Where is Swarthmore?

Yes, we are located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. But where exactly is the college located, and does that matter when you’re on the path to narrowing down schools? My process for looking at colleges was filled with a long wishlist. However, I feel as if it would have been a bit more wise to have prioritized the location of schools more than I did.

I was lucky in the end though, because Swarthmore’s location could not have been better. Specifically, I love the idea of having a campus vibe that is distinct and comparatively on the smaller side. This has a major benefit that you will notice if you have the chance to speak with a student or visit campus at Swarthmore: the community on campus is strong, and most everyone knows nearly everyone they pass by walking from building to building. Though this environment might pose some downsides (what comes to mind is the possibility of having a lack of variety and options on campus), this reservation quickly dissipates when you find out—drum roll please—a major city is just a few towns over from campus!

Without a doubt, the location of Swarthmore is, in my personal view, very underestimated. I do bring some bias to this perspective, as my four years prior to Swat I attended a boarding school that was about an hour from a city, comparable to the suburban pace that Swarthmore has offered. Nonetheless, there is something to be said for Swat being so close to Philadelphia.

So then, how often do students go into Philly? As you can imagine, this answer varies. Perhaps no better way to answer that question is the example of my first-year hall mates. I took a class in the city both terms with two other Swatties, and also was fortunate to volunteer at Thomas Jefferson Hospital on the weekends when time allowed. As such, I was taking the SEPTA train to Philly roughly four days per week. On the other hand, my hall mates only made it into the city once this past year, because “there is just so much here (at Swat) that it we didn’t need to head to Center City.”

Coming back to the logistics of traveling to Philly, the distance itself is about 10 miles from point to point. This is about the same as going from Yankee Stadium to Washington Square Park (near the Tribeca area of New York City). For those of us who are not baseball fans or familiar with New York City, it is a rather quick trip. Many Swatties try to take the express train, which goes from the Swarthmore train station to University City (one of the stops in Philadelphia) in less than 20 minutes.

I remember leaving my dorm room several times at around 7:15 a.m.—though I do not recommend cutting it this close to the 7:20 a.m. train—and being in the heart of the city by before 7:45 in the morning.

All in all, the opportunities offered in Philadelphia are very accessible from campus. Having the outlet to head into the city with some friends after a long week of classes or just to explore the area is a great way to balance the campus vibe. Though some students rarely frequent the city, the opportunity is there if you want to experience it!

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