Make friends, and make sure to spend plenty of time with them. Live your life. College is school, and you are there to learn. However, you will learn much more than academics. College is your LIFE for four whole years... you might as well take advantage of it.
Do what scares you and what you feel incapable of: You will be rewarded with a new perspective, and you will discover there was no reason to be afraid in the first place. For example: become a leader of a club; befriend someone you feel intimidated by. Do not hesitate to meet new people, no matter how intimidating or how innocent appearing. Apperances are deceiving. Do not be afraid to talk to upper classmen, they are college students just like you. Do not be afraid to be yourself. Spreak from your heart, and let your opinions be heard and be proud of who you are and where you come from. You may assume that your peers or teachers are expecting certain actions from you, but who you are is up to you and you alone. Take care of yourself because you cannot give anymore than you have. Communicate with teachers and administration; they are people just like you. Asking for help when you are lost shows strength and intellect, being lost does not make you incapable or dumb. Develop methods to bring yourself to concentrate, and trust yourself because every moment can be made to be wonderful.
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.
Applying to schools that you know a limited amount about can be terrifying. You?re not sure if choice A really is better then choice B, because you don?t know exactly what you are buying into until you experience it. Firstly it?s very important to visit. Visit multiple times if you can. Visit classes, talk to students, and stay the night; it will be worth the time spent. This allows you to get a better feel for the environment beyond what the admissions office sells. While visiting, ASK QUESTIONS, although you may have an interview where you are evaluated, evaluate the college just as critically. In the end, as much as you know about a school, you are still taking a chance. Try to find this exciting. Even if it doesn?t end up being the perfect school for you, the next college search you do will be a lot easier. Transferring is a lot easier, and less stressful then it is made out to be. Students should check in with themselves along the way, if the experience doesn?t feel right, ASK QUESTIONS, maybe it?s the school; maybe it?s the way you are using it.
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!
Choosing a college is tough. Every school offers different opportunities that will shape the rest of a student's lifes. It's a huge investment that takes a lot of thought and self-searching. However, the best thing you can do is to pick a school you think you'll feel good at... the decision should be taken seriously, but you shouldn't develop an ulcer because of it. A good education is important, so as long as you find a place that offers things you're interested in and that has a culture you think you're comfortable with, or could get to be comfortable with, then that's a good start. You can always try new activities, change your major, and even transfer if you have to, as long as you're willing to take control of your education. The best advice I think I could give is this: once you choose a school, go into it with a positive attitude and a willingness to work and be involved, and no matter what you choose to do with the rest of your life, you'll leave college with a bounty of skills and experiences.
I through a lot of college books but it was only when I visited the colleges that I realized what I was looking for. That changed the whole list of my "top choice" and made very clear what I was looking for. I think that was the most important factor in my finding the right college, so I suggest visiting the schools you are thinking about before applying. I discovered what I am now most passionate about by chance, taking a class that I didn't have much previous interest in. I had heard a talk from the faculty teaching it and become highly interested in their way of thinking, and it turned out that this was the field I wanted to dedicate myself to the most. So I recommend going into college with a truly inquisitive mind and with a lot of interest -to not just follow what may be set out for you but see how you can make the most out of the system. Be excited, there is so much to learn and develop -I think college can be an amazing process if you go into it with all of your energy and the right mind!