• Julie Simons

Swarthmore College

It’s college visit season! First stop: Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Here are the basics (and maybe not-so-basics) to help you understand this special small liberal arts college:


1. Swarthmore is part of the tri-college consortium with Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges. Students can take courses, eat meals, and attend events free of charge at all three schools. Swarthmore students can also take classes at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia as long as the course is not offered by the consortium schools.

2. What sets Swarthmore apart is that THE FIRST SEMESTER OF FRESHMAN YEAR IS PASS/FAIL so students don’t worry about grades and can adjust to college learning and living. Students have the option of taking 4 more courses pass/fail before graduation.

3. Though it only has 1600 students, Swarthmore itself offers classes for 2400 students - so you will never run out of classes to take :) And though it’s a liberal arts college, Swarthmore offers engineering.

4. Students start and end their Swarthmore experience in the Amphitheater on campus. The first Collection and graduation are held there.

5. Inclusion is a key value. Swarthmore is a cash-free campus, meaning there is no charge for anything on campus, including printing or laundry.

6. Because of the focus on community, admissions looks for “bridge builders.”

7. Flexibility is another key value. More than 20% of students create their own major.

8. Swatties (as Swarthmore students are called) value quirkiness. They don’t have TAs. Instead, they have Wizards (math), Alchemists (chemistry), Ninjas (CS), and science associates to help with classes.

9. 3/4 of the students do internships and 2/3 participate in research.

10. Swarthmore offers an externship program the last week of winter break. Students shadow Swarthmore alumni in fields of interest for one week to learn about the field. More than 50% of students participate MORE THAN ONCE.

11. Housing is guaranteed for 4 years, and 95% of students live on campus all 4 years.

12. Professors receive training about how to write letters of recommendation for medical, law, and graduate schools as well as jobs. This gives Swarthmore extremely high success rates for graduates!




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