Seven Deadlies: A Cautionary Tale
When I was deciding where to go to undergrad, I was drawn to the small universities for wealthy hippies (I was neither wealthy nor a hippie, but, for whatever reason, these were the schools I liked).
These schools are basically the higher-education versions of Montessori schools, and there are more of them out there than you’d think. They are teeny-tiny (total student body is generally well under 2,000, and the average class size is about 10 students). Some don’t use letter grades; they have written evaluations instead. Independent studies, create-your-own-major programs, and unique class offerings (like “”Cross-Species Ensemble: Human and Animal Sonics”) are as prevalent as traditional courses. Vegetarian and vegan options abound at the various restaurants and cafés on campus. Study-abroad opportunities are available on every continent. Performing arts are huge; sports are not (aside from club sports like ultimate Frisbee, of course). Students call their professors by their first names and meet them for fireside small-group chats at the on-campus, free-trade coffee shops.
One of the schools I visited during my search was Bennington College. When it comes to small universities for wealthy hippies, Bennington is the front-runner. On Princeton Review’s list of colleges for “Birkenstock-Wearing, Tree-Hugging, Clove-Smoking Vegetarians,” it ranks #1 (yes, this is an actual list and an actual ranking). It is located in the super-hippie town of Bennington, Vermont (one of the hippiest places on Earth). And, not surprisingly, it is grossly expensive (tuition for the 2013-14 academic year is $44,490; room and board is over $13,000).
Famous alums of Bennington College include Peter Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) and Justin Theroux (of Jennifer Anniston fame). It is also known for spitting out some pretty talented writers, like Donna Tartt and Bret Easton Ellis.
I eventually decided Bennington wasn’t for me (and headed to the West Coast, land of rain and real hippies). But I certainly understand the school’s appeal, which is why I was initially drawn to this book. Seven Deadlies is written as a college application essay (or, more accurately, collection of essays) to the Bennington Admissions Committee.