Immersion Program FAQs
How do I register for the Immersion Program?
You can register for the Immersion Program by going to the Register Now page on the Vermont Woodworking School website. There is a simple form online. The form helps us make sure you are a good fit for the Immersion program and that we are going to meet your educational goals. We also look for evidence of working with your hands and a strong desire to learn woodworking and fine furniture-making. In addition, your answers will be provided to instructors prior to the start of the program so they can learn more about your background and woodworking goals. After submitting the form, we will contact you for a brief phone call to learn more about you and answer any questions you may have.
Is housing available?
Semester housing is available on site. There are two student housing units: the silo housing and the farmhouse. The silos have been converted to a six bedroom, two bath home with a shared kitchen, living area, and laundry; the farmhouse six bedrooms, two baths with a full kitchen and one kitchenette, two laundry areas, a shared living room, and several porches.
Is financial aid available?
Vermont Woodworking School awards scholarships of $500 to $1,000 per semester to Immersion Program students. Students are welcome to reapply each semester for a scholarship. Scholarships are awarded based on financial need and/or merit. Students are welcome to apply for both need-based and merit-based scholarships. The total amount awarded will generally not exceed $1,000 per student per semester. The Immersion Program is G.I. Bill eligible, however students cannot access federal financial aid. Students in Northern Vermont University's Associate of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts are eligible for federal financial aid and GI Bill; please contact the NVU Admissions Office for additional information.
Can I come to visit?
We are available Monday-Friday and are happy to show you around the Vermont Woodworking School, discuss the curriculum and your goals. Please schedule your tour with the Vermont Woodworking School by calling 802-849-2013 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Plan to spend about one hour at the school for your visit.
Do I need to know woodworking before coming to the Immersion Program?
While there will be students in the program who have some experience woodworking, this is not a requirement. More commonly, new students have limited or no experience woodworking but do have strong desire to learn and a history of working with their hands, i.e. furniture refinishing, built a deck, tree-house or chicken coop, fine art, etc. People with no history of working with their hands may find the program too challenging. If you'd like to get a taste of woodworking before committing to the full semester program, we recommend taking one of our Short Form Workshop.
I am worried that I am not good enough to come to the Vermont Woodworking School.
Students should not be wary of being left behind by more experienced students. The program provides a lot of instructor support to students learning the fundamentals skills and techniques of woodworking and furniture-making. Students with no experience or drive to make things with their own hands may find the program challenging.
When are classes?
Students in the Immersion Program are in classes and have access to faculty from 9 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. In addition, students have access to the shop in the evening and on the weekends. At the start of the semester, those hours are through 8 pm Monday through Friday and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm. As the semester progresses, the shop will stay open until 9 pm on weekdays and will be open from 10 to 6 on Saturdays and Sundays.
During the weekdays, students participate in a structured curriculum for about 22 hours per week. The majority of that structured curriculum is instruction and supervised practice in skills and techniques of woodworking and furniture-making (joinery, dovetails, turning, finishing, etc.). Part of the time is spent as a group exploring students’ individual design projects. During the weekdays when not in a scheduled class, students are encouraged to spend time in the shop and at their bench making progress on their individual design projects and fine tuning their skills.
When can I access the shop?
In addition to class time, the shop is also open evenings and weekends to students who have been approved to use tools without instructor supervision. The shop is opened on nights and weekends by students participating in the VWS Assistantship program. We are closed for some holidays and for school breaks. In the summer months we are closed on Sundays.
Does the Immersion Program include business and computer marketing skills?
In their second or third semester, students can participate in the three-credit Business Practices and Computer Marketing class. Students learn the basics of setting up their business, photographing their work, and the importance of developing a portfolio and online presence.
How is the Immersion Program different than Northern Vermont University’s A.A. or B.F.A. in Fine Woodworking and Furniture Design?
The courses that are offered as the Immersion Program at Vermont Woodworking School are cross-listed at Northern Vermont University. Students in the Immersion Program study side-by-side with Northern Vermont University students pursuing their Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.). The primary differences between the programs are that students in NVU's B.F.A. are taking fewer courses at VWS per semester and are also taking additional classes at Northern Vermont University to complete the requirements of the degree they are seeking. NVU students receive college credit. Immersion students receive continuing education trade credits and a printed certificate as evidence of completion of the program. Students in Northern Vermont University's B.F.A. are eligible for federal financial aid and GI Bill. Federal financial aid is not available for the Immersion Program but it is G.I. Bill eligible. If you are interested in pursuing the option of a B.F.A., please let us know and we will put you in touch with Northern Vermont University’s Admissions Office.
Do I need to bring my own tools?
Immersion Program students are provided a tool kit if they have not yet acquired their tools. VWS recommends that you acquire your tools over time as you learn what you will need and discover your personal preferences. Students who want to purchase their own tools can reference our list of Recommended Tools & Materials.
What should I bring for my room?
While there are some variations, each room is furnished with a bed, an overhead or standing lamp, a dresser and/or a closet, a small desk and chair. You will need to bring your own sheets, pillows, bedding, a bedside lamp, toiletries, towels, laundry detergent, and food to prepare in the shared kitchen. When you receive your housing assignment, you will be told what size bed is in your room so you can bring the correct size sheets. You may also want to bring items to personalize your room such as posters, a small rug, pictures, etc... The kitchen in each of the housing units is equipped with basic items. You may want to bring any special kitchen gadgets you require and small appliances such as a french press, waffle iron, etc...
How do I buy materials?
Some materials for classes are provided. For lumber that is not provided, students can choose from a broad selection of wood species at Tree House in South Burlington, Vermont. We also teach students how to source wood directly from the sawmills in Vermont.
For the variety of non-lumber items required for woodworking, our local hardware store, J&L in Fairfax, carries just about everything students will need. Some more unique items can be purchased online and shipped to the Vermont Woodworking School. If you have any questions about where you can find what you need, ask a faculty member or someone in the office. We are happy to share that information.
What jobs does participating in the Immersion Program prepare me for?
Students participating in the Immersion Program will gain solid skills in woodworking, furniture-making, design skills, and SolidWorks 3D design software. These skills will qualify participants to work in small to large furniture-making businesses, in shops of independent furniture-makers, and to start their own woodworking or furniture-making ventures. The computer design skills are transferable to other industries. Staying beyond two semesters allow students to learn entrepreneurship, photography and marketing skills which are helpful for starting your own business.
How is Vermont Woodworking School different than other woodworking programs?
The Immersion Program is designed to teach both the foundational skills in woodworking, and how to design furniture, taking projects all the way from concept to completion. It is rare to find a school that successfully focuses on both. Like a trade school, we are intensively focused on the skills and techniques of the trade covering everything from wood movement and joinery to turning and finishing. Like an art school, we strongly emphasize design through instruction and the peer and faculty critique process.
Unlike other programs, the Immersion program allows a fair amount of latitude when choosing individual design projects. This means that motivated, talented students are able to advance very quickly and students who need more time can set achievable limits.
Our courses are taught by professional furniture-makers who bring decades of experience in the field to share with students.
Who will answer my questions between now and the first day?
If you have questions that you cannot find answers to here, or if you would just prefer to talk with a live person, you can reach us in the office by calling (802) 849-2013 or by emailing us. We are always happy to hear from our students and will do our best to answer your questions.