What I Wish I Knew About Swat before Orientation

  • Freshman can do a lot here. I underestimated how unique it is to get research, work, and internship opportunities as a freshman. Yet, many of my classmates and I have been able to experience research opportunities starting from our first semester on campus.
  • The swim test is not as scary as some make it out to be. (I wanted to note this because I, too, was wrong about the swim test. It is not bad; in fact, I met my best friend and roommate for next year at that test!)
  • Community-Based Learning classes (CBL) are a thing. And, I would definitely try to take one. These classes are exactly the same as all other courses in the sense of credit, reputation, and difficulty, but CBL has an added segment to a course that requires everyone in the class to participate in local community service work for several hours per week as part of the curriculum. I have had three CBL courses already, and always try to take them because of the opportunity to learn about the content in class away from campus, and to engage with the community outside of Swarthmore. I go into detail about my own experience in a CBL course in this blog post if you are interested in learning a bit more about the placements and offerings.
  • By the time you read this article twice, you could be in the heart of Philadelphia from campus. Well, almost at the heart of Philly! I did not know that the express train is less than 20 minutes from the Swarthmore train station to the city.
  • There is so many resources here. Not several, but a lot that many people do not know about before coming to Swat. Do you need a ride to the Target in town or the grocery store? We have a shuttle running several hours a day almost daily to places like these and even to downtown Media (another town about 15 minutes from campus that has many restaurants). How about questions for what classes to take? You have an advisor or, if you want to get a student perspective, there are SAMs (“Student Academic Mentors”) that live on your floor to help as well. Speaking of your dorm, the RAs (Residential Assistants), Student Health Advisors, and DPAs (Diversity Peer Associates) are just right across the hall to talk about any questions that you have. To highlight a few more, the Lang Center, Black Cultural Center, Women’s Resource Center, Intercultural Center, Writing Center, and so many more, are all resources I wish I had know more about in my freshman fall.
  • It is not all work and no play. In fact, lots of people have balance with academic work and their other passions in the arts, athletics, and everything in between. This is not to say by any means that the contrasting all play no work saying is true here.
  • The environment on campus: one of my go-to questions when I visited college campuses was to ask students how they would describe the atmosphere of the community. At Swarthmore, I am grateful to be in a place where the shared passion for academics is not also home to a tense, competitive vibe on campus. Rather, I see a far more supportive environment that has a focus on helping one another compared to a competition among the students. Perhaps, this is what I wish I had know most of all before coming, the sense of inclusion and support that runs through the heart of campus.