campus encounters

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Bennett College

Bennett College (visited 3/15/17)

Bennett chapel

The chapel sits on the far end of the quad

Interestingly, this small women’s college began as a coed institution. Started in 1873 in a church basement, it was later moved to the current site when several freed slaves bought the property, but retained its affiliation with the Methodist church. About 50 years later, it was changed to single-sex. It’s in a fairly residential area of Greensboro, not far from downtown. A city bus stops on campus making the area highly accessible for the students.

This is a tiny school with less than 500 undergraduate students, about half of whom come from outside North Carolina. The students who thrive here “want a small community, are looking for networks, and want to stay in contact with profs,” said the rep. Students who leave are ones who find the pace of life too slow here. Their mascot is the “Bennett Belle” and that really speaks to who they are. “Students have a manner of moving here, a way of carrying themselves.”

Bennett 2

Quad with a volleyball net

“There are always things to do. We’re small. We need people who will step up and get things done, form clubs, whatever,” said the rep. She said that students love the sisterhood here. It’s inclusive. “Students need to pool together. They need to make things happen. Students can’t be onlookers here. I’ve seen some students who have expected things to happen for them – work, entertainment – but they’re the ones who need to step up.”

Bennett new bldg

New Global Studies building

If it gets too small or they need a class not offered on Bennett’s campus, students are welcome to take advantage of the consortium in the Greensboro area. The Heat bus runs loops to all the campuses in the area, and many Bennett students got to A&T or even Elon.

Psychology, biology, and journalism/media are their most popular majors. They have a new Global Studies building.

Traditions include:

  • Initial Convocation: students sign the registry and become official Bennett students. They wear all white for the ceremony.
  • Big/Little Sisters
  • Senior Day: seniors get their superlatives.
  • Graduation when they’re allowed to walk through the gates; these open only at certain times of the year.
  • Convocations are held for an hour on Thursdays. They bring in a range of people from authors to political figures. Oprah, Danny Glover, and Maya Angelou have all come.
Bennett 3

Another building on the quad

For admissions, they’re looking for at least a 2.4 GPA but they have an Emerging Scholars program for students falling below that; students in ES come to campus over the summer to complete 6 credits in math and science. They’re also “test flexible” – they do want scores but have no minimum number that they’re looking for.

Bennett is struggling a bit financially, and they do have a low graduation rate (a little under 50% within 6 years), but at just under $27,000 for tuition, room, and board, this is a great deal. Shy, unsure students will blossom and find a place here. “It’s not for everyone, but if someone needs some care and pushing, this is the place.”

© 2017

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