Students unfazed by Cosmopolitan ranking


BENNINGTON -- Bennington College was mentioned in Cosmopolitan Magazine this month, and, as you may guess, the article had nothing to do with the college's academics.

Turn to page 148 and you will see that it is ranked the sixth worst college out of 10 nationwide at which to meet single men.

The remaining nine colleges include the likes of New York University, nearby Skidmore College, and Connecticut College, among others.

The author of the article, Jessica Grose, noted that the lists were compiled based on the male to female ratio of each college's student body.

Those institutions with a greater number of males were dubbed the best colleges at which to meet single men, while those colleges -- smaller ones, for the most part -- with a predominantly female student body were named the worst.

Bennington College falls into both categories, as a small and female-heavy college, with a total student enrollment of 826 and a female to male ratio of 65:35.

One Bennington College senior, 21-year-old Emma del Valle, was interviewed for the article, in which she compared dating at Bennington College to "bobbing for apples at the end of a party."

"It's messy, the good ones are gone and it takes a lot of effort," she said, adding that she and her friends tend to seek significant others off-campus, as the small student body is close-knit and can therefore lead to complications down the line.

Students shared sentiments similar to del Valle on Tuesday when interviewed about their reactions to the unconventional publicity for their school.

Todd Baron, a sophomore studying visual arts, said he isn't dating anyone right now and knows a slew of other students in the same boat.

"Being here is really about self discovery, so a lot of us aren't thinking about dating," he said. "You get trapped in your own little world and just don't have the time for dating. Being part of someone else's purpose here is kind of difficult when most of us are focusing on our own."

Another sophomore, Eddy Casonori, echoed del Valle's feeling about Bennington College's being small as a big contributor to its dating scene, or lack thereof.

"Things can get complicated really quickly," he laughed, recounting a time when he dated a girl who lived in the same dorm as he did freshman year. He noted that it didn't end well.

"The school is so small that you see the same people all the time," he said. "You can also get bored being around those people, you almost feel stuck. Everyone is friends with the same people."

Sophomore Abby Mahler said she came to Bennington College from her home state of California fully aware of the vastly uneven female to male ratio and that it hasn't bothered her yet.

Like Casonori, Mahler also pegged Bennington College's small size and tight-knit student body as contributing factors to this so-called "problem," explaining that she has friends who attend colleges much larger than hers who say it's much easier to enter into a relationship there than it would be at a smaller institution.

"Students at the larger colleges seem to crave that close connection," said Mahler. "You want a connection at a large school that is someone close to you, so that you don't feel lost in a crowd, whereas here, you already have people close to you, friends you're close with. If I went to a bigger school, I'm sure I would feel the need to be in a relationship and have that connection."

Mahler's friend Andrew Elk agreed, noting that the few couples he knows at Bennington College seem to really need that other person to make them happy.

"There are people in relationships but they're definitely few and far between," he laughed.

Elk also praised the student body's relaxed attitude towards the topic of dating, which he said he feels to be a unique quality of the school.

"There's really no pressure to be in a relationship here," he said.

Mahler concurred, saying her time at Bennington College was a nice break from the "outside world" and it's dating pressures, especially the phone calls, she joked, from her grandmother, asking her if she's, "found a nice Jewish boy to marry yet."

"I enjoy the relaxed atmosphere," she said. "It's a good vibe to have."

Juniors Nick DiLeonardi and Sophie Hesselgrave, met at Bennington College and have been dating for one year.

They don't deny that the dating scene at their school is unique and that it might appear to be undesirable to outside parties, who may not be privy to their college's unique culture.

"There's a certain incestuous feel or something weird that seems to happen here," said DiLeonardi. "We don't mind it, but some people might hate it."

Hesselgrave agreed, and noted that since many of the students at Bennington College share similar interests and mentalities that it is not uncommon for those "few and far between" relationships to be "very sound."

So, maybe Bennington College will now be known as the sixth worst college for women hoping to meet their next boyfriend, or perhaps their future husband, but fortunately, the students don't really seem to care.

They're too busy focusing on a bigger problem: Getting an education.

Contact Elizabeth A. Conkey at econkey@benningtonbanner .com or follow on Twitter @bethconkey.


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