- Class: Alum
- Major: English
- Gender: F
- High School:
- Transfer Student: N
The best thing about Swarthmore is the beautiful campus itself, the strange little nooks and crannies and secret gardens all around. My favorite place to idle around campus was near Crumhenge, on the forest trails and under the railway bridge. I have many amazing memories of pterodactyl hunts by moonlight, bombing across New Jersey on road trips to write about for the Phoenix, meeting my boyfriend at WSRN (he had the radio show after mine and we've been dating for six years now), shooting a zombie movie in the Crum, singing gypsy folk songs in Russian class, crowd-surfing at a GWAR concert in Philly and so much more. The school is definitely on the small side, which makes it more personal, but by the end of junior year it felt clausterphobic. Fortunately Philly is a train ride away. Most student complaints involved the food plan, the small size of some dorm rooms. In fact, the campus was so crowded at one point that some students (including myself) were housed in a nearby retirement center! I believe most of the college's money is spent on academics and extracurricular activities rather than on more superficial improvements like massive state-of-the-art luxury dorms or installment of fast food franchises. Which is fine! (And yes, thankfully, they've since built a new dorm. I don't think the retirement center is in the picture these days.) As for controversy, yes! We had the usual liberal arts college hullaballoos that engulfed the whole campus until everyone explained why they were offended, Kumbaya was sung, and we moved on to the next provocation. If you pride yourself on being "politically incorrect," you may wish to go elsewhere for college.
Academics are excellent, especially if you are planning to be a professional intellectual. Students study like mad, and the professors willingly pile on more work than you can really handle. Personally I favored lecture-style classes (learning from professors), over the more-common discussion format (learning from classmates). Hardly anyone that I knew learned a useful trade at Swarthmore, but we definitely gained lots of knowledge. Knowledge can be just as handy in the real world if skillfully deployed. I only wish that there had been more information about the courses available to take at Bryn Mawr and Haverford that aren't available at Swarthmore (for example, archaelogy).
In the Sharples dining hall, you find these four groups of students, each sitting at their own table: 1. The Swarthmore Warders of Imaginative Literature (SWIL) kids, also known as Swillies, all huddle together playing board games, wearing cloaks, and making inside jokes that relate somehow to sci-fi, fantasy or general absurdity. This is the club that puts on the pterodactyl hunt each year and also re-enacts the Valentine's Day Massacre. 2. The international students. They seem to arrive on campus before all the other freshmen and are already bonded together as friends by the time classes start. 3. The jocks and frat boy types, a maligned minority, looking generally hostile toward everyone in this egghead atmosphere. Most of the College Republicans can be found in this group or in economics classes already wearing suits and carrying briefcases. 4. Studiers with textbooks open. They are quizzing each other on the new German vocabulary and halfheartedly picking at their peanut butter bagels.
The Best Things
four years of absorbing glorious knowledge and meeting people I'm friends with to this day
The Worst Things
people studying all the time and rarely having the chance to do anything more fun!