The Journey to Bennington: A Welcome for Families

June 2020 

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

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This is the first of three emails that you will receive over the course of the summer with all the information your student needs to start courses at Bennington on September 1.

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 for more details on everything, 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. 

In addition, we understand that there is a lot of uncertainty, and you and your student likely have many questions about the arrival date, process for moving in, how your student will safely transition to the campus, and what life on campus—inside and outside of the classroom—will look like this Fall if your student is planning to and able to come to campus. Please know, we have been working closely with the Vermont Department of Health to understand state guidelines and best practices as they evolve. It is our current hope and plan to share a Fall 2020 Commitment to Shared Responsibility and Fall 2020 opening and operation plan by mid-July.

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. Any changes to this model made in response to the COVID19 crisis will be communicated as soon as possible. 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.

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.

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. Under the leadership of Delia Saenz, 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.

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.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. 

Once your student arrives on campus, they 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 is also available to meet with them 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 2020 continue to be mailed out, along with a packet of important deadline dates. Statements are addressed to the billing address we have on file through the Dean’s Office. 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.
 

Course Registration

Students completed a course registration form in mid-June 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.

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.

Next month students with work awards in their financial aid packages will receive a  three-question questionnaire where they will be asked to indicate their prefered job assignments. The brief questionnaire will be due August 1 and students will be notified of their assignments by August 14. 

Due to employment laws, the College does not have clearance to offer remote work to students choosing remote instruction. For these students, work allotments will be removed from students’ financial aid packages and replaced with a comparable amount added to their financial aid. Questions can be addressed to finaid@bennington.edu.

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 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