The Journey to Bennington: A Welcome for Families

August 2021

Happy summer, new Bennington families! This is the third and final in our series of informational emails. Now is the time to check in with your student to make sure they are on track for arrival in a few short weeks. 

Para la versión de esta carta en español, presione aquí.

Arriving at Bennington

As your student is preparing to pack and travel to campus, please be sure to review the permitted and prohibited items list together for ideas about what to bring, and what not to bring to campus. The College will also be sending an email to incoming students and families regarding COVID-19 safety measures in the coming days.

Campus is officially open to incoming students and families on Friday, August 27, between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm. Your student's first stop will be the Orientation Tent for incoming student check-in. This is where your student will pick up their student ID card, room key, and orientation folder, among other items. From the Orientation check-in tent, your student can head to their house and unload their personal belongings. 

Of course, the real settling-in will take place throughout orientation weekend and during the first week of term. During this time, roommates and housemates will get to know one another and make intentional decisions about their shared space.

Here is an outline of the New Student Orientation schedule. Please note that we have a Student and Family Program from 2:00-5:00 pm, in which we hope you will participate.

To support your transition to Bennington, we arranged a Student and Family Town Hall Q&A on Thursday, July 29. This session was recorded and you can view the recording here.

Campus Construction Update

The Southeast wing of the academic building we call the Barn is currently under construction. Construction will continue through most of the fall term, with completion planned for late November/early December.  We are excited to welcome students into this space, which has been designed to provide more opportunities for socializing, collaborating, and meeting together for students, faculty and staff.      

Supporting Your Student

The start of college can be a difficult adjustment for students and their families. Below are a few tips to help students transition to college life.

Encourage Your Student to Ask For Help: Whether your student is struggling with a class or feeling homesick, it is important to remind them that there's nothing wrong with reaching out for help. Encourage your student to schedule time with a faculty member, first-year counselor in academic services, student life staff member, or health services staff member if you think it would be useful.

One of the most important resources available is the Bennington College Student Health Center, a newly renovated space that provides students with direct and preventative health care, psychological and psychiatric care, health counseling, and education by a team of physicians, RNs, a women’s health nurse practitioner, psychologists, social workers, psychiatrist, and the Director for Student Health Promotion. You can visit our website to see information on hours, making appointments, range of services, referrals, and payments.

In an effort to expand students’ access to mental and medical health care, this fall Bennington College is launching TimelyCare, a telehealth program that will give students access to free, 24/7/365 access to virtual medical and mental health care from anywhere in the United States. For more information click here.

Emphasize Balance: Balancing competing interests in college can be a challenge. Help your student understand that being actively engaged in life outside of the classroom (and even off campus) is an important part of their college experience. The Office for Student Engagement offers a variety of experiences, including clubs and organizations; athletics and recreation programs; community partnerships and volunteer opportunities; and many other programming and leadership opportunities.

Empower Your Student with Information: Does your student know where your family banks? Do they know how to get a hold of their physician? Do they have their insurance card? Knowing the answer to these types of important questions will ensure that your student feels empowered to make decisions on their own when they need to.

Remind Your Student to Take Care of Body and Mind: This topic is incredibly important for students. Getting adequate rest, eating healthy, and staying active are all important behaviors that can reduce stress, regulate mood, and improve focus in the classroom.

Stay in Contact With the College: If at any point your student is struggling with the transition to college life, you may want to speak with Kate Child, Assistant Dean for Academic Services. Please be aware Bennington students must complete a Contact and Other Information Form, indicating that they are a dependent, in order for us to share information with their parents or guardians. If they are independent or they don’t submit a form, we cannot share information. For more information, read about the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

In case of an emergency or due to concern about your student families can reach out to Campus Safety 24 hours a day by calling 802-447-4250.

Bennington Card (Student ID Card)

A Bennington Card (student ID card) is issued to all members of the College community, it is required for identification, access to meals, printing, residential houses, and other essential campus services. It also offers a convenient prepaid spending account for making cashless purchases around campus. The spending account enables parents and students to add funds online to the Bennington Card for purchases with no added costs. Account balances roll over from term-to-term and year-to-year and can be refunded when a student leaves the College. 

Student Billing

Whether you are paying your student’s fall term bill in full or have opted for the two-payment plan, fall term payment (less any expected financial aid) is due on August 1. There is a two week grace period for completing this payment on time. See more information or contact the Business Office at mrollins@bennington.edu.

Disability and Accommodations

Because colleges fall under different laws than high schools, you and your student will encounter many differences in support and accommodation. We encourage you to review this letter from the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to better understand your rights and responsibilities.

To Do: Last Reminder to Submit Proof of Insurance and COVID-19 vaccination documentation

Carrying health insurance is mandatory for all students and Proof of Health Insurance must be submitted to the College by August 1. Students are required to provide information on any change in insurance coverage to the College at the time of change. 

Record of Covid-19 vaccination must also be submitted by August 1. If a student does not have access to obtain a Covid-19 vaccination or would like to file an exemption for medical or religious reasons they should contact healthservices@bennington.edu.

Planning for Field Work Term

Some students find Field Work Term (FWT) sites on their own while others use Handshake, the College’s jobs and internships database, to secure a listed FWT position. You can help your student prepare for FWT by asking about their ideas and prompting discussions related to housing and budget. These conversations will help them prepare for their first FWT as they settle into the fall semester.

Due to Department of Homeland Security regulations, first-year international students should work closely with Field Work Term staff and International Student Services to plan FWT experiences that meet the terms of their F-1 visas. See more information about the FWT options available to first-year international students.

Bennington Words to Remember

Every college has its own distinct language, and Bennington is no different. Here are a few examples that are uniquely Bennington:

Terms: We have three terms every year: two 14-week academic terms (fall and spring) and a seven-week Field Work Term.

Faculty Members: We refer to our teaching professionals as faculty members rather than professors. In most cases, students call faculty members by their first name, as they often collaborate professionally and with the expectation that learning happens in both directions.

Disciplines and Areas of Study: At Bennington we have disciplines and discipline groups, rather than departments. We also use the term areas of study, rather than majors. 

The Plan: Each student has a Plan, a self-designed academic path. The Plan is comprised of the coursework, field work, campus jobs, and experiences that, together, make up a student’s intellectual journey. Plans are inspired by each student’s passions and curiosities, and crafted under the close guidance and oversight of faculty and advisors. For more about the Plan, visit our web site and listen to this podcast about the process.

Self-Governance: Housing at Bennington is organized around a philosophy of self-governance, the belief that students can best prepare for post-college life by assuming responsibility for their own success today. In practice, this means that housemates agree on a set of rules and expectations for cohabitating and they hold one another accountable throughout the year. That set of rules is called a Community Living Agreement. It may be discussed and amended throughout the year as students learn to negotiate their shared space and live respectfully together.

Fall Weekend 2021 

As you say goodbye to your student for now, take comfort in knowing that Fall Weekend will soon be upon us. This year, Fall Weekend will take place September 24-26. It’s an opportunity to enjoy the Bennington experience together and to sample the intellectual, artistic, cultural, and recreational experiences that students enjoy here year round.

In Summary

We are so honored that your student will be joining us in a few short weeks, and to welcome you all to the Bennington family.

June 2021

As a reminder, your student has already received this information. You can always find a full list of action items with deadlines at the new student checklist and more details on our Welcome Pages

Para la versión de esta carta en español, presione aquí.

Bennington.edu Is a Resource

We hope that you found answers to many of the questions that you have about the Fall 2021 term in the Welcome pages and “Coming to Bennington in the Fall of 2021: What to Expect” Zoom session that took place on June 2. If you were not able to attend the Zoom session, we have assembled an incoming student and family FAQ that summarizes the event. 

In addition, the Bennington website is a key resource for your family before your student arrives and throughout their time at Bennington. For now, you will find the Welcome pages and new student Checklist most useful, along with the Academic Calendar, where you can find information about when the term ends, the Fall Weekend, Thanksgiving break and other important dates. 

If you are able to accompany your student to campus in August, you will also find useful information about where to stay in the Bennington area.

How Grading Works

Bennington grades academic performance a little differently than most schools. At Bennington, all students receive a narrative evaluation -- a written summary of their progress, appraisal of their work, and suggestions for future development. At the end of each term, students receive a grade of Pass, Marginal Pass, or Fail for each course. 

At the beginning of term, students can also request to receive letter grades (A, A-, B+, etc.) for any or all of their classes. If it is possible that your student will apply to a post-graduate professional program (law school, medical school, etc.) or to graduate school, we suggest they consider requesting letter grades for at least four terms during their time at Bennington to establish a numeric Grade Point Average (GPA). Additionally, if your student receives a scholarship or grant that requires a GPA, they should request letter grades through our online request form. If your student has any questions about this process, they should contact the Registrar's Office when they arrive on campus.

Whether or not your student requests letter grades, rest assured that Bennington’s narrative evaluation is a meaningful metric for students who are applying to graduate school or for a scholarship or grant. This type of evaluation has the advantage of painting a full and clear picture of students’ strengths and capabilities.

Understanding Course Selection 

At Bennington, we strive to create a balanced, challenging, and interesting schedule for your students. Since we prioritize a breadth of experiences within courses in the first year, your student may not be placed in all of their top choices. When they meet with their faculty advisor in late August, they can review their course list and discuss any potential changes they would like to make during the Add/Drop period, a period of time before the start of the term when students can make changes to their schedules.

First-Year Forum co-leaders, faculty advisors, and staff at Bennington will give students all the information they need to navigate Add/Drop. By the time the term is in full swing, your student will have a schedule that will serve their needs, fit their interests, and expand their horizons.

Email is Key

Email is the primary mode of communication at Bennington; it’s how we will communicate with your student this summer and how faculty will reach out to them once term starts. Encourage your student to check their Bennington email regularly in the coming months, and by fall it will already be a useful habit.  

Staying Healthy 

The Health Center at Bennington operates like a private medical practice; we charge usual and customary fees, which are billed to students’ health insurance. This model allows us to offer an exceptional level of service compared to other colleges of our size, and to keep health and psychological care in-house, where clinical staff have a better understanding of students’ lives and can provide more personalized care.

Carrying health insurance is mandatory for all students, and Proof of Health Insurance must be submitted to the College by August 1. As you consider the best option, please know that students living away from home and who are living in a new environment tend to use health and psychological services more often. We urge you to speak with your student about prioritizing their health and wellness during their time at Bennington and utilizing campus services, such as Health and Psychological Services.

Whether you decide to have your student continue on their current insurance plan or to purchase a new one, it is important to understand what your policy does and doesn’t cover when your student is away from home. The best way to find out what your insurance will cover is to call the customer service number on your insurance card and speak directly to a representative. Be sure to ask the following questions:

  • Is Bennington College Corporation (not the individual doctors or therapists) in-network? When calling, reference NPI #1063851350
  • Is Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (our local hospital) in-network?
  • What percentage of fees will be covered?
  • Will I be responsible for out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles, co-pays, and coinsurance?
  • How much will I have to pay for medicines? Can I use a mail-order pharmacy and are there discounts for doing so?
  • What services are excluded?

Please note that all international students residing on campus must purchase the IFS Secure Plus Plan and show proof of coverage by August 1 for coverage starting August 15. With this plan, most campus services will have no copays, deductibles, or coinsurance (see additional info under the Sign Up for Health Insurance tab). If you have any questions or concerns regarding the policy, please email healthcare@bennington.edu. If an International Student does not show proof of purchase of the IFS Secure Plus Plan by August 1, the College will purchase a policy on the student’s behalf, add the cost of the insurance premium to their Bennington account, and charge a $100 administrative fee. You should not purchase the IFS Secure Plus health insurance plan until you have received your F-1 student visa. If you have not received your F-1 student visa by August 1, please email tsholes@bennington.edu

Domestic students who need to change their coverage have a 30-day window when they move to campus (called a “qualifying event”) to make policy changes. 

You can find more information, along with recommended health insurance options, on the Student Health Insurance page. Please take a careful look at the information included there. If you have further questions, please email healthcare@bennington.edu.

Student Billing

Statements for Fall 2021 term were mailed in early June. The first payment for the four-payment plan is due July 1, 2021. The first payment for the two-payment plan is due August 1, 2021. Payment information is available online.

To Do: Purchase and Submit Proof of Health Insurance

Carrying health insurance is mandatory for all students, and Proof of Health Insurance must be submitted to the College by August 1.

To Do: Finish Health Forms

Final Health Forms are due July 1. Please note that making appointments and gathering the documents often takes more time than expected, so you may want to give your student a nudge to ensure that everything is on track for the deadline. If your student needs more time to complete the Health Forms they can email healthservices@bennington.edu

To Do: Upload Covid-19 Vaccination Record

To ensure the health of the community and to provide a safe environment for learning and living, Bennington College will require students to be fully vaccinated with a Covid-19 vaccination for studying on campus for Fall 2021. In general, people are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine

Record of Covid-19 vaccination must be submitted by August 1. If a student does not have access to obtain a Covid-19 vaccination or would like to file an exemption for medical or religious reasons they should contact healthservices@bennington.edu.

To Do: Fill Out Accommodation Request Form (if applicable)

If your student needs an academic, residential, or housing accommodation, it is important that the Disability Accommodation Request form is submitted. As we mentioned in our last letter, June 1 was the deadline for this, but later submissions will still be considered. If your student plans to request accommodations, please encourage them to do so as soon as possible so we can try to have things in place by the beginning of term. For more information, please visit the Accommodations and Support and Student Health Center webpages.

In Summary

Contact us with any questions.

May 2021

Welcome to Bennington! We are so excited to have you.

Para la versión de esta carta en español, presione aquí.

This is the first of several emails that you will receive over the course of the summer with all the information your student needs to start courses at Bennington on August 31.

Please note: your student has already received all of the information that follows. These emails are just a backstop — a tool to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks, and an opportunity to empower your student to be the driver of their own college experience.

We encourage all incoming students to make their way through the new student Checklist, to visit our Welcome Pages, and to contact us throughout the summer with any questions.

And, of course, we welcome your questions as well. This is an exciting and sometimes anxious time for families, but we are always here to help you navigate it. 


Arrival and Orientation

Bennington College is working with the Vermont State Health Department to determine best practices for arrival and orientation. At this time we plan for incoming students to arrive on campus and move in on Friday, August 27 between 9:00 am-1:00 pm. 

While we do not have all of the details of what arrival and orientation will look like, it is our intention to have a brief student and family program on Friday afternoon and ask families to leave campus by 5:30 pm when New Student Orientation will kick off. Orientation will conclude with Convocation and the start of fall term classes on Tuesday, August 31. 

This arrival, move in, and orientation plan is subject to change pending mandatory guidance from the Vermont State Health Department. If we receive state guidance on reopening colleges in the fall that contradicts our current plan we will update incoming students and families with more specific information. In the meantime we invite incoming students and their families to participate in a Town Hall Q&A with campus administrators on June 2 at 4 pm EDT.

Support for New Students

Because the transition to college can be challenging, all new Bennington students participate in a program called First-Year Forum, which offers the tools and support needed to successfully adapt to this new life. First-Year Forum is a combination of a year-long course (FYF) and one-on-one time with a faculty advisor. Throughout this time, students attend weekly group meetings with their faculty advisors and peer mentors. These are opportunities to develop a supportive community, reflect on progress, and learn new skills for academic success at Bennington. Students also participate in workshops of their choosing which help build relationships with faculty, staff, and upper class students and lay the groundwork for navigating Field Work Term and The Plan.

In addition to the First-Year Forum faculty advisor, all incoming students will have access to a First Year Counselor in Academic Services. First Year Counselors help new students and their families prepare for their arrival at Bennington and provide support throughout their first year on campus. We can connect you with the resources you’ll need to make sure your students thrive, no matter the situation. Please feel free to contact us.

Student Housing

Living independently among peers is one of the most important elements of college life and we cannot wait to welcome your student to campus. Generally, first-year students are paired up and assigned double rooms in our residential houses. Each house has a mix of class years so incoming students connect and develop relationships with each other and with older students who can mentor and guide them. Additionally, house communities have two House Chairs (returning students who coordinate weekly gatherings to build community and promote communication among housemates). Please feel free to visit our website to learn more.

For the Fall 2021 term students will continue to have the choice to live and study on campus or remotely. Your student should complete the On-Campus or Remote Confirmation Form to communicate their intention. 

Staying Healthy

An important part of each student’s transition to college is learning to take responsibility for their own well-being. At Bennington, we encourage students to be advocates for their health and ask for help when they need it. Resources for mental and physical health are always available to students who ask.

One of the most important resources available is the Bennington College Student Health Center, a newly renovated space that provides students with direct and preventative health care, psychological and psychiatric care, health counseling, and education by a team of physicians, RNs, a women’s health nurse practitioner, psychologists, social workers, psychiatrist, and the Director for Student Health Promotion. You can visit our website to see information on hours, making appointments, range of services, referrals, and payments.

In an effort to expand students’ access to mental and medical health care, this fall Bennington College is launching TimelyCare, a telehealth program that will give students access to free, 24/7/365 access to virtual medical and mental health care from anywhere in the United States. For more information click here.

Equity and Inclusion

A diversity of ideas, experiences, and backgrounds is one of the things that makes Bennington such a dynamic place. We work to foster an environment where every student feels at home on campus, which includes the critical work of our Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Beginning June 14, 2021 Bennington’s DEI office will be under the new leadership of Dr. Alfredo Medina.The Office provides one-on-one support to students, educates staff and faculty, and offers courses to students on inclusion and equity. We welcome all students who want to learn more about the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to reach out at any time.

Career Development and Field Work Term

One of the things that makes Bennington special is Field Work Term, the annual winter or summer period in which every student gains practical work experience. Like many things, Field Work Term was reimagined this past year. Even as we turn the page on the COVID-19 pandemic, students will continue to have a range of flexible options for their annual field work—including traditional and remote internships, on-campus employment, professional trainings, apprenticeships, freelance work, entrepreneurial ventures, and independent study.

Your student doesn’t need to worry about Field Work Term logistics now because we will walk them through everything in the fall, but if you would like to learn more about it before then, you can always visit our Field Work Term student resources page and other planning guides for families on our website. 

 Throughout their first year and beyond, your student will have access to all the resources they need to navigate the Field Work Term experience. In First-Year Forum, students can choose to participate in workshops where they will learn strategies for securing field work — things like job searching, networking, resume and cover letter writing, and more. The Career Development and Field Work team staff is also available to meet with all students  to assess their goals, assist them in their job search, and help with any challenges or questions along the way.

Student Billing

Student Billing statements for Fall 2021 will be mailed out in the second week of June . An Information Packet will accompany the statement providing payment plan information, payment information and important deadline dates. First payment plan due date will be July 1. Students may access a copy of their billing statement on the college website for Populi. Additional information regarding billing and payment plans may be found online at Student Billing.

Summer hours are 8:30 am to 4:00 pm Mon - Fri. We continue to work remotely, so questions should be directed to mrollins@bennington.edu. Financial Aid questions should be directed to finaid@bennington.edu.


Course Registration

Students need to complete a course registration form by June 1 to indicate which courses they are most interested in taking. In the first term, we encourage students to explore topics as widely as possible. For example, first-year students might choose one or two courses in areas they are already passionate about, along with one or two courses in areas in which they have less experience.

Students won’t always get into their first choices in their first term, but we work with the list of courses they provide to create a well-balanced schedule, taking into account meeting times and workload, as well as ensuring that your student experiences a variety of academic disciplines. When students arrive on campus, they will meet with their First-Year Forum faculty member to discuss their fall term course schedule and any changes they would like to propose. In consultation with their First-Year Forum faculty member, new students can refine their schedules during the “add/drop period,” which starts before classes begin and runs through the first week of the term.

Earlier this month incoming students joined faculty, staff, and students on May 13 for a conversation about navigating the curriculum as an incoming student, filling out the course registration form, and putting together the ideal first term schedule for you and your interests. You can watch a video of the session here.

Campus Employment (If Applicable)

At Bennington, we consider campus work to be a professional learning opportunity, which is why student employment is managed under the office of Career Development. Students working at Bennington can expect mentoring, evaluation, and advancement opportunities similar to those in other professional contexts.

Students who received Federal Work Study or a campus work allotment in their financial aid awards—and who want to work—will be assigned jobs to start in the first week of September. Students can expect to work around 7 hours per week to use their full work allocation. All student workers will also have the ability to participate in paid career skill-building training beyond their scheduled work hours. More information on job assignments will be forthcoming in July. Students without work awards can apply for available campus jobs after the start of fall term, and students with work allotments can also apply for additional work shifts at this time.

 Due to budget and employment laws, the College is not able to approve any remote student employment. Given this, for full-time students with work allotments who are studying remotely, work allotments will be removed and replaced with comparable Bennington aid. Students should email campusjobs@bennington.edu with any questions about working on campus, or contact the Financial Aid Office with questions about their individual aid packages.

In order to hold a job on campus, students will need to fill out the I-9, W-4, and W-4VT forms upon hire. Please be sure to bring the original, unexpired ID as described on page 3 of the I-9 with you when you come to campus. 

To Do: Provide Health Documentation

Health forms are due on July 1. According to Vermont State law and College policy, your student needs to meet certain health-related requirements before they arrive at Bennington College. In order to occupy campus housing or begin on campus classes, students must provide one of the following: immunization records, other proof of immunity, or a signed medical or religious exemption form. In addition, they must submit a health history, undergo a physical examination, have a tuberculosis screening, and complete a consent for treatment. This information will not be used to exclude students but to plan for their care, and it will be kept entirely confidential.

You can find instructions and the Health Forms on our website. Please note that making  appointments and gathering the documents often takes more time than expected, so you may want to assist your student. If students need additional time to submit their Health Forms they should email healthservices@bennington.edu

To ensure the health of the community and to provide a safe environment for learning and living, Bennington College will require students to be fully vaccinated with a  Covid-19 vaccination for studying on campus for Fall 2021. In general, people are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine

Record of Covid-19 vaccination must be submitted by August 1. If a student does not have access to obtain a Covid-19 vaccination or would like to file an exemption for medical or religious reasons they should contact healthservices@bennington.edu.

To Do: Submit Proof of Health Insurance

All full-time Bennington College students residing on campus must be covered by a health insurance policy and submit Proof of Health Insurance to the College by August 1. As you consider the best option for your student’s health coverage, please keep in mind that the Bennington College Student Health Center charges usual and customary fees, just like any private doctor’s office. We suggest that you contact potential insurance carriers to understand their In-Network and Out-of-Network coverage. For more information, including some options for finding insurance coverage, visit the Student Health Insurance page. Domestic students who need to change their coverage have a 30-day window when they move to campus (considered a qualifying event) to make policy changes. Window specifics vary depending upon policy.

Please note that international students residing on campus must purchase the IFS Secure Plus Plan by August 1 for coverage starting August 15. If, due to Covid-19, you will be in your home country for the first part of the term, please email tsholes@bennington.edu to arrange a delayed enrollment date for the policy. The premium will be prorated.

To Do: Finalize Financial Aid (If Applicable)

If your student has been offered financial aid and/or loans, they will need to log into their My Financial Aid page to accept or decline the funds. They should also check the Required Documents tab to ensure it says “received” next to all the required documents, so we can transfer the expected financial aid to your student’s bill. If you see “not received” next to any document, or if you have any other questions, please contact the Financial Aid office.

To Do: Complete Accommodation Request Form (If Applicable)

To make a request for an academic, residential, dining, or housing accommodation, it is important that your student completes a Disability Accommodation Request form ASAP. With this completed form and supporting documentation, the College will be able to arrange for reasonable accommodations and support to ensure equal access to College programs and facilities. You can find more information on the accommodations and support page on our website.

In Summary

Bennington College