Glad you asked. I wrote a thing about undergraduate playwriting degrees during an internship and it was heavily informed by my experience at Bennington, so it might be useful.
It’s helpful to remember that Bennington doesn’t have any pre-designed “programs” — instead, with some help, you get to navigate your own way through our award-deserving curriculum. And, yes, it supports an interest in playwriting.
My approach has been to work with Sherry Kramer (playwright, goddess), Kathleen Dimmick (dramaturg, director), Peter Jones (education researcher) and Ron Cohen (social psychologist) and dabble in literature. Sherry’s classes give me my much-needed creative outlet. Kathleen has taught me the greats: from Sophocles to Pinter. Peter teaches “discourse analysis” and “conversation analysis” which gave me another angle to think about dialogue. And Ron is just the best. I’ve learned about social issues (and how to research them) in his classes which helps with tackling difficult content.
But you should tackle it however you want!!
P.S. Go read Sherry’s play “David’s Red-Haired Death” immediately. There is no one better to study playwriting with. I’m convinced!
But I would say that with the Field Work Term and a Bennington education, most students here graduate with a sense of self-advocacy (and at least 4 FWTs’ worth of job hunting/work experience) that seriously helps with the job hunt (it’s all about the interview!) as well as a network of both past employers and other professionals (even your teachers!) to call on.
Students also aren’t paying $200,000 during their time here. A large percentage (90%) of students receive both need-based and merit-based aid ($36,660 a year, on average!)
This isn’t the 80’s, pal!
(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
Nice, downloading now.
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.
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.
Whatever you feel is appropriate.
Best of luck,
Sylvia M. ‘16
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
from Kate’s post in the Class of 2018 Facebook group:
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
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
You know who else had some difficulty after a spider bite? This guy!And 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
After a last minute course change, last term I found myself in “Human Natures” a half biology, half psychology class. The psych half was why I considered it at all. I have respect for the natural sciences, don’t get me wrong. They just drive me insane, but now I know why: scientists misuse their own jargon and make it seem more absolute than it is. Check this out. Scientists are also pretty guilty of misusing these terms; my brother and his wife — both have PhDs in the science — told me they heard these ideas misused regularly. The result is an absolutism that I find off-putting. More importantly, it is misleading. And today, we orient ourselves toward the natural sciences more than any other field. They hold the trump card in political debates.
Evolution’s Rainbow by Joan Roughgarden has become my best friend this summer; she questions the absolutes on behalf of, well, everyone: feminists, queers, humans, lizards. She uses evolution to argue against a model which sees beings as heterosexual males and females, with everyone else being treated as an anomaly. She reworks things once thought of as absolute. In their place, she creates a more accurate frame, which just happens to affirm the value of diversity.
Predictably, I ended up falling in love with biology after understanding it better. Thanks Betsy. And I’m jazzed to have a new angle to approach queer theory from.