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  • Writer's pictureAlison Merzel

School Spotlight: Swarthmore College

Updated: May 8, 2023

Yesterday I had the chance to pop into the counselor preview virtual college fair hosted by the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC). The next college fair targeted at high school students will be on Sunday, September 13 from 12-8pm ET and you can register here.

Admissions representatives from Swarthmore hosted a session called 5 things that make Swarthmore different, so today's Five Fun Facts are coming straight to you from this session. Swarthmore is a small, selective co-ed private liberal arts college in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

1) Swarthmore is rooted in Quaker tradition, as the college was founded in Quakerism. The college is currently nonsectarian and welcomes students from all faiths, but there is a strong focus on social justice, equity, access and community on campus. At Swarthmore, there is a belief that everyone has a light inside of them. Student voices are as important as those of the faculty, and students often call their professors by first name.

2) The first semester at Swarthmore is credit/no credit or pass/fail for all first-year students. The idea is to encourage students to transition successfully to college without worrying about grades. Students have time to get acclimated to campus, connect with their peers, and take academic risks without fear of earning a poor grade.

3) Swarthmore does not provide a published GPA or class rank. This harkens back to the idea of social equity - students may calculate their own GPA for use in applying to graduate or professional school.

4) As a liberal arts college it is quite unusual to offer a four-year engineering program, but Swarthmore offers students the opportunity to study engineering within the context of the liberal arts. The engineering students will not only get to focus on the science, math, and engineering, but to understand the larger social and economic implications of the problems they are trying to solve with their technical knowledge. Interdisciplinary study is a hallmark of the academic experience at Swarthmore and students are encouraged to explore a range of course offerings and areas of study.

Since Swarthmore is part of the Tri-College Consortium, students can also take classes at Haverford College and Bryn Mawr College. There is also the opportunity to take classes through cross-registration with U Penn.

5) Swarthmore does not have an honors college, but it does offer a very unique honors program for highly motivated and intellectual students who are looking to dig even deeper into their academic concentrations. Students who apply for the honors program will choose a major and a minor and engage in preparations (small seminars, research, internships, etc.), honors study and evaluations - at the end of the academic experience, an external examiner will assess the student's body of knowledge.

Swarthmore practices need-blind admissions and promised to meet 100% of determined financial need with a loan free financial aid package.

Check out the many ways to connect with the Swatties here!

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