Bennington College Top Questions

What should every freshman at your school know before they start?

katherine

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.

Celene

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!

Mariam

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.

Angela

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.

Emma

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.

Jennifer

Bennington's a good place for doing your own thing and making friends; therefore a good place for you. Plan ahead better.

Rose

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.

Aisha

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.

Dmitri

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.

Laura

I'm done. I don't need a scholarship. I just like surveys. But if you want to give me the money, go right ahead. My advice to students looking for colleges (it should be the students perogative and choice0 is to look at mission statements, talk to students of the college, and ask questions. I personally think the best question a student can ask is "What makes this college special? How is it different?

Helen

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.

Emily

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!

Dana

Fallow your heart.

Brianne

Be optimistic but realistic. Reach high for your dreams.

Edward

When I was applying for college, the president of Bard told me one thing: "It's not where a person goes to school, but what he does when he gets there." That said, I did not get into Bard. At Bennington College, however, I found my home. I have been blessed with a wonderful group of friends and the drive to do unprecedented things. It just goes to show that with the right match and equal motivation, whatever you wish to acheive can be done regardless of the school. Keep your hopes high and your ambition strong.

Courtney

It is important to visit the schools you are interested in. It is easy to decide that you like a school by reading about it and connecting it to your own goals. However, I think that it can only help to go visit and spend the night. Check out the classes and the social life. I transferred to Bennington at the beginning of my junior year, and it was really hard. It is difficult for me to have regrets, but I sometimes think it would have served me better to have been at Bennington the whole way through school. Bennington gives students a chance to explore and decide who they really are and what they want out of life without rushing them into a major. I wish I could have been learning in such an environment all along. That in mind, be sure to pick a school where you can grow and develope, and change your mind if you need to. That's the best advice I can give.

Anna

Really spend some time on campus before you make your choice -- many times things are not as they first appear. It can be stifling, dissapointing and frustrating to slowly realize how well everything is marketed, but it is really worth it for the students to dive deep into their pre-enrollment experience to see what the school is really like socially and academically. Remember, you are spending 4 years there!

Caitlin

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.

Jessica

Don't cave under the pressure of the SAT/applications process: scoring low on the test doesn't guarantee that you'll become a janitor. It isn't the end of the world if you don't get into the school of your choice, because college is what you make of it. It's always going to be difficult socially, whether you go to a huge university or a tiny liberal arts college, so seek out people where you're most comfortable and do whatever makes you happy -- not what it might seem like everyone else is doing. Cultivate at least one strong relationship with a faculty member -- it will ground you academically and help with networking after graduation. If you can, do an internship or two: it'll help you narrow down career prospects and build your resume. Finally, cut out the binge drinking -- I realize college is everyone's first taste of freedom, but there's no need to overdo it. Plus, it's just not that cool.

C.

Colleges that facilitate large student bodies and classrooms are more like factories. Everyone gets equal attention and work, but the value of the individual is greatly decreased. Smaller Colleges offer more personalized approaches, but don't necessarily give equal amount of work or attention. I think that if someone is to truly learn valuable skills, then a lecture hall is one of the worst places to go. This goes especially towards parents who try to support creative thinking. In a discussion based classroom, the ones eager to learn and utilize their skills are rewarded for their creativity. And any good parent knows positive reinforcement works ten-fold over negative reinforcement.

Angela

My biggest advice to students would be to seek the advice of your parents and friends - anyone, really, who can give you a perspective on what your college life and what your life after college may be like. Don't forget that! You WILL have a life after college, and remember that what college you go to, what education you get, how well you do and how much money you spend on your education will all affect your life after college. So think closely about it, and plan ahead. As for parents - please tell your children the truth. Don't sugar-coat things. Don't encourage them to do something that you know might be a bad idea just because you see that they want it. Parents are parents for a reason - mainly, because they have life experiences that can help guide their children. Help your children be rational and smart about their futures.

Jenika

When you don't get into your first choice, people will say that it was "meant to be." It's more than a cheesy consolation: it's true. The school you go to, whether it's your first choice or your fourth, will shape the person you become and help prepare you for the future. There are problems with every school, and it's the way that you deal with those problems that will help you grow as a person. Choose a school that feels best to you and take classes you feel are right, but don't be afraid to change schools or try something new if you're not satisfied. College is about the experience, so take every opportunity you can to grow.

Kiley

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.

Allie

Make sure that you really feel comfortable in the place. That is the most important. Being around people who go there, if you feel comfortable and also engaged, then its probably a good choice for you.

Natalie

College is first and foremost a time of self-discovery, so when selecting the right college it is important to find a place where you will feel comfortable, safe and supported while exploring. Support is usually built, and the ability to build a community is not often apparent during campus visits-- taking stock of the social atmosphere will help with this decision. Safety can be determined by safety statistics (something every college is required to provide) and the campus Security personanel. On a small campus, you can get to know the security guards quite well and it's good to know they're their to look after you. Determining your comfort level at a college requires looking at all aspects of a school-- academics, social life, locations, etc.-- but it probably best determined by intuition. Visit the campus, meet students, and see how you feel at the end of the day. When you've found a place that's just right, you won't even have to ask how you know it.

Sarah

Ask questions about the academic process, then insist on speaking to someone for whom it did not go well. Understand what you will be up against, and be sure it's worth it to you.

Rhea

If you are thinking of moving out of state (or away from home) to attend college; make sure you visit the college you are interested in and spend sometime in the area before you decide. Also visit colleges that you AREN'T interested in that are within a 20-50 mile radius of your dream school. Since you will hypothetically be living in that area, finding out what other educational, social, recreational and employment opportunities are in your new community can help feel more at home. Once you have moved to your new environment, dont be afraid to go out and take advantage of the opportunities in the community, rather than staying on campus. Think of yourself as a citizen instead of a student... volunteer, go to local events, support local businesses, make yourself known in the community!

kristi

start early! if you are not sure what you want out of your college experience or what you wish to study, go to a community school for atleast 2 years to save money. there is no rush when you are only soending 2 grand a semester in contrast to 20 grand or more a year. if you do decide to go away to a 4 year university or college, make sure you visit the campus and ask as many questions as possible to make sure that this is the right place for you.

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