Why Swarthmore, Four Years Later

Congrats to Swarthmore’s admitted Class of 2027! 

I wanted to reflect on the reasons that I initially wanted to go to Swarthmore, and check on how reality lined up with my expectations. From talking to my friends, many of us were drawn to Swarthmore for the same reasons, so I hope that this can help you better understand what to expect if you choose to come to Swarthmore!

  • Community passionate about learning

Everyone I have met here has been sincerely interested in learning all that they can in their classes. Academic discussion definitely isn’t confined to the classroom, and I’ve learned a lot from my friends just talking in Crumb Cafe about things they have been learning about in their department. There are even a few student book clubs and reading groups for people who want to do extra homework for fun (like me). 

This past summer, I was able to get funding from the school to conduct an independent survey research project exploring people’s relationships with racial and gender identity and the internet. This summer, I’ll be doing funded research again, this time towards my thesis on Black feminist activism and scholarship. Furthermore, I’m working with other students to create an undergraduate research journal for multidisciplinary feminist scholarship. I’ve found academic opportunities at Swarthmore to be pretty accessible no matter what program or department you are in.

  • Smaller classes– can interact more with professors

Even in my largest class (Introduction to Film and Media Studies), I was able to build a relationship with my professor (and she definitely knew all of our names). One of my professors even had the class over for lunch at the end of the semester (and it was a very good lunch!). Class meals with professors are a pretty common experience amongst Swarthmore students. Outside of classes, departments have a lot of events that allow you to get to know professors better. For example, the Math/Stat Department has an event where professors bring their dogs to campus which I always look forward to.

  • Beautiful campus

Sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but any picture of Swarthmore’s campus blanketed in snow or in full bloom is evidence of how pretty the campus is. Furthermore, if you want to appreciate the beauty of nature, there is a whole forest to explore! If you come to Swarthmore, I would highly recommend buying a picnic blanket before you move in so you can take full advantage of all the nice open spaces on campus.

  • Proximity to Philly/NYC/DC

Recently, my friends and I have starting doing “Philly Friday,” where we take the SEPTA from the Swarthmore train station and go do stuff in Philly. Most recently, we had tea in Chinatown, played Geoguessr in a coffee shop (and overheard a poetry reading), and then had Ethiopian food for dinner. I’ve also gone to Philly for free for many Swarthmore events, such as a fun program I participated in my freshman year where you are matched with other Swatties and given day-long transit passes to explore the city.  

As someone from the South, I could barely get my mind around the idea of having multiple major cities barely two hours away. In my time at Swarthmore, I’ve gone to New York and D.C. multiple times. I recently went on a short road trip to see friends and go to a Mitski concert in Washington over the weekend, and, in my sophomore year, my friends and I all took a bus to New York City to see Super M. If you plan a trip far enough in advance, you can get a MegaBus ticket for around $5!

  • Opportunity to take classes in a lot of departments

At Swarthmore, I’ve been able to learn a lot even outside of my disciplines. My sophomore fall, I got to take a really cool class on Feminist Film & Media studies, and I learned a lot about psychoanalysis– something I would never have learned about if I only took classes in my major. I also was able to take a student-run course on Critical Theory of Technology in the computer science department, despite not being a CS major. As I choose classes for my last ever semester at Swarthmore, I’m stuck choosing between taking classes in astrophysics, environmental studies, and religion. I’m really grateful to have so many academic options.

  • Affordability & cash-free campus

I don’t know what I would do without the free printing in McCabe or free laundry in my dorm. Even outside of the cash-free campus initiatives, I’ve also been able to purchase all of my textbooks using the funds from the textbook affordability program. As someone who prints out all of my readings every week, I can’t imagine how much money I would have spent on printing if I didn’t live on a cash-free campus. 

I remember as a high school student being worried about making the right choice for college. After four years as a Swarthmore student, I definitely think that I chose correctly when I decided to go to Swat.