The most frustrating part of Swarthmore College is linked to the academic difficulty associated with the school. Their are high expectations put on the students to excel and the students respond with maximum effort. I do not mind working hard and would not have chosen Swarthmore College if I was not interested in a challenging college experience. The frustration restults when students do not see results that adequately demonstrate their effort. This frustration is rooted in the fact that their are so many intelligent students here, which is one of the institutions greatest strengths, but can still be frustrating.
Initial financial aid packages are great but depreciate with subsequent school years. Limited flexibility of when courses are offered. School tends to over manage school affairs and student activites. Not a lot of understanding for academically rigourous course load one is taking and conflict of due dates. There is a Swarthmore "bubble" that exists in that it will be difficult to have time to know what news updates are outside of school.
The social atmosphere. Things were very cliquey, and it seemed like the social skills of most students did not develop since high school. If you didn't find a group with which you fit in (i.e. artsy types, sci-fi nerds, frat kids, gay groups, specific racial groups, etc.) you felt very left out. This problem is only worsened by the school's constant attempts to be "diverse" which inevitably isolate rather than include. All in all, it's a good thing most of your free time is taken up by studying, because the social life sucks.
The only thing that frustrates me about Swarthmore is the lack of well-equipped theatre spaces for student theatre on campus. We have two excellent stages, a proscenium stage and a black box, but the Main Stage (proscenium) is only available to students once a semester, and the black box is department only. However, I think the fact that something like this is my main frustration truly speaks to my good experience at the college.
students create new organizations all the time, but few of the groups remain for more than a semester.
dining hall? some events can be repetitive too over the years
I felt pressured to constantly excel and acheive. This wasn't due to competition from my peers or anything like that. The pressure mostly came from within not to 'waste' any opportunities academically and otherwise. (The example of all my peers working their butts off probably didn't help, but I didn't feel like I would have been looked down on had I not done as much as they). I fear that too much emphasis on academics and structured activities limited the amount of time I had to appreciate the environment I was in and people I was with.
The most frustrating thing is actually a double-edged sword. While I previously rated Swarthmore's size as "Just Right," truly one of its greatest strengths, in fact, I know that it can also be Swarthmore's biggest weakness. There are times when you just have to get off campus, just to get away from it all and be in a place where you don't know everyone and everything so intensely. At such times, Swarthmore's greatest strength--a close-knit community of friendly and caring people--seems to be a bit suffocating.
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