Yes! Indeed. I didn’t take physics (I did Earth Science, Biology and Chem) and look at me.
There are no deal-breakers that will immediately disqualify you (unless you got an A in White Supremacy). We’re looking at the big picture: have you studied broadly? with depth? excelled?
I do, however, regret it EVERY DAY. FIGURATIVELY not LITERALLY. I should’ve done physics here at Bennington…and as my time is coming to an end and I still haven’t. So you’ve inspired me to take another gander at the curriculum and see if I can fit it in my schedule. Thank you, sir, madam or other gentleperson.
It would be a shame if you put all that work into that paper and are super proud of it and we said you couldn’t send if because there wasn’t feedback written on it. We want to see your strongest work and we’d like to see the notes of the person grading it, but sometimes you can’t have both and we get that. So, go for it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I say, apply and wait to see what kind of aid you get. We’re better at aid than you would assume given our size — especially with international students.
As for costs on campus, you can go all year without spending a dime. You probably won’t, but you could. Once you’re on campus everything is free: you can get all your food through the meal plan and all concerts are free as well. A class in the rec barn might have a one-time fee and you might have a health service co-pay; but beyond that you can pretty much get buy without spending any money.
Yes - We have lots of parties on campus. There are bigger house parties, roughly one per weekend, and then smaller parties in people’s rooms. If I’m in the mood (who am I kidding when am I not in the mood) I can always find a party to go to, usually without leaving my house. This past term I hosted a “Safety Party” in my room. I framed my windows and my trimmings with caution tape and covered every surface in my room (floor included) with bubble wrap. I made everyone attending wear a helmet and I played lots of safety related music - (Safety Dance was of course the most played song of the night). I’m choosing not to conform to your two categories of ‘party’ but if you’re looking for either you won’t be disappointed, but I promise parties are plentiful. There is lots of fun to be had.
- Eliana ‘15
No. I mean, yes there are parties. And the parties party (phenomenology of the party). But the student students, and so I don’t find myself partying. Okay, sorry. It depends what kind of community you are in. Noyes was always pretty quiet on Friday and Saturday nights; people would spend time together watching movies or playing games, but go elsewhere if they felt like partying. We did have a few events which were smaller (“Noyes to Meet You”) which were casual and emphasized mingling over grinding, and tortilla chips over vodka. What I’m saying is, the party scene isn’t in your face and even those of us who don’t want to go wild have spaces to have a good time while still maintaining our sobriety, but more importantly, our dignity.
- Alan ‘15
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.
Write to me and escape! Let’s do some matchmaking.
My name is Alan. I study ~~language and gender/sexuality~~ through playwriting and linguistics; so I’ve studied in education, playwriting, dramatic literature, psychology, Japanese, literature, um, bio twice? Most recently, this has resulted in an original play which I want to call “Trigger Warning: Catharsis” but I’m not gutsy enough so it is called “How Time Bombs Must Feel.” I love the 70s — hence the pina colada song; Really, though, Fleetwood Mac and Harry Nilsson are the best. In high school I was engaged with school just enough to maintain a television addiction. My actual education was in Alias, Buffy, Star Trek (TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY), Battlestar Galactica, The X-Files. But my absolute favorites are In Treatment, Six Feet Under and the Good Wife. I often channel Alica Florrick while making major life decisions. Life goals include seeing all of the 1001 movies you must see before you die, and visiting Tibet. I’m all about horror movies (I watch them whenever I’m depressed — everyone think I’m nuts for this). Email me about how strong female protagonists in television can inform YOUR college decision making process. Or if you have easy recipes that are convenient for the magic bullet. Tea drinker, playwright, scholar. Be my friend! firstname.lastname@example.org
Im Kagan I like anime and i study animation and Chinese not Japanese lmfao..! email@example.com please email anime recommendations also cool games NOT Call of DUty also I need to beat this one guy in a pokemon battle so what’s the best pokemon team. g-d bless
Hey, I’m Ray. I’m headed into my senior work, my plan is in literature and conflict resolution, and it’s all about how fiction affects people’s thoughts on social and political issues. I’m also a huge history nerd. The biggest question in my life right now though is how soon I’ll be able to get Dragon Age Inquisition to run on my Mac. Because my interest in that is… totally about studying how Bioware builds much-needed diversity into a regressive industry, and not at all about smashing things and kissing virtual girls. That’s possibly the biggest lie I ever told. Email me if you like cool stories, feminism/queer stuff, smashing things, or… for completeness’ sake I want to also put “kissing girls” but it might come off a little weird. Er. firstname.lastname@example.org
Hey, I’m late to the game on personal ads, but here we go…
My name is Alana and I like long walks on the beach and talking late into the night under the stars… just kidding (not really). I am a dancer who is interested in identity and community. When I am not in the dance studios, I could be found in a psychology or education class or outside enjoying nature. I have been recently picking up an old interest in fire spinning and continue to be amazed by the absolutely insane miracle that is the human experience! Email me to talk about your favorite loose leaf tea, your most used Pandora station, everything spirituality wise, anything sexuality,and all things polyamory :) email@example.com*
*whether my ad won you over or not, everyone should listen to my new favorite song/video that acted as my summer soundtrack:
This reminds me of that time on Trading Spaces when Hildi designed a bathroom by stapling fake flowers all over the wall. The neighbors working on their friend’s house said something like “this seems really hard to undo.” Hildi thought this was silly: you don’t design a room in order for it to be easy to undo. Why would you want to undo her marvelous designs?
I met Hildi once.
Anyway, we are not as naive as she is. Of course you can transfer your credits if Bennington isn’t for you. We won’t hold you captive. So, here’s the deal. It does get a bit hairy with our kind of unique classes. Say you are transferring into a literature major at another school and it requires a “Survey of American Literature” class. Uh oh! You didn’t take that course. Does your Melville seminar count? That’s up to them. The credits might have to fill up your electives at another school, which might mean re-doing some work or tacking another term at this inferior institution.