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Bennington College

How this student rated the school
Educational QualityB Faculty AccessibilityA-
Useful SchoolworkA Excess CompetitionA
Academic SuccessA+ Creativity/ InnovationA
Individual ValueA University Resource UseB
Campus Aesthetics/ BeautyA- FriendlinessB+
Campus MaintenanceB Social LifeB
Surrounding CityC- Extra CurricularsB+
Describes the student body as:
Friendly, Approachable

Describes the faculty as:
Friendly, Helpful

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Quite Bright
Lowest Rating
Surrounding City
Highest Rating
Academic Success
He cares more about Surrounding City than the average student.
Date: Dec 22 2001
Major: Education (This Major's Salary over time)
What can I say about Bennington? This is my college, quite simply. There a handful of colleges in this country that would suit me perfectly, and this is one of them. That said, if I get the chance to transfer out of here to a better school, I will take it without a moment's thought.

Maybe I should back up. I was a screw-up in high school, quite frankly. The only thing that got me into college was my teacher rec's and my standardized test scores. A friend of mine went to Bennington, and as soon as I heard about it I knew that it was for me. I was waitlisted, because of my horrendous (around a 2.0 GPA, maybe less) performance in high school, but luckily enough, the college is in massive debt and they accepted me.

Which brings me to problem number one: the administration and its financial problems. The president of the school is famous for her decision a few years ago to fire about thirty faculty suddenly, for financial reasons. The school hasn't recovered from the shock. The resources here are great, if you take a time machine back a decade or so. Unfortunately, art students don't really have that great of an alumni giving rate. The facilities are excellent in some spots, all right in others, and downright poor in some areas (our library is crap).

The classes here are really hit or miss. I have had one downright awesome class, one great one, one disappointing class that was made better by a great teacher, and one horrible class. Which, not surprisingly, brings me to problem #2. I am going into the BA/MAT (teaching) program, which means that I have to take a certain course program (the teaching program is virtually the only "major" that requires set classes). The problem with this is that there are only a handful of professors in the teaching field (maybe 5), and two of them co-teach the horrible class that I took. I will have to take more classes with them in the future, which is a prospect I do not look forward to.

This is probably the worst part of the college. Because of the financial troubles of the college, the faculty is very limited. At the moment we usually have no more than three permanent faculty members per discipline. Social sciences, that gigantic field, is withering under the pressure of having so few faculty here.
I am making it all sound bad, though. The faculty, when they do exist, are for the most part great people and sometimes even great teachers. They are knowledgable, enthusiastic, and accessible. They all are teacher-practitioners, so you can take biology classes with a published biologist, or film classes with the guy who made music videos for New Order.

Campus life is interesting, to say the least. The food in the dining hall is mostly exquisite. Sometimes they cook up some real messes, but it is usually because they are trying too hard, not too little. The staff is great, too. Everyone is on a first name basis with them, and I sometimes feel like I am at home. The small size of the campus can seem incestuous at times, although it helps to make the college seem more like a community.

Social life on campus is a far cry from what you might read in a Brett Easton Ellis novel (he's a Bennington alum -Camden is his psuedonym for the college). Over the years, Bennington has mellowed out a lot. There are parties, but most of them are affairs that you shouldn't be afraid to pass up. There are quite a few concerts, but how many times can you see the same crappy musicians playing in a few different bands?
This is long, so I'll try to wrap it up.
Bennington college is a college for people who love it. If you do not fall in love with the college, you are crazy for staying. As many times as you are told this about Bennington, it is true: you will only get out of the college what you put into it. Nothing here is simply "satisfactory." There are things that are wonderful beyong belief, and things that are so depressingly bad that they make me want to scream.

Bennington is not a good college. I can't stress this enough. Whatever a college is, Bennington is not. It is less an institution of higher learning than it is a stepping stone to whatever you want to do. It is a tool. If you can use it to your advantage, you will go anywhere you want.

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