Prospective Student FAQ

How to Apply to the BardBac

Applying to college as an adult student can be daunting, but we’ll help you navigate the process. If you come across a question you’re not sure how to answer or a piece of documentation you can’t produce, don’t give up. Reach out to us and we’ll do our best to answer your questions. We don’t want a complicated application form or an intimidating question to be the reason you decide not to apply for the BardBac.

Questions about any of this? Contact Madeleine George at george@bard.edu.

If you’ve been to college in the past, even if it was a long time ago:

  1. Begin by applying to Bard College as a transfer student using the transfer student Common Application here. The common transfer application asks some questions about your family, personal history, and previous college experience, includes one short written essay, and asks for two letters of recommendation. Your letters can be from teachers or anyone who knows you well. There is no application fee.
  2. Once you’ve submitted the Transfer Common Application, complete the BardBac scholarship form. Here’s how: Use your Bard applicant portal username and PIN, which will be sent to your email address within 24 hours after you submit your transfer student Common Application, to access the form.  As an applicant, the form will display your applicant details and ask a few additional questions, including a short essay prompt. Once you submit this form, it will be associated with your college application.
  3. You should also complete the FAFSA and CSS Profile financial aid forms. The CSS Profile has a $25 application fee that can be waived; contact Madeleine George at george@bard.edu for fee waiver information.
  4. Finally, you may be contacted for an interview.

If you’ve never been to college before:

  1. Begin by emailing george@bard.edu to be sent an application. This application contains some questions about your family and personal history, includes one short written essay, and asks for two letters of recommendation. Your letters can be from teachers or anyone who knows you well.
  2. Once your application is received, you will be contacted with directions on how to complete the BardBac scholarship form. The scholarship form asks a few additional questions, and includes a second short essay prompt.
  3. You should complete the FAFSA and >CSS Profile financial aid forms. The CSS Profile has a $25 application fee that can be waived; contact Madeleine George at george@bard.edu for fee waiver information.
  4. Finally, you may be contacted for an interview.

If you’ve already submitted your transfer student Common Application, please use your Bard portal login credentials to complete the BardBac scholarship form.

Who are Bard Baccalaureate students?

BardBac students are adults aged 24 and older who have had their college degree paths interrupted or put on hold for a variety of reasons: the need to work, family obligations, student loan debt, structural racism or other forms of inequity. BardBac students may feel generally skeptical of institutions, may have had negative experiences with college in the past, or may be concerned about how they’ll fit in as adults on a typical college campus. They may be people who have assumed college couldn’t be a reality in their lives. Or they may simply be individuals who have taken time to recognize their own intellectual ambitions. There is no one way to be a BardBac student, no one road leading to the program’s door.

What do BardBac students study?

Anything other liberal arts students study: philosophy, art history, mathematics, chemistry, sociology, literature, creative writing—the full breadth of the Bard College catalog is open to BardBac students.

In addition, all BardBac students take a specially designed two-course seminar in their first and second semesters, which replaces Bard’s traditional first-year coursework. The BardBac seminar is an interdisciplinary, writing-intensive class team-taught by Bard faculty members from different departments. The subject matter changes every semester. In Fall 2020, the BardBac seminar focused on language, education, and imperialism, and was co-taught by a history professor and a literature professor. The Spring 2021 Bac Seminar is called “Writing the Body,” and is co-taught by a biology professor and a dance professor. BardBac students also meet weekly as a group with dedicated advisors and form networks of mutual support among themselves.

Every BardBac student’s path to the BA degree is different, depending on their interests and whether or not they bring credits with them when they enroll. BardBac students work with the BardBac advisors and their individual Bard College faculty advisor to build a personalized curriculum, choosing classes from among Bard’s course offerings leading to a major field and senior project topic of their choice.

How does the BardBac fit in with Bard College as a whole?

A private institution in the public service, Bard College enrolls approximately 5,000 students in its global affiliates worldwide, including 2,000 undergraduates in Annandale, nearly 1,000 students in Bard high school/early colleges around the country, and over 300 students across the six in-prison campuses operated by the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI). In all of its programs, the college seeks to provide both a demanding academic program and a supportive environment for the exchange of ideas. Bard is fervently committed to the liberal arts and to democratizing access to them. The BardBac is an embodiment of this commitment

What are the criteria for eligibility?

Applicants to the BardBac program must be 24 years old or older, must hold a high school diploma or equivalency (GED, HSE, HiSET, TASC), and may not hold any degree higher than the associates degree, from any college or university in the U.S. or abroad. No standardized tests are required to apply. U.S. citizenship is not required to apply to the BardBac; Bard admits and supports undocumented students.

Can I apply if I’ve never been to college before?

BardBac students may have earned some college credits in the past, or they may never have been to college before. They are eligible to transfer up to 64 credits earned at other institutions towards their degree. BardBac applicants are encouraged to have official transcripts from previous institutions sent to the Bard registrar as soon as possible, but official transcripts are not required in order to complete the application.

Can I apply to the BardBac if I’m not a U.S. citizen?

Yes. U.S. citizenship is not required to apply to the BardBac; Bard admits and supports undocumented students. Applicants who are not eligible for financial aid due to citizenship requirements will be excused from the financial aid application process.

What if I’m in default on loans I took out in the past?

We can work with that. BardBac applicants must fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form, even if they know it will show that they’re ineligible for financial aid because of loans in default.

Does the BardBac include housing?

No. The BardBac is a full-time, non-residential program; housing is not provided. Students must live within commuting distance of the Bard College campus in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.

Can I attend the BardBac part-time?

No. The BardBac is a full-time BA program. BardBac students enroll in at least three courses each semester on the Annandale campus.

How much does the BardBac cost?

Tuition, books and most fees for the BardBac are covered by scholarships and grants that do not have to be paid back. Students are also eligible for federally subsidized student loans to cover living expenses while they are enrolled, if they choose to take them. BardBac students are responsible for showing proof of health insurance or buying health insurance through the college, a fee not covered by the scholarship. Applicants are required to apply for state and federal financial aid; those whose household finances would qualify them for Pell and TAP grants will be given priority in the admissions process.

Is enrolling in the BardBac the only way for adult students to attend Bard College?

No, the BardBac is not the only pathway to a degree Bard offers to adult students.  Adult applicants with a minimum of 28 college credits earned elsewhere may apply to the Bard Return to College Program as transfer students. Entering the college that way, they are not required to take the two-semester BardBac seminar, nor do they benefit from the larger BardBac community support. Return to College Program students are eligible for financial aid, but it is not guaranteed. If you apply but are not offered admission to the BardBac, you may be offered admission to Bard College through the Return to College Program.

How do I apply to the BardBac?

Begin by completing the application form. Applicants who have earned some college credits already should use the Common Transfer Application here.  Applicants who have never earned college credits in the past should reach out to Madeleine George, Director of Admissions for the Bard Prison Initiative, at george@bard.edu to be sent a separate application. Applications for the Fall 2021 semester will be accepted between February 8 and March 1, 2021. The deadline for applications and financial aid forms for the Fall 2021 semester to be received is March 1, 2021. Finalists may be contacted for an interview. All applicants will be notified of their acceptance status by mid-April, 2021.

Who do I talk to if I have questions?

Contact Madeleine George, Director of Admissions for the Bard Prison Initiative, at george@bard.edu

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