How to choose a school that’s right for you

After a while, tour after tour and info session after info session start to blend together. I have heard the terms “holistic admissions process,” “small class size,” and “blue light system” more times than I can recall, and I’ve heard countless bad jokes about walking backward.

Sometimes the information you get during a campus visit may not be super helpful. Hearing about a campus tradition is nice to know, but ultimately won’t make your decision for you. And let’s be honest – there are a lot of small, elite liberal arts colleges that are very similar to one another. So what made me choose Swarthmore?

Here’s what I wanted from a college:

  • A small liberal arts college with strong academics
  • A school in or near a major city
  • No or very little Greek life
  • A school that was close to home, but not too close (I’m from NYC)
  • A politically active and justice-oriented student body

What I didn’t realize was that many, many schools fit those criteria. College is more than a school, it’s your home for the next four years. Stats are important but more so is the feel of the school. I didn’t get to experience the feel until I visited. But what exactly about the feel of Swat made me choose it? There were two main reasons:

  1. Quirky-ness
    The students at Swat are all varying degrees of eccentric – even the stereotypical athletes in frats are a little weird. Not weird in a cringe-inducing way that makes me uncomfortable, but weird in a way that adds value and interest to my daily life. For example, last semester, someone in my hall worked with the groundskeepers to build a hut in the Crum Woods. It’s that touch of eccentricity that gives me a new perspective and broadens my horizons. I love it.
  2. Values
    Swarthmore was founded as a Quaker institution and is no longer affiliated with the Quaker faith, but certainly holds onto its roots. Swarthmore celebrates the values of inclusion, dialogue, accessibility, and the importance of each person’s voice. These values permeate students’ daily interactions in noticeable ways. I wanted a school where students cared about the things that matter, from kindness in daily interactions to deconstructing systems of inequality.  I found that Swarthmore’s community values – inclusion, intellectual curiosity, and dialogue – align neatly with my own values.

I feel lucky every day to be on campus, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn and live here. Swarthmore is niche, and not for everyone, but it definitely was and is for me.

me, walking to class



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