Posts tagged admissions

I’m so excited to learn so much again
overheard in admissions
I filled every extracurricular option on the common app and I have a lot of leadership. However, in an earlier post you said quality over quantity and that admissions could tell if you're lying. What if you were just a REALLY busy person? Also, does admissions account for the rigor of your high school, not just the courses? Like, do they notice if it has a high usnwp/huff post ranking? And if so, does it help your application? — Asked by Anonymous

Cool! In contrast, I barely had extracurriculars because I’m introverted and didn’t like the school I was at. On my free time I was listening to free college lectures online like “existentialism in film and literature” and “American literature since world war two.” These lead me to read Kierkegaard and Nabokov, Pynchon and Nietzsche before I even got to college. I also filled a lot of time working at the local library to make money. I love film and watched over 200 of the 1001 movies you must see before you die before college, which ranged from French New-Wave to Hollywood classics and some wonderful trashy B-movies (I’m now up to 400). I also became enthused about politics and made it a point to watch Democracy Now every day, educate myself through documentaries and listen to NPR.

None of this showed up on my application and no other college bothered to learn this about me, but these are the things that have helped me in college the most! So, you’re right, we don’t play the college games your high school is likely telling you we do. We don’t want to know you by the numbers. We want to see you at your best, whether or not you’ve been preparing yourself for college ‘by the book’ or not. That very well could mean learning about your very, very, busy nature.

In my opinion, these “success” games are anxiety-provoking, not entirely fulfilling and misleading ways to look at people. It is great that you are so active! What have you learned from that? What have you taken away? That’s what I want to hear about.

Alan ‘15

Does Bennington do any productions of musicals? — Asked by Anonymous

Yup. It seems we are drifting more and more that way. We did the song cycle Myths and Hymns a few terms ago, and are doing Don Giovanni in the spring. Additionally, the student production this term is [title of show]. The theater courses don’t have the same emphasis on musical theater that you might find at a conservatory, but opportunities pop up here and there to dabble. And of course, vocal performance and such is available to all students through the music course offerings.

Alan ‘15

What's the gap year policy for applicants? — Asked by Anonymous

You can defer up to one year while still keeping any financial aid/scholarship packages no problem (unless your financial situation changes, in which case the aid may change a bit). It’s just a box you check on your intent to enroll form. 

If you’re thinking about a gap year, I strongly recommend getting in touch with Sarah, our counselor in charge of gap year stuff at

gap wisely.


I’ve never been a fan girl of a social theorist before, but I just pre-ordered her new book
overheard in admissions, re: Willful Subjects by Sarah Ahmed
I've been reading some reviews that say that the surrounding city is really isolated and a bit of a culture shock for those who are accustomed to city life. How accurate is that? — Asked by Anonymous

Yes, it might be a bit of “culture shock” but “culture shock” is kind of a bad metaphor we use for these things. I imagine someone being thrown into a pool against their will and being electrocuted. Movie Idea: a spin-off of “Hostel” called “Culture Shock.”

Anyway, culture shock isn’t a traumatic experience. You might be sad that you have to drive to Williamstown or Manchester to get Thai Food. This might make you sad for a day or two. Then you will walk to powers market and have high quality Vermont cheese on your sandwich and this will make you happy again.

Beyond that, it is quieter than you’re used to. And your cynicism may no longer be applicable to your environment. Also nice: being able to walk to class in five minutes.

But it is a culture shock for everyone, I think. It was odd for me to go from a large public suburban high school to here, just because the people here don’t all wear Uggs, Northface, drink Starbucks and look identical to one another. There isn’t really a dominant unifying culture, and everyone has to adjust to that.

Alan ‘15

In a past post I noticed that a student was recommended to leave their cello at home. As a current composer here, I beg to differ. PLEASE BRING IT. No matter your talent this campus always needs more performers! If you love it you'll find time. — Asked by Anonymous

you’re our only hope

Alan ‘15

Is it easy designing a schedule so that classes start no earlier than say 10am? As a night owl, I tend to stay up late and am not a morning person! — Asked by Anonymous

Yes. If that’s what is important to you than go for it. It is a little harder if you want to study a foreign language, though, or if you want to study with Becky Godwin. She sent me an email at 4:30 in the morning one time. That’s just when she wakes up!

My approach is typically to take as many four hour classes that meet once a week as possible because I find it liberating. This year, I managed to have an extremely condensed schedule on Mondays and Tuesdays — I’ve got Wednesdays and Thursdays off and a two hour class on Friday. I’ve never really approached making my schedule from that angle, but we will see how it goes.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Look at the curriculum.

Alan ‘15

Hey! I'm sure you get this a lot. I haven't visited Bennington yet but I have a really good feeling about your school from all I've read about it. The problem is that I'm not a very good high school student, I don't have a very high GPA-- it's actually pretty low. On the plus side, I think I'm a pretty talented actor and highly articulate! I'm not really sure what I'm asking here but I guess it's how much does the low GPA affect an application? Thanks! — Asked by Anonymous

Fortunately for you, we give you a bunch of platforms to ~*~shine!~*~ Besides the common app stuff and transcripts, we’d love to see a portfolio of anything you want to share (act for us?), and we’d love to chat (it’s really more of a chat than an interview). SAT/ACT scores are optional, but if you rock them, tell us. If you didn’t, don’t — we really don’t care that much. Strike up a correspondence with a current student if you’d like ( We want to see the whole picture, not just some impressive stats. We were high school students once and we know the numbers aren’t everything.

Okay, so. To answer your question: no clue. It’s a case by case thing. If you’re as talented as you claim, I’d recommend you try and find other ways to show us that you apply yourself. I’m no counselor, but that’s what would worry me about a low GPA in this situation. Prove to us you’re not lazy. Moreover, that you’re enthused. How are you going to do that? That’s on you.

Alan ‘15

Normal to be getting cold feet ? — Asked by Anonymous

Yes, absolutely, 100%, definitely. 

You’re already nervous about going to college, don’t get nervous about being nervous. 

It may seem like everyone is super excited and just can’t wait for this new adventure but trust me, everyone going to college is at least a little scared, probably terrified. You’re starting a whole new phase of your life and likely moving away from home for the first time how could you not be terrified? 

Talking to the folks around the office it seems that everyone was pretty freaked out before coming to Bennington. But it worked out for all of us so your odds are pretty good. 

I’m not going to tell you not to worry because that would be futile but just try to be open to all the new opportunities coming your way. And for the last few weeks before you start college try distracting yourself, for instance I’ve heard good things about Cold Feet. It’s a British comedy-drama show from the ’90s about three couples experiencing the ups and downs of romance…or so the wikipedia page says. I remember watching it as a kid and it was pretty good. 

Eliana ‘15

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

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! — Asked by Anonymous

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

What was the admission process like for you guys? Did you have an interview or a ton of recommendations? How important was your SAT/ACT score and stuff? — Asked by Anonymous

Well, Julia and I just told eachother our admissions stories and they were actually surprisingly similar. Both of us found Bennington sort of by accident in the Fiske Guide, both of us were the younger sibling in a pair of sisters close in age, and so had watched our older sisters make the decision before us, and there was a lot of serendipity, chance and expectations turned on their head involved in both of our processes.

The SAT and ACT were a sort of terrifying time for me, but they went fine in general. When I asked Lauren Magrath, director of Admissions and great person that she is, she told me that the office really doesn’t mind whether or not you include your scores in the packet. The number itself says little to nothing about you as a person, and you as a person are what we care about. So add them if you think they are important, and don’t if you don’t want to. I hated quantitative evaluations in high school and so I didn’t send mine in. 

Recommendations… I had a bunch, because I accidentally asked too many of my teachers to help out. I think the office here asks for two. If you really want to send more, (or accidentally send more, as was the case with me) you are totally welcome to send them on in. 

The admissions process overall is a kind of magical one, I think (I’m clearly partial to it — I chose to work here at admissions because I think it’s so cool). It’s a fascinating, occasionally stressful and nerve-wracking, and generally transformative experience. You almost never get exactly what you expect, you get to learn a lot about yourself as you begin to think about what you want and need in the way of your education, and you get to spend time imagining all the people you might become four years down the road. It’s hard, yes, and the work of applying can be a lot, but it’s such a great opportunity for reflection and adventure. I hope you have a great time with it!

Good luck,


Bennington College: Kalopsia: Rachael Meyers, "Educational Microaggression"


Part of an event we had this spring called “Kalopsia”. This was an effort to address some specific issues of race on campus from some of us non-white folk!

It went fabulously, was received beautifully, and marked a time of progress for Bennington. Here is my section of the talk, where I discuss the hidden problems of studying literature at Bennington - but this really applies to most liberal arts colleges and the US education system in general. More recordings of the other magnificent speakers shall be up on the youtube channel shortly! Stay tuned!

Please take note - the faculty and administration have been massively receptive and wonderful. President Mariko was our final speaker for the event, and gave us her full support. We may have our issues, but we’re moving forward, HOO-RAH!

Rachael ‘15

So, uhm, do you guys have any recommendations as far as winter coats go? I'm a southern belle with no idea where the hell to even begin looking. — Asked by Anonymous





North Face.

Rachael ‘15

(A true-north Vermonter)