Hey, is there a playwriting program at Bennington? — Asked by Anonymous

Glad you asked. I wrote a thing about undergraduate playwriting degrees during an internship and it was heavily informed by my experience at Bennington, so it might be useful.

It’s helpful to remember that Bennington doesn’t have any pre-designed “programs” — instead, with some help, you get to navigate your own way through our award-deserving curriculum. And, yes, it supports an interest in playwriting.

My approach has been to work with Sherry Kramer (playwright, goddess), Kathleen Dimmick (dramaturg, director), Peter Jones (education researcher) and Ron Cohen (social psychologist) and dabble in literature. Sherry’s classes give me my much-needed creative outlet. Kathleen has taught me the greats: from Sophocles to Pinter. Peter teaches “discourse analysis” and “conversation analysis” which gave me another angle to think about dialogue. And Ron is just the best. I’ve learned about social issues (and how to research them) in his classes which helps with tackling difficult content.

But you should tackle it however you want!!

Alan ‘15

P.S. Go read Sherry’s play “David’s Red-Haired Death” immediately. There is no one better to study playwriting with. I’m convinced!

Some advice for packing clothes for college? Bring a ton, pack sparingly? Should we expect vast influxes of T-shirts and such or should we plan on packing a fair amount of clothing? On that note--what time are we gonna have to break out the sweaters and jackets? Thnk. — Asked by Anonymous

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Solid advice from our correspondent in Chicago. I echo her sentiment. 

Don’t pack much. Really. Truly. Please for everyone’s sake pack as few clothes as possible. I wouldn’t expect a vast influx of t-shirts, but please don’t overpack! On the sweaters and jackets, it really depends - maybe late September, maybe October, definitely by November. You will feel it when the time comes. 

Do, however, bring lots of lamps! Most rooms don’t have an overhead light so lamps are essential. That being said, our local Home Depot, Goodwill, Sears, and Walmart (all located very close to campus) have an amazing selection of lamps that you can buy upon your arrival at Bennington.

Also, a friendly PSA from your local firefighter: Christmas lights are a fire hazard. 

-Glennis & Emily

Can you actually find a job after spending nearly $200,000 for a degree? If so, what type of job? — Asked by Anonymous

Nothing’s guaranteed! 

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But I would say that with the Field Work Term and a Bennington education, most students here graduate with a sense of self-advocacy (and at least 4 FWTs’ worth of job hunting/work experience) that seriously helps with the job hunt (it’s all about the interview!) as well as a network of both past employers and other professionals (even your teachers!) to call on.

Students also aren’t paying $200,000 during their time here. A large percentage (90%) of students receive both need-based and merit-based aid ($36,660 a year, on average!)

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This isn’t the 80’s, pal!

Kagan ‘16

(Submitted by Rohail, class of 2017)

Back in April 2014, I was all set to do my summer internship for a Silicon Valley startup. It was a dream come true: summer in California, living with a bunch of tech geeks for three months, and getting paid a boat load of money on top of that - all as a freshman. However, that deal fell apart at the last moment. It was devastating. I went from a potential summer in the Valley back home to the 100+ degrees humid summers of Karachi, Pakistan. I was almost on the verge of wasting my entire summer but something stopped me from doing so: I realised I was a Bennington student.

Yesterday, my - or rather my startup’s first mobile game, Orbee, was released on the App Store with an overwhelmingly positive response and I couldn’t be happier. When I say being a Bennington student stopped me from wasting my summer I truly mean it. And this goes out to all the incoming freshmen who may be having their doubts about coming here: don’t. You are coming to a place which instills in you the need to create, to build, to innovate. It’s not just a place where you stay seven months a year for four years. You remain a Bennington student whether you are on or off campus and these values remain with you.

In one year at Bennington, I have learnt more than I ever thought I could in this timeframe. I can honestly say I would not have been able to accomplish the app without Andrew Cencini’s Operating Systems course (though it is not at all about making apps), or Robert Ransick’s Physical Computing course (again, not remotely about app development). This just goes to show that a Bennington course is not limited to it’s syllabus and it’s not even close to a read-ten-chapters-give-your-final-get-an-A system. If you’ve ever brainstormed ideas, written them down on post-its, as notes on your phone, all to be accomplished at some point, then Bennington is the place you actually start executing them.

Anyway, this was my $0.02 for the incoming class. Here’s to a great new academic year!

Shameless plug: you can find the aforementioned app here

-Rohail ‘17

Nice, downloading now.

Thanks, Rohail!

semper games

kagan ‘16

Hey all! 

As Glennis said earlier, Sam and I are hard at work on the farm — I split my time on campus between admissions and the farm. (Free time is for hanging laundry and baking bread.) And it’s so much fun!

I just wanted to take a moment to tell you about my pride and joy: the student farm. We’re called the Purple Carrot Farm and you can follow us at purplecarrotfarm.tumblr.com. We’re entirely student-run, organic, no pesticides, and remarkably local. We sell to the dining hall and student center, so if you come to eat lunch and try some salad, you’ll be eating some of our lovely veggies. We also sell produce from a little cart every Friday from 3:30-4:30 at the flag pole beside the admissions office, so stop by if you want to chat or want a tasty snack.

During the term there is a dedicated group of students who come to work, play, laugh, make music, and work some more on the farm every Sunday afternoon. We all plan the season together, work to integrate our farm into the campus life and curriculum, and talk about farm life. This summer it’s just me and Sam, with some cameo appearances from friends and a groundhog who really likes kale. 

Please feel free to stop by and visit the Purple Carrot Farm any day of the week! We would love to see you there. 

Happy Summer to all,

Sylvia M. ‘16

Don't Send Your Kid to the Ivy League

Not posting this to put these schools down…I have many friends at them who are receiving wonderful educations…but I’ve been pondering a lot this summer about what a college education is really for, and how Bennington can help support that need.  So often on tour, I get strange looks about lack of grades, lack of pre-conceived requirements, the size, etc…but these are all qualities of Bennington that (in my opinion) are put in place in order to help teach “to the soul.”  When my parents asked me why I was so set on going to Bennington, I remember saying, "At any other school, I could learn to be a better student.  But I’m already an incredible student…I don’t need to prove that to myself.  I need to learn how to be a person.”  What do you think?  

It’s a national conversation, and you’re a part of it.

— Parke ‘15

Is there actual coffee during Coffee Hour? — Asked by Anonymous

it depends. Each house does their own thing. The way it has worked in the two houses that I have lived in is that we take turns bringing sustenance to coffee hour. We’ve had everything from nachos to cookies to tic-tacs. One time, fellow intern, Chernoh, made Grape Kool-Aid. 

Hey, there really aren’t any rules when it comes to this stuff, so if you want to serve coffee at coffee hour, do it. 

-Glennis

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purplecarrotfarm:

We’re Selling! Every Friday from 3:30-4:30 by the flagpole. This week we got eggplant, we got beet green, we got kale, we got basil, we got mint, we got spinach, we got swiss chard, we got pineapples (not really). SPECIAL BONUS: come watch/help us braid garlic (not for sale this week).

Intern Sylvia second life as a farmer on the student farm. Also featuring farmer Sam, Sylvia’s partner in uh er… veggies?
If you’re around, stop by!
-Glennis

purplecarrotfarm:

We’re Selling! Every Friday from 3:30-4:30 by the flagpole. This week we got eggplant, we got beet green, we got kale, we got basil, we got mint, we got spinach, we got swiss chard, we got pineapples (not really). SPECIAL BONUS: come watch/help us braid garlic (not for sale this week).

Intern Sylvia second life as a farmer on the student farm. Also featuring farmer Sam, Sylvia’s partner in uh er… veggies?

If you’re around, stop by!

-Glennis

New work by recently graduated intern, Ben Redmond. The video is a collaboration with Sarah Fetterman, another recent graduate, and it is a piece that she made while she was here. Check it out. 

Yay collaboration.

-Glennis 

Is it true that there is no grading system, as in most educational institutions? — Asked by Anonymous

Nope! We just posted a post about this last week (actually, it’s still on the front page). We do have grades and most students choose to take them. I’ve taken them every term.  In addition to grades we receive a narrative evaluation for each class. 

I like grades because I’ve always had them and I have an exact measure of my performance. But, it’s not always all about measuring up to others which is why the evaluations are great. They are usually a paragraph or two of critical feedback of how I did in the class. I find the evaluations extremely helpful and often very on point as to where I struggled or what I could do to improve as well as where I did well. 

Hope that clears the air. 

-Glennis

What should I wear on a visit? — Asked by Anonymous

Whatever you feel is appropriate.

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Best of luck,

Sylvia M. ‘16

FIrst of all, thank you for including Transfers on the Class of 2018 map. Second, when might we be seeing this wonderful creature? — Asked by Anonymous

I am on it.

1 hand-drawn map of the US and 1 hand drawn map of the world.

Currently struggling with the northern Canada area… there are so many strangely-shaped islands. It’s an adventure in details and acceptance of minor faults. 

You will see the lovely creation (well, we’ll see how lovely it is when it’s all done… getting all the borders in Europe correctly laid down is a terrifying prospect) when you arrive here on campus. Maybe we will also post on the blog about it. First things first, I need to finish the Eastern Hemisphere — I’ve almost made it across the Pacific at this point. 

Good things are coming, everybody. The map is on its way.

Go on, intrepid explorers, I raise my pencil in a toast to you.

Sylvia M. ‘16

When will we be getting our roommate and housing info? — Asked by Anonymous

from Kate’s post in the Class of 2018 Facebook group:

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so sometime next week, depending on where you live. It’s via mail, so if your roommate lives closer than you do, expect them to be hitting you up on Facebook or something.

kagan “roommate” ‘16

Do a lot of students bike? Are there good places to bike? — Asked by casualroadmap

Yeah, we got some bikers. I’d actually say campus is easier to bike around than drive or anything, but people will also bike into town as long as it isn’t too gross out. North Bennington is especially bike-friendly, as it’s like ten minutes (five if you’re fast???) away from the middle of campus by bike, and it’s got some good mountain and road biking routes. There’s also a cycle club on campus that started up this last year.

semper games

kagan “bike” ‘16

requirements?

While we talk a lot about the Plan Process on the blog, we just wanted to clear up what Bennington “requires” of our students.

In addition to successfully completing the Plan Process, Bennington students are required to earn at least 128 credits, and to complete four Field Work Terms (we talk about that on the blog a lot too.) 

In order to allow students to successfully fulfill the intense academic discovery that comes along with the Plan, we don’t have any restrictions or requirements on what classes a student can and can’t take. The open curriculum is there to facilitate the needs of your personal academic narrative and to allow you the freedom to explore, to stumble upon new passions, to find connections between your work, and to make mistakes and learn from them. This allows students the freedom to pursue a plan process with rigor and merit, that successfully articulates your academic goals and how you’re going to reach them, that conveys who you are and how you think, what you’re doing with your time here, and where you’re headed. This all happens through a series of opportunities for reflection and evaluation which take the form of plan essays, plan meetings, junior reviews, senior work, etc. that are facilitated by the faculty and deans office.

While this process is seemingly simple on paper, it’s kind of revolutionary in its origins, and it asks a lot of every Bennington student. We don’t just ask you to do well in your classes, we require that can you explain why you’re taking them, why here, why now. And yes, all those “whys” can be taxing, but they make certain that your time here is spent wisely, ensuring that you receive a holistically grounded education with which you can enter the world equipped to share all you have to offer and prepared to absorb what the world has to offer you.

- Sarah ‘15