Sometimes we ask ourselves this very question,
The college actually isn’t (quite) small enough for any student to know literally everyone. You’ll meet new people and learn new things about the ones you already know.
That being said, neither the college nor the town is large by any relative standards. Do we have all of the modern comforts of urban life—grocery stores, Radio Shack, cute diners—even, perhaps, a bowling alley? Good golly, yes!
If, however, you are a regular concertgoer who loves seeing each next big act come through on tour, you’d have to drive somewhere from Bennington to do that. Campus really comes alive on weekends with student events: concerts, open mic nights, movie showings, study groups (the struggle is real)… But we’re by no means urban. Bennington may not be big enough for everybody, but it’s never too small.
I do love Bennington, but as we all know love can also suck. Like when you realize that the person you love is not as perfect as your image of them. But love isn’t all bad! It gives you someone to ramble to about things no one else cares about.
As a playwright, I will now turn to the theater to communicate this emotion. Take it away, Young Jean Lee:
Go where works for you. Bennington will work for you if you’re self-directed and fascinated by most things. Bennington allows you to sculpt the experience to be the perfect for you, but you have to be willing to sculpt (it takes two to tango! metaphors!). It’s something you grow into here, but it is also something you want to have, at least a little bit, from the beginning.
In my experience, Bennington students ramble to one another about things no one else cares about. When I communicate with students from other colleges — friends from high school, people I met over Field Work Term — the enthusiasm isn’t there enough to ramble and the conversation falls flat, for me. So come here if you can see yourself rambling.
All of ‘em.
The ones where they keep the lights on are VAPA, CAPA, a set of study rooms in the library, and Jennings. You can wander through most of the other buildings but you’ll need the above pictured sweet twisty keys if you want to go in the rooms. Also, Campus Safety does not recognize the use of sweet twisty keys. Your mileage and disciplinary sentencing may vary. Alan, additionally, wishes me to remind you that in the Bennington educational philosophy, “freedom” is defined as “not the absence of restraint.”*
* “…but rather the fullest possible substitution for restraint imposed by others for restraint imposed by the self.” This applies equally to the Plan process and the availability of banned housebreaking instruments via the internet.
People debate at Bennington all the time in the our-education-is-a-conversation way. We don’t currently have any student groups devoted to formalized debate, although I am currently propping open my closet door with a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order. If you were to come to Bennington and find yourself missing the good old days when people only said what the rules told them they could, you could found a debate club. It’s pretty easy to get stuff going here. Keeping it going can be hard, but presumably you’re persuasive.
[Image description: two extremely buff shirtless men straining to push on a stack of book with their foreheads. The stack is between them and they oppose each other, fruitlessly, managing only to keep the books suspended immobile above the ground. The buff men should learn the value of teamwork, but alas, they are a .jpg file, frozen in time and doomed to their folly forever.]
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.
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.
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.
Your disguise is flimsy at best, sir. I’m humbled by your interest in our school and our observatory. Stickney Observatory does indeed belong to the school, and has more than one giant telescope. Last year, the astronomy and computer science students teamed up to build and program a radio telescope, and that’s now in our array. Once the term starts up, there will be a series of public nights, during which anyone is welcome to show up and look at the stars. Hope to see you there, sir.
Send your packages to [your name], 1 College Drive, Bennington Vt 05201. Mark on them that you are an incoming freshman, and they’ll be held pending your arrival. You’ll be able to pick them up whenever from the campus post office; if they’re big, you can probably find someone to lend you a dolly or something. Or just get a group of friends together to help you haul them; people here are friendly like that.
Now, I’ve been at Bennington for almost two years, and I’ve only heard whispers about these “bois”. Cryptozoologists claim that they do in fact exist, albeit on the very fringes of our society.
Being a skeptic, I don’t listen to or believe anything anyone tells me ever, not even my dad, so I went out today to find some PROOF that “bois” are real and inhabit our Bennington College US Campus.
Here’s what I found:
they’re out there….. u just need to know where to look……….
kagan “i am also a boy” ‘16
hello and prepare yourself:
there are open mics every other week not specifically for poetry but sometimes (less often) the bookstore will host poetry nites// the internet is pretty fast and wifi is everywhere on campus but it can get pretty slow around midnite when everyone watches netflix at once// the nearest major city is albany new york it’s about an hour away// you don’t have to do any gen ed classes at all here// there are 2000 and 4000 level classes and the 2000 level courses are all pretty good courses to take if you want to get started in a discipline but they aren’t always explicitly “intro” courses and if you think you’re it makes sense you can probs meet with a teacher and talk your way into their 4000 level course even as a first year student i’ve done it we’ve all done it// we have a lot of nyc students here they all adjust pretty well it’s fine you’ll be fine don’t worry.
If you have the time to be bored in college, you’re either really lucky or doing college wrong. For the most part, we’re constantly busy with our coursework, but I think a majority of Bennington students would agree when I say we enjoy our work.
What little free time you have (if you’re not catching up on sleep) will probably be spent trying to make it to as many on-campus events as possible. Just this weekend, we’ve got a concert in one of the houses, a student written and directed play (“Bert on Fire” by Sam Mayer ‘14, dir. Julia Mounsey ‘13,) our bi-annual 24-hour Plays, The Dupont Brothers are performing as part of our March Music Series, and that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head.
I could write an essay for you about this, but I think this video by Erika Lygren ‘16 will tell you a lot more than I can.
<3 Kagan ‘16