Institutional News

West Coast to East Coast

It’s no secret that Bennington College has a beautiful campus, tucked away in the Green Mountains, with 440 acres to explore and nourish the soul. The close proximity to a robust arts community, the charms of New England, and a rich history are just a few of the reasons people from the West Coast choose the Bennington experience. 

Every year the College welcomes students from across the globe, each bringing their own unique perspectives and experiences to the beautiful campus—which ranks on the list of The Princeton Review’s “Most Beautiful Campuses.” When arriving from the West Coast, a small town in New England couldn’t be more different—from the weather to the greenery and open space to breathe, it’s no wonder so many students find themselves here for a transformative experience.

Here’s a few reasons why students from the West Coast have chosen a Bennington education. 

New England Appeal

While the weather in California is typically sunny and steady year-round, New England is famous for its stunning seasons. It was one of the reasons India Rose Carter-Bolick '23 chose to leave her home in San Francisco to attend Bennington. “Seeing the leaves turn bright red and orange, living in a picturesque snow globe in the winter, and seeing the flowers bloom in Spring,” she says, is a big draw. 

Image of fields in the fall

After six years living in Los Angeles, Jeffrey Perkins MFA '09 was excited to come back to New England when he accepted the position of Vice President of Communications and Marketing at the end of the summer. “Los Angeles weather is truly incredible but there’s something about four distinct seasons that I missed. I love the moodiness of a cloudy day or the excitement of an impending snow. I can finally wear my winter jackets again. The wide green openness of the Bennington campus is also a perfect canvas for the seasons.”

If you’ve always wanted to visit a place that seems to have only existed in postcards (or maybe Gilmore Girls), the town of Bennington is classic New England. From the historical covered bridges to the walkable and quaint Old Bennington, the community is unlike any small town on the West Coast. It’s no wonder that Robert Frost also left his own California home to be famously enchanted by the untouched beauty of New England. (Frost lived in neighboring Shaftsbury, Vermont and is buried in Bennington.) 

Location, Location, Location!

While the College is located on an expansive landscape of nature trails and peaceful seclusion, it is also within close proximity to major East Coast cities and a thriving arts and literary scene. New York City and Boston are only hours away, creating opportunities for adventurous weekend city excursions. World-class skiing and near-endless hiking trails are also within easy reach when you want to be one with nature.

Image of students dancing by mountains

Because Bennington is located so close to New York City—a major literary and cultural hub—it is also a top reason that many people from the West Coast choose to attend the Bennington Writing Seminars to earn their MFA in writing. Zoe Stricker MFA ‘23, hails from California and says that was a big player in her decision to apply to the low residency program: “As a lifelong Californian, I was excited to have a reason to go to New England,” she says. “Beyond the East Coast’s stunning beauty is its place in the literary landscape. I think being in close proximity to the American publishing industry is a big draw, and being around those who were affiliated with that industry is something that I wouldn’t have gotten at a West Coast school.”

A Safe, Magical Space 

Because Bennington is nested in the Green Mountains, it’s a delightful escape from the often-hectic and fast pace of city living. It is a quiet respite where one can feel safe and is a welcome change of pace.

Image of student reading outside

India Rose says that “The serenity and safety of the Bennington College campus has allowed me to slow down, listen to my thoughts, allow feelings to sit in my body, and learn how to redraw boundaries.” She says, “As a fem person having come from a city, I have been raised to constantly be on guard in order to protect myself, but Bennington has been a place where my body and mind can relax. This has given me a lot of space for self-exploration and immense growth.”

There’s just something about the magic of New England—of course, the beauty is palpable, but perhaps one of the biggest reasons to choose a place such as Bennington College are the little magical moments on campus that will stay with you. From Zoe: “I think seeing the fireflies light up the meadows after a late night out was something that will live in my memory forever.”

Image of student walking in snow