Posts tagged Academics

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

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? — Asked by Anonymous

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

Does Bennington accept CLEP scores for college credits? or if I have a 700+ score in SAT chemistry or math level II, will I get any kind of credits or exemptions? Thanks in advance!!! — Asked by Anonymous

Hello!

Unfortunately no, we do not accept CLEP or SAT scores as college credits. We do accept some AP scores, but this will have to get discussed and approved by someone in the Dean’s Office. Here is a link to our complete credit transfer policy.

Best!

Chloe ‘16

Is there Journalism at Bennington? — Asked by Anonymous

Class-wise, not really. There aren’t any straight up journalism courses here, but a lot of courses in CAPA, Literature, Political Science, Photography, Stats, etc., teach things relevant to (photo)journalism. There’s also the BFP, a student-run paper that reports on campus stuff and events in town. 

Also! here’s a secret: you can basically do whatever you want for FWT. You want to work with a journalist? Fine! or with a news agency or site of some sort? Okay! Are you Jason Moon ‘13 and did you work with NPR for a FWT? Probably not but he did do that!

Anyways my point is that there’s not an explicit journalism TRACK here, but if you’re an active thinker you probably could study journalism at Bennington. People have done it in the past. People are doing it right now. 

you can do it too~

kagan16

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! — Asked by Anonymous

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 

kagan16

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

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

kagan16

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? — Asked by Anonymous

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

I'm having a real hard time finding the list of majors on the website, so I wanted to know if there was a film program? I want to be a director — Asked by noirpineapple

Yes you can study film here. We have a range of video classes. We also have directing classes if you’re interested in working in the theater.

For the record: Go to the Bennington homepage. Click “Academics” at the bottom of the page. “Areas of study and curriculum” is the second option down. Click it. There you have a list of all the areas of study available.

http://www.bennington.edu/Academics/AreasStudy

We do not have majors, each student crafts their own educational plan, which may be why you were confused.

-Eliana ‘15

What is your architecture program like? also other design classes? do you ever have fashion design classes? — Asked by Anonymous

image

so sayeth Architect Carlos ‘14.

As far as fashion design goes, some students choose to study that mainly through costume design. Courses on fashion design itself are pretty few and far between, but with a Plan that combines, say, costume design, art history, social science (because hey who doesn’t need that?) and maybe some independent work, fashion design is definitely manageable here.

kagan16

What you haven’t asked us (or any college) that you should.

Having done tours for a few years, I’ve found the same questions come up again and again; regardless of where you are from. Some of them are useful, some aren’t. Here are the questions I wish I asked when I was visiting schools. In turn, I hope you ask me them on tour or on the tumblr. More broadly, I hope it helps on any tour and helps you make this tough decision.

1. “Do the students here love to learn?”

This is crucial, to me anyway. Are you going to a college where people geek out about their studies 100% of the time, or, on the other side of the spectrum, it is an afterthought to partying. You could frame this in terms of workload or free time, but I think it kind of sidesteps the issue. What you really want to know is if students place their work first in their lives, and if they do so willingly or because the environment demands it.

2. “How is mental wellness facilitated on campus?”

College is intense. The transition from home life to campus life can be stressful, as can starting college level courses. But mental wellness can be an issue beyond one year. You want to know how the campus thinks about these issues. The answer might be therapy, or study breaks or even a thoughtfully designed housing model (feng shui?) that prevents it from being an issue. But you want to know this, because it will impact your well-being for four years. If you wanted to go a step further, ask how emotional wellness is taught, learned and encouraged — that, too (not just a paycheck) is part of a fulfilling life.

3. “What structures bring the student’s perspective into administrative decision making?”

Policy choices by the administration will affect you. Sometimes, you actually aren’t considered in them as a student. Be cynical, especially if the school in question seems more like a business than a college. How are students considered?

4. “What does your work consist of? How are you evaluated?”

Do most classes have exams or use projects? You probably don’t want to take a sculpture class that culminates with an exam. Not all colleges use letter grades, some use narrative evaluations. But also, what is the quality of feedback on individual assignments?

5. “What is your favorite and least favorite class?”

It might feel a bit awkward to ask this in a large group tour, but I think that’s exactly why you should. Asking the tour guide something that is totally subjective can give insight into their perspective, as well as a candid description of what courses are like.

6. “Are the faculty passionate about teaching?”

The school may have exceptional faculty, they may be accessible, but if they don’t love to teach it won’t make much of a difference. In my opinion, that’s because you need faculty that will bend over backwards for you and go out of their way to think of things you’d never think of and address concerns you didn’t even know you had.

Alan ‘15

Can you guys explain the Plan Process and exactly what that entails? You build your own curriculum and write a paper on it? Do you just say what kind of classes you'll be taking? Thanks. — Asked by Anonymous

Very basically, with the Plan you’re thinking and writing and talking about what exactly you want to do at Bennington. You may be studying physics and literature, but what about those things interests you? Are there any intersections between the two? Maybe you want to get educated in physics so that your science fiction writing can have really solid scientific backing (I don’t know.) Also, and sometimes more importantly, how do you plan on studying these things, through classes, FWTs, outside research, etc. That’s where building and justifying your own curriculum comes in, as well as potential FWTs, maybe even study abroad. 

If you’re still curious, here’s a quick overview of the Plan Process year by year.

kagan16 

Hello! I'm currently going into my senior year at a high school of 520 students. My biggest question is regarding the teacher / student relationship and the student / student relationship. I have befriended multiple of teachers at my current school and I crave that same level of open discussion / friendliness wherever I go next. I also want to know how open the students are because I'm not a huge fan of illegal activities, but I sincerely want to enjoy time with classmates. Thank you! — Asked by strangernightmares

hello my friend

To use the buzzword, our student:faculty ratio is currently 9:1. To use my own words, the relationship between most students and their teachers here is a very open and familiar one; we’re on a first name basis with pretty much all of our teachers. Since all the teachers here are also working professionals in their field, they’re also an amazing resource for both contemporary knowledge and work opportunities, and they’re incredibly open to discuss or meet with you about any concerns you have, projects you’re working on, or just to check in. 

The attention we get from fellow students is also something really valuable here, albeit less talked about. I’m always so surprised by the amount of people that show up to performances, shows, screenings, or gallery openings (to name a few things.) Obviously you’ve got your classmates and fellow film/drama/music/etc students who show up to critically look at your work, but a lot of people just attend these things because it’s the fun thing to do that night. It’s encouraging as a creator or performer to know that you’re not just doing stuff for an empty audience. 

In terms of illegal activities, I’m not entirely sure what you mean. We don’t really have any? It’s so small here that you can’t really get away with stuff like theft or vandalism because you probably don’t want to be known as the campus Crime-man. (Unless you do! that’s fr*cked up!!)

image

stay vigilant!

kagan ‘16

I want to learn and play cello but I've no prior experience in it. I don't know staff notation as well, but I do play guitar well. Do you think I can dabble in it provided that I'm determined into it? :) — Asked by Anonymous

oh my friend look at this!!

Most instruments have a beginning class for anyone to dip their feet into and learn the fundamentals. Some of them, like banjo, guitar, and mandolin require students to have their own instrument (a LOT of people here have guitars and to a lesser extent banjos or mandolins that you could borrow,) while other instruments can be borrowed from the school. 

I got back into piano my freshman year and (re)learned sight reading just because it was something I’d wanted to do for a long time, but I was in class with people who had never played piano before.

good

image

kagan ‘03

I have an opportunity to take Psychology my senior year instead of Government/Economics... Would bennington have an issue with me not taking Gov/Econ? I know some schools really want it and others don't mind either way... I've also taken Hon. World Cultures, World History and American History, if that Makes any difference. — Asked by Anonymous

Why would a college that is basically offering you to create and develop your own academic trajectory, require for you to have taken X, Y, Z courses? We don’t even require you to send in SAT/ACT scores.

Sounds a little silly right? 

I’d say take whatever you’re drawn to your last year! It’s your last year in high school and you should gravitate towards what you think will benefit your personal growth and not your chances of getting into a college. Plus, I think it’s pretty easy to tell when someone talks about something they’re not completely into or invested in. 

~Doug ‘16~

I'm in love with Bennington. I would like to call myself autodidactic, I really love learning. I am a very competitive musician, I go to a very competitive, small specialty school where I am active in the student body. Here's the thing...I suck at math. Bad. What do you think my chances are of getting into Bennington are? (High school sophomore in Algebra 2) — Asked by Anonymous

Hey friend! Fellow mathophobe here, writing back to say don’t fret too much about your math-based issues. In high school, I also experienced a lot of unpleasantness with math, (Super Secret [public] Confession: I actually never made it past trig) and I was really worried about how colleges would view this trouble of mine. Rather than focusing on what you lack within the application process, maybe turn an eye to all those other things you’ve clearly got going for you! We aren’t just focusing on what you’re bringing to the table piece by piece, we’re looking at the whole package, we’re looking at all of you. So maybe math isn’t your thing. Show us what is your thing! We wanna know all your things!

One last thing on the math though, putting aside the fact that math was a totally traumatizing time for me in high school, my first two terms here at Bennington I went out of my way to take Statistics and Entry to Mathematics, just to force myself to face my fears. I can honestly say that, although I’m still no math-wizz-genius-savant, I feel much more comfortable working my way through an equation now, and have come to realize that math is not necessarily the enemy I’d always perceived it to be. So don’t stress, you got this. 

~ Ananda ‘16 ~