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An Influx of Prospective Students From Bangladesh

Tanvir Anjum, a freshman from Bangladesh, estimates that there are about 9 other students from Bangladesh at Bennington College, which he describes as “a lot.” This number pales in comparison to the number of students from Bangladesh that applied in the 2021-2022 yield season. As an admissions intern, I have spoken with many of them about why they are interested in Bennington but I have been wondering how Bennington reached Bangladesh in the first place.
Anjum stated that, “no one actually told me about Bennington College, I found it by myself” but this is not the case for most applicants this year. “It has… been due to social media, because all of us are posting in our social media about Bennington [and] we have this massive Facebook group where we talk about…. application processes in the US, so that’s where people tend to see how many people got into which colleges.” This theory was confirmed by Swagata Datta, an admissions intern who is also from Bangladesh.
In an interview with Datta, he mentioned that once a number of people began to get admitted to Bennington in that Facebook group, “there were one after another people who got into Bennington and they started talking about it… that’s why people got interested.” It seems that this is a common thread among prospective students from Bangladesh. Datta reminisced about his time applying to colleges and said, “I didn’t know a lot of things about American applications…that group was what helped me get through a lot of this.”
Anjum describes the international student community as, “really strong. It’s a big community, it’s a strong community. Everyone helps each other… It has been so rewarding meeting all of these people from all of these different places.” He further described the events that bring international students together like shared meals and Diwali as being, “part of the welcoming environment that Bennington has.” Anjum goes on to say that he, “would love to see more people from [his] country at Bennington.” Datta mentioned that, “It’s definitely exciting… I know I was the only Bangladeshi student on campus for the first two years.”
With both Anjum and Datta, the topic of culture shock came up. Datta described it in this way: “being from Bangladesh, someone coming from Europe or a different part of the world than I am, they might have a different kind of culture shock than I had… that’s not really a negative, though.” This is always a part of the experience when people move to another country. The admissions office states that they try to get ahead of that culture shock by spreading as much information as they can.
In an interview with Tony Cabasco, Vice-President of Enrollment and Brenna May, an admissions counselor for international prospective students, I discussed more of the statistics around this influx. In response to a question about the increase of Bangladeshi students, Cabasco said, “You may be asking what happened and why… Everybody is up in international applicants…. Ours was 150% increase.” May mentioned that the college had “351 Bangladeshi applicants this year,” and that, “When [she’s] spoken with other colleagues who work at other institutions, that are somewhat similar to Bennington, they’re also seeing an increase from Bangladesh.”
The exact number of new students from Bangladesh is still up in the air at this time in the admissions process but it’s safe to say that 10 will no longer be “a lot.”

Thomas Finegar is a fourth-year studying morally ambiguous characters in theatre through acting and psychology while writing a thesis on the topic this year. Along with being one of the Editors-in-Chief of the Beacon, Thomas is a Drama SEPC representative and a co-leader of the improv team. He is incredibly excited to be working with the Beacon this year and can’t wait to get publishing!

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