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Swarthmore College

United States
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Institution type Private

About Swarthmore College

Since its founding in 1864, Swarthmore College has given students the knowledge, insight, skills, and experience to become leaders for the common good. Offering a liberal arts and engineering curriculum, the College is private, yet open to all regardless of financial need. It is also decidedly global in outlook, drawing students from around the world and all 50 states. The diversity of perspectives represented by Swarthmore students, faculty, and staff - including different viewpoints, identities, and histories - contributes to the community's strong sense of open dialogue and engagement with ideas and issues.

So much of what Swarthmore stands for, from its commitment to curricular breadth and rigor to its demonstrated interest in facilitating discovery and fostering civic engagement, lies in the quality and passion of its faculty. A student/faculty ratio of 8:1 ensures that students have close, meaningful engagement with their professors, preparing the former to translate the skills and understanding gained at Swarthmore into the mark they want to make on the world.

The College's Honors program features small groups of dedicated and accomplished students working closely with faculty; an emphasis on independent learning; ongoing dialogue between students and their peers, teachers, and examiners; and an examination at the end of two years' study by outside scholars.

Swarthmore's idyllic, 425-acre arboretum campus features rolling lawns, a creek, wooded hills, and hiking trails, and is located just 11 miles from Philadelphia.

Campus information

Student Government

The Student Council is the chief body of student government and exists to serve and represent the students of Swarthmore College. Its 11 members are elected semiannually. The powers and responsibilities of the Student Council are (1) the administration of the Student Activities Account; (2) the appointment of students to those committees within the College community upon which student representatives are to serve; (3) the oversight of those students of those committees; (4) the administration of student organizations; (5) the operation of just elections; (6) the execution of referendums; (7) the representation of the student body to the faculty, staff, and administration, and to outside groups, as deemed appropriate; and (8) the formulation of rules needed to exercise these powers and to fulfill these responsibilities. The Student Council provides a forum for student opinion and is willing to hear and, when judged appropriate, act upon the ideas, grievances, or proposals of any Swarthmore student.

The Student Budget Committee allocates and administers the Student Activity Fund.

The Social Affairs Committee allocates funds to all campus events, maintains a balanced social calendar, and is responsible for organizing formals and various other activities that are designed to appeal to a variety of interests and are open to all students free of charge.

Service on College Committees is determined by the Appointments Committee of Student Council that selects qualified student representatives.

The Arts

Creative arts activities take place in conjunction with the departments of art, English, music and dance, and theater. There are also many student groups that organize creative activities. Professional performers and artists are brought to campus regularly, both to perform/exhibit and to offer master classes. Campus facilities include practice and performance spaces available for student use.

Athletics/Physical Activities

Swarthmore's athletic program is varied, offering every student the opportunity to participate in a wide range of sports, including intercollegiate, club, and intramural teams.

Publications and Media

The Phoenix, the weekly student newspaper; the Halcyon, the College yearbook; The Daily Gazette, a Web based news service; and WSRN, the campus radio station, are completely student-run organizations. Lodge 6 is a media incubator for journalism. The campus New Media Center supports student initiatives in video and web formats. Several other student publications include literary magazines and newsletters. For more information, contact the student publications coordinator.

Service and Activism

Service and activism activities are an integral part of the lives of many students, faculty, and staff members. The Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility (see 6.6.5) coordinates and supports many of these endeavors, and many student groups choose paths that engage issues and communities in multiple ways.

Student Organizations

Students are encouraged to get involved in extracurricular activities at Swarthmore. More than 100 clubs and organizations span a broad range of interests such as community service; athletics; political action; and religious, cultural, and social activities. If there isn't a club or organization that meets a student's interest, he or she may form one with the guidance of Student Council.

Swarthmore's arboretum campus has been described as "the most beautiful campus in America" by Adam Levine, in Garden Design magazine. The College is located beside a charming village with the requisite coffee shops, cafes, and food co-op all within walking distance. And Philadelphia is only a 25-minute train ride away, with the station right on the edge of campus. 


Swarthmore is a primarily residential college, conducted on the assumption that the close association of students and instructors is an important element in education. Most students live in college residence halls all four years. New students are required to live in the residence halls during their first two semesters. After their first year at the College, students are permitted to live in non-College housing.


Seventeen residence halls, ranging in capacity from 8 to 214 students, offer a diversity of housing styles. Several of the residence halls are a 5 to 15-minute walk to the center of campus. Swarthmore's residence halls are Alice Paul; Dana; David Kemp (the gift of Giles Kemp '72 and Barbara Guss Kemp, in honor of Giles' grandfather); Hallowell; Kyle House (named in honor of Fred and Elena Kyle '55); Lodges; Mary Lyon; Mertz Hall (the gift of Harold and Esther Mertz); Palmer; Pittenger; Roberts; the upper floors in the wings of Parrish Hall; Strath Haven; Wharton Hall (named in honor of its donor, Joseph Wharton, a one-time president of the Board of Managers); Willets Hall (made possible largely by a bequest from Phebe Seaman and named in honor of her mother and aunts); Woolman House; Worth Hall (the gift of William P. and J. Sharples Worth, as a memorial to their parents).

A mixture of class years live in most residence halls. About 90 percent of residence hall areas are designated as non-gendered housing either by floor, section, or building. The remaining areas are gender specific housing.

First-year students are assigned to rooms by the deans. Efforts are made to follow the preferences indicated and to accommodate special needs, such as documented disabilities. After the first year, students choose their rooms in an order determined by a housing lottery. There is also the opportunity to reside at neighboring Bryn Mawr and Haverford colleges in a cross-campus housing exchange that proceeds on a matched one-for-one basis. First- and second-year students typically reside with roommates, whereas juniors and seniors may select single rooms (as available). All students are expected to occupy the rooms to which they are assigned or which they have selected through the regular room choosing process unless authorized by the deans to move.

Resident assistants, selected from the junior and senior classes, are assigned to each of the residence halls. These leaders help create activities for students, serve as support advisers to their hall-mates, and help enforce College rules for the comfort and safety of the residents.

Residence halls remain open during fall break, Thanksgiving, and spring break, but are closed to student occupancy during winter vacation. Specific winter vacation dates are set each year, but generally include a 4-5 week period from mid-December through mid-January. Limited meal options are available during fall and spring breaks.

Guests- Friends of Swarthmore students are welcome to visit campus. If a guest of a student will be staying in a residence hall overnight, the resident assistant must be notified, the guest must be registered with the Office of Student Engagement, and all roommates must agree to allow the guest to stay. A guest is not permitted to stay in a residence hall more than four nights each term. Residence halls are designed for our student population, and as such children, non college-aged individuals, parents, and other adults should not be overnight guests. A guest is never permitted to sleep or reside in any public location (such as a dorm lounge, basement, or other public space). Requests for exceptions must be made to the Assistant Dean for Residential Communities. The Dean's Office reserves the right to require a guest to leave campus if their behavior begins to have an impact on the campus community or is otherwise disruptive.

Student hosts are responsible for the conduct of their guests on campus and will be held accountable for any violation of the code of conduct or other rules of the College committed by a guest.


Courses available 10

Accounting & Finance 1 Applied, Pure Sciences 3 Computer Science, IT 1 Engineering 1 Humanities & Social Sciences 4


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