Swarthmore, PA
Swarthmore College


40 Ratings

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Recent Reviews

Jerry
What is your overall opinion of this school?

Swarthmore is small, and you'll end up knowing a lot of people, which can be good or bad, depending on your preference. Don't...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

Swarthmore is small, and you'll end up knowing a lot of people, which can be good or bad, depending on your preference. Don't expect the vast majority of people in the real world to have heard of Swarthmore-- but the ones who do usually know that it's a great school. There's not really a lot of school spirit, mostly because athletic events are not a big thing on campus (there's no football-- which I see as a good thing), but most people are proud to go here. The town of Swarthmore is dead-- don't expect any great hangouts, it's mostly really small stores that close at 6 pm. Oh, and the campus is GORGEOUS. love it.

Describe the students at your school.

Swarthmore is diverse racially, with a good number of Asians, African-Americans, and Hispanic students. We have an outspoken LGBT community and practically everyone is accepting of that. Socio-economically, most people are well off: it's an expensive school. But Swat's financial aid tries really hard to help lower-income families pay for the school. What kind of student would feel out of place at Swarthmore? A really preppy person who cares a lot about what they wear and how they look. Also, someone who flaunts brand-name things or takes pride in them. Also, conservatives, though the college Republicans has reemerged on campus, which I see as a good thing. A lot of people are politically aware and have (liberal) opinions, even if they don't discuss them often. Students often worry about how they're going to find a job in the "real world" and actually make money as opposed to living in a box or working in a Barnes and Noble.

Here's your chance: Say anything about your college!

The food isn't great, but it's edible. The freshman meal plan is annoying and freshmen aren't allowed to change it until second semester.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

To a degree: people here are smart and not ashamed of being intellectual (which I love!). People here aren't all ugly, really, the truth is that the vast majority of people are just average looking. You're going to have some really beautiful, and some really hideous people, but mostly everyone falls in between. As for being socially awkward, a lot of people actually are-- but it's not always terrible. Sometimes it's endearing, because chances are, you're the same way.

What are the academics like at your school?

Professors do make an effort to know your name, which isn't really hard since most classes are small. Swatties definitely have intellectual conversations outside of class. Students aren't competitive, I haven't heard anyone compare grades here. I haven't spent much time with professors out of class, but it's really up to how much of an effort you put into it. If you do make an effort, professors are usually really responsive and nice. The academic requirements are okay-- at least you can choose which classes to take in each division (ie: you're not forced to take math if you don't want to, or english if you hate it). Chances are you'll end up fulfilling most requirements without trying too hard.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

There are no sororities at Swarthmore, though there is a group, LASS, which is a wanna-be sorority. There are 2 frats, Delta Upsilon and Phi Psi, which aren't the center of social life at all-- mostly, they provide alcohol and throw parties. Athletic events are pretty dead, but I think men and women's soccer got attention last fall. The dating scene: If I had to generalize, I'd say that the dating scene tends to lean to extremes. The Swatties who are in relationships seem to be practically married, otherwise random hookups are pretty prevalent. People do date, but "normal", relaxed relationships aren't all that common. Also, like at other colleges, people seem to think that dating for 2 weeks constitutes a relationship. Those who don't drink can still party here. Also, no one will look down on you if you just want to stay in some weekends and watch a movie or catch up on sleep. Philadelphia isn't that far, but most people don't go. Either there's stuff goin g on campus or people have work. Most people don't go more than once or twice a semester, if at all.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

Stereotypes: Swatties are super-nerdy, unattractive, and socially awkward.

Andy
What is your overall opinion of this school?

By junior year, a lot of Swatties chafe at the limited size of the school, but I don’t really mind. Yes, it’s annoying trying...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

By junior year, a lot of Swatties chafe at the limited size of the school, but I don’t really mind. Yes, it’s annoying trying to hide from people I wished I hadn’t hooked up with, but even that adds tension to the day. I like recognizing most people around campus, or at least their names; I like how familiar and close the community is. The “college town” is a big weakness. Everyone rolls their eyes at the Ville. It’s tiny and unaccommodating and DRY, so there are no off-campus bars. I love having Philly so close and I go pretty often, once every week or two weeks I guess; people who whine should go more. There’s lots in Philly that’s exciting and cheap. You can’t measure school spirit in typical ways here. People tend to be critical of everything—that’s how they show their love. Still, most students here wouldn’t go anywhere else. They may get tired of the way four years here feels like in-depth sensitivity training but they recognize that they’re surrounded by the kind of strange, brilliant, often hilarious people they couldn’t really find anywhere else. No one is crazy about our president. The best thing you can say about him is that he’s mostly harmless. The rest of the administration though is responsive and interested, and I’ve always appreciated their policy towards alcohol and drugs (essentially, be responsible and don’t get arrested or hospitalized). The fact that events on campus are all free makes me feel especially generous towards them.

Describe the students at your school.

There’s a decent amount of racial diversity on campus—a lot of international and queer students, who integrate well, and a lot of African-Americans, who integrate less well. Ideologically, there isn’t much diversity at all. People are over to the left, period, end of story. They do tend to be respectful of dissent, if you can defend your viewpoint. One of the most popular figures on campus is a College Republican with a great sense of humor. Socially, there’s a strong respect for “safe spaces,” which means, essentially, closed groups, although there’s an ongoing debate about this. The campus is very queer friendly and it’s currently working on being very trans-friendly too. I like being around leftists. I feel comfortable arguing when I disagree with the prevailing orthodoxy, most of the time, and I feel like there’s always something to think about.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Well, sure. On the other hand, I've really appreciated seeing so much diversity on campus in terms of how people dress, having the definition of "attractive" expanded from what it meant in high school. There is pride here in being out of / independent of the mainstream. Swatties are very political and activisty in general. Not everyone but a lot of people. Even most of the earnest lefties are ironic or cynical to some degree about their participation, though. The wide-eyed, idealistic, "let's change the world!" types are rare on the ground, at least, after freshman year. And classes are hard. There's a lot of reading and since classes are small it's hard to keep up and seem involved if you don't do it. That said, most people work because they enjoy it. They get excited about their classes and talk about what they've learned. Swarthmore is a safe space to be a dork?to get passionate about ideas.

What are the academics like at your school?

Yes, professors know our names and we know theirs. I’ve gone to several of their houses (they’re within walking distance) and I’m familiar with the details of the personal lives of several too. Professors really seem to care about us, which is cozy. I’ve also run into problems with them and their flakiness—is it because they’re so smart and that they’re allowed to get away with forgetting to return papers? Still, I’ve learned a huge amount from them and from even my crazy classes like “Vampires.” I almost never woke up and didn’t want to go to class. It helps to be in a community where intelligence is valued. Virtually everyone at least considers going on to grad school, even if some students whine that it feels like we’re already there. Classes are very theory-heavy. Some students enjoy that; I get irritated sometimes at how jargon-y and insular theory can be. It is a sign that professors take us seriously, I guess. I wanted more practical classes. The film department, for example, only had one actual film-making class and they had to call in a visiting professor to teach it. And there aren’t many creative writing workshops. I had to go to UPenn to take Screenwriting. Even in more standard fields like fiction and poetry, though, the Quakers’ subtle bias against art comes through: none of the professors had MFAs. They were all just English teachers who liked writing. Swarthmore is definitely a learning-for-learning’s-sake kind of place, and an applying-lessons-to-life kind of place too. It’s common for students to use deconstructing techniques to analyze everything, from the seemingly harmless, like Disney movies, to the more insidious, like political campaigns. Nobody is so crass as to talk about wanting to make money when we graduate. Most people dream of non-profits and, if anything, just paying off their loans. (Also a lot of people have rich parents but they don’t talk about that either.)

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

That Swatties study too much and too hard; that they’re intellectual and probably weird-looking and left-wing. That they’re dorks, basically.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

There are only two frats on campus and no sororities. There’s an alcohol-fueled party life but it’s probably nothing compared to Penn or typical state schools. On the other hand, we can leave our empty bottles in the hall recycling bins without anyone batting an eyelash. Freshman and sophomore years, the on campus free parties (with free booze) are more attractive. There’s usually music and dancing and some space to talk too. There are free concerts on campus, mostly small travelling indie bands, and there are free movie showings every weekend. It’d be great if the Ville expanded but still, we’ll always have Philly. Overall I’m happy with the social life. I love my friends and whether we’re playing board games and eating take out Chinese or whatever, it’s always entertaining. In general, there’s no judgment: you can be gay today and straight tomorrow, or queer forever, or straight, or poly, and no one cares. The health center provides birth control and condoms and really good ob/gyn services. The school has a few big traditional parties when people really go crazy. The ML Halloween party brings out some amazing costumes and lots of drunken revelry, as do the Screw Your Roommate dance (and the pre-dance ritual where people must discover who their blind date is) and Sager, which used to be called Genderfuck and is still an excuse for people to take off the clothes. One year there were drunken people actually having sex on the dance floor. There’s also senior Greenbottle, which is supposed to be an opportunity to hook up with whoever you always wanted to hook up with.

Mello
What is your overall opinion of this school?

Swarthmore, the people. Even if they are socially impaired at times I love them. My friends are my friends for life, I can gu...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

Swarthmore, the people. Even if they are socially impaired at times I love them. My friends are my friends for life, I can guarantee that. I would have a student center, I would change the social dynamics of the school. It is kind of monotonous. School is way too small, everyone always knows everyone elses business. People react as if I were a genius. Like I am special for being here, and I consider myself very privileged to be in a highly academic atmosphere. Most of my time is spent in my dorm room, hanging out with friends, but I believe this is because I am a senior and am going to leave therefore I feel the need to always be with my friends since we wont be together next year. There is no town. The ville has basically nothing. The new DUnkin' Donuts was all the rage. But Philly is 20 min SEPTA ride away! Swat's admin are nice, they are here to take care of you. Any problem it's fixed. Seriously, they care more about the students than any other college I've experienced. They are all easy to approach and easy to talk to. Biggest controversy was the College Republicans making a come back and using queer terminology to promote their campaign, such as "Coming Out". There is some school pride, sports pride have gotten bigger but its not significant part of our lives. Unusual, everyone is unusual. I will always remember the night my friends and I had a bonfire with guitar and music and booze, and it was the most amazing night I've had. Not a good social scene, monotony, more mainstream people in the school, guys are not good looking.

Describe the students at your school.

Racial, religious, LGBT, class groups are all present on campus. We always have a month dedicated, groups are constantly throwing events to create awareness on campus, and there is a lot of discussions in class over these issues and there social construction. I think anyone can feel out of place here depending if they find their niche or not. Most students wear whatever they feel like wearing, no one adheres to any heteronormative, socially expected way of dress. Different types of students do interact. We don't all stay with like people. Four tables with all kinds of people. Maybe one will have the lacrosse team on it or the baseball team. Most of the tables are filled by teams coming from their practices, but the people on the teams are all unique and different. Most Swat students are from NYC, PA and CA. I would say 70% of students are on some sort of financial aid. Yes, very politically aware and active, all the time, except the republicans, they don't speak out too much. So we're predominantly left, although even within the left you'll find some mode of conservatism. NO. We NEVER talk about earnings. Most students could care less.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Pretty much, all students have to choose three of the four, if you do all you must be some kind of a genius or time manipulator.

What are the academics like at your school?

Yes. All Professors know my name in the department of my major, even though there are 30 majors. My favorite class was Evolution with Colin Purrington, the man is just amazing. Social Psych with Andrew Ward. Intro Philosophy with Schuldenfrei. Animal Physiology with Sara Hibert Burch. Any class with Rachel Merz. Any class with Diane Anderson in the education department. Least favorite class was with a visiting prof, so that's good. Students are constantly studying, as a matter of fact that is what I should be doing rather than filling out this survey. Class participation is very common except in big lectures, usually intro classes. Once you become a senior they are not many intellectual conversations and more of life/future conversations. I had them more when I was a underclassmen. Students are absolutely not competitive at all. We reinforce each other and care about each other and help each other succeed. The most unique class I've taken was Social and Political Philosophy with Schuldenfrei. The biology department is AMAZING. They are attentive, caring and generous with their students. I went to several large conferences for Genetics, and so have my peers in their respective submajors. They allow every student to form their own curriculum with some rigidity but general freedom. They want you to succeed so much they have a science associate program to tutor students. I am a science associate and I think it's an amazing program. You can always do your own research and they always provide us with amazing opportunities to grow as biologists. I spend time with my prof's outside of class, they don't mind. Swat has rigorous academic requirements but they are fit so each student has a great liberal arts education. It's geared toward's learning for its own sake. some of it might be for jobs, but mostly not.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

There is no one popular group. I am involved in SAC, the Social Affairs Committee, it's a group that allocates monetary funds for different groups to throw events open to the whole campus. All events are free and paid for by the college that way anyone from any socioeconomic background can enjoy the social scene at Swarthmore. I lock my door, but it's always open when I am in my room and so are most people's doors. Athletic events are becoming more popular but they aren't as popular as they might be at other schools. There are at least 5-6 guest speakers a week. There are 5-7 plays a semester, anyone can audition. The plays are generally amazing, very well made, directed. Dating scene sucks. No one goes on dates. I went on two dates in my whole time here. Usually you get stuck to one person and spend a long time with them or hook up with people whilst drunk on the weekends. There is no middle, it does not exist. I met my closest friends on my freshmen hall and from my frisbee team. If I am awake at 2 am on Tuesday I am either a) talking to my friends b) reading for seminar the next day c) sleeping. Traditions: 1) Halloween Party 2) Fall Formal 3) Screw Your Roommate 4) Kielbasafest 5) Worthstock 6) Movies on the Beach 7) Every semester there is a large scale event with people like: Ben Folds, The Roots, Wanda Sykes, Mitch Hedberg, They Might Be Giants, Blackalicious, The New Pornographers 8) Willets Carnival People party every weekend the way they see fit. There are always dance parties people can go to, alcohol and food at the parties are free. There are two frats and they are not important, but they do add to the social scene on campus. Last weekend I was sick with the stomach flu that is being passed around campus like most sicknesses. Saturday night, the possibilities are endless. You can do anything you want as long as its not illegal. Off campus, I go to restaurants, I go to museums, I observe in classrooms. Swat also has a great selection of bands that come every semester to play during the weekends. We also have Rose Tattoo where student bands play.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

The typical Swarthmore student is awkward, nerdy, hardworking, activist...socially awkward. Like they say choose three of four: friends, work, sex and sleep.

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