Tapped In: The Bennington Blog

Sep 22

carbonopautado said: Hi! I'm really in love with bennington from what I'm reading here, but there some things that I can't get out of my mind. Is the philosophy major a popular major there? Because it seems to me that Bennington in really focused in arts, and so philosophy would end up just being considered as a minor for most students interested. I hope that's not the case! Also, what is the percentage of international students there? Is the application different someway? Thank you so much! :)

Philosophy at Bennington is so many things, but unpopular is not one of them, I promise. There’s Existentialism and Phenomenology, Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, and well, I’ll just link you to the curriculum. There are new courses every term. My lovely former roommate spends quite a lot of time on her philosophy work (her other loves are painting and astronomy). 

HOWEVER!

There are no majors at Bennington College.

Nope. none.

Here at Bennington College, we create our own course of study. Whereas a traditional major system would ask you to name your topic (ie Philosophy) and then tells you what classes are required to meet that goal and gives you the steps to becoming the illustrious Philosophy Major of your dreams and tells you to fill out some paperwork, we ask you: 

1. What do you love?

2. Why?

3. How are you going to explore/ challenge/ develop/ subvert/ fall more in love with that here?

It is at times extraordinarily challenging, at times intensely inspiring, and often both of those at once. You get to do all that questioning, revising, developing, reflecting, etc. with the help and guidance of a faculty adviser, friendly faculty, and intelligent and self-motivated peers. This whole process of sculpting and pursuing your passions is called “The Plan.” It’s interdisciplinary, rigorous, playful… and I could continue for quite a while. Instead of hearing it all from me, you can also check out the Bennington Wesbsite!

Happy Trails,

Sylvia M. ‘16

“You need to be able to make fun of each other!” — Professor Becky Godwin during a plain china meeting

Anonymous said: When applying do you really need two recommendation letters or could you still apply with only one recommendation letter?

Yeah I mean you really do need two recommendations, if there’s some kind of dire extenuating circumstance, feel free to call 911 or just get in touch with your admissions counselor. OR you can always just give us a call here in the office (800) 833-6845 and one of the admissions interns will point you in the right direction!

-Alex ‘16

boardingthewonderland said: hey, I have an interview coming up, any suggestions?

Hello there!

The interview is simply a chance for your admissions counselor to get to know you and for you to get to know Bennington. Think of it as a conversation. There is no specific checklist of formulated questions that you’ll be expected to answer. Because we really want to get an authentic sense of you, my suggestion is to just be you! Tell us about your hobbies, share a tasty recipe, talk about your favorite season––the interview is a natural way of getting to know you as a student and a human.

So relax and don’t stress about it! All is groovy. 



~Jacqui ‘17

Anonymous said: Hello! I am interested in the visual arts section and would like to know what kinds of works we have to put in our portfolio, and maybe if there is a way to look at portfolio's from the past years? And is it okay if I don't have great drawing skills? Thank you!

Hey!! Don’t worry about “drawing skills”, just put in any work that you feel good about. There is nothing specific that we’re looking for. I really do mean that— we are much more interested in your love for visual arts than any technical “skill” you may have. The portfolio is just another way for us to learn more about who you are. I’m sure we’ll love love whatever you have to show us.

Here the admissions counselor blog that posts some of the portfolio portions of Bennington applicants!

Nila ‘17

(here are some foxes)

image

Anonymous said: Hi! I really want to go to Bennington and have some questions 1. How miserable is the cold on a scale of 1-10 2. What do they ask you in interviews 3. Will you be accepted if you just do you? Is there such thing as fitting in? I like weird people

Hello there,

On a cold scale of 1 to 10, 10 being:
image

And 1 being:
image

Bennington is something like this:

As for interviews, it’s about you. We want to know what you think about and what drives you. There is no set of formal questions that your interviewer is looking to check off. All we want to do is get a better sense of YOU! So do you! 

As for weird, there’s plenty of it! Welcome friend.
image

Love 
Jacqui ‘17 & Sam ‘16

Sep 20

sunshineblogs:

We’re open on Saturdays now, and if we have time for this photo-op not enough of you are visiting us!  Come brighten our weekends!
Also, tours are entirely parkour-based now, so if you’re not ready to go hard, be ready to fall behind.*
-Ray ‘15
*This is not in the least true.  Tours are conducted at whatever pace is comfortable for those taking them, and very few of our tour guides are versed in parkour.

sunshineblogs:

We’re open on Saturdays now, and if we have time for this photo-op not enough of you are visiting us!  Come brighten our weekends!

Also, tours are entirely parkour-based now, so if you’re not ready to go hard, be ready to fall behind.*

-Ray ‘15

*This is not in the least true.  Tours are conducted at whatever pace is comfortable for those taking them, and very few of our tour guides are versed in parkour.

Sep 19

Anonymous said: Can I just say that you all make Bennington so AMAZING! I don't think any other college is as personalized as Bennington! I visited last year and still cannot get Bennington out of my mind due to how AMAZING the tour and interaction with everyone on campus was!! Can this count as a question?



we can count it.

Alan ‘15

Anonymous said: Without GPA, does Bennington have valedictorians or class rankings? If so, how are they done?

We do not.  At a school where everyone is pursuing an individualized set of objectives in their education, that breed of competition has very little point.  My work is closely related to that of some other students, in my disciplines and in ones I don’t study.  For instance, the other person on campus who has a plan most like mine, that I’m aware of, is a computer science student, whereas I study conflict resolution, literature, and biology.  Then there are plenty of students, inside my disciplines and out of them, whose work has very little to do with my own.  There’s no reason we should be judged against one another, as a whole-school population or within arbitrary subgroups.  Bennington prefers to work in a spirit of cooperation, wherein everyone’s work and conversation feed all of us in our various pursuits.

I will note, though, that plenty of Bennington students have GPAs; grades are opt-in here, not entirely absent.  So if that’s something you need, for scholarships, grad school, or your own sense of your progress, you can have it pretty easily.

-Ray ‘15

Anonymous said: do you love bennington? Why would you choose bennington vs. other colleges?

I do love Bennington, but as we all know love can also suck. Like when you realize that the person you love is not as perfect as your image of them. But love isn’t all bad! It gives you someone to ramble to about things no one else cares about.

As a playwright, I will now turn to the theater to communicate this emotion. Take it away, Young Jean Lee:


Go where works for you. Bennington will work for you if you’re self-directed and fascinated by most things. Bennington allows you to sculpt the experience to be the perfect for you, but you have to be willing to sculpt (it takes two to tango! metaphors!). It’s something you grow into here, but it is also something you want to have, at least a little bit, from the beginning.

In my experience, Bennington students ramble to one another about things no one else cares about. When I communicate with students from other colleges — friends from high school, people I met over Field Work Term — the enthusiasm isn’t there enough to ramble and the conversation falls flat, for me. So come here if you can see yourself rambling.

Love,
Alan ‘15

Weekly Emotional Crisis

Dear Readers,

I have a confession to make: I do not have it all together.

Sure, I’ve been coordinating my outfits expertly this term and have been flossing my teeth pretty regularly but my confession stands firm. Because recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about my Plan and the cold hard truth that it no longer reflects who I am and what I want my role to be during my time at Bennington.

Basically, I don’t know what I am studying.

While Alan and I discussed how my Plan is in shambles, he read me this excerpt from his:

“The intellectual community, I believe, has been chasing its own tail just as I have, and requires other methods outside of strictly defined academic documents to find satisfying truths within. A good script contains many truths and its malleability is celebrated as different directors reappropriate it. We find solace within a play’s catharsis by experiencing pain so profound it transcends the words it was made of.”

I friggin’ love this quote. It gives me hope. It contains self-reflection and realization and is just plain beautiful.

A Plan in shambles is a fine place to be here at Bennington. I’m not worried (well, maybe I am a little bit…) because my dissatisfaction with my Plan means that I am critically thinking about making the most of my education. I am not following a path that I don’t believe is best for me, even if it’s a path I previously created for myself.

I have learned many things here: how to operate a camera, the art of essay writing, the history of theater, just to name a few. However, these things are taught everywhere. The most important skills that I have learned from Bennington are to think, re-think, reflect, and take action. Not because someone else is requiring that from me, but because I demand it of myself.

I couldn’t have learned that anywhere else. 

All the best,

Emily ‘16

email me if you want to talk about being lost: emilyg@bennington.edu

Anonymous said: I haven't taken my SAT in the October Round. I'm planing to take it in November. Will that affect my early decision application? What's the difference between Early Decision and Early Action?

Hello thar!

Bennington doesn’t require SAT/ACT/standardized test scores, so no, taking the SATs in November will not effect your application in the slightest.

In terms of the different types of admissions options, Early Decision applications are binding - meaning that if you get accepted, you are required to attend. You also find out early whether or not you were accepted. Early Action applications are non-binding - meaning you apply early and hear back early, but don’t have to respond with your decision until the regular decision date (May 1st).

Everything will b cool!

Chloe ‘16

Sep 18

Anonymous said: If anyone here is in the art program... how rigorous would you say the art classes are/do you feel like you learned a lot from them?

hello i am an arty

How hard are you willing to work? Art courses (actually, most courses at Bennington) tend to be as intense as you make them, especially with more labor-intensive stuff like ceramics or printmaking or animation. There probably isn’t much in terms of just one-off, no-work classes, but I guess you could slide through a drawing class, say, doing the bare minimum and maybe get a marginal pass, but what’s the point of that? 

Some of the courses I’ve learned the most from have also been the most intense and, at times, frustrating, both in assignments and critiques. I’ve worked for hours on certain assignments just to get (helpfully) torn apart in class critiques. Usually, a few hours later (or a few weeks later if i got really mad!!) I’d realize just how much more helpful my getting torn apart was. 

So yeah, as with any class here, if you’re willing to work and you’re open to critique, art classes can be immensely helpful. Or, if you’re just taking a course because you’re curious about, I dunno, how to silkscreen, you could have a good time and learn how to do the thing without it being the most intense course you’re taking that term.

U Pick!

kagan16

Sep 17

A Thought

Every time I meet with poetry faculty Michael Dumanis, I cry — no, I swear it’s a good thing — but honestly, I hold it together until roughly 30 seconds after the meeting ends, and then sniffles turn to full-on ugly sobs…generally due to some truth bomb that he has dropped into my lap (as all good educators tend to do).  But there is one meeting that stands out in particular to me.  It was right after my past FWT, which was an independent study where I was writing every day about anorexia and femaledom, etc…but the poems were not turning out the way I had wanted them to at all, and I was (to say the least) extremely frustrated.  Michael was my advisor for the project, and when I showed him the final pages, he looked them over for a moment, considered the air, and then declared: “There’s a painting I need to show you.”  The painting was Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.  I’ve linked to it below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landscape_with_the_Fall_of_Icarus

You may know the painting, but I didn’t…it took more than a moment for me to understand.  At first, it appears to be a simple pastoral scene overlooking a beautiful ocean, with a peasant (honestly not sure if he’s a peasant…I don’t study art history I’m sorry I’m sorry) driving his horse…there are many very cute sheeps, it’s great, and then….do you see it?  In the right hand bottom corner?  Yeah.  That’s right.  There’s our little guy.  Yknow.  The mythic one.  Michael pointed out the little pair of legs and said, “You know what Parke?  Sometimes the only way to get to the point is to circle around it.”

That’s when I started choking up a lil’ bit.

The very fact that we do not notice Icarus for so long is what part of what makes the painting a work of art.  It manages to simultaneously concern itself with the myth as well as depart from it.  The eye is drawn all the more because Icarus is not the center of the frame; our attention requires intention.  Oftentimes when we try to go directly for “the point” of what we are trying to communicate, it comes out flat, deflated, not how we intended it at all.  But if we create a rich environment to surround it, and we come at it from an angle, or we approach it in a new and interesting way, we see it from a vantage point we never have before.  

This is how I view the Bennington education.  It can be frustrating at times to feel as if you are “circling around the point” — why study history if you ultimately want to do literature?  Why take a dance class if you’re a math student?  What is the point of all of this cross-disciplinary stuff other than it being very “hip”/”trendy?”  I have heard adults speak about my choice to study liberal arts as if I’m some dilettante who has the privilege to dabble without committing to any one thing — that I am “preparing myself to be a “worldly person” who has no “real” concerns (such as finding a job/making money/getting housing/supporting myself in general, etc).  That could not be further from the truth.  If you want to study something specific, you can go at it head on.  You can go straight for the point.  But when you do this, it creates a narrow line of vision between yourself and that thing.  You have little to no periphery to color your vision — if that is even what you are actually interested in (because of course, at the tender age of 18, you’re expected to know what you want to do with the rest of your life, right?) You may not know how to make the necessary connections you need without creating an environment for yourself — a creative environment comprised of various passions that help to build the landscape to uphold your “point,” if you will.  

After that meeting with Michael, I stopped writing head-on about anorexia…and lo and behold, once I did, the poems ended up concerning themselves with the disease more than they ever had before; they required a more sophisticated level of interpretation in order to get at the root of their meaning.   So.  Don’t be afraid to circle around the point.  Don’t be afraid to get a little off the path of expectation in order to have a bigger picture or a clearer vision.  You will know for you where Icarus lies. 

Happy learning!

Parke

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