Swarthmore, PA
Swarthmore College


40 Ratings

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Recent Reviews

Ariane
What is your overall opinion of this school?

Students are very smart, very interesting and very nice. The staff of the school is exceptionally nice, too (non-faculty), an...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

Students are very smart, very interesting and very nice. The staff of the school is exceptionally nice, too (non-faculty), and the professors are brilliant. High emphasis on learning, understanding and hard work, low emphasis on superficial things like money and dress and showing you know how to party. Small community that is very invested in itself, usually in a good way, although sometimes people complain too much and forget their blessings. Tons of homework, but most people embrace it.

Describe the students at your school.

People are very smart and care about the world. Sometimes this results in judgment upon others, which is unfortunate, but for the most part people are really nice. At Swarthmore, you are inclined to question every thought you've ever had. I thought the campus was diverse, but I'm not in a minority group so my experience might not be the most telling. You can wear pajamas to class and no one will question you; you can also wear a dress and heels and not be given a hard time for that. I felt that people dropped a lot of superficial expectations for themselves in the Swarthmore environment, which I considered positive. I stopped wearing makeup while I was there, for example, because other people didn't. People's politics are very left-wing, no doubt about that. Some people come from little money but a lot of people do have rich families -- what was interesting is that they seemed mostly to want to hide that fact rather than flaunt it. The school ensures equity of activities on campus by not allowing any parties or lectures or performances to charge a fee, unless it's for a student group raising funds. This was a great help, and I felt bad for my friends at other schools who had to dish out money every weekend for events on their own campus.

What are the academics like at your school?

Incredibly smart professors who tend to be open to developing close relationships with their students. Great class discussions as long as the professors provide the right direction, which doesn't always happen -- the one thing I'd change about Swat academics would be to add more lecture and decrease discussion time, since we had so much to gain from our professors and less from one another. Everyone studies all the time and people talk about their class material outside class for fun -- I feel like I absorbed half my best friend's course material just from chatting with her every day about whatever she'd found interesting. Classes are purely academic and not geared toward professions. I learned what I needed to know to start out as a journalist from working on The Phoenix, but my work and life and relationships and thoughts are affected every day by what I learned in my classes and from my peers. So my education at Swat was more of a holistic experience, not to sound tacky.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

People are very committed to their activities. It's a small campus, so there aren't tons of party options, but I don't think this was a huge thing for most of us. Lots of people drink, lots of people never drink. Many people party for a few hours and then return to their room and study before crashing. Everyone seems to feel very safe and secure among one another, which is probably risky. I personally couldn't understand why so many people would never lock their doors, but that was fairly common. The dating scene was generally complained about, but I met some great guys at Swarthmore and didn't have any complaints there.

Dan
What is your overall opinion of this school?

It sounds like a cliche, but for me Swarthmore is all about the students. It was great to be surrounded by a bunch of intere...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

It sounds like a cliche, but for me Swarthmore is all about the students. It was great to be surrounded by a bunch of interesting, idiosyncratic people. People who think it's fun to have an intense, heady conversation. If the idea of spending four years surrounded by a bunch of slightly off-kilter, extremely cerebral and typically poorly dressed people sounds good to you, then you'd love Swarthmore.

Describe the students at your school.

The student body is diverse by the standards of liberal arts colleges. The left is most vocal, but there are vocal students on the right, and plenty of others who aren't as politically minded. Lots of gay students, and quite gay friendly. In most circle it isn't seen as a big deal. Fairly economically diverse. Few people are showy about their money, and it's often not clear what peoples' backgrounds are. A good number of east coasters and Californians, but also lots of people from all over, including many internationals.

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

I'm from the class of '04, so my impressions might be out of date. I've heard that the admissions people are increasing going after more conventional students, the types who will graduate, get well-paying jobs in established professions, donate lots of money, and help the school climb the rankings. I certainly hope not. Swatties tend to bitch and moan, as people in general do, but most of the people I know had extremely positive experiences, and are very happy that they went to Swarthmore. Sorry, I don't have much dirt.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Pretty accurate, as stereotypes go. Least so when it comes to being no fun, but it is true that Swatties aren't generally into the "play hard" type of partying.

What are the academics like at your school?

Academics are very intense. You will be expected to work very hard - harder, in fact, than in my PhD program. Many people find it stressful. My theory is that this is to a large extent the result of self-selection. The admissions department finds a bunch of really intense students, throws them together, and they go a bit crazy. I would not, however, describe it as being at all competitive. People are internally motived to work hard, and do so, but they also help each other and support each other in a really nice way. There are a lot of nice people at Swarthmore. My classes were very rewarding. The highlights for me were the honors seminars, which had 10 or fewer students and lasted from 1:15 to 5 or 6. I also had some of my best experiences in random electives with great teachers. The professors are as a rule extremely helpful and accessible. They're at Swarthmore because they want to teach.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

If you want to find a strong frat scene, this is not the place. If you like hanging out with friends over a couple beers, or going to a (relatively tame) dance party, then you should be happy. A good place to find very hard-core sci-fi/fantasy/folk dancing types, although they are a small minority. Swatties tend to over-commit, and have a ridiculous number of extra-curricular activities. Since it's such small place it's easy to get involved in anything. At Swat all you need are two degrees of separation. Some people find that suffocating, as there are fewer people to meet and everyone finds out about your business. Some love the tight-knit community, the experience of entering a party and feeling like everyone there is a friend of yours.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

Swarthmore students are neurotic, nerdy, hard-working, intellectually engaged, leftist, smart, uninterested in partying, no fun.

Andy
What is your overall opinion of this school?

I am very happy at Swat. The academics are strong so I can pursue my interests vigorously and prepare myself professionally....

What is your overall opinion of this school?

I am very happy at Swat. The academics are strong so I can pursue my interests vigorously and prepare myself professionally. There is a heavy workload, but I prefer it to a school where I wouldn't be getting my money's worth. The campus is beautiful and it is close to Philadelphia (but you probably will be only to go around every other week at best depending on work). The size is great for me, you know people and there's a nice community. I like seeing my friends all the time just walking in between class or eating etc... There's enough people that there is diversity and it's not like you'll know or meet everybody. Swarthmore town is a joke, you can get pizza, Chinese food, a haircut, and some groceries. The food is probably around average for a school its size. The students are the best part about Swat. Everybody here is very friendly, intelligent, and open. I haven't met anybody that I don't like, and I love interacting with people here. Everybody is friend material. A big difference between the student body here vs. other colleges is that people here are more likely to act poorer than they actually are as opposed to richer. People here are down to Earth and not superficial. Parties are ok, not a party or a heavy drinking school, as there is a substantial percentage of the student body who does not or rarely drinks. Overall, excellent school for someone hardworking and wants to be surrounded by awesome people!

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Pretty much, but none of them are in a negative way. There is no competition between students, people compete with themselves as much as they want. There is a lot of work, but it is always manageable. We generally have nerdy interests or are on the intellectual side. We're also liberal, which makes for a more accepting community.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

We are intense, nerdy, and liberal.

Reese
What is your overall opinion of this school?

There is NO college town, but there is a lot going on at school, so it is alright. Also, Philly is there, but it takes time,...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

There is NO college town, but there is a lot going on at school, so it is alright. Also, Philly is there, but it takes time, energy, $$ and planning to get to.

Describe the students at your school.

A conservative student should think twice about coming here. We are mostly all liberal and people who are intolerant, heteronormative, etc. will get their face yelled off. Students are politically active and aware. Social consciousness/community service, etc. is HUGE. Money is not a big goal for most people.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

I have found the work and workload to be challenging, but doable. Professors, upperclassmen, etc. are all really good at helping out if you are struggling. People here are unique and interesting, but I like that. Most people have things they are really excited and passionate about. I will say, we are not the most attractive bunch though.

What are the academics like at your school?

Professors ALL know my name and yes they do spend time outside of class talking to me at office hours, department social events (such as picnics, receptions, ice cream socials, etc.), sporting events, church, community service events, meals, etc. They are great: down to earth, enthusiastic, caring about their students (as whole people, not just as a single-faceted student in a particular class...it is common for them to ask about roommates, family, weekend plans, other courses, etc) and just lots of fun. Students study every day. We work hard for sure, but you set priorities and do that. I have gone out every weekend. I have friends who have slept for 9 hours or more every night. etc. Students are NOT competitive. It is a really cooperative environment. It is taboo to talk about specific grades you got. Learning is about furthering your own understanding and the best way to do that is to work together, exchange ideas, etc. MY favorite and most unique class was "Music of WWII and the Holocaust". It was totally different and I feel like I learned things about how people get through hard times, how different social movements can come together, how those can be expressed through art, etc. It was AMAZING. I feel like we are geared towards learning here, not getting a job. That said, I have been employed for next year since November. I have been very happy with career services. I had tons of interviews (in business, finance, and consulting) and interviewers had a high regard for Swatties.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

I have fun. Drinking is pretty open here but very safe because upper classment tend to take care of kids, etc. There are TONS of clubs and organizations and the school is good about helping people start new ones. The frats serve an important role for people who want that, but lots of other people rarely ever go there. Athletic events are increasing in popularity. The dating scene: either hooking up or practically married.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

One big stereotype is that we are all really nerdy or weird. Another is that we are all ugly. Another is that the work is too hard and that there is an impossible amount.

Sara
What is your overall opinion of this school?

Swarthmore is an amazing place to be, but it isn't for everyone. It's great because everyone is smart. I've been in class a...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

Swarthmore is an amazing place to be, but it isn't for everyone. It's great because everyone is smart. I've been in class and assumed that guys in my class won't have anything to say because they look like bros that aren't serious about academics. Then they open their mouths and have a lot to say about capitalism or can quote the Canterbury Tales or something. There are all types of people, and everyone is good at something. On the other hand, not everyone likes how people are very uptight about things like political correctness. Really, though, it's just that Swarthmore students think about everything. In terms of prestige, Swarthmore is very well known at grad schools, but less well known by the people who probably live down the street from you. People mostly don't know about Swarthmore, but when they do, they are very impressed. The Borough of Swarthmore is very small, but you can get food and groceries. One of the best things about Swarthmore is the ability to get into Philadelphia. Besides the fun things you can do there, it makes it easy to catch a train or plane.

Describe the students at your school.

Swarthmore students are generally very accepting of different racial, religious, and queer identities. Although there is still prejudice around, it is talked about and discussed way more than at a lot of other schools. However, there are still cliques around. It is true that Swarthmore students are probably less attractive than at a lot of other schools, but there are still good looking people around. They are around- don't be fooled! Swarthmore is very liberal. There is a College Republicans group, but the general feeling is very liberal.

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

Swarthmore is a great school, but it isn't for everyone, so I recommend visiting before deciding to come!

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

These stereotypes do come from somewhere- Swarthmore students do work really hard and are a little insecure about going to a school that no one has heard of. On the other hand, Swatties do have parties and fun. In fact, Bryn Mawr and Haverford students are far more likely to come to Swarthmore for parties than Swarthmore students are to go to Bryn Mawr or Haverford for their parties.

What are the academics like at your school?

Academics at Swarthmore are intense. You will have to spend a lot of hours in the library, but you will also learn interesting things. The classes mostly aren't huge and professors generally know your name and will help you with your assignments if you ask them. One of the best things about Swarthmore academics is that the first semester of freshman year is pass/fail. It lets freshmen figure out how much time and effort they need to put into academics and lets them have fun for their first semester. You can study anything that you find interesting. For example, my first semester I took a seminar called "Women and Popular Culture." We did everything from read Uncle Tom's Cabin to watching Bridget Jones' Diary. I even wrote a paper on Desperate Housewives! At the same time, though I learned a lot about theory, feminism, and media.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

People are very involved at Swarthmore. People all have their "thing," whether it be sports, activist groups, affinity groups, or performance groups. There are two frats, mostly comprised of athletes, but the members don't live at the frats, they just have parties and are not a huge presence on campus. Because it is such a small campus, a lot of the parties are in all-campus spaces, not in people's rooms. Therefore, they are fun and not exclusive. In terms of drinking, the school's main priority is keeping people safe, not getting people in trouble. There is also a fairly big group that doesn't drink, and there are things to do that don't involve drinking.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

Some people think that all Swarthmore students do is study. They think we don't go out on the weekends or hang out with friends- basically that we spend all our time in the library. Swarthmore students are also seen as elitist and as having a chip on their shoulders because they are at a good liberal arts school instead of an Ivy.

Elena
What is your overall opinion of this school?

Swarthmore is not for everybody. Often it feels more like a prep school than a college, especially given its manicured lawns...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

Swarthmore is not for everybody. Often it feels more like a prep school than a college, especially given its manicured lawns, the fact that it has one dining hall, and also the fact that 99% of students live on campus. To enjoy Swarthmore, you must be looking for a campus with a strong sense of community, because you will know everybody and everybody's business by the end of your first semester at Swat. What does draw people to the campus is that you get to know your peers and your faculty well. Class sizes are small and professors are generally interested in teaching and working with students.

Describe the students at your school.

Swat is generally a very accepting and tolerant campus, that is if you're liberal and a registered Democrat. It is very LGBT friendly and the campus is relatively diverse. Students and faculty are very attuned to being "PC" and will often throw around terms such as "heteronormative" and "cultural specificity" when discussing a wide range of subjects - a fact that can be annoying, but also reveals that the campus and the students are interested and committed to continuing dialogs about racial, religious, LGBT, and socio-economic issues. You generally won't find snobby, prissy rich kids on campus. "Hipster" is the modus operandi at Swat and even the most privileged and cosmopolitan of students is likely to jump on the "hobo chic" bandwagon and sport duds picked up at the local Goodwill.

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

Dining hall food is nothing to write home about (but at least you won't be packing on the dreaded Freshman 15!), the "town" of Swarthmore (which is technically a borough) is a pitiful excuse for a college town, and you will find that you spend much of your weekends working (or rather, feeling guilty for not working).

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

While it may be true that Swatties are somewhat less adept at social interactions, these stereotypes are largely false. Swatties definitely do know how to let loose and have fun, and the student body is generally friendly and endearing in their quirkiness.

What are the academics like at your school?

You can expect your professor to know your name by the second week of class - even in classes that are larger than the norm. It is also common for students to babysit faculty children. As for the academics - yes, swarthmore is a lot of work. Professors expect output and they will assign plenty of work. You can guarantee that you will leave Swarthmore knowing how to write well, research, and to think, even if your Swat education doesn't put you on the fast track of the career path.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

Many Swatties complain that the social scene is repetitive, and while this might be true, you can definitely make your own fun. Philly is really only a hop-skip-and-a-jump from campus by train, and while the (2) frats or the communal social center may not be your scene on a Saturday night, there are generally parties/festivities/movies/concerts going on to keep people entertained. Athletics are not really "du jour" at Swat, much to the annoyance of the athletes themselves, and fraternities are definitely not the sordid, debaucherous affairs portrayed in "Animal House."

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

Stereotypes include that people are entirely bookish and study all the time, don't know how to have fun, and are incredibly unattractive and socially awkward.

Chelsea
What is your overall opinion of this school?

Swarthmore Community Regarding size, some would say that this school is entirely too small. However, personally, I have t...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

Swarthmore Community Regarding size, some would say that this school is entirely too small. However, personally, I have to say that I enjoy are fairly small size. It is nice to know that if I go to dinner or out to a party that I am almost guaranteed to see someone I know. I think it is cool that I can recognize so many people on campus because it gives Swat a more close-knit feel, which is nice considering how moving to college can be such a drastic transition.

Describe the students at your school.

Student Body The majority of students here lean more to the left on the political spectrum. There are definitely Republicans on campus but they are the minority. As far as religion, I have found that the majority of student on campus are not religious; however, if you are, there is a religious community here.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

To some extent. I would say that a good group of people here weren't the social butterflies in high school but there are definitely people here that socialize with ease and are fun to hang out with. It's all about what kind of people you want to surround yourself with. I would agree with the fact that everyone here is serious about their work. Some, of course, are more intense than others. However, everyone has an inner-nerd inside of them, or else they probably wouldn't be here.

What are the academics like at your school?

Academics The academics are intense; however, it isn't competitive. The majority of students here don't care about their rank or who made the highest grade on a final. Although students here are constantly on the go, whether it be studying or doing some extracurricular activity, there are so many great resources to use for every possible need. Personally, my two favorite resources are my professors and my friends. Something that is hard to get at other schools is the fact that all of my professors know my name. Students at bigger universities rarely get to develop a one on one relationship with their professor. As for the other resource, friends, it is nice to know that while you are suffering through a paper or a problem set, you can guarantee that everyone else is working just as hard.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

Social Life I would rate social life as medium. The parties aren't as great as bigger universities but they suffice for most. Most parties happen at Paces or Olde Club and usually involve music and alcohol. However, if you aren't into that, you can hit up one of the Parrish Parlour Parties for some sober fun. On a Saturday night, there is a wide variety going on. Some are sleeping at 9p.m., some watch movies, and some drink and dance until the wee hours of the morning. It's all about personal preference.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

Some stereotypes include "All Swat students are socially awkward" and "Everything is really intense and serious about their work."

Mary
What is your overall opinion of this school?

My most important advice about Swarthmore: don't come here if you're unhappy. Swarthmore doesn't make people unhappy, but it ...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

My most important advice about Swarthmore: don't come here if you're unhappy. Swarthmore doesn't make people unhappy, but it does have a tendency to make things worse unless you're a pretty happy person in general.

What are the academics like at your school?

These are what the college really has to offer. If you want to learn and learn a lot, come here. If you want to have a lot of spare time, or want the typical college social live, don't come here.

Dale
What is your overall opinion of this school?

For me, the best thing about Swarthmore is the people. I have met some of the most intelligent, interesting, and amazing peo...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

For me, the best thing about Swarthmore is the people. I have met some of the most intelligent, interesting, and amazing people here. I am often amazed at the things my classmates have accomplished and thought of. Swarthmore is small, meaning you will get to know most of the people you see on campus. People will argue if this is a good or bad thing, but I think it really let's you to develop close relationships and feel like part of a community. In addition to the students, most professors are awesome and really care about their students. The most common complaint at Swarthmore is that you have too much work to do, which is sometimes true, but also Swatties always take way too much on and usually thrive in these kinds of situations.

Describe the students at your school.

Swarthmore students are really hard to generalize because everyone is so different. We have the typical groups of students that most campuses have but EVERYONE here is really smart. Students are pretty accepting of most things.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

For some people yes, but many students are very social and "normal". Swarthmore is hard, but there is still a lot of room to have fun and do amazing things outside of your classes.

What are the academics like at your school?

The academics at Swarthmore are really rigorous. Though it is hard, professors and departments offer a ton of help and guidance. Small classes let students get to know their professors really well, and I have even been to several of my professors houses. The academics are flexible, and we only follow a distribution requirement that is fairly easy to fill, even for a non-science person like my self. I love my major departments (I am Education and Psychology). Every student I know who takes and Education class falls in love with the education department here, the professors are just amazing. Sometimes Swarthmore classes can become really overwhelmingly intellectual and seem disconnected from real life but class discussions are generally very interesting and thought-provoking.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

Swarthmore has a wide variety of events (shows, parties, speakers, movies, etc) and a ton of clubs for everything you could think of. Athletics exist but are not widely attended at all. There are definitely parties on the weekend (sometimes at our 2 fraternities) but I would say that only some of the student body attends these types of parties.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

That it is very nerdy, people are awkward, and that it is incredibly hard academically.

Pat
Describe the students at your school.

diverse and passionate

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

small social scene but there is complete and utter freedom on campus

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

nerdy, intellectual kids who study all day. full of hippies.

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