I toured about 10 schools when I was deciding where to apply, looking at a variety of sizes, locations, and different types of colleges. Eventually, I decided to apply Early Decision to Swarthmore College, so I sent in my application in November and heard back in December. Since ED is binding, once I was accepted, I was committed! It was really nice to be able to know where I was going and not have to stress about acceptances during the second half of my senior year.
But, before all of that happened, I had to choose Swarthmore, just as they chose me. Although this is not an exhaustive list, here are my top reasons for deciding Swat was the right place for me!
I have always gone to small schools. My high school had about 100 students in each grade and I loved how I really got to know every single person in my class. One of my friends and I even named every person in our senior class off the tops of our heads once just to see if we could. I always felt really comfortable in my small school community and I wanted something like that when I went to college too. Now that I am at Swarthmore, I could not be more grateful for this decision. Each class year at Swat has about 400 students, adding up to a student body of a little over 1600. This small overall campus size contributes significantly to the type of experience you can have here.
The average class size for courses at Swarthmore is less than 20 students, and I really value these small classes. I have found that I get to know my professors really well and this makes them really accessible by office hours, email, or just staying for a few minutes after class. Even in larger lecture courses, professors make an effort to get to know every student and often break up the class into smaller groups in order to be able to interact with everyone. Socially, the small campus means I almost never walk from point A to point B on campus without passing somebody that I know at least well enough to give an awkward smile to as we walk by each other, and there is always someone to sit with at Sharples dining hall!
I came into college with no idea what I wanted to study. In high school I never was able to narrow down my interests enough to apply into a specific program at a college. Because of this, I thought a liberal arts school would be the perfect fit for me. It always frustrated me in high school that I had to take certain courses, and since my school was so small, there weren’t that many different options to choose between for each year.
At Swarthmore, I have been able to find so many unique courses that are super interesting to me, such as the Intro to Education course I took last fall as a First Year Seminar, classes capped at 12 students only open to first-years. The unique structure of a First Year Seminar allowed me to meet a lot of new people and dive into a topic I found really interesting. Plus, the distribution requirements that require me to take social sciences, humanities, and natural science courses do not feel like they are inhibiting my academic exploration because, since there is such a wide variety of courses, I can find something that I want to take in every area of study! Swarthmore gives students a true liberal arts education by encouraging them to explore different fields, but still allowing them to choose to take courses in things they are genuinely interested in learning about.
I play for the softball team at Swarthmore, and this was a big part of my decision to come here. I came to a camp, met the coach, and got really good vibes from the team. Something that is really unique about Division III athletics at Swat that is really important to me is that we are all student-athletes: students first and athletes second. The coaches at Swat are super understanding of the academic rigor and will never penalize you for prioritizing your academics over your sport. In fact, they encourage you to do so.
Additionally, a student athlete at Swarthmore is never limited to just sports and academics. Athletes are encouraged to join other groups on campus and explore their interests without being limited by their participation in athletics. Almost every upperclassman on my team is doing a ton of other really interesting things outside of softball, whether that be in the form of a job, club, or volunteer opportunity. Additionally, athletes are able to study abroad just like any other student, as long as they go during their sport’s off-season. This flexibility was really important to me when choosing a college because I am planning on minoring in Spanish, which has a study abroad requirement, and I have always loved to travel and learn about other cultures.
Overall, I don’t think I could have picked a better school for myself. Swarthmore allows me to do the things I love while meeting incredible people and getting a top tier education. I have never once regretted hitting submit on my ED application, and I can’t wait to see what my next 3 years at Swarthmore bring!
About the Author:
Hi! My name is Eliza and I am a freshman from Philadelphia, PA. My major is still undecided but I know I am interested in Education, Sociology, Economics, and Spanish. I play for the Softball team and in my free time I like drawing, watching Netflix (currently bingeing Bojack Horseman), and procrastinating in McCabe study rooms.