Tapped In: The Bennington Blog

Aug 29

Anonymous said: Does Bennington have any independent study classes? I know the school offers a limited amount of classes for students so if I want to study something that isn't heavily taught, can i, i dont know, teach myself and get credit for it?

Yes! Usually you have to be here for a bit before you can do that sort of thing, but you can essentially design your own courses as long as you get it approved by the deans office. This can take the form of tutorials, or there is a class of misfits which I am doing next year, where everyone can workshops their projects which have no clear-cut home. You can do tutorials for 2 or 4 credits. The faculty is versatile enough that you can usually find someone to cover whatever you are interested in.

In fact… I’ve been working on my own schedule:

The first half are works of queer theory I’ve been interested in; the second half are plays I am going to analyze using the theory. History of Shit and Unlimited Intimacy have almost nothing to do with my project — I’m just reading them for fun.

Alan ‘15

Aug 28

Anonymous said: Ok. So I'm having doubts about whether Bennington will be the best fit for me. While this is probably normal given that I'm just joining, I wanted to know around how many students transfer out of Bennington. Also, Is Bennington supportive of students that want to transfer out? I know it's a great school, I'm just getting stressed out because i wanted to go into finance or business after undergrad. Please help!

I don’t have a number handy of how many people transfer out, but it isn’t important how many people do…it just matters that you can. I definitely know people who have; more than a few.

We will be supportive if you decide to transfer out: we are a school that is about the individual, and sometimes individuals learn that the best school for them is somewhere else. So don’t sweat it. If I were you, I would just enjoy the present moment, and give yourself some time to figure things out before making any drastic decisions. You’ve got four years!

And in the meantime, check out this article.

Alan ‘15

“I’m so excited to learn so much again” — overheard in admissions

Anonymous said: What are the winters like in Vermont? How hard do you think they'd be for someone who's lived in a relatively sunny climate their whole life?

here is a pic of me and my friend Army James in our respective winter and army wear back home (New Mexico) taken in the middle of february two years ago:


here is another pic of me in typical winter attire in vermont also taken in the middle of february this year:


we adapt. army strong.


Anonymous said: if i dont take physics do i still have a chance at getting into Bennington?

Yes! Indeed. I didn’t take physics (I did Earth Science, Biology and Chem) and look at me.

There are no deal-breakers that will immediately disqualify you (unless you got an A in White Supremacy). We’re looking at the big picture: have you studied broadly? with depth? excelled?

I do, however, regret it EVERY DAY. FIGURATIVELY not LITERALLY. I should’ve done physics here at Bennington…and as my time is coming to an end and I still haven’t. So you’ve inspired me to take another gander at the curriculum and see if I can fit it in my schedule. Thank you, sir, madam or other gentleperson.

Alan ‘15

loseyourself-losecontrol said: Are their places to rollerblade on campus? I.e smooth pavement? Wondering if my rollerblades would be put to use if I brought them

Yes, they just laid a sidewalk outside of down commons, which pretty much opens up the whole campus. In fact, you could get anywhere. Oh the places you’ll go.

Alan ‘15

Aug 27

Anonymous said: this might be a dumb question but I'm driving up Friday as an incoming freshman and I was wondering what time we should get to our dorms? Also what time should our parents leave if they're dropping us off?

Check in is from 9am to 1pm, parent send off is at 4pm and ends at 5. I think I had dinner in town with my parents after that but that send off is the *official* time for parents to say goodbye and pls leave. 



Anonymous said: What kind of music ensembles are at Bennington? I'm used to being part of an orchestral group, like wind ensemble and orchestra (I'm a percussionist). Are those kinds of groups offered? Also, do you guys have a radio station? Thanks!

In terms of orchestral stuff, a good go-to thing is Sage City Symphony, a local full-size symphony that students can participate in. Other than that, there’s usually a brass ensemble, jazz ensemble stuff, but it looks a little different every term. If you’re curious, check out the curriculum’s ensemble tag for fall and spring term courses.

As for radio, we don’t really have a station in the sense of something with a DJ that you’d tune into, but the Bennington Radio Project is a student group that’s focused on generating content in the form of NPR-esque podcasts. You can check them out here, here and here. Glennis is in charge of that. She’s lost in the woods right now but email her at glennish@bennington.edu if you want to know more and if she finds her way back she’ll be able to fill you in.

beep boop 


Anonymous said: I am currently working on college essays and I want to write about how my mom illegally works since she doesn't have a work visa (she is a Canadian citizen) because we would not have enough money, otherwise. Is this wise? Or should I try to find something else to write about? This is a big part of my life, and so I'm finding it difficult to not write about it.

While I can see how this would make for a compelling essay, discretion might be the better part of valor in this case.  It’s a tricky thing.  Bennington is not interested in turning your mom in to the feds, nor in penalizing you for your family status.  But depending on the essay itself and how it is received wherever you send it, there could be some risk, either to your mother or to your chances of getting into schools.  I can’t quantify those risks for you.  I just genuinely don’t know what your family might come up against if you put that information on the internet and send it to a bunch of strangers, or how it might be received by colleges.  Once it’s out there, you have no control over how it will be read or by whom.

If it’s essential to you that this aspect of your life is heard, if you need for people to know this about you, consider interviews.  Bennington strongly encourages our applicants to have personal interviews with us, and just generally speaking… in a closed room, with a person you can see and feel out, you can open yourself to the admissions counselors who feel right and be selective about disclosure with the ones where something seems off.  Just be careful, and best of luck to you and your family.

-Ray ‘15

Anonymous said: For the analytical paper portion of the application, would the IB Extended Essay count? Only problem is that it isn't actually graded for a class proper -- your teacher serves as an advisor but then it gets sent off internationally and graded there.

It would be a shame if you put all that work into that paper and are super proud of it and we said you couldn’t send if because there wasn’t feedback written on it. We want to see your strongest work and we’d like to see the notes of the person grading it, but sometimes you can’t have both and we get that. So, go for it.

Alan ‘15

Anonymous said: Hey! Is there anyone who has participated in the AVIC Semester Exchange that could share a bit of their experience? :) Thanks !

So we’ve actually not had any students in recent memory who’ve participated in the AVIC program. So… sorry about that. If you want a more general idea of how that works here, though, I’d email Kendra Ericson, who’s in charge of Study Abroad and AVIC stuff at kericson@bennington.edu


Anonymous said: Bennington is really small, only 688 people, so how does that effect you guys? Also, what are the people like at Bennington, what is its reputation?

The people are awesome, which is why it doesn’t matter that there are only around 700 of us. That was very direct of me, but I think it is true. I find the people here to be dynamic and unexpected if that makes any sense. By unexpected, I guess I mean always surprising and not able to fit into stereotypes. Like someone who studies both theater and conflict in the Middle East (~**~shout out to Tenara!!~**~). Next thing you know she’s speaking Hebrew fluently and you’re like I thought you were from Ohio and then she’s like “Born in Israel, SUCKER!” Okay, I got a little carried away. You think you have them pegged from seeing them in one classroom (“oh you’re THAT type of student”) and then they shock you in another, by not only being an amazing dancer, but also a brilliant physicist.

The fact that you are meeting physicists in dance, or drama students in poli sci makes the school huge because. While it seems everyone’s face is familiar, you’re always seeing new people, even in familiar places.

Alan ‘15

Anonymous said: Hi, are there any driving schools in the Bennington area? It seems like I'll need a license in sleepy VT lol

Yup.  There are quite a few of them around and plenty of students get licensed.  But don’t drive if Vermont makes you sleepy, dude.  You’ll die.

-Ray ‘15

Anonymous said: Is there enough space under the beds to fit a trunk or other storage containers? Also, how large are the closets in the colonial houses? This is a storage emergency!

The beds are on adjustable legs, so they can touch the floor, or be up high enough that you can store a mini-fridge and dresser under there.  A trunk will absolutely fit.  The colonial closets vary a lot in size; mine is like 3’x4’ right now, my last one was smaller, a friend of mine has one he could put a mattress in.  It’s kind of a crapshoot.  That said… you almost certainly don’t need as much stuff as you think you do.  And keep in mind that a crowded room will affect your roommate’s quality of life as well as your own.  

-Ray ‘15

Anonymous said: I filled every extracurricular option on the common app and I have a lot of leadership. However, in an earlier post you said quality over quantity and that admissions could tell if you're lying. What if you were just a REALLY busy person? Also, does admissions account for the rigor of your high school, not just the courses? Like, do they notice if it has a high usnwp/huff post ranking? And if so, does it help your application?

Cool! In contrast, I barely had extracurriculars because I’m introverted and didn’t like the school I was at. On my free time I was listening to free college lectures online like “existentialism in film and literature” and “American literature since world war two.” These lead me to read Kierkegaard and Nabokov, Pynchon and Nietzsche before I even got to college. I also filled a lot of time working at the local library to make money. I love film and watched over 200 of the 1001 movies you must see before you die before college, which ranged from French New-Wave to Hollywood classics and some wonderful trashy B-movies (I’m now up to 400). I also became enthused about politics and made it a point to watch Democracy Now every day, educate myself through documentaries and listen to NPR.

None of this showed up on my application and no other college bothered to learn this about me, but these are the things that have helped me in college the most! So, you’re right, we don’t play the college games your high school is likely telling you we do. We don’t want to know you by the numbers. We want to see you at your best, whether or not you’ve been preparing yourself for college ‘by the book’ or not. That very well could mean learning about your very, very, busy nature.

In my opinion, these “success” games are anxiety-provoking, not entirely fulfilling and misleading ways to look at people. It is great that you are so active! What have you learned from that? What have you taken away? That’s what I want to hear about.

Alan ‘15