The Journey to Bennington: A Welcome for Families

Happy summer, new Bennington families! This is the third and final in our series of bulletins. 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.

Arrival and Orientation

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.  Updated information about public health mitigation measures, including COVID, will be sent to students in mid to late August. 

Move-in for students coming from outside the United States is on August 29 between 1 and 5 pm. Students in the United States whose family name begins with A-L can move in on September 1 between 9 and 10:30 am, and whose family name begins with M-Z, between 10:30 am and 12 noon. 

Orientation check-in is at the Commons Atrium, where your student will pick up their student ID card, room key, and orientation folder, among other items. Your student can then head to their house and unload their personal belongings. 

More information about Arrival and Orientation will be available very soon on our Welcome Webpages. Please note that there is a program designed specifically for families and caregivers between 2 and 5 pm, in which you are invited to participate.

To support your transition to Bennington, we arranged an Arrival Student and Family Q&A on August 12. You can register for the session here.

Supporting Your Student

The start of college is a significant adjustment for students and their families. Below are a few tips to help your student’s transition to college life:

Encourage Your Student to Ask For Help: Whether your student is feeling homesick, struggling with a class, or trying to make new friends, remind them that they can reach out for help. Encourage your student to meet with an advisor in Academic Services, a faculty member, or a Student Life staff member if you think it would be useful.

One of the essential student resources is Bennington’s Student Health Center, a space that provides students with direct and preventive primary health care, counseling and psychological care, and health education by a team of a physician, nurse practitioners, social workers, and public health educator. 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, Bennington College encourages students to access TimelyCare, a telehealth program that gives 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. We offer a variety of co-curricular experiences, including clubs and organizations, recreation programs, community partnerships and volunteer opportunities, and many other programming and leadership opportunities.

Empower Your Student with Information: Does your student know how to access their funds or how to get hold of their primary care provider(s)? Do they have their health insurance card? Equipping your students with important personal information will ensure that they feel empowered to make decisions on their own when they need to.

Remind Your Student to Take Care of Themselves: Getting adequate sleep, 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 Bennington, you may want to speak with Kate Child, Associate Dean for Academic Services. Please be aware that 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, you can reach out to Campus Safety 24 hours a day by calling 802-447-4250.

Fall Weekend 2022 

Fall Weekend is an opportunity for you to visit your student and enjoy the Bennington experience together. You can sample the many intellectual, artistic, cultural, and recreational experiences on campus and in the community. This year Fall Weekend will take place October 1-2.   

Final reminder… 

We look forward to welcoming you and your student to the Bennington community soon. 

photo of students at Roz's Cafe

May Letter

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 communications that you will receive over the course of the summer, which will include all the information your student needs to start courses at Bennington on September 6th.

Please note: your student should have already received all of the information contained here through their Bennington email. If your student does not have access to their Bennington email, please contact helpdesk@bennington.edu 

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

Arrival and Orientation

Bennington College continues to work with the Vermont State Health Department to determine best practices for arrival and orientation. We plan for new International students to arrive on campus and move in on Monday, August 29 and Tuesday, August 30, and for new Domestic/Transfer Students, to arrive and move in on Thursday, September 1. All new students are required to attend the New Student Orientation from Thursday, September 1 to Monday, September 5. Please reach out to Student Life if you have any questions about arrival and orientation.

Support for New Students

Because the transition to college can be challenging, all new Bennington students participate in a program called First-Year Forum (FYF), which is a combination of a year-long course, and one-on-one time with a faculty advisor. 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 Counselor in Academic Services

Student Housing

Living independently among peers is one of the most important elements of college life. Generally at Bennington, first-year students are paired up and assigned double rooms in our residential houses. Each house has a mix of class years so that new students can connect, develop relationships with each other and upper-class students. Additionally, house communities have two House Chairs (returning students who coordinate weekly gatherings to build community and promote communication among housemates). To learn more, visit our Housing website. Please remind your student to complete the Housing Questionnaire by June 1. 

For the Fall 2022 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

We encourage students to be advocates for their health and ask for help when they need it. One of the most important resources available is the Bennington College Student Health Center, a space that provides students with direct and preventative health care, counseling and psychological care, and health education by a team of a physician, a nurse practitioner, social workers, counselors, and a health educator. Our website provides information on hours, making appointments, range of services, referrals, and payments.

In an effort to expand students’ access to mental and medical health care, Bennington College partners with 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. 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

A diversity of ideas, experiences, and backgrounds is one of the aspects 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, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). The Office provides one-on-one support to students, educates staff and faculty, and offers courses to students on inclusion and equity. Students and their families are always welcome to reach out.

Career Development and Field Work Term

One of the things that makes Bennington special is Field Work Term, the annual period in which every student gains practical work experience. If you would like to learn more, visit our Field Work Term student resources page and other planning guides for families on our website. 

In their First-Year Forum class, 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. 

Student Billing

Student Billing statements for Fall 2022 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. The first payment plan due date will be July 1. Students may access a copy of their billing statement on the college’s website 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 Monday-Friday. Student Billing questions can be directed to mrollins@bennington.edu. Financial Aid questions 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. 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, 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 for a conversation about navigating the curriculum, filling out the course registration form, and putting together their ideal first term schedule. You can watch a video of the session, as well as the Incoming Student Course Registration Q&A.  

Campus Employment

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 have unique, professional mentoring, evaluation, and advancement opportunities.

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. More information on these will be forthcoming. 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.

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. 

Provide Health Documentation

Health forms are due on July 1. According to Vermont State law and College policy,  students need 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 only be used to help plan for their care, and it will be kept entirely confidential.

You can find further instructions regarding the process of meeting the aforementioned health requirements 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 for Covid-19 for studying on campus for Fall 2022. People are considered fully vaccinated:

  • Having received a booster after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • Having received a booster 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.

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. Please keep in mind that the Bennington College Student Health Center charges usual and customary fees, 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 the policy.

Please note that international students residing on campus must purchase the IFS Secure Plus Plan by August 1st for coverage starting August 15th. 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.

Finalize Financial Aid

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, please complete and submit that item. If you have any other questions, please contact finaid@bennington.edu.

To Do: Complete Disability 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. Please send requests for academic accommodations to Katy Evans, Director of Academic Services (katyevans@bennington.edu) and requests for housing or dining accommodations to Christine Congelosi-Lulla, Assistant Director of Residence Life-Housing Operations (ccongelosi-lulla@bennington.edu). With a 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. Watch our Academic Accommodations and Support Webinar and find more information on the Accommodations and Support page on our website.

In Summary

 Please reach out via email to studentlife@bennington.edu or by phone 802-440-4330 for any questions or concerns as you support your student in navigating their journey to Bennington. 

June Letter

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 term in the Welcome Pages.

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 the new student Checklist most useful, along with the Academic Calendar, where you can find information about when the term ends, 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 students 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 as well as counseling 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 counseling and psychological services more often. We urge you to speak with your student about prioritizing their health and wellbeing during their time at Bennington and utilizing various campus resources. 

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 medicine? 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 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 this Fall. 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 academic or residential 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!