D20 is starting to assemble a college visit list that includes several women’s colleges as well as formerly women’s colleges like Vassar, Skidmore, and Sarah Lawrence. Even though I was raised in northwest MA and we still visit Williamstown every summer with my parents, I had mentally crossed Bennington College off the list (never even put it on the list, really) based on my impression of the college from the 70s/80s (tiny, not selective, super hippy/crunchy, great for performing arts, visual arts and creative writing but not much else, and, importantly – most expensive college in the country!) and then of course the whole 90s upheaval (abolishing tenure, letting 27 faculty members go).
Since we’re going to be so close next week with D20 in tow, I did some online research and I just have to say: Wow! It seems that Bennington has pulled off an amazing turnaround, including landing an amazing new president Mariko Silver. Lots of exciting momentum around diversity, financial security, increasing enrollment and selectivity, improving retention, etc. without losing the unique focus on open curriculum, “The Plan” (create your own major/focus/inquiry), and the annual 7-week Field Work Term in Jan/Feb.
My research has all been online so far but I am definitely intrigued and excited to visit next week. Anyone else in the same boat- curious about Bennington but anchored on decades-old institutional dynamics and legends? Or, any current Bennington parents, students, faculty out there who can weigh in on how the school feels and works now? I’d love some “live” feedback!