My favorite aspect of Swarthmore is the intimacy: of the classes, student relations, and the administration. While our politically and socially active students are often known to make their voices heard loud and clear to the administration, the transparency of each dean’s function and open communication lines make it possible for their voices to actually be heard.
The attentive attitude on campus also ensures that there are student activities for every kind of student, as well as an incredibly diverse course selection with a subset of renowned, specialized seminar courses. Closeness in classes and clubs makes it incredibly, unusually easy to find friends for life and establish lasting rapports with professors; Swarthmore is known for having an incredibly devoted alumni and faculty groups, and it is quite easy to call upon these resources through the excellent Career Services office for job recommendations or jobs themselves during and after college! But even without these links, don’t fret: while less urban areas often don’t hear of Swarthmore college, Swatties experience a renowned higher education that urban dwellers, numerous employers, Ivy Leaguers, and fellow academics treat with the utmost respect and admiration.
Tradition is also an amazing, strange part of preserving Swat’s close community, with unforgettable, highly anticipated annual events such as Screw Your Roommate, the Crum Regatta, Pterodactyl Hunt, Yule Ball, and others that solidify student friendships, and make one’s time here a uniquely Swarthmorean experience.
One drawback students often gripe about is stress. Being surrounded by such multitalented, ambitious people, it is easy to stretch yourself too thin between course load, athletics, and extracurriculars— especially during your first year! This sometimes leads to a group game of misery poker in which you and your friends enter the vicious cycle of complaining about the stressful tasks you must complete. However, this can be fixed by using the multiple, extremely accessible psychological, administrative, and academic resources available to achieve a balance in one’s life. There are also many (helpful!) peer tutor small-group sessions for some courses, generally in math and science, which meet at least twice a week.
Another setback depending on the individual is its suburban setting. Although the SEPTA public transportation train runs literally though the base of campus and can take students to Philadelphia in twenty minutes, it can get pricey and rather time consuming to make this a regular event. Coming from one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, I find the suburban small town of Swarthmore, PA to hardly be a fair substitute, as it tends to shut down rather early. I would like to see the college make metropolitan opportunities beyond the campus more accessible to students. Yet, students don’t have to worry about boredom, as there is an abundance of activities such as concerts, club dinners, movie nights, and parties to participate in on campus, open to all students as a part of the inclusive Quaker philosophy.
I was drawn to Swarthmore in part for its small size, which was supposed to mean close interaction between students and professors, and a sense of community. I do get those here. But after a while I think most people here daydream about having just one day when they can experience going to a big university, or at least a bigger school than Swarthmore. I've certainly thought about it. Swarthmore's smaller than my high school in population--that might be one reason why I wonder what it'd feel like. You do see the same people over and over, which is both good and bad--bad because you might get sick of it and just want to see more new people from time to time, and good because you do get a sense that you're in a family, or at least a community. So, sometimes I wish the school had more people just for a few weeks, but since that can't happen, I'm satisfied with the size of the school.
I think Swarthmore's more well-known in the East Coast than in the West Coast, where I'm from. Many students and teachers in my high school in Seattle had never heard of Swarthmore. Some have, though. When I tell someone I go to Swarthmore, I usually get, "Oh, cool! Where is that?" from someone who's never heard of it.
I spend most of my time in my dorm, I think. It's probably close between my dorm, the library, and the science center. I usually go from place to place all the time, so often I go from my dorm (when I wake up) to class, then to breakfast, then back to my dorm to take a shower or brush my teeth, then back to class, then to lunch, then back to class for a lab if I have one, and then back to my dorm, where I do homework and check e-mail for an hour or so, and then head to dinner, and then from there I do homework wherever I feel like it.
Swarthmore is NOT A COLLEGE TOWN. It is not! There's very little in the borough of Swarthmore. I usually only go to the bank there. But there is everything you need--a Wal-Mart, a Target, a sort of quiet mall, a grocery store, a crappy Chinese restaurant, and a good pizza place. Actually, to get to Wal-Mart or Target you should take a van. So it really isn't a college town at all, which is rather unfortunate, because it would be great to have a cool town.
I don't have much of an opinion about Swarthmore's administration. I just have the pleasure of not having to deal with it.l
There haven't been any huge controversies on campus so far--I guess the most recent one was this: a few weeks ago, there were a lot of events on campus from various student groups about the economic state of the country, and Swarthmore's financial aid policy. In Parrish Hall, which is where the administrative offices are, students put pieces of paper all over the common area detailing students's experiences with the financial aid here, which is generally considered to be excellent. That, I think, captures much of my general impression of Swarthmore students, which I'll get to later.
There really isn't much school pride here--I've been to a few soccer games, and basically people watch if they don't have much else to do, but nobody really cares that much about the sports teams here, except the athletes. Lots of people probably aren't screaming out loud, "Yes! I go to Swarthmore!!!" but I think most of them like it here.
Swarthmore has some quirky (admissions office has really adopted this word and is trying to really associate that word with the school when they talk about Swarthmore to high school students and to parents) traditions, like the Pterodactyl Hunt, which is basically a sci-fi but reality game. It was actually pretty cool. There's also events like Dash for Cash and Sager, which I won't go into now. Swarthmore's a very liberal school--I don't think any review of Swat can be acceptable without mentioning this.
I haven't had too many memorable experiences yet, as it's just nearing the end of my first semester here, but one memorable experience would be the Pterodactyl hunt.
Most frequent student complaints: too much work to do, not getting enough sleep, Sharples food sucks, town of Swarthmore sucks. We have something called misery poker, which is when you start off by saying how much work you have to do and other people go around trying to beat you by trying to tell you that they have more work than you. We do it in math class every week.
Swarthmore is a school you really need to understand before choosing to come here. I've known some people who were absolutely miserable here, and some who flourished like a mushroom in a cold dark place.
It's small. Really small. There's a good chance you'll know 80% of your classmates by the time you graduate. It's not a big school with a big party scene, but if you're someone who likes to create their own social life rather than go with the masses, this is a great place for you. I think I ultimately had more fun as a result. People get drunk, but generally not too drunk. People do drugs, but it's not a dangerous thing. In general, you feel very safe doing whatever you want to do, and that's nice.
It's also a great place if you want to be involved in some kind of extracurricular activity. There are tons of opportunities, and if they're not there, it's easy to start them and get the funding for it. We have a huge endowment per student, and I think they spend it really well.
Sure, lots of people haven't heard of Swarthmore in the real world. But then again, most people haven't heard of anything. Unless you go to Harvard or a school with a good sports team, you're kind of fucked. The good thing is, when people HAVE heard of Swarthmore, they're usually extremely impressed. Our graduates do very well for themselves. My brother went to Brown, and I don't think his buddies are doing as well.
Ultimately, you have to ask yourself what kind of college experience you want. If you want something predominantly social, something out of Animal House, don't come here. If you want an incredible, unparalleled academic experience with a very comfortable life and you have a communal spirit, this place will be wonderful.
There is a lot of money in the student activities account, which is run by students and flows towards student groups to host activities and parties on campus, so there is always a lot going on that is open to everybody. I think the relatively small size of Swarthmore is great, in that it keeps everybody wanting to be a good, honorable person (you can't hide behind anonymity here), and yet it is large enough that there is always somebody new and interesting to meet. Since it is a small college, the alumni network is very tight-knit, and there really is a strong bond amongst the community. The administration is very lenient and rarely is there any sort of authoritative presence or punishment (read: underage drinking is very normal and not a big deal. The administration trusts the students to act like responsible adults, and for the most part everybody just has a good time and no harm is done). Professors and students generally have an enormous amount of respect for each other, which creates an atmosphere in which learning is comfortable and people are proud of being here.
Swarthmore will prepare you for an ever changing world. Professors have extremely high expectations from each student and push their students to think in ways that they never would have before. Swarthmore is a highly tolerant educational experience that brings together students from every walk of life. Although the conservative voice is rather small on campus, and there tends to be a bias against it, Swarthmore is very tolerant.
The one thing I would change is students' rather limited scope for varying thought. Swat students tend to find it difficult to think outside of their liberal mind frame. Thought diversity has been a topic of conversation in the past year, and is something that has been challenged due to the revitalization of the College Republicans on campus. Being a conservative student on a very liberal campus, my positions have been challenged, but I have learned a great deal from that. One advantage I have had in being conservative at Swarthmore is that I have had the chance to be challenged and also learn outside of normal comfort zone.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
The best thing about Swarthmore is all of the educational opportunities at hand. If I could change one thing it would be the variety in social life - on the weekends there is one thing to do: go to paces - and if you don't drink that's out of the picture. Academically speaking, the size of Swarthmore is perfect, socially it's SMALL. When I tell people that I go to Swarthmore they are amazed - it is an amazing school after all.
People here are very open and receptive everyone. with a somewhat small community people get to know each other and even if you don't know someone you have probably seen them around somewhere. close access to philly with a train on campus. Students are called "Swatties" because of our uniqueness. there is no other place like swat. most people complain about the dining hall, but it isn't that bad, all you can eat.
We try to do too many classes and activities, and we complain about our work all the time. Just about everyone gets really stressed out pretty often, but there are plenty of people who let off steam by partying – you still find a social scene even if you not into discussing philosophy or playing D&D. People aren't usually money-power-career oriented like at the Ivies; we actually care about what we're studying. Yeah, we're overwhelmingly progressive, but people still say and do some really ignorant things that show that it is somehow possible to spend four years here and still not confront class, race, gender and sexual privilege.
Swat is a great liberal arts school and it does prepare you for grad school. the school pretty much gives you the opportunity to do whatever you want to the fullest extent. The school as an administration is pretty laid back, most mistakes are forgiven, alcohol policy is extremely lenient. But , the school is so small, Septa is getting more and more expensive. If you do not want to go to grad school, or are not into science research, careers services does a poor job connecting you to potential careers/interships/jobs/connections. The health center, while not always extremely helpful, is very convenient and they will eventually get it right. There is not a lot of school pride, though we have just created a mascot, but i would say more people were mobilized to vote than to go to even a swat haverford BBALL game.
Swarthmore's great. There's pressure to do well and work hard, but no real sense of competition. People are very willing to help each other out by sharing notes or study guides, editing papers, etc.
I'm from California, so generally people don't react when I say I go to Swarthmore, or they ask me why I would go all the way to Pennsylvania to attend a school that they've never heard of. I feel that the Swarthmore community, and the Swarthmore administration are very open to discussion. If there is anything I wanted to change, I feel that even if I could not actually change it, someone would be able to give me a logical reason as to why it could not be (for example, it's just too expensive to serve all-organic food at the dining hall). I think that Swarthmore has a very distinct sort of school pride. It's not a screaming, drunken, chest-painting sort of school pride, it's more of a sober, somewhat sarcastic, a little bit intellectually distant sort of school pride. We're a little bit arrogant, but we tend to take our school fairly seriously, and you'll meet a lot of people who are very dedicated to making Swarthmore the most socially sensitive, politically aware and academically stimulating place that it can be.
Swarthmore's located 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia by train. It's in an area where there's literally dozens of other prestigious colleges. So, don't think that when you get here you're in some unique place in the vicinity around you. It's just another small college town surrounded by many. Honestly, I really don't like this place. I hate the student body and I wish I had never come here in the first place. I am dead serious. The administration is very welcoming, however, and they really work with you if you have problems.
Swarthmore is small enough that you know, whenever you meet somebody, you'll probably run into them again without putting an effort into it. This is great for making new friends, but tricky when you want to avoid someone. At the same time, there are enough people that there will always be people you don't know. Sometimes, however, when you meet someone for the first time, you actually each know a lot about each other already. That can be awkward or entertaining, depending on your take. Just don't do anything you'll be ashamed of, and you'll be fine.
The administration is exceptionally efficient and friendly. A lot of students are on first-name basis with many deans, and they really look out for us.
There's not much school pride as far as sports go, but if two Swatties run into each other anywhere in the world and discover their common college, they'll be instant friends.
Swarthmore's campus is gorgeous. During the spring days I often find a nice tree to sit under, the cherry blossoms are particularly nice, to do work, or I people watch on "the Beach".
One thing I would change about Swarthmore would be the food. Sharples grub is pretty much that, grub. I understand that it is difficult to prepare food for all of us to eat, but still the quality could be a bit better. We need nutritious meals for our ever expanding minds! Also we need a facility that serves food after 10:30pm, because most of us are awake till at least 2:00am during the week.
When I talk about Swat I generally get one of two responses - where's that? Or WOW - You got in THERE! And a look of growing respect. It's quite flattering. :-) I LOVE it here. The school is tiny, and a lot of the seniors get tired of that after awhile, but it means that the profs are really available and everything is nice and flexible. The school really tried to suit itself to your needs. I love the people, too - when I got here in the Fall I was just AMAZED at how friendly and helpful people were. I stopped being shy about asking for help or directions because people were so happy to give them.
Although many people have not heard of Swarthmore, it is considered to be one of the top academic and activist institutions. I love that I can have the academic rigor and still be involved in many organizations. The size of the school is great because you can get a lot of individual attention and really get to know your professors well; it also makes it easy to find your friends, whether for eating or at a party.
I think that the best part about Swarthmore is that all of the students have different ways of being smart, which serves to enhance the atmosphere of the school. If I could change anything, I would either have more than one main dining hall, or I would make the food in the one dining hall better. I think this would enhance the lives of all of the students. I think that our administration is very accessible and open to students' opinions and concerns.
When I tell people that I go to Swarthmore they react in one of two ways:
1) They smile and ask "why would you do that to yourself?" I usually reply because I love it!
2) They get a bewildered look on their face and ask "Where is that?" And I reply in a smug manner, all the while thinking that they have no idea how smart I am and that while they are judging me, I too am judging them for not knowing about one of the top schools in the country.
3) They are surprised and ask how I like it and then go on to tell me of someone they know who has some vague amorphous connection to Swarthmore. I usually enjoy talking to these people because they understand how great the college is!
Oh wait that's three reactions...
Swatties work hard, but mostly they're just overcommitted everybody is highly involved in things they enjoy and things that they think are important. The result is a student body full of exciting, motivated people.
When I tell people to come to Swarthmore, they first react by not knowing where the school located. I feel that it is unfortunate that many people do no understand how great of a school Swarthmore is. The academic rigor is very real but it is worth it.
I have a love-hate relationship at Swarthmore- most of the time that I'm here I can't wait to leave, but I always hate leaving. Even though life here falls into a pretty repetitive cycle, you grow to expect it and enjoy it and understand it. The ville is extremely lame, and Philadelphia is a city friendlier to those with cars since the public transport system sucks...so I could imagine a better setting for Swat. I love the small school feel though- I've always gone to small schools and even though the enviroment can get a little claustrophobic, if you stay out of trouble then its not a bad thing.
Swarthmore is a personality school. Some people (a lot of people) love it here, and plenty don't. Swat is one of those places where, if you don't feel like you fit in, you're unlikely to find a niche. It really is a small school, and socially speaking there's very little breathing room. This creates all of the boasted-upon pluses that liberal arts colleges love, like close professor-student relationships, a feeling of intimacy, and an inability to 'fall through the cracks'. It also means that any awkwardness you may have with another person on campus is completely unavoidable. You >will< see this person in Sharples on a regular basis, have them in one of your classes and/or end up working with them on an extracurricular project (I use the plural to avoid the gendered pronouns that Swat has taught me to scorn).
Swarthmore is the only place where I can imagine meeting more than one champion mountain unicyclist, where a huge banner would greet prospective students on our accepted students weekend with the words "Welcome Queer Specs!", or where students lapse into discussions about Foucault when inebriated. Swarthmore is quirky in the extreme, and I love the mix of people here. While the small size of the student body means that some interests and even ethnicities go somewhat unrepresented, the diversity of interests and experiences that Swatties bring to the table never ceases to amaze me.
It really is a community---you learn too much about the personal lives of people you don't actually know that well in real life. However, it's also fairly easy to make friends. There are plenty of events that are inclusive and interesting. And if not, you can make your own fun.
Academics are challenging, but there's a ton of support---tutors, clinics, etc.
There isn't much of what one typically associates with "school spirit" in terms of athletics, but most Swatties are proud of their school in other ways.
Swarthmore has a very small student population. At times it can make the campus feel small and suffocating. But I wouldn't say this happens too often. I like the people I am around so I don't feel confined to have to spend my time with them. I love walking down the path and running into a ton of people that I know as opposed to passing mobs of strangers. It makes the social scene nice because most people know each other and there isn't very much exclusivity in student events.
I would say that there really isn't a college town around. I don't usually find it necessary to leave campus because there is a lot going on. But the Tri-Co arrangement makes it easy to go to other campuses for events. Philadelphia is close and some upperclassmen enjoy going into the city.
When I tell people I am going to Swarthmore, I am usually answered with an out that's nice. Where is it? or just a general response of confusion. In short, not the average man on the streeet will recognize it as an elite institution like a Princeton or Harvard, even though it is. But the people who you want to know (like future employers) hold the institution in the highest regard.
Swarthmore isn't in a college town, which sucks, but you don't really need anything that doesn't exist on campus or the college doesn't provide access too. There are weekend shuttles to Philly and Target and the local movie theater, so transportation is sometimes free here! That relates to Swarthmore's Quaker roots - Quakers are said to really highly value community, so everything on campus is free!
The best thing about swarthmore is that its small and that you can get help when you need to in your classes. There are a lot of diverse group on campus that are welcoming to all different kinds of people. The most frequent student complaints are that the parties are always in the same two places every weekend...oh well.
I just happened to have had a conversation during lunch about the intellectual disparities between Swarthmore and other schools. It seems that students at Swarthmore are constantly talking about thought-provoking ideas and theoretical situations during most of their time. My friend's sister from a different college once suitably stated as she was walking to our dining hall, "do you guys ever speak English?" Her sister was refering to the fact during her entire walk to the campus dining hall, she didn't hear a single conversation about normal, everyday topics like the sale at GAP.
Because the school is so small, the administration treats students like adults. The attitude toward drinking and parties is, in my experience, very mature - that is, if you're 18, you can make your own decisions, as long as you're responsible and not bothering anyone.
However, if it weren't for this openness, the social life on campus could be considered absolutely dismal. After about one semester, there is almost nothing new to do on weekends in the village of Swarthmore. That's why the train into Philly is so important: I'd say, take advantage of it as often as possible.
Swarthmore is a great school. The greatest thing about it is the availability of its professors. I would change the food in Sharples. The school is usually just right, but can sometimes feel too small. People have no idea what Swarthmore is- they think it's an all-girl's school. I spend most of my time in SciCenter and Martin. There is no "college town." The administration wholly supports the students. The biggest recent controversy was the drug scandal with the freshman selling acid. There is a sense of school pride, but in a different degree than other universities. Everything is unusual about Swarthmore.
the best things: small class sizes (i.e. the classroom), relationships on a very personal level with professors and administration, mind-expanding
things i'd change: dining hall - it closes too early!, and we need a 24 hour snack bar or more vending machines, and all the delivery places close by 1....
The 4 typical reactions when people learn that i go to swarthmore:
1. Hm, i see......(end of conversation
2. Isn't that an all-girls school?
3. Oh yeah, great school! it's in New York right?
4. Oh yeah, great school, Swarthmore has a lot to offer, good for you!
College town? ha. the ville hardly counts as a college town. the ville is a micro-town that feels like it is perpetually stuck in the 60's.
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