Institutional News

Forward Thinking

In Stratton Magazine, President Laura Walker provides critical information for prospective Bennington College students.

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From Stratton Magazine:

How can students best prepare themselves for educational success at your institution?

Because a Bennington education is student-directed (with robust support from faculty advisors), incoming students can expect to develop as independent, self-determined learners here. Students don’t need to know precisely what they want to study when they begin their college journey, but they should arrive with a drive to explore, grow, and do hands-on work in the world.

What programs are you most excited about for the upcoming year?

We recently launched a new suite of offerings for learners at every stage of their academic lives—from high school seniors to retired professionals. It includes a series of writing courses from Bennington’s acclaimed literature program (modeled after our successful low-residency MFA program), an exciting selection of social justice and public action courses, and the opportunity for anyone to take classes from Bennington core curricular offerings.

The College’s necessary transition to a hybrid model when the pandemic arrived last spring helped accelerate our ongoing efforts to bring a Bennington education to more types of learners in more places. Our initial course offerings this past fall were incredibly popular as many more students chose to take gap years and think creatively about their college paths. They have also opened doors for many mid-career professionals who want to keep growing and learning amid the constraints of this pandemic. In an uncertain world, these courses have been a welcome option for many families.

Why is this region a great place to go to college? Who are some of your community partners in creating opportunities for students?

Vermont is home to not only the most accessible and participatory government in the nation, but also a robust culture of community collaboration. The superlative leadership of our public health experts during the COVID-19 crisis, and cooperation at every level, is proof of this collaborative culture. Over the past decade, Bennington has made partnerships with local civic and non-profit groups a top priority, which has strengthened the region and provided countless learning opportunities for our students. Partnerships include an ambitious collaborative project to address food insecurity in Bennington County, which was awarded a Grant from the Andrew M. Mellon Foundation in 2019; extensive research and advocacy to eliminate PFOA contaminants in local drinking water; an initiative to support migrant workers; a successful collaborative effort to convert all the lighting in North Bennington to LED; and a close relationship with Southwest Vermont Medical Center, including most recently an initiative in which Bennington provided 3-D printed face shields to frontline workers. The land that Bennington College sits on was once a working farm and we take seriously our responsibility to cultivate a sustainable relationship with the natural world and our cultural roots. There is perhaps no better example of this than The Robert Frost Stone House Museum in Shaftsbury, which was gifted to the college in 2017 and serves today as a public resource, teaching tool, venue for local arts, and connection to our shared history.