Alumni News

The Best of Bennington

As Bennington College prepares to welcome the Class of 2025, alumni offer their advice and can't-miss recommendations to incoming students. 

What advice about Bennington College life would you give to the Class of 2025?

"Meet and talk to everyone you can; talk deeply with all your teachers." - Thomas Kirk Melvin '75

"Make friends and deep bonds with your classmates. You will rely on them more than you can imagine for your mental health, rides, collaboration, and a sense of community in years to come." - Daniel Brese '05

"Take plenty of pictures and invest in some shoes you can wear in the mud." - Katherine Colbert '15

"Stay true to yourself and DO NOT party too hard. Protect your mental health. Pursue your studies with passion and take advantage of EVERYTHING. You will long for your Bennington days once you’re graduated." - Hilary Whitney '14

"Find your own Bennington within Bennington." - Jeremiah Matthew Davis '05

"Be present. Engage with others. Go to performances, art openings, events created by students and faculty." - Holly Schiffer Zucker '75

"Those intro classes are going to show you what you’re getting into. Trust the process and give yourself time to grow!" - Carolyn Lewon '15

"Take advantage of and appreciate the Visual and Performing Arts Center (VAPA) to its full extent if you study Visual Arts. It’s one of the things I miss most about college: being around people making things all the time and having the facilities to do so." - Sara Salaway '15

"My circle found the Upstairs/Downstairs Cafes not only great for atmospheric nights, but for readings and showcases as well." - Ryan C. Tittle '05

"Don't be afraid to change your plans! I started Bennington fully planning to go into international relations—but switched to nonfiction writing instead, where I was way happier and more fulfilled. Don't close any doors on yourself in your first year; be open to everything." - Jeva Lange '15

"Keep an open mind and avail yourself of all of Bennington’s myriad resources and cultural and social life." - Christine C. Burgess '76

"Be open to getting to know new people. Bennington kids are less terrifying than the kids at your high school. Make friends with people who are not like you." - Catharine Maloney '05

"My advice is to be a sponge and soak up as much as you can from the professionals and brilliant minds surrounding you. The opportunity Bennington provides to apply it creatively to serve your own individuality is unique, but you have to understand it deeply to apply it well." - Rima Gitlin Faber '65

"Savor the artistic experiences more than worrying about drama!" - Sara Lewis '10

"Enjoy your time! Take advantage of everything the College has to offer, and take classes outside of your specialty." - David Dubov-Flinn '84

"Get to know and support your housemates. They'll become the people who stay up studying and paper-writing with you until 3 am, volunteer to run lines with you, help practice for your Plan meeting, offer to take notes during reviews, take care of you when you're sick, and, most importantly, will be your biggest cheerleaders when you're going through anything challenging. Take care of each other, build those relationships. If you feel a bit alien at first (I did), be patient, you'll find your people." - Courtney E.A. Everett (Sanson) '07

"Walk to Jennings on Sundays and sing to yourself. Think of me: I’m 53, and I can still hear the leaves crunching under my feet. Trust in the universe; you are here for a reason." - Amanda '93

"Play. It's so underrated but really, make an intention to ACTUALLY play." - Adnan Iftekhar '97

What were your favorite places on Bennington College's campus, or around town?

"Lake Paran in North Bennington is salvation in the heat. Jumping in the lake first thing every day is a great way to start the day. Go cross country skiing in the winter across the fields!" - Thomas Kirk Melvin '75

"I loved the woods and fields around campus and the town. I used nature as a classroom as much as I ever used the campus. The secret garden, tree house, sugarbush, and the end of the world were my classrooms. Everyone should find their own sacred place to be or work. It will make the harder days easier to pass, and you will have a safe harbor to hide in." - Daniel Brese '05

"On campus, Jennings and the Center for the Advancement of Public Action (CAPA) faculty lounge. In town, Marigold’s Pizza, Powers Market, South Street Cafe, and PAPA PETE’s." - Katherine Colbert '15

"On campus, CAPA, the ceramics studio, and Dewey Library. In town, the bowling alley and Lake Paran." - Hilary Whitney '14

"On campus, the End of the World, the walk from VAPA to Dickinson, and Martha Hill Dance Theater. Off-campus, North Bennington and Lake Paran." - Jeremiah Matthew Davis '05

"On campus, the Deane Carriage Barn, the lawn outside of Commons, and the study room in Crossett Library. Off-campus, the path to North Bennington, and the Blue Benn Diner. " - Holly Schiffer Zucker '75

"The bottom floor of VAPA and the Dining Hall." - Carolyn Lewon '15

"Canfield (my house), the purple room in the Dining Hall (though it's not purple anymore), the alt processes photo room, and Commons lawn." - Sara Salaway '15

"Upstairs/Downstairs Cafes, the Commons snack bar, the clapboard houses(!). Off-campus, downtown Bennington and North Bennington." - Ryan C. Tittle '05

"The second floor common room in the back of the new houses is low-key one of the best places on campus to hang out (and look for the turkeys and foxes from the balcony)." - Jeva Lange '15

"When I was at Bennington, VAPA had just opened and I was in performing arts. Off-campus, the watering holes in Old Bennington and ones in Hoosick Falls that stay open later. Also, you will need to get a mug at Bennington Potters. " - Christine C. Burgess '76

"Blue Benn Diner, thrift stores, Lake Paran, and driving to MASS MoCA." - Catharine Maloney '05

"I came to Bennington knowing I wanted to dance, and so spent most of my time taking classes and rehearsing in the former Carriage House dance studio and the former Commons Theater." - Rima Gitlin Faber '65

"The secret garden, the yard behind Jennings, the treehouse, the library, and the end of the world." - Sara Lewis '10

"The Blue Benn Diner; Lake Paran; Mad Tom Brook; The Bennington Museum." - David Dubov-Flinn '84

"The secret garden was a favorite place. I loved doing photo shoots up there. A simple walk up to Jennings along any of those paths always got me into a good headspace—especially with a friend." - Courtney E.A. Everett (Sanson) '07

"End of the world - and past it. Yes, go past the end of the world and keep walking." - Adnan Iftekhar '97

What are 3 can't-miss experiences as a Bennington College student?

"The music concerts. The dance performances. The poetry readings. All by current faculty, students, and visiting artists." - Thomas Kirk Melvin '75 

"Midnight breakfast, Sunfest, and Commencement. It's easy to be above the rituals and too cool for scheduled events, but you can't beat the free food, community, or rites of passage that make the college special." - Daniel Brese '05

"Take a ceramics class, live in one of the colonial houses, pull an all-nighter in the basement of the library " - Katherine Colbert '15

"Take Beginning Potters Wheel, a CAPA course with Susan Sgorbati, and photography with Liz Deschenes." - Hilary Whitney '14

"Springtime on Commons Lawn, performances, exhibitions, and happenings both planned or impromptu around campus, and taking a tutorial." - Jeremiah Matthew Davis '05

"Attend student and/or faculty-curated events. Fall. Sample into as many disciplines as you can manage." - Holly Schiffer Zucker '75

"The rock wall at the gym! Rock climbing is expensive in real life, so go use it now! Dress up for all the themed parties! And avoid the experience of the geese by the pond chasing you in the spring." - Carolyn Lewon '15

"Friday dance parties, dance performances at Martha Hill, and the senior scavenger hunt." - Sara Salaway '15

"Faculty access, the all-nighters at VAPA, professors serving late night breakfast at the close-of-term." - Ryan C. Tittle '05

"Walking to Jennings during the peak of fall. Discovering new films in Kinoteca. Getting off campus—go to Burlington, Albany, Brattleboro, Williamstown, Boston, New York, Montreal, Philadelphia. Bennington can be the center of everything." - Jeva Lange '15

"Festival of the Four Winds on campus. Music concerts. Theater and Dance performances. Art show openings. Lectures. Poetry readings. Visiting artists, writers, scholars. Civic work through CAPA." - Christine C. Burgess '76

"Bands touring through the college, walking the Blue trail, working in VAPA in the middle of the night." - Catharine Maloney '05

"1. Spending informal moments chatting with teachers and hearing their stories. This rarely happens at a large university. 2. The fact students are treated as adults and are expected to lead lives and make decisions accordingly, rather than facing rules and regulations that dictate behaviors. 3. The liberty to explore ideas creatively and deeply rather than "study for the test." 4. The beauty of waking up every morning and seeing Mt. Anthony." - Rima Gitlin Faber '65

"Going to tiny concerts, hanging in common rooms, and going on hikes." - Sara Lewis '10

"Jennings late at night; dawn at the End of the World; walking down the drive in the snow." - David Dubov-Flinn '84

"Studying and lounging on the lawn. My house would sometimes host cookouts on the lawn. You'll never find a more beautiful and peaceful place than Commons Lawn. (Even if your house has a longstanding prank-rivalry with the house directly across the way...)" - Courtney E.A. Everett (Sanson) '07

"Midnight breakfast. Dancing on that amazing floor. Breathing in the good mountain air." - Amanda '93

"1. Late night hangs/deep philosophical conversations with folks you've just met. 2. Nachos in the Upstairs Café. 3. Talking to faculty members about classes you wished existed. Then making sure they do." - Adnan Iftekhar '97

What was your favorite Bennington College memory?

"Meeting my future wife on moving-in day in the fall and falling in love. We are still together 48 years later. Yes, as you can see I was in only the second class of men!" - Thomas Kirk Melvin '75 

"The arrival of spring every year was always my favorite. The whole college emerges from hibernation and suddenly everyone is outside. The fatigue of winter is wiped away and Vermont becomes your favorite place again." - Daniel Brese '05

"Too many to recount, but I’d have to say finding my advisor and mentor Liz Coleman. She is everything to me. " - Hilary Whitney '14

"Weekly meetings with master teachers Mansour Farhang and Ron Cohen (RIP) during my undergraduate thesis process. " - Jeremiah Matthew Davis '05

"We created a 24 hour Dance and Music improvisation performance in the (old) studio at the top of Commons. It was stimulating, boring, exhausting, and spectacular..." - Holly Schiffer Zucker '75

"Watching a 20-foot-long photo I made slowly come out of a printer." - Carolyn Lewon '15

"Too many to mention. Maybe when I realized an idea I had for my senior work was actually going to work. " - Sara Salaway '15

"Opening night." - Ryan C. Tittle '05

"The Vatican-themed house party we threw one year in Merck (you really had to be there)." - Jeva Lange '15

"Friendships with men and women that I made that have lasted for over 40 years." - Christine C. Burgess '76

"Sitting in the Fels living room with housemates and friends and talking. " - Catharine Maloney '05

"Working creatively on choreography both as cast member and choreographer were my favorite memories, with many hilarious stories." - Rima Gitlin Faber '65

"Doing living room and outdoor concerts with musician friends." - Sara Lewis '10

"Too many to mention, but almost any day spent on campus was a treat." - David Dubov-Flinn '84

"A transformer went out one night, knocking all the power out on campus. (I'm sure this was a very rare occurrence; please don't think this happens often!) My house's response was to gather everyone in the living room with sleeping bags/blankets/pillows and camp out together. We made s'mores and mac n' cheese over the fireplace, told stories, and played games. Yes, we still had to go to class the next day (and if you miss class, don't be surprised if the teacher calls your room phone: this was a shock to me!), but it turned into a fun excuse to hang out and brought us closer together. Most of my favorite memories involve my housemates. " - Courtney E.A. Everett (Sanson) '07

"Walking to Frank’s for my voice lessons." - Amanda '93

"All the performances: indoor, outdoor, on rooftops, and through the houses." - Adnan Iftekhar '97

Are you a Bennington College alum? Share your advice with the Class of 2025 by taking our survey.