Tapped In: The Bennington Blog

Jul 23

(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

[video]

Jul 22

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

Anonymous said: Is there actual coffee during Coffee Hour?

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

image

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

[video]

Jul 21

Anonymous said: Is it true that there is no grading system, as in most educational institutions?

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

Anonymous said: What should I wear on a visit?

Whatever you feel is appropriate.

image

Best of luck,

Sylvia M. ‘16

Jul 17

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

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

Anonymous said: When will we be getting our roommate and housing info?

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

image

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

casualroadmap said: Do a lot of students bike? Are there good places to bike?

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

Jul 15

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

the abc’s of evaluations at bennington

So at Bennington we have the option of requesting traditional letter grades for any and/or all courses, or to take our classes on a pass/fail basis. What accompanies both of these options are extensive narrative evaluations from our teachers which include strengths, weaknesses, progress, things to keep in mind looking forward, in class performance, etc. These evaluations are personal and encapsulate your performance in a way that is forward thinking, building on your time in class as a way to talk about your work as a whole and what to keep in mind as it progresses. Over half of us (54% to be exact) take letter grades each term. So really the decision is just about what works for you as a student.

This past term was my first requesting letter grades. I found the evaluations I received from faculty to be so fair and on-point, that I couldn’t see the use of a letter grade in their presence. But as I look towards the end of my four years here graduate school is certainly on the table, and while the evaluations I’ve received are an essential part of my transcript, a GPA is something that the schools I’m looking at ask for.

While my experience has only been with a term of grades so far, I have friends who’ve been requesting them from the get-go and friends who haven’t felt the need to request them at all. So once again, it’s all about what meets your needs as a student.

- Sarah ‘15

I’ve always taken grades and I find that incredibly fulfilling to get a letter grade and an evaluation which helps me understand why I got what I did and how I could improve in the future. 

-Glennis

Jul 14

Anonymous said: I just got my ACT scores back- 26 composite. Am I doomed for admission to Bennington? In my defense, I was bit by a spider before taking the test so I didn't feel that well during it! lol!

You know who else had some difficulty after a spider bite? This guy!imageAnd Bennington would totally consider Spiderman as an applicant — just think of the interdisciplinary options! I mean, physics, public action, biology, journalism, costume design, urban planning, it’s all there. Really, numbers don’t count for much with us unless they count for much with you. We don’t even require your scores. We try instead to look at the person you are — your interests, passion, growth, questions, and anything else you want to send our way.

The bottom line is: If you feel that this number 26 reflects who you are as a person, then feel free to send it in. If you do not feel that it reflects who you are as a person, feel no pressure to send it in. 

( Also, if you experience side-effects of: an undeniable urge to wear Lycra and practice parkour, a surge of intuition you might call “spider senses,” and the inability to let evil go un-fought in your city, you might want to speak with your doctor, and tell him you’re Spiderman.)

All the best,

Sylvia M. ‘16

Jul 11

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