With a semester in the books, the students and faculty at Castleton University’s Bennington branch are starting to hit their stride.
“The professors are more on track, the students are more on track, we’re definitely more settled,” said student Haley Adelt.
Adelt is a former Southern Vermont College student who transitioned into Castleton University’s Bennington nursing program when it opened in August 2019. Students like Adelt are grateful for the program, and, as Adelt said, they “definitely made the right choice.”
Although things are going well, an ongoing challenge will be enrollment, according to Helen Papeika, site coordinator at the Bennington campus. There are currently 27 students enrolled, with the upperclassmen coming mostly from SVC, and the underclassmen from Community College of Vermont.
When asked if she felt like part of the Castleton community, Papeika said, “yes and no.”
“We are a distant campus. We do have our own culture and you have to respect the culture of that campus for what it is. We go by the Castleton mission and vision, we’re covered by Castleton policies, Castleton goals. So, in that case we’re 100% completely Castleton, with just some unique cultural differences because we’re in a different location,” she said.
Adelt agreed with that sentiment.
“We have our own little environment,” she said.
Adelt also mentioned that the students have their own study room, which helps them form a community relationship.
“The students right now I think feel more like SVC students,” said Angie Smith, director of the School of Nursing at Castleton. “The seniors were at SVC for three years. They always say how much they appreciate Castleton coming and doing this, but in their hearts, I think they still don’t feel like Castleton students.”
With application numbers increasing, Smith went on to say that she foresees incoming students will feel more connected to Castleton as a community.
Although the satellite campus is self-sufficient, it is still part of the Castleton community, and may need assistance in the future.
“We may need more support services down there, we may need more faculty, we may need more physical space, we may need more equipment but that’s all going to be based on how fast we grow,” Papeika said.
Castleton’s main campus may hold the vast majority of events, but the Bennington students are not left out. In its first semester, the satellite campus hosted the career center, the library, and the academic center, to name a few. Bennington students are alsao able to go to local events for their Soundings credits so that they don’t have to travel to the main campus.
In the next two to three years, the Bennington campus is looking to move to a larger facility with more classes, according to Smith. The tentative plan is to start introducing other programs, in addition to nursing, so that students can get a well-rounded Castleton education.
Students enrolled in the Bennington program are currently taking their general education requirements through CCV.
“The hope is that we’ll be able to have those general education courses through Castleton in Bennington,” said Smith.
Nursing students are encouraged to look into Bennington campus classes, as well as Castleton campus, to see what fits best with their schedules.