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Swarthmore is a small liberal arts college in Swarthmore, PA. You usually know everyone else. When I tell people I go to Swar...
Swarthmore is a small liberal arts college in Swarthmore, PA. You usually know everyone else. When I tell people I go to Swarthmore, Swat for short, they assume I'm really intelligent. They are impressed. Some say that they wouldn't think that I would go to a school like Swat because people are kinda "hippieish". I spend most of my time on Swat's campus because there's always a lot of work to do. Swarthmore definitely has its own culture and way of life, but I enjoy it. I have good friends.
Swarthmore really tries to be diverse in every way possible, which I greatly appreciate. I have been introduced to so many new people and cultures, which has really enriched my experience at Swarthmore so far. Different types of students do interact, especially in the communties of color. The interaction between people of color and whites I think could be stronger, but I don't really know how to go about rectifying that. Most students are active in many things. They are well rounded. Many students are very accomplished before they even come to Swarthmore, and continue with those accomplishments when they come to Swat. Students are involved in politics. Most tend to be democratic liberals. The focus for many students it seems after graduation is not to make a lot of money but to change the world for the better.
Swarthmore is a cool place but it has its fault. Work is tough, some professors are mean/annoying, but that's life. I'd say that the appearance of Swarthmore (inside of dorms, dining hall, etc.) could use some work.
Academics are definitely challenging at Swarthmore, but in a good way. My professors know my name. Studying is a must and most students do it quite often. There's a lot expected from the students, but only because the students are quite capable. The focus at Swat is definitely on education but also on development of self.
That Swarthmore is filled with a bunch of unattractive, nerdy, and awkward people. No one ever does anything fun.
There is social life at Swat but not as much as at some other colleges and universities. The parties are mostly of the same type in the same place. They're pretty predictable. Swarthmore does provide some big events that most of the student body comes out to. I met my friends through Rhythm and Motion and Essence of Soul. They are two popular groups on campus. Some people party very often. I try to balance it, although I enjoy being social and having fun. There's not a big greek life at Swat at all. There are only fraternities and I don't really consider them "real" frats. There's quite a bit of drinking on campus. Dry parties are thrown but people still show up drunk sometimes. After a certain time though, there's not much to do except hang out with friends in your room.
The school is a small school, which for me is just right. There are enough people here so that i don't know nearly everyone, ...
The school is a small school, which for me is just right. There are enough people here so that i don't know nearly everyone, but on the other hand I am more than a face in the crowd. I think part of the great thing about a small school is the sense of community that arises, and the poeple here are extraordinary. They are all great fun, helpful, and nice. This includes the faculty and professors who are always available to talk about academics or anything else. As for the school itself, half the people I talk to about Swarthmore have never heard of it, but the other half congratulate me on a great school. It is a 20 minute train ride from philly, but on the other hand really doesn't have it's own college town. Ii'd say one of the most frequents complaints is the food. It isn't too bad but repetitive. If you are willing to cook a little yourself, you can make a much larger variety of food, and it isn't so bad.
The students are great. They are all wonderful people, and because it is a small school you have the opportunity to meet many of them. Basically this is a one of the friendliest communities ive been a part of.
The school is very rigorous, more so then 98% of the schools where my friends go, but the students here definitely find time to socialize.
The academics here are great for me. But keep in mind, I was looking for a place where i would be learning 20 hours a day, in class, outside of class, having discussions with my friends. This includes not only academic learning, but life skills, frisbee strategies, card games, and how to have fun as well. I have yet to meet a competetive student. The work load is pretty rough here, and so when you're ahead, you help out others, and they return the favor when you're behind. The professors are readily available and open to you.
The social life is is pretty active. There are always tons of activities and fun things planned. The school is very willing to fund student activities as long as they are open to the whole campus, and a lot of unique fun things result. Examples inlcude the famous pterodactyl hunt, or keilbasafest and worthstock. There are also plenty of parties during the weekends, though there is no pressure to go to them.
That the school is incredibly rigourous and academic, as a result the students are very hard-working to the point of sometimes being anti-social.
Most of us do study a lot, yes. Before you find out where your true interests lie that's mostly because the amount of reading...
Most of us do study a lot, yes. Before you find out where your true interests lie that's mostly because the amount of readings and the length of papers you're assigned to write require you to. Later however, when you find your major and everything, you want to work that much and actually stay up because that book actually is really interesting.
The professors make an effort to learn the students' names and make us comfortable about speaking our minds. Class participation is common and intellectual conversations definitely continue outside the classroom. Students are competitive in the sense that they want to improve and do well. I have yet to hear someone asking about somebody else's grades though, Swarthmore students really don't compete against each other. The academic requirements are great because they make you take a variety of classes in the spirit of liberal arts, while at the same time they don't force you to take lots of classes you're not interested in. Also the fact that the first semester of freshman year is pass/fail (meaning that you don't get a letter grade) encourages you to explore subjects you never thought you would study, which you might end up liking a lot, like my East European Prose seminar.
That we study until five o'clock in the night just because we're so passionate about what we're doing.
The school is really small. There is way too much gossip and some people feel like elitist and hate athletes. I think with ...
The school is really small. There is way too much gossip and some people feel like elitist and hate athletes. I think with such a huge endowment we need to spend money to better the lives of students. I would improve the food. Improve the workout facilities and the entire fieldhouse. I spend most of my time on campus but it is great to get off campus for a change of pace. Swarthmore administration seems to do well. The financial aid though is stingy again with the amount of money this school has. I have friends that are looking at transferring to other top name schools simply because Swarthmore fails to provide them with the adequate funds that other schools can.
At times I feel as though upper-class students look down upon other socio-economic students cultural experiences. Suburban attitude.
Many swarthmore students don't have great social skills. However, for the most part people are nice. Swarthmore requires a lot of work.
Hard, yet incredible. Great academics.
Parties can be found thurs-sunday. If there is not an official party you can hit up a frat. Alcohol can be found any where, yet many people are fine without drinking and fun is easily accessible for them too.
Swarthmore students are social awkward. Swarthmore is hard.
The best thing about Swarthmore is the people. Hands down. Unfortunately, the school is really small (about 1,400 people tot...
The best thing about Swarthmore is the people. Hands down. Unfortunately, the school is really small (about 1,400 people total) but once you find your crowd, you don't really seem to mind. Because the school is so small, people generally try to stay drama-free (otherwise you find that you see that person everywhere and it's really awkward). In terms of dating, sometimes I wish that we had a graduate school because as a girl, once you get to be a certain age the pickings get slim.
If you check out a classroom, you're more likely to find students in their pajamas than dressed up. A lot of people don't really try to look good on a daily basis (and if they do try, they get attention--both good and bad). On the flip side, this homogeneity is kind of cool. It's often difficult to distinguish between students on financial aid and multi-millionaires.
People think that everyone who goes to Swarthmore is a total nerd-- which is probably true. I think everyone who goes here is a nerd at heart but there are a lot of cool and fun people too. If your conception of beauty is what you see in Glamour or GQ, then you're not going to like what you see at Swarthmore. That's not to say that we don't have good looking people here-- it's just that they're beautiful in a non-fake tanned kind of way. Oh, and the stereotype about everyone being incredibly intelligent? Definitely true.
The coolest part about academics at Swarthmore is that in general, the professors really care about their students. Especially in the smaller classes, professors try really hard to be available and to get to know their students. Having a class dinner at your professors house is actually pretty common.
Prior to 2006, we only had two fraternities on campus. Sororities were banned in the 1930's and since then, there have been multiple failed attempts to re-establish them. In 2006, one of my friends and I started a group called the Ladies Soiree Society (LaSS) and it has since been dubbed a "quasi-sorority". We're all-inclusive and currently the largest womens group on campus. Although many of our members are close friends with the fraternity brothers, our goal in creating LaSS was to equalize the social scene on campus (why should we have to depend on men to have a night out?). Although the campus was hesitant to accept us at first, we've gained a lot of support and popularity due to some of our events. The most successful is by far our Mr. Swarthmore Competition, a male beauty pageant in which male representatives from various groups and activities on campus compete in formal wear, tropical wear, talent, and a Q&A section.
People think that Swatties are nerdy, ugly, and incredibly intelligent.
Not too many people have actually heard of Swarthmore..it's small and the surrounding down isn't too great, but there's alway...
Not too many people have actually heard of Swarthmore..it's small and the surrounding down isn't too great, but there's always enough to do on campus. The administration is pretty approachable, though I've only talked with them once. School pride isn't a big thing here, but we like it that way. If we have to complain about something, it tends to be about work
We're mostly liberal, Obama-lovin college kids. While we do come from all over the country and all over the world, we do tend to think remarkably similar on the surface. Once you really get to know someone, you start seeing where disagreements arise, but it's always interesting to expose those opinions and see where they lead. I've had my head turned by friends to things I never in a million years would have thought about otherwise
I love it here. I couldn't imagine being anywhere else
I mean..we do work all the time. And we do talk about doing work all the time. But we still make time to have fun. It's more just hanging out with close friends though
We're always working, always studying, and always trying to meet deadlines. I'm into the natural sciences, and it's been some of the most brain-taxing stuff I've ever had to deal with, but once I got a taste of what I could do with this newfound information, I was hooked. The CompSci department rocks. It's small (7 full-time professors) and they're all remarkably approachable. Academics certainly goes outside the classroom..you really can't get away. But we like that..that's why we came
While frisbee isn't the most popular group on campus, it's still a lot of fun. We can come to practice when we have time, hang out with friends, get exercise, and practice. If a door's open, it's probably a freshman door, because we're all dying to meet new people. Upperclassmen normally have their friends and tend to not be around the dorm as much it seems. If we're up at 2am on a tuesday, we're either doing homework or talking in the lounge after doing work. But it's mostly the work.
We work all the time and never have any fun
I think that Swarthmore is sometimes small enough to be stifling, but if one gets involved in enough activities or takes the ...
I think that Swarthmore is sometimes small enough to be stifling, but if one gets involved in enough activities or takes the initiative to get off campus and go into Philly or Media (the next town over) every now and then, it usually isn't much of a problem. The town is atrocious; it's a dry borough, with no real restaurants and no food available past 12 or 1. Springfield, about a 20 minute walk away, has a few restaurants and a small mall, and Media, the next town over on the train, is pretty cute and fun. The administration seems to want to help students, but often mentions how tight the budget is, which seems absurd to most students. Sometimes it seems like Swarthmore banks on its great academics to excuse mediocre student life- the dorms are OK but not great, there's only 1 dining hall, the one snack bar on campus is greasy and not great either, the gym is functional but small and with old equipment. But on the flip side, at least we have those things. Another good thing about Swat is that the school could care less about drinking and marijuana. If a student is a stupid about it then the school has to get involved but otherwise they are happy enough to turn the other cheek and let students make their own choices. There is very little school spirit. The springtime is fun and beautiful, especially when the campus is in bloom (it's also a nationally recognized arboretum). When I tell most people I go to Swarthmore, I get a response like, "Oh...is that a community college?" For the most part, only people who are in academia or have advanced degrees have heard of Swarthmore.
A student might feel out of place if he or she was extremely conservative or religious, but there are several Christian groups and a campus republicans. There are large support systems in place for students of color and queer students, including an Intercultural Center (that houses Asian, Latino, Jewish, Queer, Queer and of Color, Class Activist and other groups and events), a Black Cultural Center, and deans who focus on IC issues and gender/sexuality issues. Students don't really tend to dress up for class at all, or really ever wear designer or expensive clothes. Because we only have one dining hall, most people on campus have seen each other if not spoken. No one is really cliquey or rude to other groups of students. The jocks tend to stick together, and the black kids, and the people who are heavily involved in the IC, etc, but no one really gives other groups a hard time. Most students are white, middle class, and from the middle-atlantic region of the northeast. Students are predominantly left-wing, and moderately politically aware/active. Students almost never talk about how much money they plan on earning one day; that seems to be barely even on the radar, unless they're joking about how poor they'll be working in academia/public service.
Swarthmore is a great place but it is a pressure cooker. The academics ARE really intense, far more so than at most other schools (judging by my workload compared to that of my friends at other places). But the campus is beautiful and the people are really great.
There are a lot of ugly, awkward nerds on campus and a lot of loud superlefty liberals. But there are also a lot of socially apt nerds and less loud moderates. Beautiful people are few and far between, and everyone is a little bit awkward and nerdy, and most people are left of center, so I'd say the stereotypes are exaggerations based on truth.
It's pretty easy to get to know and develop relationships with professors at Swarthmore. But that said, the "good" professors' classes fill up and are often overcrowded, making the often-touted "small classes" nonexistent. There is also no shortage of professors who are mediocre at best. In the honors program, it is possible to take 2-10 person seminars, but in some departments (like English and Political Science, for example) unless you are in the honors program it is nearly impossible to take those seminars or any other small class within the department for that matter. The requirements for graduation aren't too rigorous- 3 maths/sciences/engineering classes (one with a lab component), 3 humanities and 3 social sciences. Students study a LOT, but McCabe the library is a fairly social space. The science library, Cornell, is depressing but a lot of science students go there. The students at Swat are not competitive at all- everyone is working on different things and developing their own programs of study and is focused on achieving their full potential, not beating anyone else. The school fosters this and doesn't calculate GPA or class rank. Outside of the classroom, students often have intellectual conversations. Sometimes we also take a humorous attitude towards often studied ideas like postmodernism, heteronormativity and 'the patriarchy,' which we can do because we fully understand them. Most students will have dinner at a professor's house before graduating. The education is geared towards learning for its own sake, and many Swarthmore seniors fear living in a box on the sidewalk after graduation. That said, I feel I've had a significantly easier time getting internships because of the name of my school, and I'm only a sophomore.
The stereotype is that Swarthmore students are ugly, awkward nerds who spend all day in the library and never party or have fun. We are supposedly extremely (and very loudly) superleft-wing; they call it the Kremlin on the Crum or the People's Republic of Swarthmore.
There are a lot of groups and organizations on campus, whether they're varsity sports, club sports, volunteer or activist groups, radio groups, identity focused groups, etc, and they're a great way to meet people. Students tend to be friendly and trusting, leaving items around and leaving doors open. Theater, dance and music performances are highly attended...sports, not so much. The dating scene is absolutely horrendous- people, for the most part, are either hooking up or 'married.' I met my closest friends because we lived in the same dorm my freshman year. Speaking of dorms, the fact that there are no 'freshman' dorms on campus was extremely helpful to me: I got to actually meet upperclassmen, some of whom I became very close to. If I'm awake at 2 am on a tuesday, I'm leaving the library. There are a lot of fun traditions at swarthmore every year: the pterodactyl hunt (I'll leave that to you to research), Screw Your Roommate (set roommate up on a blind date, with a twist: the 'paired' roommates are wearing a set of costumes and have to find each other. for example, my freshman year, I went as Miss Piggy and my date was dressed as Kermit the Frog), the Willets carnival (carnival activities outside Willets dorm), Worthstock (an all day music fest), Kielbasafest, the block party, the Crum Regatta, the Sager Symposium and Genderfuck party, etc. These events really do bring the campus together. The fraternities are friendly places that aren't really like real frats. The brothers are pretty welcoming and never turn anyone away. They just dole out lots of free beer, and hold a few big parties each semester. Not a lot of people go there except to the big parties. There are no sororities. People usually party on Thursdays and Saturdays. Thursday is the best night of the week: Pub Nite. A senior class fundraiser, Pub Nite is a weekly event held in the Paces student-run cafe/party space where the senior officers buy 5 or 6 kegs, and for $4 you can drink unlimited beer from 9-12. People play games, listen to good music (the music is very important and regular pubniters vie for the chance to make the pubnite playlist each week), and eventually as the drunkenness ensues, dance. Off campus, people tend to go into Philadelphia for dinner, or Media for a little bit of closer fun. but the train tickets can be pricey.
Swarthmore challenges me to think about the bigger picture, as in fostering this critical thinking or metacognitive understan...
Swarthmore challenges me to think about the bigger picture, as in fostering this critical thinking or metacognitive understanding of things that we do and the places we live in. It is a mostly controlled environment in which we can assert our presence as students and in the process, develop the skills and gain the insights to make a difference in the world. The administration is receptive and welcoming, but their flexbility and openness do end at a certain point. While I do think that Swatties often question and redefine norms, that is not the case for everyone. More recently, I'm finding that the newer students are more immature than in years past. There is still a certain degree of immaturity, childishness, and oppression that certain privileged populations exhibit, that may be more prevalent and accepted on other campuses.
The student body is generally liberal, though it is still more centrist than progressive/far leftist. There are interactions across all groups of students, I'd say more than on other campuses. That said, some identity groups stick more to themselves than others (including white students). Students wear a range of things to class, and that is a great thing about residential campuses. Social issues come up very often on campus, which fosters a certain level of civic engagement, which is rare on campuses. Conservative students may feel insecure on campus, but that arises more from an inability to advocate for their positions than from general anti-conservative sentiments. I wish the admissions staff admitted more students from lesser privileged backgrounds.
Swarthmore is a great school, in the larger scheme of elite colleges. However, there are many issues that it could improve upon.
They are true in different degrees and ways for different people. It is very easy to absorb these stereotypes too.
The professors know their students, even those that they may not have had in their classes. Some professors teach better than others, but that's a given on all campuses. Professors are not required to take courses on education and pedagogy, as far as I know. I've had a lot of flexibility in driving my own education, I've written papers on topics that I have chosen, and I've grown a lot through my coursework, which is often reinforced by my extracurricular involvements. I see professors at non-curricular events too, which is nice. The education at Swarthmore is geared towards learning for its own sake, but that can also be tremendously advantageous for getting a job if you know how to spin it. Ethnic studies, film and media studies, and queer (or gender and sexuality) studies are lackluster here, but there are student-driven initiatives working for them.
The cultural groups have a tremendous role in organizing social events on campus, from speakers to parties. Some students leave their doors open, but not all. A substantial portion of students are in relationships, but many more engage in a hook-up culture here. The party scene is great for first year students, but can get boring quickly for other students.
They're awkward, dorky, quirky, intense.
The best thing about Swarthmore are the people and the atmosphere. You are surrounded by brilliant, motivated, and diverse g...
The best thing about Swarthmore are the people and the atmosphere. You are surrounded by brilliant, motivated, and diverse group of people, yet everyone shares the same sort of passion for something unnamed. We often discussed it at school, but the unnamed connection between Swatties has something to do with love of learning (even if you don't admit it), thinking, and being challenged. When I meet Swatties outside of school there is something that bonds us and conversations with once strangers can easily become four hours chatting like old friends. As for size, it's about right. There are times when it can feel suffocating as you keep seeing the same people everywhere. That's when you go abroad or make efforts to meet people outside your circle of friends. But, the smallness of school really allows you to build community. It also makes a huge difference in the quality of education. We may have less breadth, but the interaction with teachers is unparelled. You may hate the fact that you can't hide from your professor, but the smallness of classes forces you to be really involved in your education (This isn't to say that you can't get away without doing the reading or skimming, you most certainly can, just pick your classes for that wisely). I spent most of my time on campus bouncing around between the buildings in which I had classes, Parrish, Sharples, the fieldhouse, my dorm, McCabe, Science Center Commons, and working outside when it was beautiful. The best part was when I figured out that I could work outside late into the night, perched on the steps of Parrish that are have lights that go on in the evening. I was a bit of a nomad at Swat, especially in my study habits. Most of my friends could be found in 3-4 places on campus, I continually switched up my spots, depending on how well I was focusing in a certain area. One of my favorite moments at Swat was walking outside of McCabe library one night int he midst of studying for my Honors exams. As I walked out of the library, the stars were shining, and a string quartet was playing on the steps of Parrish Hall. It was beautiful. There I was, all stressed out over exams and the music was a pause, a moment of silence in the otherwise frantic day. That's one of my favorite parts of Swarthmore - it's easy to get wrapped up in you as a student and the small worries and fears and stressors and then, there is one moment where you see someone bagpiping or you notice the flowers that sprung up outside your window or you run across a friend you haven't seen in a while and have a three hour conversation debating philosophy outside the rose garden. It's that one moment that you remember why you love the place. That's probably the trick about Swarthmore. How do you keep it in perspective? You are there to learn, you have probably always done well in school, or could have done well if it interested you enough. It's easy to get caught up in the papers and the pressure that you mainly put on yourself. But if you can step back from time to time, it is a beautiful place and something you won't ever run across again once you leave.
Swarthmore's student body is amazing. What I liked the most when I first arrived was that people didn't seem to fit into the groups that I had grown up with in high school. The captain of the soccer team also starred in musicals. There wasn't one group that was "the" group that defined everyone else. This was made quite clear when a woman from Princeton came to Swarthmore to start diversity conversation groups based on a Princeton model. When talking with interested students, she asked us to think of the group that if we got them to be involved, everyone else would follow them. You could have heard a pin drop in the room. Finally I stuck up my hand and commented that we didn't really have any group like that, there were just sort of a bunch of groups who did as the pleased and intermingled. Groups do form. There are moments when you are frustrated and feel stuck within your own group, but it's not impossible to keep expanding your friend base. There are most definitely still racial, class, and sexuality issues. Athletes are often friends with mainly other athletes. Thing about Swarthmore is, though, you can choose to follow those lines or not. Sometimes you just have to make a bigger effort. I cannot speak highly enough of the people who attend Swarthmore. I made life-long friends at Swarthmore. Even if we talk less now due to the fact that we are scattered around the world, I feel really lucky to have met these people and count them among my friends. Another neat thing about Swarthmore is the idea of "you make your own normal." If you want to wear a cape to class, fine. If you want to never wear shoes or grow a mustache for all of November, fine. If you want to go out and party like a madwoman every week night, fine. If you want to go to the library and study on a Friday, fine. You make your own normal.
Looking back on what I've written, I realize I at times brushed over some of the bumps and bruises of Swarthmore. There were times where I felt that "debate" was more discussion as not all sides (especially political) were fairly represented. There were many times when I was stressed beyond belief due to workload. There were times when I was frustrated with self-segregation in the cafeteria due to race, language, activity, what have you. But even with that said, Swarthmore is a pretty special place. If it were perfect, it would be boring and it wouldn't exist. It has its issues, but if you are a person who delights in thinking and questioning and being challenged, it's the place for you. The first thing that I was taught, my very first week of classes was to challenge everything, even what the teachers said. That's something important right there - that professors have weight because they are professors and so don't necessarily always treat you exaclty as equals, but you are not subservient either. They respect you and expect a lot from you. There are the "demi-gods" on campus, but they don't have to be. Now almost a year out of school, I am happy to be done and moving on to new things. But, I am glad that I had the opportunity to attend Swarthmore. On the school side, it honed my ability to think, to make connections between seemingly unrelated things, and set me up for some really great opportunities. My friends are some of the most amazing people I have ever met, even with their foibles and idisyncracies, I love them the more for it.
To the first - Swarthmore is in an interesting place. It is academically intense and students do spend a lot of time in the library, but that is sort of the person that is drawn to the place. For as much as we complain about our work, we really do love it and we enjoy doing it. So for those who don't like learning, yea, Swarthmore is way too intense. But if you can geek out over simple things or are just interesting in thinking and learning and answering questions, then Swarthmore is the place for you. And, while the stereotype may be based in reality, you have chosen it because you enjoy it (somewhere down there). As for fun, I spent much of my time at Sharples laughing hysterically with friends or getting involved in random scrapes. It's not the stereotypical "frat and going out to bars fun" (there are two frats if you want something like that), but it's a quirky sort of fun. You'll find it climbing roofs, skinny dipping in the crum, in late night conversations, in Sharples marathons, in the Parlors, or pulling campus wide social experiements.
Academics is the main focus of Swarthmore. Swarthmore (save engineering or perhaps pre-med or some of the sciences) does not provide techincal job training, but it teaches you how to think and how to write. I didn't realize how important this was until I left Swarthmore and entered into the job market. What is normal in terms of effort or expectation at Swarthmore is often above and beyond what is expected in the job market. When I entered Swarthmore, I expected that due to the smallness of the school I would find a professor that I connected with and who would be a mentor/friend. I was disappointed for the first couple of years when I did not find that in my own department. By the end of senior year, however, I made connections with three really amazing professors, all outside of my department of study, but who became the sort of mentor and friend that I had been looking for. I realized, then, that I had not really taken advantage of the availability of professors in my earlier years. I wasn't the type of student who frequently went to the professor for help unless I really needed it but that didn't have to mean that I couldn't get to know my professors.
The social life is what you make of it. You can party every night if you want, you can study every night if you want. Random occurances happen frequently. There were times when I would find myself on midnight runs or involved in late night games or conversations, or middle of the day adventures. When I was at Swat I did a mix of going out to parties on the weekends, hosting gatherings of people for wine and cheese, hanging out with friends, going into Philly, watching movies. Dorm life is pretty active, though it depends on the dorm. My most active was when I lived in Willets (mainly freshmen and sophomores). We had people frequently streaming in and out of our room. Conversations with Swatties are always an adventure. They float easily back and forth between uber serious, to melodramatically serious, to ridiculously stupid, to superficial, to grossly funny, and back again. I miss the ease of conversation - of floating over topics and depths of conversation.
I think the biggest stereotype about Swarthmore and Swarthmore students is that it is so academically intense that no one ever has fun and is always in the library.
Most people's first reaction to Swarthmore is "the campus is sooo beautiful!" Which as an arboretum it is, especially in the ...
Most people's first reaction to Swarthmore is "the campus is sooo beautiful!" Which as an arboretum it is, especially in the spring. But more than just being a pretty place, our campus is just one example of how the college really makes an effort to make Swarthmore the most inspiring academic environment possible. But its the people that come to Swarthmore are what make it great. I've learned more about myself and shaped my ideas from talking with my teammates on runs, and Sunday morning breakfasts in Sharples than in many of my classes. Most people haven't heard of Swarthmore, usually people get that face like "oh, that's nice" as if I go to a community college. But I'm okay with that--I'm not at Swarthmore to impress people, I'm here because I've found a community of people that I respect, admire, and trust. The college can feel small sometimes, its only 1500 people, but I like walking into the library and knowing the names of half the students in there.
Swarthmore's campus is pretty progressive. We have very strong LGBT and inter-cultural communities that are very vocal in asserting their presence on campus. Swarthmore is known for its activism, although the student body as a whole is probably more apathetic than it would like to admit. Religious life is more of an undercurrent at Swarthmore than a predominant group. The college makes an effort to make socio-economic class not an issue at Swarthmore, for example, we just initiated a no-loans financial aid policy beginning with the class of 2012. The goal of the administration is for students to not require money on campus and therefore equalize all students. But there is economic disparity, and its a struggle to make the campus more sensitive to that fact. Students are from all over the country and the world, and because its such a small campus, students get to interact with people from very different backgrounds than their own.
I don't know what the workload is at other colleges, but I think most Swatties find their workload a little stressful, but definitely manageable. We've come to this school to be intellectually challenged, and the pressure we feel is usually self-imposed. As to being hippies, both our college as an institution and the individuals that comprise it really value social and ethical responsibility. There are students doing amazing things for people all over the world, from Sudan to Ecuador, with the support of the college and other students of course.
Swarthmore has a very unique academic environment. The largest classes are about 100 people, usually intro biology, chemistry, and psychology. But after that, classes get a lot smaller, for example I have a three-person seminar this semester. All the professors in my department know my name, whether I've had a class with them or not. The departments are generally small, which can be both good and bad. The course options, while generally really interesting, are really limited. Either they are broad survey courses, or very specific and possibly not very applicable to real life. Most classes are geared toward learning for its own sake and the propagation of academia, rather than preparing for a job. That's especially true in the sciences. Some of the most popular jobs on campus are babysitting or dog-walking for professors. Students study a lot, but its usually because they want to really understand the material. A lot of classes are discussion based, and students can be very assertive in sharing their variety of opinions and experiences. Most classroom discussions finish outside the classroom, I've learned about political science and history that I have never taken a class on from conversations with my friends. Going through the dining hall you'll hear people talking about anything from Kant and physical chemistry to who hooked up with who last Friday.
One of the biggest stereotypes about "Swatties" is that we are always working. Another is that we are total hippies--a friend of my mom actually warned her against sending me to Swarthmore, because I would turn into a hippie.
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