Posts tagged admissions

The Secret Life of Chernoh Jalloh (interviewed by Doug Campos)

Q: What’s your most vivid/meaningful childhood memory?

A: From 1996 to 2003, Chernoh moved around a lot with his mother between Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Ivory Coast.  He recalls a specific memory from when he was about 6 years old, which to this day remains a source of strong motivation for him.  As he remembers it he, his mother, and a group of strangers walked in the middle of the night through the bush and forest, from Guinea to Sierra Leone, during the time of the 11-year civil war.  He remembers that his mother was the only one leading the way through the night, with a torch in her hand.  He highlighted the length of the walk and the darkness of the night as what stayed with him most vividly.

Q: What worries you most about being at Bennington?

A: Given the field that Chernoh plans to enter (biochem and medicine), he’s nervous about the fact that Bennington’s name is widely recognized in certain of the academic circles he’s looking to enter.  He finds that he often has to defend his work and place of work, or strive for credibility among other students with highly recognizable scientific “pedigrees” like MIT.  Chernoh explained that while Bennington students are very good at talking about our work, and love to do so, that sometimes others don’t leave much room for it when all they care about is the name of the school you went to.

Q: What would be the last meal you’d want to eat before dying?

A: Rice and groundnut (peanut) soup.  He says that he can only ever find it at home, or sometimes in Philly.

What are the benefits of applying with the dimensional application vs the common app? I would like to submit my portfolio, and I don't know which format would better suit it. — Asked by Anonymous

From our side of things, it doesn’t make a difference — we are going to be getting to know you through the application, not your choice of application. So it is really up to you to decide which method showcases your work (& your, uh, self) the best.

If you do the dimensional app, I’d encourage you to think very intentionally about what you include and make sure we are getting a whole picture of you. With the common app, you have a sort of safety net which is that of tradition.

The choice is still yours…that’s the Bennington way.

Alan ‘15

Though I was initially confident in my choice for Bennington as my preferred college, after a friend gave me a "talking to," I can't help but ask: how valuable is a Bennington degree, with regard to the likelihood of getting a good job after graduation? — Asked by Anonymous

Well my friend, I suppose that depends what you are asking, and what kind of job you are looking for. When I graduate from Bennington this spring, President Mariko Silver will give me a sweet ole’ hug and then Isabel Roche, dean of the college, will hand me a piece of paper slapped into a leather folder that signifies in very few words that Rachael Meyers spent three years (transfer chick here) studying at this particular liberal arts college.

There are lots of employers out there who hear the name “Bennington” and get all giddy about our kick ass college. There are also those who may have very little association with our name. But honestly, the first thing an employer is going to look at is probably your resume, right? Well, in that case, the typical Bennington student graduates with at least four solid jobs on their resume and real experience in the field in which they study. None of my friends who recently graduated from other colleges and universities can say the same. I mean… just sayin’. (Sorry friends from other colleges, you are valuable to employers too!)

According to Bennington’s most recent alumni survey, 90% of respondents were employed full time or fully matriculated in a grad program. But if you’re wondering if we make this list: 

Forbes 50 College Diplomas With The Highest Pay

…well, I can’t say we do. If there were a list of colleges whose graduates were most likely to find an exciting and fulfilling job in their field upon graduation, however, I strongly suspect that’s a list we’d be on. Perhaps even in the top 5. PERHAPS even in the top 1. Perhaps…

On that note, this is the most important lesson you will learn today: 

Report: 95% Of Grandfathers Got Job By Walking Right Up And Just Asking


Rachael ‘15


You may have seen Alan’s admissions-interns-in-high-school series on the blog these last few weeks.  Hopefully that’s defusing any ideas you may have had about us in the office being Cool People.  In a complementary effort to let y’all get to know us from a different angle than how we answer questions about the analytical essay, I’d like to introduce another ongoing post series.  Twice a week from here on out, for your edification and pleasure, we’ll be publishing interviews of admissions interns, conducted by other admissions interns.*  Enjoy.**

-Ray ‘15


**This is an imperative, not a suggestion.

Picked This Lil’ Nugget Out of My Reading Today

"If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises they lose all heart.  If the young merchant fails, they say he is ruined.  If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened and in complaining the rest of his life.  A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always like a cat falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls.  He walks abreast with his days and feels no shame in not ‘studying a profession,’ for he does not postpone his life, but lives already.  He has not one chance, but a hundred chances.” — Emerson, Self-Reliance

Insert ladies here too.

And we’ve got something to chew on.

— Parke ‘15

I would not expect you to know the answer to this, but what are the most common personality types at Bennington? — Asked by Anonymous

Ok, all of us in the office just took the enneagram as well as the Myers Briggs personality test, and here’s all of the personality information we can give you:

My enneagram is 6, and my Meyers Briggs is ENFP. Jacqui’s enneagram is 4, and she’s ISFP. Rory is a 9, and his Meyers Briggs is ESFP. Emily’s enneagram is also a 6, and she’s an ESTJ. Glennis’s enneagram is a 2, and her Meyers Briggs is ISFJ.

That’s really all you need to know about us. You’re set!

Just kidding. Any answer that I could give would depend on the people that I specifically surround myself with. As far as my experience goes, I haven’t noticed a certain trend in personality types. There are a diverse range of people here and there’s not a specific “Bennington”  personality. Just like any other school, you can choose to spend time with as many different personality types as you would like — or not, it’s up to you.

If you have more questions about this, I’d love to talk to you more and you can email me at!

Nila ‘17

P.S. If you want to take Prom Party Dress’s enneagram test (you know you do!) you can do so here.

If Bennington is your absolute first choice, but you aren't as strong an applicant, is it better to apply ED or wait until regular decision? I've heard that it is good to apply early if it is your first choice, but that also, for a weaker student, it can actually be tougher as sometimes the ED applicants are more competitive and you therefore have a higher chance of being denied, not a higher chance of admittance. Just trying to figure out if I should apply in November or not. — Asked by Anonymous

First of all, I’m curious as to what makes you think you are not as strong of an applicant.  Is it a matter of GPA or the amount of AP/IB/etc classes you are taking?  Is it that you are worried you don’t do “enough” extracurriculars (how many is enough?)?  All of these concerns do not wholly reflect you as a person, nor your willingness and ability to think critically and creatively.  If you’re passionate about Bennington, there is no reason not to apply ED.  But don’t rush yourself for the sake of wanting to “prove” you are interested — I was incredibly committed to Bennington, but I applied regular decision for financial reasons and it made zero difference.  If you need more time to gather materials for a portfolio, or reflect more on your application answers (or, if you are applying via the dimensional application, curating your submission as a whole), then take the time!  It will be well worth it.  

In terms of having a “higher chance of being denied,” the time you apply really doesn’t hold much sway.  It’s more about whether or not the counselors believe Bennington would actually be a positive fit for you.  I know it can be scary to feel like “spots are being taken” early if you don’t apply ED, but don’t worry — there are many more waiting to be filled.

— Parke ‘15


this cat really wants to go to bton and it applied RD 

Hello there! I'm visiting in November, and I was thinking I could schedule an interview while I was there on campus to make it easy. How do I schedule that? On the website all I can find is the off-campus scheduling. Thanks so much! — Asked by Anonymous

Hello there,

You can call the visit coordinator at 800-833-6845 and they will go over the process with you! Look forward to seeing you :)

Naima ‘15

how long is the time I get my acceptance letter to the time I have to tell admissions yes or no? — Asked by Anonymous

Hello there! 

So, it depends on when you apply. Here are some dates that might be helpful.

But in terms of when you have to let us know of your decision:

Early Decision 1: Feb 1st

Early Action: May 1st

Early Decision 2: March 1st

Fall Regular Decision: May 1st

+ All transfer and Spring entry decisions should be made within 30 days of the acceptance letter. 

Any more questions? Please be in touch!

Naima ‘15

Hi! I'm applying early action and am very excited (Bennington is my first choice). Is it possible for me to attach an art portfolio? If so, where and what are the parameters? — Asked by Anonymous

Yes, it’s 100% possible! Actually, we just launched something called the “dimensional application” - which you can learn more about here. Through this application, you can upload any work that you feel reflects you as a person & what you’re passionate about. There aren’t any “parameters” to what you attach - just put thought into selecting work that you feel demonstrates who you are and how you could thrive here at Bennington.

If don’t choose to participate in the dimensional application and decide to apply via Common App, you will receive an email inviting you to access your personal application status page, where you can upload a portfolio. Again, there are no limitations there - you can attach any documents/files/images you would like to.

!!! you do you !!!

Nila ‘17

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

So, I am really averse to the people I go to high school with. And, I live in a city that I really hate (mostly because I hate cities). As a result, I have spent much of high school wallowing through the day to day, and I feel like my last four years and my application-- barring my writing where I try to express some of these grievances-- just comes off like a rich private school kid. Bennington looks like utopia, but I'm worried I'm not "self-defined" enough to fit in. What can you tell me? — Asked by Anonymous

We urge you to really think about what it is about cities that bothers or discomforts you because Bennington, VT is really almost the complete opposite of an urban area. Doug is from Los Angeles, CA and while he also felt like he wanted a different experience in geography and landscape, he’s become aware of many things he took for granted about living in a city, as well as the things he misses, that he now seek in cities close by like NYC. Bennington may very well be a “utopia” or a dream for you because despite it not being a city, there are beautiful things to discover about this environment.

We get a lot of questions like this one on the blog. “Because I’m X I don’t think I’ll fit in at Bennington.” The honest answer is that we have never met a prospective student passionate about Bennington that will not fit in here. In terms of self-definition, we’re not sure what you mean by that, but I think Bennington is a process of self-definition. We design our majors, so if you come here than you can work on your passions, your interests and what defines you. Lots of students come in with ideas of what exactly they want to do, and then they totally rediscover themselves and change their minds. No one comes in or leaves Bennington 100% self-defined. People define themselves throughout their lives and complete self-definition would allow no room for growth.

For now remember that here at Bennington, the admissions staff is really interested in who you are, what you’ve done, and how well you fit into the Bennington community. So don’t worry too much about one part of your application, take advantage of your strengths, share your story, set up an interview (optional), submit additional works you’ve done (if possible), and just make yourself stand out in whatever way possible. The truth is, there is no defined formula into which we plug our applicants and see what the outcome may be, each and every student is looked at individually, and all aspects of the admissions process are fully weighed and considered.

That being said, of course Bennington is competitive and grades are an important part of the application, but also don’t forget that sometimes the story behind those grades is relevant. The admissions staff will look at everything you submit and will by no means compare you with other applicants (because that’s really not the point). So like Chernoh says to all applicants, just apply and worry about the outcome afterwards. Don’t undervalue any part of the application, give it your best shot. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel if you walk far enough.   

Hope this helps!

Chernoh, Doug, Varney, Maddy and Arden

Hello! I am interested in the visual arts section and would like to know what kinds of works we have to put in our portfolio, and maybe if there is a way to look at portfolio's from the past years? And is it okay if I don't have great drawing skills? Thank you! — Asked by Anonymous

Hey!! Don’t worry about “drawing skills”, just put in any work that you feel good about. There is nothing specific that we’re looking for. I really do mean that— we are much more interested in your love for visual arts than any technical “skill” you may have. The portfolio is just another way for us to learn more about who you are. I’m sure we’ll love love whatever you have to show us.

Here the admissions counselor blog that posts some of the portfolio portions of Bennington applicants!

Nila ‘17

(here are some foxes)



We’re open on Saturdays now, and if we have time for this photo-op not enough of you are visiting us!  Come brighten our weekends!
Also, tours are entirely parkour-based now, so if you’re not ready to go hard, be ready to fall behind.*
-Ray ‘15
*This is not in the least true.  Tours are conducted at whatever pace is comfortable for those taking them, and very few of our tour guides are versed in parkour.


We’re open on Saturdays now, and if we have time for this photo-op not enough of you are visiting us!  Come brighten our weekends!

Also, tours are entirely parkour-based now, so if you’re not ready to go hard, be ready to fall behind.*

-Ray ‘15

*This is not in the least true.  Tours are conducted at whatever pace is comfortable for those taking them, and very few of our tour guides are versed in parkour.