Kirsten’s College Blog: Bennington, Landmark, Bard, Sarah Lawrence
After leaving Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, I made my way into bucolic Vermont and landed at Bennington, a selective school known for its no majors/grades optional policies. Driving into campus feels a bit like entering a spiritual retreat because of the long winding road and beautiful lawns and gardens. I had a tour given by a student who explained to me that at the core of the education here is the off-campus “Field Work” term which is a 7-week period during winter—which means, another things, avoiding the coldest and snowiest part of the year. Students are required to engage in four such terms, and they could take place in Albany (less than an hour), NYC (a little over 4), Turkey (as my tour guide had done), or anywhere in between! Despite its pastoral surroundings and size (650 undergrads), Bennington is sophisticated and international (more than 20 % are from outside the U.S.). It struck me as a one-of-a-kind place. Below is a pic of a cool bulletin board on self-expression that seemed very "Bennington."
Next stop: Small but mighty Landmark College in Putney has the best reputation in the country for programs tailored to students with ADD, ADHD, and learning differences. This is another beautiful campus, on 125 acres, and I was particularly taken by the new Science, Technology, & Innovation Center. This $10 million building features state-of-the art instruction and laboratory facilities. My student tour guide here explained that while she’d been accepted at several other colleges, she chose Landmark because she felt it would lead to the greatest academic and personal success. A junior, she is double-majoring in Spanish and Business, and plans on attending grad school in International Studies.
If you/your child is interested in Landmark, and he/she will be in 8th-11th grade this year, you might consider the summer workshops offered for high school students every summer!
Onward to the Hudson River Valley: Founded in 1860, Bard College is a small (2,000) place where one has a sense of impressive history while touring the campus. Architectural styles range from Oxford-like stone buildings:
to the shiny Frank Gehry Performing Arts Center:
(A mini-me of our own Disney Music Center!)
A selective college, Bard is known for its “Language and Thinking” Program--required of all first-year students. But Bard could not be described as formal, as this is a place where students design their own majors, and clubs such as “The Surrealist Circus” exist as regular fare. For late June, Bard was hopping; there are several music and performing arts festivals during the summer.
90 minutes from Manhattan, Bard has myriad internship opportunities a bus ride away, and the surrounding Hudson River Valley is gorgeous, as well as rich in culture.
My last stop was Sarah Lawrence College, and while I expected it to feel a lot like Bard, Sarah Lawrence has a more laid-back and casual style. The tour guides cracked a lot of jokes and, other than at Skidmore, were the most informal. It’s a bit smaller than Bard as well (1,200), and there are no grades.
Most students travel abroad and many get internships in NYC. Because it started as an all-women’s school, there are significantly more women than men (30% of the population.) Like Hofstra, Sarah Lawrence offers the calm and quiet of the country, but is close to Manhattan (25 minute drive.)
There is an “artsy” feel to Sarah Lawrence, but at the same time, one of the tour guides is majoring in Physics, and the other is a hockey player!
End of tour, back to the city, then home to L.A. Please call or email me with questions!