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.
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
All the bed frames at Bennington are adjustable so you can make your bed as high or as low as you want. No risers necessary!
Your room is your oyster.
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.
Solid advice from our correspondent in Chicago. I echo her sentiment.
Don’t pack much. Really. Truly. Please for everyone’s sake pack as few clothes as possible. I wouldn’t expect a vast influx of t-shirts, but please don’t overpack! On the sweaters and jackets, it really depends - maybe late September, maybe October, definitely by November. You will feel it when the time comes.
Do, however, bring lots of lamps! Most rooms don’t have an overhead light so lamps are essential. That being said, our local Home Depot, Goodwill, Sears, and Walmart (all located very close to campus) have an amazing selection of lamps that you can buy upon your arrival at Bennington.
Also, a friendly PSA from your local firefighter: Christmas lights are a fire hazard.
-Glennis & Emily
So at Bennington we have the option of requesting traditional letter grades for any and/or all courses, or to take our classes on a pass/fail basis. What accompanies both of these options are extensive narrative evaluations from our teachers which include strengths, weaknesses, progress, things to keep in mind looking forward, in class performance, etc. These evaluations are personal and encapsulate your performance in a way that is forward thinking, building on your time in class as a way to talk about your work as a whole and what to keep in mind as it progresses. Over half of us (54% to be exact) take letter grades each term. So really the decision is just about what works for you as a student.
This past term was my first requesting letter grades. I found the evaluations I received from faculty to be so fair and on-point, that I couldn’t see the use of a letter grade in their presence. But as I look towards the end of my four years here graduate school is certainly on the table, and while the evaluations I’ve received are an essential part of my transcript, a GPA is something that the schools I’m looking at ask for.
While my experience has only been with a term of grades so far, I have friends who’ve been requesting them from the get-go and friends who haven’t felt the need to request them at all. So once again, it’s all about what meets your needs as a student.
- Sarah ‘15
I’ve always taken grades and I find that incredibly fulfilling to get a letter grade and an evaluation which helps me understand why I got what I did and how I could improve in the future.
the angel from my nightmare, the shadow in the background of the morgue
Yes yes there is an accepted students Facebook page! Email Mr. Evan Braun at email@example.com so that you can have access to that virtual space of interests and potential friends.
There is also a shuttle system in place that the school offers for everybody coming to the school! You should have received information regarding those dates in a “Countdown To Bennington” email, or something in that vein. REGARDLESS, we are all about solutions here, so email Student Life (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call them at 802-440-4330.
It is so hot out I LOVE it I might fall in love or something I am SO happy!
Why would a college that is basically offering you to create and develop your own academic trajectory, require for you to have taken X, Y, Z courses? We don’t even require you to send in SAT/ACT scores.
Sounds a little silly right?
I’d say take whatever you’re drawn to your last year! It’s your last year in high school and you should gravitate towards what you think will benefit your personal growth and not your chances of getting into a college. Plus, I think it’s pretty easy to tell when someone talks about something they’re not completely into or invested in.
I mean…you are asking in the midst of finals. It’s hard to be composed when you’re throwing together a show for Directing I, looking at the last week of ‘wet work’ in ceramics, putting those last few touches on that twenty-page lit. paper, and thinking about packing your room into boxes for the summer. But…God…we try to keep our composure.
And…God…does it make this video all the more enjoyable.
- Jeremy ‘16
Don’t worry about it. Just don’t. Life advice time from two seniors, two well-cooked, seasoned, Bennington students:
"I don’t think you should worry at all about the price of college in that way. At least don’t just see the price tag, and not factor in the fact that there’s financial aid in the mix. A school that seems more expensive than others, might not really be when you consider average size of aid packages, and what the real cost of college is.”
"WOAH. You gotta stop worrying about stuff like that! No regrets! Things cost money! This school does an excellent job of giving aid to those who need it (like me!). I wanted to go to Bennington. I wanted to stay at Bennington. I appealed my financial aid package every year I’ve been here, because I wanted more aid! These things work themselves out, but like most things in life, they are sacrifices that can be necessary to the fulfillment of individual desires! Or whatever!”
As a Verizon user myself, I’m going to tell you that Verizon is probably the worst carrier to have here and that you should, if you can (and if your relationship to your cell-phone is of utmost priority), switch to another carrier like AT&T.
To answer your second question:
I’d say that cliques, in their most stereotypical and segregated sense, don’t exist here. I think our individualized structure also lends itself to a collaborative and fluid community. At the same time, I think it’s simply natural for people to gather and form closely-knit groups of friends within the larger community. Our community is small and so I think that these groups become more visible, but I’d have to say that in my own experience I’ve yet to have an issue interacting with others whether it be in the context of work, class or social life.
It is your room, gender it however you want! Who are we to tell you if your room is male, female or outside that binary; or if you are, for that matter.
The one exception is bathrooms in academic and non-academic buildings; they have the typical male/female divide you’d expect. Bathrooms in residential spaces are ungendered. For some of us it is an adjustment, but I really think it subtly creates an ethos of equality — this is coming from a sociolinguistics student particularly interested in gender and sexuality. Reading papers about talk in all-female and all-male groups is really eye-opening, and forcing that divide to exist structurally I think has some unanticipated effects…especially in residential, social spaces. And I love that my female neighbor lets me borrow her toothpaste.
I have a feeling you are asking about house rooms though. Mark any gender-related thoughts anywhere in your application and student life will be mindful of them when placing you. Self identify! — even if there isn’t a slot for it — and talk about what that would mean for your ideal roommate: are you looking for someone open-minded? or someone who has the same identity (subquestion: same sex or same gender)?
Having said all that, note that unless you mark otherwise, Student Life will assume that you would like to be placed with someone of the same biological sex. Still, all our houses are co-ed.
Yikes this stuff gets complicated. Good thing you are going to a school where we will get to know you specifically instead of imposing a convenient label upon you.