An Awesome Bennington College Essay Example
Bennington College is a small private liberal arts college that is known for its strong visual and performing arts programs as well as its culture that encourages creativity.
In this post, we’ll go over a supplemental essay that an accepted student submitted to Bennington College. We’ll look at its strengths, its areas for improvement, and ways you can make your own essay stand out. (Note: the names and identifying information of the accepted student have been changed, but all other details are preserved).
Alexander Oddo, an expert advisor on CollegeVine, provided commentary on this post. Advisors offer one-on-one guidance on everything from essays to test prep to financial aid. If you want help writing your essays or feedback on drafts, book a consultation with Alexander Oddo or another skilled advisor.
Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized.
Prompt: At Bennington, students don’t just study; they’re makers and doers who create original work on their own and in collaboration with others. Tell us about something you’ve created that you’re proud of. Why is it important to you? Alternatively, tell us something you look forward to creating when you get to college. (250 words max.)
During my junior year, I participated in a drama class where we performed our own self-written monologues. I remember it as academically and artistically demanding, but rewarding. We began with smaller texts and excerpts from Shakespeare, progressed into modern monologues, and ended with a full performance where we chose between our written pieces, or something else.
A few weeks into the course, I decided to write my monologue about Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, who passed a few weeks prior. She was my favorite political figure, and a role model to me. I knew I wanted to create a piece that the audience would remember. I needed to produce something that represented my own writing style and personality, while also embodying the persona of Ruth Bader-Ginsburg that I admired, and was so familiar with.
I worked tireless hours preparing draft after draft, until I reached a point where I felt proud of my writing, and I knew she would be too. I proofread my piece countless times with my director, until it was finally showtime. Stepping on stage, I remember feeling a rush of nervousness swim throughout my body. I wasn’t just doing this for myself, I was doing it for Ruth, and I wanted to honor her through my words and my acting.
Performing my piece “Joan Ruth” was one of the proudest moments of my life. It felt as though it was my last tribute to her; an appreciation for the triumphant and pioneering figure that is so well known today.
What This Essay Did Well
Telling a story is one thing among many that this essay does well. The essay begins with a rich narrative which captures the reader’s attention and sets the topic of the essay. Notice how the introduction ends with “or something else” — this entices the reader to keep reading the essay so they can discover what that “something else” is.
The writer then pours emotion into the next paragraphs about writing their monologue, using vivid phrases such as “preparing draft after draft” and “rush of nervousness swim throughout my body.” The writer goes on to call Justice Ginsberg “Ruth,” which shows their close connection to the Justice and thus, how important she is to the writer.
Strong language combined with a strong message makes for a powerful essay. The fact that the writer’s monologue was a “last tribute” to the Justice turns their activity from ordinary theater, a fairly common class and extracurricular among applicants, into a deeply meaningful experience that demonstrates the writer’s values. That demonstration is what college essays are all about.
What Could be Improved
This essay would definitely benefit from a short explanation as to why Ruth Bader-Ginsburg is so important to the writer. For example: “She was my favorite political figure, and a role model to me [as a woman who is interested in constitutional law].”
The last sentence of the essay could be improved along the same lines. The writer could connect the Justice back to themselves with the final sentence, replacing “pioneering figure that is so well known today” with “pioneering figure that [inspires me to fight for women’s rights as a lawyer].”
The main issue with this essay is that it does not go into enough detail about what the writer wants to do with their thinking skills in the future. The last sentence of the second paragraph would be more effective if it broached this topic.
For example, it could be changed to the following: “As a result of my research, I feel more prepared to handle nuanced and sensitive topics as I continue my women’s advocacy work.”
Similarly, the conclusion could be more specific about the writer’s future aspirations. Colleges are not looking for you to know your exact career plan in high school and stick to it, but they do want you to pitch them a rough idea.
This essay would benefit from a conclusion that went along the lines of: “My senior project research…has taught me some of the essential skills a person interested in [working for grassroots women’s rights advocacy organizations] needs in order to succeed.”
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