Discovering More Than Just Swarthmore at DiscoSwat

Discover Swarthmore (better known as DiscoSwat), comes around every year during the fall semester to give traditionally underrepresented high school students the opportunity to do exactly that—discover life not only as a college student, which for many is still a mystery, but life as a Swarthmore student. It was held again this month and, as usual, I was reminded that just three years ago, I was in the exact same shoes as many of the prospective students. But let me tell you, the way I imagined my own life at Swarthmore back then differs quite a bit from the way things actually played out.

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Let me be honest from the start, though. The reason why I applied to DiscoSwat in the first place? I didn’t want to skip an opportunity to miss school and fly to the east coast with all expenses paid. At the time, I was already set on staying in California for college, but I thought, “Why not?”

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I arrived with two of my best friends at Swarthmore on Friday morning, with the early mist still looming across Parrish Beach. I’m so used to seeing Parrish now after three years at Swarthmore, but that first time, I thought it was absolutely beautiful. There was no one else on the lawn early that morning, as expected from your typical college student, and so in that quiet excitement of prospective students, we had a moment to take it all in. Of course, we had our own photo shoot in front of Parrish Hall (and eventually, the big chair).

Once inside Parrish, sitting somewhat awkwardly with other prospective students and waiting for our hosts to pick us up, I introduced myself and exchanged numbers with people so we could hang out later. I had no idea that these would be the same people with whom, two years later, I would hang out with late at night on Parrish Beach.

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But for the moment, they were the people with whom I played Quidditch, participated in a large foam-swords battle, and overwhelmed Renato’s pizzeria. We explored the Crum Woods, enjoyed Swarthmore’s a capella, and talked until the next morning in Parrish. (We had to sleep on the couch that night!)

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When people ask me why I chose Swarthmore, I always say that it was because of the people. Swarthmore students were so nerdy and so excited to talk about their lives here. Honestly, I loved it. But it was also the people that I met at DiscoSwat, the thought that if I do end up here, I would be spending my next four years alongside them.

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Three years later, has it been exactly like I imagined it would be? Well, I was right in that many of the friends that I made at DiscoSwat are still my friends today. On a surprising note, one person whom I didn’t exactly like is one of my best friends now. I also never joined the Quidditch team and only took part in the large foam-sword event once a year. But, with no prior experience in journalism before, I have become an editor for our online school newspaper The Daily Gazette, write for Swarthmore’s Review, and work (and gossip) in the back kitchen of Paces cafe.

DiscoSwat wasn’t a discovery of the life that I would have at college, but a discovery of the people with whom I would be making memories for the next four years. Three years later, I still believe that I ended up where I was supposed to be.

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