Tour Guide FAQs

Tour Guides

We are the summer tour guides! We have been giving anywhere from one to four tours every single day, and have easily given over one hundred tours this summer. Since we’ve given so many tours, we’ve heard a lot of repeat questions! Here are some of the most popular questions and our answers.

Daily Life:

Is the food good?

Josie: You don’t come to Swarthmore for the food, but you also don’t not come to Swarthmore because of the food.

Ray: Well, it’s not my grandma’s cooking, but it’s also definitely not my cooking.

How safe is the campus?

Peter: I’ve lived here my whole life, the only crime that really goes on is the occasional car break-in or that one time the Big Chair was vandalized.

Kendall: We have Public Safety escorts available who will walk or drive you to your dorm at night if you want. Public Safety also offers a self-defense class that students can take for a physical education credit.

Ray: The biggest reason that Public Safety is called, really, is for when people get locked out of their dorms.

Josie: I can only talk about my personal experiences in this area, but I feel pretty safe on campus. At the parties, there is a group of students called SWAT Team. They will make sure everyone at the party is hydrated and safe. Once I went to a party in one of the fraternity houses, and my friend fell down on the dance floor. She twisted her ankle and could not get up. I was too far away to help her, but a SWAT Team member saw her tumble. He helped her off the floor and took her to the nearest nurse station. It was nice to have fellow students looking out for my safety.

What about traditions?

Naomi: We have a whole bunch of traditions that take place throughout the year which students really look forward to. One of the first traditions that students experience during Orientation Week is First Collection. At First Collection students will reflect on queries, a Quaker tradition of personal and group reflection. This comes around full circle at Last Collection where seniors meet the night before graduation to reflect on queries with their classmates for the last time at Swarthmore. In October, we have something organized by Psi Phi (not a frat) called the Pterodactyl Hunt. Some students will carry foam bats to defend campus from other students who are dressed as pterodactyls and other monsters. 

How diverse is campus?

Olivia: There’s a lot of ways to answer that question. The big statistics are: about 47% of our student body self-identifies as people of color and around 24% of our incoming class are first-generation to college students. There’s lots of other ways to measure diversity, though – we have a large queer population on campus, 13% of our students are international, and there are a wide variety of interests on campus. If you’re interested in specific ethnic groups, check out the Intercultural Center!

What about the bathrooms and kitchens in dorms?

Ray: The bathrooms are communal, but not scary.

Kendall: There are one or two communal bathrooms on every residential floor, and they are either gendered or gender-neutral according to what the RA decides. No matter what, the alternative option is available on the floor above or below.

Olivia: There are communal kitchens in every dorm as well. We also have a great staff called EVS who clean our bathrooms, kitchens, and lounges every weekday!

What is the roommate situation?

Kendall: Swarthmore does a fabulous job with matching up roommates. Roommates have similar preferences, but Swarthmore usually matches people that have different extracurricular or academic interests. That helps expose students to different opportunities available on campus.

Ray: The summer before your freshman year, you get an e-harmony-like survey that asks you all of these very detailed questions: what type of music you listen to, your personality traits, and all that jazz. Just like how we have a dedicated Admissions team, we have an awesome  group of people that oversee the dorms. They do their best to match people with similar living styles, and they make sure the dorms themselves are evenly balanced between outgoing and shyer people. My roommate last year was also named Ray!

Academics

What are the study abroad opportunities like?

Kendall: Most students choose to study abroad during their junior year. If you are planning on studying abroad during the school year, most financial aid packages transfer with you. Studying abroad during the summer is also an option, but financial aid varies depending on the program.

Olivia: It’s also possible to get a grant from the college to study abroad during the summer. You can also study abroad as part of a class. Next semester, I’m taking PEAC053: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, which has a study trip. My friend Frank took a trip this summer to China as part of a course on Chinese Agriculture. Last summer, a course on the Afro-Cuban experience studied in Cuba as part of the class.

Do students do research?

Olivia: Yes! A surprising number of our students do research – around 66%, actually. The college funds almost all of the research projects that are proposed, and you can do research on pretty much anything. I’m doing research this summer on educational solutions for the school to prison pipeline, Peter’s friend is doing research on the dissolution rate of silver nanoparticles, and one of my friends is doing research on the impact of performing in theater productions on the motivation of youth of color.

Kendall: Students can do research at any time throughout the year. Most students choose to do research during the summer by applying for summer research stipends, but you can also get involved during the school year.

What are the advantages of being an Engineering major at a small liberal arts college?

Peter: Professor relationships are really helpful for engineering because you don’t fall through the cracks. One time, I overslept for my midterm and was very nervous that I wouldn’t be able to take the exam. My professor actually gave me extra time and was incredibly accommodating and understanding. You’re not in a 400-person lecture hall, so if you have a blunder, it’s okay.

Ray: You also get to work and design the buildings with the college. Like the Science Center – the doors and also the roof are Engineering projects designed by students. Plus you get to use the new BEP Building which will be complete in the Spring of 2019 for all the engineers out there.

How does having an entire semester pass-fail affect my GPA? Or my job search post-grad?

Olivia: Honestly, there’s not really a negative impact. We have an amazing career services office and career counseling. They can help you write a resume, create a LinkedIn profile, find jobs to apply to, or anything else. We are part of a 20-college consortium called the University Career Action Network which is essentially an internship exchange and recruitment source. There are career fairs during the year, as well as events hosted by career services. About 87% of our students choose to further their education within 5 years of graduating from Swarthmore.

If you have any other questions, you can always Ask A Swattie or sign up for your own campus visit and hear student perspectives for yourself.

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