I think everyone knows Swarthomre for its rigor. Though
UChicago is known as the school where fun goes to
die, Swarthmore is known for its rigorous honors program and
intense academics. This may sound trite, but if you're not
passionate about something, you'll have a hard time sitting down
in the library every night to study because Swarthmore IS
intense. Students who aren't don't find themselves gravitating strongly toward
a subject may want to look elsewhere. Of course, that
doesn't mean that Swarthmore isn't the place undecided students; it
just means that academics really need to spark students.
The campus is beautiful, and though the small student body
may create some awkward moments, not having to make an
effort to see friends daily (because we run into them
constantly) is very welcome in Swat's intense environment where students
can easily lose sight of the social connections they really
Campus Life and Social Life
student body is small. While its small size does make
the college more like a community, it can also incite
claustrophobia for some students. But with new students coming in
each year, the campus remains vibrant.
It seems as
though many high school students doubt the true existence of
decent social lives on campus; Swarthmore students DO KNOW how
to have a good time. But like any academically demanding
college/university, parties are usually restricted to Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
The school usually sponsors club-like parties on the weekends, and
the fraternities hold various events weekly. On other days, parties
are usually hard to find, but that's usually because most
students are in the library studying.
The school's alcohol
policy is relaxed but the college takes the safety of
its students very seriously (though, like most colleges, the Health
Center is sick, literally). Since the campus is private from
the town of Swarthmore, police from the city of Swarthmore
almost never wander onto campus.
The academics are
great. Professors know their stuff, are usually at the top
of their respective fields, and seem to care a great
deal about their students. While some students take advantage of
the sometimes unwarranted generosity of professors by requesting extensions on
assignments they don't exactly need, the faculty understands the rigor
of the school and compensates, for the most part, accordingly.
Since there are no TAs, the school has no
'recitation' sections, where students at other universities (including the Ivies)
review material with an instructor to make an otherwise large
lecture achieve a small feel. Of course, Swarthmore has its
fair share of large classes, but only in courses known
for their large size (think Intro Psych, Bio, Chem, Astro).
Otherwise, classes are very small.
Unfortunately, like other top colleges,
the school has a few students that enjoy listening to
their not-so-euphonious voices and unconsidered opinions.
Good / Bad
I have heard the Chemistry department isn't so
accommodating, but it may garner its 'bad' reputation from its
difficulty. The school also hasn't invested in the engineering department
too recently, but the faculty are supposed to be fantastic.
Though I could go on and on, I think a
recent anecdote demonstrates professor quality well. In a recent hiring
cycle for a professor position in the English department, supposedly
more than 700 PhD applicants applied for one spot. The
school really gets to pick and choose its faculty.
While top colleges/universities are known for their fantastic
academics and professors, they are not often known for the
unparalleled social skills of their student bodies. I hate to
feed the hackneyed cliche, but in all honesty most students
are quirky in some fashion. But only a few students
truly lack the social skills necessary to maintain the relationships
most students fostered in high school.
Now that Swarthmore no
longer has a football team, it's pretty clear that sports
aren't exactly valued on campus. Only a few people attend
games, but it's usually because they're studying, volunteering, or involved
in other activities. Although classes are pretty demanding at Swat,
students stretch the limits by nearly over-scheduling themselves by taking
part in too many organizations, clubs, or activities. Knowing that
students are involved in so many things is a pretty
exciting concept, but it also leads to students spending more
time developing their passions than socializing. But of course, this
isn't exactly abnormal when compared with other top schools.
other things, Swarthmore has a very active hip hop dance
'crew' unrelated to the Swat dance department that puts on
wildly popular shows each semester. Sketch comedy, radio shows, and
music also attract many students on campus.
Swarthmore is a beautiful school, and is really a great
place to spend four years. All schools have their faults,
and Swarthmore certainly is no different. The food isn't great,
the endowment doesn't always seem like it's well spent, and
the high levels of administration don't always seem responsive to
the noble efforts of the student council. Additionally, it seems
that the school has become comfortable with its high ranking
(USNWR, grad school placement record, overall prestige, etc) and consequently
doesn't always actively work to make student life everything it
should be at one of America's finest colleges. Such a
sentiment, of course, could come from the student body's unrealistic
expectations; I don't really know.
Overall, however, the college offers
fantastic academics, safety in suburbia but proximity to a paunchy
metropolis :), interesting students, and the HUGE benefits of being
at a private college. Swarthmore isn't an easy school, but
for students in love with what they do, the work
will be more exciting than stressful.
StudentsReview.com may feature
some nasty reviews, but they're not exactly representative of the
sentiment on campus as a whole.