- Class: Alum
- Major: Other
- Gender: F
- High School: Richard Montgomery High School (IB)
- Transfer Student: N
Swarthmore is a small school with big resources and enough students around who are excited about doing new things and taking risks with you. If you've never directed a play before, you can apply for funding from Drama Board, audition your cast, and put on a production of "Medea" in the amphitheater. There's a great amount of trust in the student body on the part of the administration, and a subsequent willingness to collaborate on student proposals. The college will give you great amounts of access to funding for projects, and be your partner in most reasonable endeavors. I'd love to make it easier to take classes in the Tri/Co. Though there are tons of great classes at Swarthmore, smaller departments may require some travel if you want to take classes with a broader variety of professors and having to skip a meal (almost inevitable) in order to get to Bryn Mawr/Haverford is a tiring pain in the ass. Swarthmore is a small place, which means that you'll feel safe, known most everywhere you go (good or bad - depending on your drinking/partying habits), and supported by the administration, faculty, and student body. It does mean that a gossip team would be able to run a relay faster than our track team (Swarthmore is also not known for its athletics. Its athletes are true student-athletes - emphasis on students). What I remember best as controversial was the living wage campaign: an effort to secure a living wage for our environmental services and dining staff. There were concerns that the student interest in a living wage was greater than staff interest and that staff involvement in determining possible pay structures was limited.
Professors not only know your name, but often who you're dating. They are often wonderful, warm, funny, nerdy people who are excited to teach small classes full of students who love to learn and make interdisciplinary connections. I had a phenomenal experience in my Avant-Gardes in 20th century art seminar because it was comprised of all the senior art history majors, who, at that point I knew somewhat well. Two years out of college, they're still my seminarmates and we still laugh at Duchamp references. Swarthmore is the quintessential small, liberal-arts college: we live and breathe our subject matter and love it. We also have great discussions with our friends in other disciplines and take on way too many activities, but it's because Swarthmore students really want to feel vibrant and useful and like they are participating fully in their community. Yes, we care about community and Swarthmore certainly feels like one academically and socially.
Swarthmore has an idyllic campus and a somewhat scruffy looking student body. Fashion is not an imperative and sometimes it seems like more layers is always better. That haphazard charm means that there isn't a focus on brand names and designer goods. So, while a lot of students at Swarthmore come from families that can afford $40,000 in tuition annually (is it more now?) and not have to put their kids into debt, most students have the sense not to talk about it in a cavalier or bragging way. I would have like for there to be more transparency regarding socioeconomic status - it really seems like the last identity issue that is difficult for people to talk about because it's still quite sensitive and students want to be sensitive to that fact. Nobody talks about how much they'll earn one day except to complain that between grad school and the nonprofit sector, they'll never pay their debts. The less-than-ideal Swarthmore student would be: racist, homophobic, classist, politically conservative, unabashedly capitalist, and unaware of major domestic and international news.
The Best Things
It doesn't prepare you for a real job.
The Worst Things
It doesn't prepare you for a real job.