Bennington is mostly white kids. Some are rich, some have middle class parents, some (like me) cannot afford it and are living with hefty lones. There is definitely a focus on being weird and atraditonal. If a girl wears heels all the time and looks like every other "pretty" girl looks across America she will be frowned upon. I feel like there are a lot of stereotypes that run rampagnt. Bennington is supposed to be this badass place to people that do CRAZY things, smoking, drinking CRAZY stuff. But really, I think it's a school same as any school is.
Bennington is full of flaky people it will make you feel flaky, uncentered, depressed, lonely and unsure of the path you should take. But it sparkles like the underside of a clam shell and once you decide that no, Bennington College, I am a bigger person than you, then you can use it like somebody would use a plow and make your education and begin your life. Your education at Bennington will never be ordinary and unlike classes that force you to cram and follow a textbook, you will be all over the place with all kinds of proffessors (I have taken African Dance, physics, Metalshop and Italian) learn all kinds of things (I know how to stage combat, I know how to roll my hips and weld with acetalyne and I can tell you all about torque, 16th century counterpoint and what an idiolect is). If you do choose Bennington, be fucking prepared. Its a wild, wild place.
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.
The faculty has small classes so that you get close with them, especially those within your discipline. Classes vary. Sometimes they are like apprenticeships, other times they can be discussions on material. The Music Department is great. All the teachers are active in their field professionally so they are all composers and do gigs and some are even rockstars. Finals are never typical finals. This time around I had to built a maraca out of aluminum to go on the end of a pencil, compose a four-part canonic piece, die as Juliet in her final death scene and learn a song on fiddle by ear. What I do always sounds like complete b.s. to everyone else but to you it means so much, it means a thousand moments of confidence building, aconventional, scary learning that you have to invest a lot into. There are slackers here but really to survive and moreoever, to actually get something to get out of it, YOU are your backbone, nobody else. You decide the direction of your work, how much you study, what you want out of your classes. There's no grades, but it makes it that much more intense. You have to learn for yourself and fight for yourself. A Bennington Education is foofy imaginary creature up in the air that hangs up there till you grab it down and make it your own. There is a mention in your plan essays about what you want to do with your life and what you want your life work to be but it's not big. It's what you want. You're paying the big bucks after all.
I was in CAB, the Community Activities Board last term. I hosted Karaoke and Open Mic. We're a community that has inside jokes and people can get Bennington famous. You will know a lot of people by name and reputation before you ever get a chance to introduction yourselves. Really, we're all just kids looking to have a good time. There's definitely a bubble that makes you forget the context of your existence after awhile. My best friends lived in the same house as me. You get to be very close with the people in your house. Each house is almost like a fraternity/sororities kind of. There are not of a lot of things going on, and you are pretty sequestered in the wilderness. CAB brought in bands and other entertaining things as well as play movies. There's always a lot of Student work and people are always supportive of it. If you go to Bennington you will know ALL about modern dance and become kind of an connosieur. The dating scene is not existent. There's a lot of hooking up, a lot of drunken ramblings. I don't drink but my friends all do. A good time at Bennington is getting trashed and singing horrible pop/rap songs. There are house parties about every weekend where they hook up big speakers and crank "AWW SKEET MOTHERFUCKAAAH OH SKEET SKEET GOD DAMN!" so that the whole campus can feel it. Sometimes your fellow students will become your entertainment because of the entanglements they get themselves into. But really, the social scene is the same as the academic scene. Bennington, like life, is what you make of it. You can go follow the stream of partiers and get trashed, or like the first time I realized that my best friend was my best friend, you can spend a minute at the Bingham porch party and instead run away from your drunk friends and go watch the stars on the abandoned basketball court and run around causing various mischief.
The Bennington Student won't just dye their hair blue they will walk around in moomoos, wifebeaters, various Salvation Army clothing, pirate hats, missmatched earrings, mismatched socks, arrays of flannels, blue triangles drawn on their faces. Whoever is stranger, more passionate is cooler here. Yes a Bennington kid would pee out of a window to save water, Yes, a Bennington kid would have an interpretative dance instead of their plan of education. They do crappy paintings and expect them to change the world. There are several Bennington archetypes that exist beyond this. There's the Bennington girl, wild, promiscous, sometimes clingy, who the locals know on sight. She is forced with a maddening ratio of 1 boy to like every six girls, and thus develops standards that are very low and self-esteem that can be even lower. She often will walk around without a shirt on at parties. The stereotype of Bennington boys is that they are all sluts and will go whatever they can get. He will never be worthy of the girl and that they are very cocky because they get them anyways. Bennington boys are also not manly at all and usually miss that "grit" that makes a man a man.
Bennington College is like Hogwarts. The house you live in has a definite personality and relationship to the community and you generally become more familiar with them and when drama insues (it always does) you'll find your house grows to be like a family. You either love here or you hate it here. Even when you love it, it's like an old married couple kind of love, where you're constantly making snide, bitter remarks about the Dining Hall food. Speaking of Dining Hall, this becomes a huge part of your life. You are required to pay for the Dining Hall for all your meals. Breakfast, Lunch Dinner. Its a favorite point of common grievance between students. The food is often exotic, bad, and bland. Our Dining Hall often makes meat-eaters into vegetarians. And yes. There are many meat-eaters at Bennington College. The Adminstration is not well-liked. They have made many decisions recently that have filtered out some of the Bennington stand-bys. The book store guy that used to be a porn-star who was always there for advice had his position terminated. Our own beloved security guards who give how-to-fix-your-car classes on the side and who will take care of you and who are more concerned about you not dying that about busting you are having their positions placed in jeopardy. And while they are firing the people that we love, they are putting in a swimming pool. We don't understand. Nobody understands. Everybody blames and hates the admistration. I say Hogwarts because you are not just signing up for a school here, you are signing up for a world. You learn from everybody, from the sculpture tech, from your fellow students, from your faculty advisors. There's not a lot of university brand school pride. But there is a lot of passion. This is not a place for the weak because the bubble will drive you insane. You have to have passion to survive here.