Posts tagged Anonymous

Is it better to have an interview on campus as opposed to when the rep visits your school? Like does it look better for you? ( I have already done the tour and the info session and visited campus twice) — Asked by Anonymous

Glad you asked.  Here’s the rundown: if you live in the southeastern states or Montana, it’s crucial that you interview in person; those counselors place a lot of weight on it.  If you live elsewhere and have more than six freckles on your left arm, a school-visit interview is your best bet, and if fewer than six freckles, a phone interview.  It you have exactly six freckles or if you do not have a left arm, you must interview via Skype.  Unless you live in the southeastern US or Montana.

No, but really, whatever.  We don’t measure people’s commitment to getting into Bennington via some sick metric of how much they’re willing to drive/fly to see us.  We do encourage people to visit so that they can really see the school, but if you’ve already done that, then it is 120% up to you how you interview.

-Ray ‘15

In regards to transferring in, how important are the letters of recommendation? I've been in and out of my current university for several years due to a family illness, so it's been unrealistic for me to build strong relationships with many professors. I am positive that I can get one very strong recommendation, but finding a second will probably require teeth-pulling. — Asked by Anonymous

Letters of recommendation are certainly something we place weight on, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of options.  Go ahead and get that one that you know you can, and then maybe expand your frame.  There are other people in your life, I’m sure, who can speak to your character and competence — bosses and coworkers, scoutmasters/other volunteer-y stuff, friends of the family, etc.  Your teachers from high school might also be good sources.  Get together one or two of those, and include them in your supplement.  Or don’t.  I can’t give you any guarantees of what will or won’t make you application look best to Bennington; I can only say that we understand difficult circumstances, and… well, this is corny, but if you find yourself unable to dig a tunnel, build a bridge instead.  We’re all about getting at what’s important in unconventional ways.  

-Ray ‘15

Without GPA, does Bennington have valedictorians or class rankings? If so, how are they done? — Asked by Anonymous

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

What buildings on campus are open 24 hours? — Asked by Anonymous

All of ‘em.

The ones where they keep the lights on are VAPA, CAPA, a set of study rooms in the library, and Jennings.  You can wander through most of the other buildings but you’ll need the above pictured sweet twisty keys if you want to go in the rooms.  Also, Campus Safety does not recognize the use of sweet twisty keys.  Your mileage and disciplinary sentencing may vary.  Alan, additionally, wishes me to remind you that in the Bennington educational philosophy, “freedom” is defined as “not the absence of restraint.”*

-Ray ‘15

* “…but rather the fullest possible substitution for restraint imposed by others for restraint imposed by the self.”  This applies equally to the Plan process and the availability of banned housebreaking instruments via the internet.

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. — Asked by Anonymous

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

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

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

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! — Asked by Anonymous

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

When reviewing my application, will the committee also take time to read my writing portfolio? Because that is a big part of understanding me as person, and understanding my writing. Do they usually do interviews also? — Asked by Anonymous

The committee will read your portfolio, yes, because they want to get to know you as a person.  The supplement, to which you can upload portfolios of any kind and pretty much anything else you want us to see, is a very important part of the Bennington application.  Interviews, too, are strongly encouraged, and can be conducted in person, or over the phone, via Skype, etc. if you can’t make it here for a visit.

-Ray ‘15

Does Bennington ever have snow days? — Asked by Anonymous

Not school-wide; all the buildings are really close together so it’s not hard to get to class.  When your professor can’t make it in from wherever they live, that’s when you get off of class.  Thus: only take classes with professors who live in New York City.  Ever.

-Ray ‘15

So, in response to a few of you putting up your emails: are those only for incoming freshman or rising seniors applying as well? #followup: I have a weird track record of talking a bit too casually (like with an old friend) when emailing people. What are you guys looking for in these emails? What do you want out of your own interactions? Or- do you think it varies from intern to intern? Love you guys & thank you, a.d. — Asked by Anonymous

Prospective students are as welcome as people who already got into the college, of course!  We’ll be seeing them in about a week anyway, whereas this is just the beginning with all of you.  

Upon deliberation, we in the office have decided that you can be as friendly as you want in the emails.  But, we’re going to put kissing of girls and all others off-limits… it’s just unprofessional.  Our primary motivation was that we were bored and wanted people to talk to, so if you email us, that’s what we’re looking for.

We love you too, a.d.  Just not in a kissing way.

-Ray ‘15




kagan ‘16

So lets pretend I lost my schedule? That would be crazy am I right! Who can I email/call to get a new copy? — Asked by Anonymous

Man, what a hugely implausible scenario.  You’ve given all of us in the office a good laugh, to think that could ever happen.  But, hypothetically… you could go to and log in using your bennington email.  Your schedule would be on the right under “Courses,” and you could click on each course and look on the right to see when it’s being held.  Hypothetically.

-Ray ‘15

Hello! I was wondering if there is a juice bar and if so how is it? :D — Asked by Anonymous

Alas, southern Vermont is not known for its juice bars.  There is one in nearby Williamstown… no, upon further googling, that’s a Williamstown in Australia.  Um.  This person is really into juice and wrote some about the offerings in Albany, but no one in the office has visited any of these places.  The student farm here on campus has a cider press, though… and horses, sometimes.  I find horses make up for a lot of deficiencies, in every area of life.


-Ray ‘15

[Image description: bottles of juice shaped like horses, in six colors and flavors!]

Should I buy course materials now? Or should I wait till I arrive on Orientation? You see, I want to buy some second hand books. Regular books are expensive. — Asked by Anonymous

By all means, buy your coursebooks now.  Amazon’s used market is a good way to go, and AbeBooks is cheap too.  The campus bookstore only stocks a few of each book, for people undergoing add/drop; it’s expected that most students will order their books elsewhere to save money.

-Ray ‘15

Where can black folks get their hair cut? I heard Vermont is pretty white. — Asked by Anonymous

It’s true that Bennington doesn’t have any hair salons that cater specifically to black hair, at least not any that googling will reveal.  It’s possible that one of the places around town has a stylist or two who know what they’re doing on that front; that’s how it is in the small, 96% white town in New York that I’m from.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure how one ferrets those stylists out except by word of mouth.  If you’re willing and able to travel 45 minutes, Troy has a billion places.  And here’s (now-graduated) intern Ben’s answer to a similar question from last term.

-Ray ‘15

Do many students open accounts at the Bank of Bennington? Do they have an ATM on campus? — Asked by Anonymous

The only ATM on campus is for People’s United Bank.  I have an account with them and would highly recommend them; for students, there are no fees at all unless you keep the account past graduation, at which point they re-enroll you in a regular old adult account.  I don’t know much about the Bank of Bennington, but I certainly haven’t heard any ill of it.  It’s also entirely possible to get by with whatever bank account you had before coming to Bennington. Debit cards, yo.

-Ray ‘15