I was disappointed that Bennington wasn't more cultural. I grew up on a small island in Washington that was predominantly Caucasian and I was looking forward to going to the East coast where I would find more culture. But even though there are not many different races at Bennington, there are loads of different type of people. I think that most everybody can find a place at Bennington and can feel like they are doing something that they like to do with friends. Lots of different types of people interact all the time since we are in such close quarters. The different houses on our campus tend to have personalities and attitudes that some people get really involved in and others don't. I didn't feel like I wanted to be a part of some of the cult-ish attitudes that the houses had, so I moved to a less conspicuous more neutral house but it didn't change my friends or how people felt about me, so I was happy with my choice. I feel like a lot of the students are from New England, mainly New York, New Jersey, Maine and Connecticut. Bennington is a very expensive school. There are people from all different financial backgrounds at our school, but I feel like the incredibly wealthy kids don't mind if you know it. Our school is so expensive, though, we know that either everybody can get by paying tuition, or they were granted a huge scholarship, or somebody else pays it for them. I think that lots of our student body is politically active, and since Bennington is so liberal I don't think there is one conservative person at our school.
I would say these stereotypes are fairly accurate.
I love the classes at Bennington. The teachers definitely know your name and all students and teachers are on a first name basis. I think the largest class I have ever been in had 18 students. Of course, if you are the type of person who likes to sit in the back of the class and not talk this might be a problem. Due to the student/teacher ratio it is required to participate in class, but at Bennington you should only be taking classes you want to be in since we build our own curriculum, so it is assumed you want to participate in class. I recently took a class called From Process To Performance and it was the best class I've ever taken at Bennington. We studied Viewpoints and Meisner techniques and worked on a play for the whole term which we eventually performed and we had created such a world, it is indescribable. I love that we are allowed to take a broad range of classes, and we are encouraged to leave Bennington as a liberal artist, having gained knowledge in different categories of art. I find that most of the time our classes lead to intellectual and controversial conversations outside of class. I do think that students are competitive in their niches. For example, the theater department is very competitive and sometimes it seems like the same people are getting cast each year in the productions. This can just act as motivation to push you harder if you think about it that way.
There are lots of clubs and activities at our school that I think a lot of people get involved in. I don't, and I don't really know why I guess I just don't have a huge desire to, but I think it would be a good idea to get more involved in the future. There are always trips to go hiking and camping, or horse back riding and snow shoeing; there are even trips to Six Flags. We don't have real sports teams at our school, but we do have a huge list of intramural sports which I think people get really involved in, our soccer team being the most popular. I would say that most people leave their bedroom doors unlocked at all times, and usually open if they are in the room. Guest speakers should get more attendance than they do, but most of the performances done by students usually result in all of the seats filled and overflowing. The dating scene is something to be desired... since Bennington consists of 70% girls and 30% boys, girls are often viewed as disposable and good boys are hard to come by. If you're bisexual you are probably having a good time. I met my closest friends when I was a freshman at orientation and we had peer mentor groups, but some of my friends changed and I got new friends when I started taking classes I was really interested in meeting people who like the same things I do.
One stereotype is that there are lots of rich white people who think they are better than everybody else and are really into their artistic niche. There is a contrasting stereotype that there are lots of naked hippies running around and lots of gay people and very few straight men.
Bennington is a tiny liberal arts college nestled in the middle of nowhere on an old farm. There are only about 750 students, undergrad and graduate combined, and at times all you want to do is hide in the library than see the same group of faces again. But it's also great that it's small because you are forced to be with people who are interested in similar things as you are. I think the academics are the best thing about Bennington. The teachers at our school are required to do what they teach, as opposed to just going to teaching school and then finding a job at a university. They are so experienced and we truly get to learn from experts, which is really lucky. I spend most of my time on campus, on campus... it's really small so people are usually in their room or someone else's room or in the dining hall where we all eat together at the same time or in the student center. There is no college town. The closest city is Albany, NY which is about 45 minutes away. The town of Bennington consists of a Wal-Mart, a Hannaford, Price Chopper, multiple car dealerships, a bowling alley, and a Taco Bell/KFC joint restaurant. I do have to give "Four Corners" (where main street has an intersection with 3 other streets in the heart of Bennington) more credit than we do because it's very cute and has a coffee shop and a pet store and other places where Bennington college students could hang out but we don't. I'll always remember driving to school for the first time and looking out across the highway and seeing Bennington College sitting on a green hillside all by itself with all the clapboard houses and the big clock on the commons building.