Swarthmore College Top Questions

Describe the students at your school.


Students at Swarthmore are brilliant, Everyone comes from their own backgrounds and ways of thinking, but everyone has the desire to learn to their fullest potential. The students at Swarthmore are generally very friendly, they are open-minded, liberal, intellectual, and willing to share their ideas and thoughts on subjects. They are inclusive and collaborative. All students are bright, determined, and ambitious, and despite the hard course-load Swarthmore gives us people are mostly upbeat.


Friendly, open, and eager to learn both academically and socially.


Despite Swat’s suburban setting, diversity is by no means a foreign or neglected concept for students. As a multi-racial student myself, I am a member of three of the main ethnic student-run clubs: ENLACE (Swat’s Hispanic & Latino organization), SASS (Swarthmore African American Student Society), and SWOCC (Swarthmore Womyn Of Color Collective) which, like many other groups, fit the needs and create inclusive sub-communities for the unique students on campus. While a private institution, the college impressively attracts a wide cross section of young adults, with burgeoning, highly welcomed LGBT, ethnic, geographic and socio-economic groups of students on campus. There is a rather substantial middle and lower class population, and no socioeconomic class is ostracized or patronized as they are well represented. These groups all interact well with the help of some annual events that certain clubs hold for the whole student body, like ENLACE’s Pub Night or DESHI (Swarthmore South Asian Association)’s Mango Lasse get-together or SASS’s Thanksgiving Dinner or SAO (Swarthmore Asian Organization)’s Traffick Light Party. These open events really link these groups to the larger community and allow for a lot of social fluidity on campus. The only rigidity at (least within my class) that seems to prevail is that urban students from the same regions seem to flock together, but that can be because geography coincides with common cultural interest; for instance, in ENLACE, almost every other member seems to be from Bronx, NY! That said, it is hard to feel left out in Swat regardless of your stereotypical social identifier, as everyone is more concerned with your perspective on a given social issue than how many sports you can play or how rich they intend to become someday. By no means does anyone try to artificially impress, and so most students do not attend class or roam campus in anything much fancier than jeans and a tee or sweats. Given the general attitude of acceptance on campus, I’d say the only students who would not feel accepted at Swat are ones who do not care to be challenged about virtually everything. Thus, there are essentially no political conservatives on campus, evidenced by the absence of a Republican club! That said, for diversity’s sake, I would like to see more moderate and conservative thinkers at Swat to provide a more politically accepting and understanding student body.


My classmates are a batch of self-indulgent bourgeoisie oafs with very afffluent parents who have done nothing but nurture their hedonism; therefore, it goes without saying that they are dim and distateful, vapid and shallow, but most of all, they are blindly pretentious.


I cannot describe my classmates in one sentence; no two Swatties are alike. I can list a few words to describe some people I know, but it is important to remember that no word describes the entire population. Some Swatties are open minded, passionate, intelligent, enthusiastic, hard working, quirky, surprising, interesting, deep, a little pretentious, overextended, liberal, and thoughtful.


Liberal, open minded, curious, excited about learning.


Swarthmore's very open to racial, religious, LGBT, and socio-economic groups on campus. I write for the campus newspaper, and sometimes I interview students who have started organizations and groups. So, students are interested in exploring issues and trying to effect positive change in society. Now I should probably bring up again the fliers that were posted in Parrish Hall commenting on the financial aid here. That, I think, is sort of representative of much of the student body. (1) Students are trying to fix problems that they see. (2) But they sometimes try to do this in not the best way. It's certainly good to raise awareness, but the messages have an accusatory tone--they see the financial aid office as somewhat corrupt, unkind to students, and uncaring to students, which might be the case, but you get this sense of ignorance from a lot of students. In other words, I think a lot of students don't really reach out and listen to the other side--they may see themselves as superior and therefore think that other opinions shouldn't really matter as much. The same goes with politics here--a lot of students claim to be liberal, but they aren't open to considering lots of different views--you don't have to accept them, but you should think about them. A lot of students are politically aware, but a lot of them also really don't know what they're talking about. In other words, you see a lot of people supporting Obama but without many clear-cut reasons why. Now, I think most people would have clear-cut reasons, but I want to get the point across that a few people here are annoying and ignorant and really don't know what they're talking about. Some of my high school friends really would feel out of place here--among them, pretty much all the popular kids in high school. You've really got to enjoy learning and be willing to work very hard to like it here, I think, because that's largely what Swarthmore's about, based on my not-even-one semester here. Most students dress relatively poorly to class and don't care. Today, I woke up late and I just woke up, changed, put on a sweatshirt and flip-flops (because putting on socks and shoes would take too long), grabbed my backpack, and was out the door in like 30 seconds. Some dress nicely though, but not many. I don't think different types of students really interact that much, but it's a bit hard to avoid because you see them all the time...I think most people just stick to their friends, and your friends tend to be similar to you.


they are really smart and awkward.

Jonathan F

Swarthmore is "diverse" in a very college-y way. There are minorities, LGBT, etc. However, the representatives of those communities don't seem to me to be that representative. I think that's because socio-economic diversity is still pretty lacking here, as everywhere else. Still, it's probably better here than at other private schools. Also, there's very little diversity of political/social thought. I'm mostly liberal, but my problem isn't that people here are liberals. It's that they are unthinkingly so: some are like the Fox News equivalent of the left. So dogmatic, not very critical in their thinking. They mostly have no clue about political issues, and only see things from a strange white-privilege-guilt lens. I think that this hurts a lot of them in the real world. However, it is nice not too have wealth thrown in your face like at some other private schools. Yes, most people here are rich. But they tend to have a humility about it. Socially speaking, I'd say that 65% of students are socially incompetent and were that way in high school, and see Swarthmore as a refuge from that. The other 35% are very competent, mature, just not into being a fratty douche at a party school. These are the people that make this school great. However, I've heard that the admissions office is making the study body much more mainstream. A lot of that has to do with athletic recruiting. Four tables: two of them are awkward kids sitting with people they kind of know, but still feel uncomfortable around, and they'll be like that they're whole lives; one table is the weird sci-fi kids; one table is a good group of friends, who will be friends for a long time.


Intense and passionate.


My classmates are bright, idealistic, open-minded, hyper-intellectual, feel-good, hyper-sensitive scholars.


They are unique but awesome.

Political Junkie Junior

Swarthmore's student body is very accepting and tolerant, to the extent that it welcomes and embraces diversity. Although students are in general pretty liberal, conservative guest lecturers are often invited to campus to stimulate discussions and make sure that students can understand both sides of an issue. Albeit a very accepting and diverse community, I think that people who care too much about their looks (e.g. girls who wear high heels every day or people with fake tans) may feel a bit out of place here, since the emphasis is really on the quality of one's character.


Swarthmore students come from all walks of life, which provides a culturing dynamic on campus. Most students could probably be described as hippies, hence the liberal nature of the campus. Overall, appearance is not the most prized thing on campus, which can be reflected in students' rather sloppy attire; but a Swarthmore education is about learning from within rather than experiencing through aesthetics.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


diverse and passionate


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.


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.


At times I feel as though upper-class students look down upon other socio-economic students cultural experiences. Suburban attitude.


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.


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


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.


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'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.


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.


There are two things you must know about Swatties: (1) All are geniuses in their own right and (2) they always want to know more. Most students are politically, socially, racially, economically, etc. aware and active, those that are are in the process of learning.


Talked about this above - cohesive group of challenging students who secretly can;t stand that they aren't top of their class anymore. Kind of like thousand generals and one soldier monty python skit


everyone is accepted amongst the community. some groups are more outspoken than others. predominantly liberal.


The school makes an effort to have a diverse student body, though people tend to clump by race/sexual orientation/ religion/ language. There's plenty of opportunity to expand your social horizons, but not everyone does. The student body is, as the campus Republicans loves complaining, overwhelmingly left. Yet, if you actually make some public declaration of queer/feminist/black/Latino(a)/ class identity, it seems like a bunch of ignorant middle-class, white, hetero men always come out of the woodwork and start whining about it. The fact is, progressive or no, most Swatties are from incredibly privileged backgrounds and most don't like being confronted with this fact. Still Swatties tend to be really interesting, intelligent and, on the whole, very decent people. Most high-achieving assholes either stick to the frats and sports teams, or go to a different school.


I feel that there is a lot of diversity on campus whether people know it or not. I do however think that regardless of any other type of identity or factor, all swat students are extremely open-minded. If you cannot accept someone's lifestyle, whatever it may be, dont come here. There are many many cultural groups so pretty much anyone can find a type of community there are also many queer groups, a women's group, and international group (for international students) . People are generally politically aware, whether it be campus politics or global ones, but everyone also enjoys arguing his/her point.


Everyone is extremely supportive and kind. Students here are generally really kind and quirky. The one thing that bothers me though, is that the campus is incredibly PC and hypersensitive. Is it always common for a certain group to be "personally offended" by something relatively insignificant. The campus is very liberal and will undoubtedly feel stifling to a student with conservative or even moderate political views.


Our campus is extremely liberal, and extremely accepting of LGBT students. Actually, I have a friend from a prep school in Washington DC, and he actually feels that Swarthmore is TOO diverse. He says he wants to institute a "keep in the weird" week, in which students would act stereotypically "normal," which seems odd to me, that people would have to go out of their way to be not themselves, and thus, "normal". but whatever.


I would say that the BCC(Black Cultural Center) is pretty active. I have not felt discriminated against. I would say that attire is pretty casual, you don't have to dress up everyday if you don't want to. Some people come in dresses, some come in pajamas, it doesn't really matter. In the dining hall most people are divided by activities they are involved in. During swim season I primarily eat with the swim team because we come straight from practice. The same goes for other sports teams. There are also a lot of discussion groups that occur during meals for classes, so that is another way people divide. Students are pretty active in at least one thing. There definitely is a sort of social activist vibe that you feel when on campus, but it is not so strong as to segregate people who are active and those who choose not to be.


Swarthmore for the most part is a really understanding, supportive, and accepting community, whether one is gay, straight, rich, poor, US citizen, Haitian citizen, or whatever. The diversity is really wonderful, and the various ethnic groups on campus really do mix around a lot. The thing is, though, we really are INCREDIBLY liberal. Even the PROFS make Bush jokes, and the Republican student group here feels more like a support group than a political party. That said, a Republican on campus would still make friends and such, he/she'd just end up not talking politics a lot, probably.


There are tons of organizations for whatever group you are interested in. Many discussions are held on campus, and you can really take full advantage of the diversity presented. The students are really laid back, and it's guaranteed that you will be accepted and respected on campus. There's tons of activism on campus, and you can chose to partake in that, or just devote yourself to your studies.


I think that most Swarthmore students accept that there is diversity in race, religion, LGBT, socio-economic, and other diversity on campus; however, I think that there is a difference between accepting the existence of diversity and becoming actually comfortable and approving of the persistence of this diversity. I think that there is enough diversity on campus that no type of student would feel out of place. Half of Swarthmore's population is not on any type of financial aid. We are predominantly left-wingers. I think that what we will earn in the future is not a consideration in the job that most Swatties decide to take.


School is pretty open and accomodating. Most people are liberal or they claim to be for fear of being dragged into a 3hour debate about the merits of liberalism with an overzealous classmate! There is an increasingly vocal group of moderates/conservatives on campus and I think its a great addition to the plurality of the school community.


Swarthmore students are very liberal, but most aren't in-you-face about it. Most students are intelligent and accepting.


I feel that sometimes certain groups like the Christian group is very repressed. I just personally think that as a Christian, that this group deserves a lot more respect. Many of the individuals on the campus feel as though they know everything about Christians and they don't.


Swarthmore has an extremely vocal left wing, which I think can lead to a lot of more conservative opinions being hushed, and those who hold those opinions being made to feel like they have no place here. In that sense, I think the common perspective here, though very liberal, is also very narrow-minded in a way- people aren't always willing to consider alternative arguments and perspectives, especially when they are closer to the right.


Conservatives beware. Really. Swarthmore is welcoming to everyone and anyone, so long as they're not registered as a Republican. Story: the College Republicans recently experienced a resurgence in activity (all five of them) and posted flyers all over campus advertising for their meeting. The flyers proclaimed that it was okay to "come out of the closet" as conservatives. A huge controversy built up over the use of the term "coming out" by Republicans, who are, as we all know, not generally queer-friendly. There were counter-flyers. There were chalkings. There were newspaper articles. Capiche? As an Arab student, I've personally been a bit disappointed by the lack of Middle Eastern students, and I'm sure there are plenty of people here who feel a little lonely for similar reasons. As I said before, such a small student body can't sustain large populations of every ethnicity. There are a lot of token minorities. Swat makes a huge effort at maintaining diversity, and usually does a pretty decent job. Of course, we all speak English really well, have most of the same politics, and come predominantly from the suburbs, but Admissions is doing what it can.


Very diverse campus culturally, but not so much in terms of thought. As in, most people are militant liberals. Republicans tend to feel really out of place, even attacked, as do social conservatives. There's a niche for pretty much anyone. That's one of the things I like--that social groups aren't exclusive.


The Intercultural Center on campus is kind of weak because there isn't that much administrative support.


Swarthmore's student body is mad small. Its like 1500 people at this school. Compared to other institutions, swarthmore is really small. Different types of students do interact, but since the school is so small, u see the same people over and over again.... like u in tha pen or somethin like that. But u gotta take the good with the bad. People are very socially conscious around here which is nice, which is good because it eliminates the amount of ignorance that is expressed at Swat.