Posts tagged bennington college

So I'm an artist although I've barely been trained professionally (as in taking art classes, etc.). Since I use my own spare time and would be able to put together a portfolio, would Bennington view this as an extracurricular activity, since it kinda shows I do something productive with my time? I don't have too much extracurriculars to work with when it comes to applying to colleges. — Asked by Anonymous

"Extracurricular" is kind of a weird word.  All it really means is stuff you do that’s not your schoolwork, and by that definition, absolutely, your art is an extracurricular.  In a lot of places, though, the term has come to mean, very specifically, clubs, sports, and community service, and there’s this idea that you have to have lots of extracurriculars to get into colleges.  Which is… weird.  If you’re in clubs, it should be because you enjoy meeting with other people to do the stuff that your clubs do.  Ditto for sports.  Those are firmly social activities, not resume items.  And community service has much higher purposes than, again, resume-building.  In an ideal world (at least, in my ideal world) nobody would feel compelled to participate in these narrow types of out-of-school activities just to impress people.  Especially since, if you’re doing these things to get into college, you’re likely to feel put-upon by the obligation and to drop them as soon as you’ve gotten into the schools you wanted.

During Bennington’s application process, we want to get to know you and what you’re into.  What you’re into is not necessarily Latin Club or volleyball, and that’s more than fine with us.  I guarantee that you have passions, things you love to do and care about — your art included — and that’s the stuff we want to see on your app, not just whatever felt like it fit in with the expectations of extracurriculars.  If your jam is sitting alone in your room making sick beats on your synthesizer, that’s cooler than a halfhearted membership on the debate team in our eyes.  If you really, really love being on the debate team and it means something to you, that’s every bit as cool!  It’s about what you put into these things, not what they look like when you reduce them to an item on a list.  So yes, absolutely, send us your art.  I too paint and draw in my spare time, and sent Bennington some pictures when I applied.  That aspect of myself is something I’ve explicitly kept as not an extracurricular or elective — I don’t take art classes and I’m not in any clubs for art, because it’s something that I really just prefer as a hobby, without any pressure or expectations.  Bennington didn’t mind that it wasn’t “professional;” in fact, it may have made it more interesting to them.  I dunno.  But if I had said I wanted to professionalize my art and get formally educated, I could’ve done that here too and it would’ve been just as great because it would’ve been my choice.  No one’s going to deride you for going your own speed in your own lane.

-Ray ‘15

Here is a video that got me so excited to come home! Please enjoy this wonderful snapshot of last term, provided by my friend Erika Lygren.

-Alana ‘15

i'm applying for fall '15, and really hopeful about attending bennington (first choice!!) however, as the rolling stones once said, you can't always get what you want. so, what other schools did you all look at aside from bennington? — Asked by Anonymous

Emerson, NYU, Hampshire, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Purchase, Drexel

Cambridge, Warwick, St. Andrews, Sussex, Wesleyan, Williams, Amherst

Hampshire, Indiana U

Marlboro, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith, SUNY Albany, SUNY Purchase

Hampshire, Sarah Lawrence, Smith, Mount Holyoke, UMO, St. Michaels, Skidmore, Wesleyan, Oberlin, Goucher, Muhlenberg

Northwestern, NMSU, Vanderbilt, WashU in St Louis, University of Toronto, Yale, Cornish College 

winter break schedule

hi -

on Fall schedule we received it says:

December 12                       Last day of classes

December 13                       Student houses close at 3:00 p.m.

December 24-January 1      Winter break


what’s the deal with the time between the close of student housing and the beginning of winter break (December 14-December 23)?

what’s happening then?  typo?


We (the students) all leave on the 13th and go wherever until FWT begins.  The winter break listed is for faculty and staff.

-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

Does Bennington have any form of speech code? — Asked by Anonymous

There isn’t a formal “speech code” but there are acts which you cannot do which likely involve speech. For example, sexual harassment. So there are things you can’t say, but they are covered in other territory in the code of conduct.

As a result, we have a community much like North Korea; where everything sunny all the time always.

Alan ‘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

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

So umm I'm an incoming freshman; and I just had some trouble at home, which might mean I won't be able to make it to the fall term, till when do I have the option to defer to the January term? Also the problem involved money* — Asked by Anonymous

(part 2) *so should I apply again to the spring term so ill be considered for more aid, or just deffer?

I’m really sorry to hear this, anon, and hope you’re all right.  Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do for you through this particular channel.  Get in touch with your admissions counselor and explain the situation to them; they’ll probably connect you to the dean’s office to discuss your options.

-Ray ‘15

any good yarn stores around Bennington/any knitters? I'm still a beginner and would love to know someone to help me with some harder patterns/would love a local place to buy some new yarns and patterns instead of ordering online! — Asked by Anonymous

There is a yarn shop up in Manchester (Yarns for the Soul) that is pretty cool and they give discounts to college students. There is also a lady who sells it from her farm (Shaftsbury Alpaca), just outside of North Bennington - but visit her when you’ve got lots of time as she can be chatty. 

As far as knitters on campus, there are lots! I am a huge knitter and I would be happy to work with you. There isn’t a formal knitting club but lots of people sit together and knit with friends. Also, maybe you can find a cool yarn store during FWT - I always buy a skein to remember a place. 

Happy knitting!


(this could be you!)

Hey so I'm a lapsed cellist, I played for six years and this past year had some personal issues and didn't continue with it. So I'm afraid to bring it with me to college because I know I won't be up to par to play with any orchestra, but at the same time I would like to ease back into it. Should I bring it or leave it? — Asked by Anonymous

Leave it. Unless you are in a class that has you playing you probably will be too busy with everything else to play. 

I played bassoon in high school and took a class my freshman year. I toted my bassoon around until junior year when I realized I hadn’t played it since my class and I finally took it home. 

I will always advocate for having less things at school. If you need it after FWT or your junior year, bring it then. But, for now, leave it.


Do you guys have a darkroom/any photography programs at all? — Asked by Anonymous

Bennington does indeed have a full complement of film and digital photography facilities, including multiple darkrooms.  For miscellaneous information about photography at Bennington, plus a lot of really cool examples of student work, try our photo tag.  If you go to the second page, there’s a couple of good descriptions of the program from students enrolled in classes.

-Ray ‘15

What is the racial diversity at bennington like? — Asked by Anonymous


So racial diversity is very important, and historically it has been a major issue to work out at liberal arts colleges, especially in the northeast. Given that history, we are very intentional about our progress towards a more diverse, educated and aware student, faculty and staff population. The answer is always something like: it’s complicated. Of course it’s complicated! But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t openly talk about it. Bennington’s diversity changes every year, pretty dramatically, given the size of our student body. So an outgoing senior class and an incoming freshman class can totally change what the on-campus look and feel is for that year. But what is most important to me — living, studying and generally being a human here — is that this is considered a majorly important part of who we are as a college, and what we plan on becoming. The determination to push for a more diverse and aware population on campus is basically ubiquitous. It’s on the president’s mind, a common topic in the admissions office, at dinner table conversations, in clubs and student organizations… 

Also, I found the race tag to be helpful, also the diversity tag. There are some similar questions with interesting answers a little ways back into the blog. And of course if you feel that you want to know more, (it’s never as simple as just one question and one answer) please feel free to e-mail me at 

Sylvia M. ‘16

Some music for an August afternoon…

Hey! Some students, Phil and Mackenzie in this case, make music sometimes. This one’s been featured on Stereogum. It’s described as “tonally bizarre” “off-kilter” and I needed to listen to it more than a few times to get a real feel for it. It’s fascinating stuff! Have a listen if you want.