Princeton University '09
"Bennington caught my eye for three main reasons: the small class sizes, the approach to learning science, and the Field Work Term.
"At my undergraduate institution, I took a few introductory science courses that were large lectures with hundreds of other students. I often found that if I missed something during class, it was hard to keep up with the rest of lecture. If I wanted to ask the professor a question, I had to wait until after class or could ask my TA during our smaller weekly meetings. For me, this wasn’t conducive to learning difficult concepts. For my postbac studies, I really wanted to make sure I understood the science conceptually. At Bennington, classes are small (10-20 people) and discussion based. I get to ask questions throughout class, and also professors ask me questions to make sure I understand what we’re studying. Professors are accessible and want us to excel. Just this past week, our chemistry professor arrived early and stayed late to do requested organic chemistry review before our upcoming test. The accessibility of professors and engaging discussions are crucial for learning so much science in one year.
"Bennington’s approach is that you learn science by doing science. I knew I wanted to get away from the typical curriculum of just problem sets and tests, because, for me, just because I can solve a problem doesn’t mean I really understand the inherent ideas. Here are some concrete examples of what that means: In chemistry, we wrote a paper about how blood glucometers work to reinforce concepts of electrochemistry and connect our studies to real-world application. In cell biology, to learn more about sodium and potassium channels in cells, I presented about the mechanism of local anesthesia. Our physics midterm asked us to explain concepts before we delved into the math part. We often design our own chemistry labs, and are free to explore anything in the lab that interests us. Bottom line: the days of purely problem sets and tests (we still have them, too) are over, and it’s great.
"Field Work Term is the other aspect that attracted me to Bennington. We’ll have mid-December to mid-February to explore whatever we want in the science/medical field. My plan is to work with a local OB/GYN who has an interest in educating future health care providers. Many classmates plan to pursue opportunities elsewhere: working in clinics, participating in clinical research, interpreting medical Spanish, and plenty of other activities."