Bard College Simon's Rock
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Bard College Simon's Rock - Comments and Student Experiences |
Academically, Simon's Rock is excellent. Where to begin? The faculty are amazing. They almost all have PHDs and actively do research, but unlike at many large universities the faculty don't let their research get in the way of student interactions. The faculty are super accessible and if you want to meet with one of the professors outside of class you won't have any problems. All students are assigned a faculty advisor at the beginning of freshman year whom you meet with once a week for the first semester, so you'll have at least one faculty member who you talk to on a regular basis. You are free to switch advisors if you don't like them.
As for classes themselves they are top notch. The class sizes are small; I've had a class with as little as 6 people, and my largest class has been 14. This allows for great class discussions. For the most part, at least in the social sciences (I can't speak for the hard sciences or math) courses are not lecture based, and instead the emphasis is on student discussion and exploration of the texts. It's a vastly different way of learning than in high school. Forms of assessment vary; there are exams, but also papers. Improvement of writing is stressed, and although I've been here only one year so far I've noticed that my writing has greatly improved. You'll be working harder than in high school but the work is almost all valuable to your learning; there is not any busy work.
The one down side academically is that the size of the school means there aren't many course selections in a particular field. I am planning on majoring in Sociology, but there is only one professor of sociology so I most likely will have to transfer after next year. Most people do transfer after two years. Students have gone on to Yale, Stanford, Columbia, and University of Chicago (obviously not everyone but the top universities have heard of Simon's Rock). I plan on transferring to the main Bard campus in New York because I prefer a small school with smaller classes, but going to Simon's Rock won't limit your options if you want to transfer elsewhere.
Socially, I'm not a fan of the school. Many students drink and smoke, and the isolation of the campus (3 hours from NY and Boston) means that it's difficult to go elsewhere. But, chances are you will find a group of friends to hang out with and while it's not great it is at least manageable for me.I highly recommend this school for anyone interested in furthering their education. You won't regret coming here.
The dances are a bunch of people who cannot dance, grinding upon one another. If you are a guy who can dance, you be one of a few, and you will be happy on the dance floor.
The girls here are...strange looking. I'm not talking about the ones with crazy hair, clothes, and piercings, but even the ones who don't. Their faces are different. They don't look like most people's faces. You could probably pick a Simon's Rocker out of a crowd.
Not that they're ugly (though many are), they just don't look like most girls you know. Maybe smart people end up with weird facial structures. I'm not a scientist.
Speaking of which, they're all very smart. Probably smarter than you are, and twice as nerdy. If you have a quirky thing that you like, that you try not to talk about, it may flourish here. Let your nerd flag fly. I know a girl who picks a different sexuality ever day, depending on how she feels that morning. She has four pieces of paper representing four different sexualities. You're fine.
Be prepared for not knowing some people's genders. Don't try to guess. You will be wrong no matter what you say. Just ask them, they won't be offended.
You're probably getting the vibe that people are pretty weird at the Rock. They are, they're super weird. It's pretty cool, because unless you're insane beyond comprehension, you're not the weirdest kid in the room, ever.
To all you ladies, it is unquestionably true that the men here are few, and dorky beyond measure. If you are, however, a lady who likes other ladies on occasion, there are more bi-curious chicks here than has ever been thought possible, and you will thus be among friends. Sexy friends. Which are obviously the best kind.
However, there are downsides, for wherever the bi-curious chicks go, hardcore feminism will follow, and it is here in squares. This is the kind of school where there's a "Women's lit in the Caribbean" class, but no "Men's lit in the Caribbean" class or even a "Caribbean literature" class. Not hating on feminism, but c'mon, guys, that's ridiculous.
However, dudes, don't go thinking this is a place where all the girls just rub their faces together and talk about how they hate men and playing Pirate Assassin Creed or whatever kids are into these days. Because no matter how much you might hate the patriarchy, you can't just ditch dem boys, and few do. You'll be fine, as long as you're willing to hang out with girls. A surprisingly large number of guys actually prefer the massive LAN party with League of Legends and Civilizations V to actual interaction with the ladies anyway, so even if you'd rather not hang out, you won't be alone there either.
A final note. Picking a seminar teacher is deeply important to your experience. Some advice:
Brendan Mathews is hard, but fair, and doesn't try to BS you. He's very good, but intimidating.
Christopher Calannan will give you an excellent essay topic if you can just ask him for one. He does classics, and knows all kinds of linguistics and history stuff.
Bernie Rodgers is a great teacher, but ridiculously hard, and he's a staunch modernist. Get postmodern, and compare Frankenstein to the Yellow Peril*? He'll demolish you.
Becky Fiske is adorable and I love her and she loves everyone.*The Yellow Peril is the nineteenth-century fear of the Chinese taking over the world.
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