School Profile: Work Hard and Play Hard at Swarthmore College

Swarthmore College is ranked ninth among the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. It is a liberal arts and engineering college that is part of a three-college consortium including Harverford College and Bryn Mawr College. The school, which was founded by Quakers, has a long legacy of tolerance, social concern, and civic responsibility.

Swarthmore promotes “ethical intelligence” and encourages students to question everything, especially their own thinking. They strive to create an open atmosphere that fosters dialogue and engagement with disparate ideas among students and faculty. Swarthmore’s goal is to develop what they refer to as leaders for the common good. Students looking to make their mark on the world may find a home at Swarthmore College.

At Swarthmore the mission is “to prepare and motivate students to understand and engage issues of civic and social concern and to set their own paths towards shaping a more just and compassionate world.” Students are inspired to think independently and pursue activism, advocacy, and social entrepreneurship. The Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility was established in 2001 to provide students with vision and support in their endeavors. A few of the many paths students can pursue to increase social responsibility include education, agriculture, public policy, and LGBTQ. Swarthmore wants its students to make an impact on the world after graduation and they offer many programs and tools to make that happen.

Swarthmore campus is located in a borough of Philadelphia on a 425-acre arboretum maintained by the school. The natural environment encompasses woodlands, grassy hills, and creeks that make the learning environment comfortable and tranquil. Right next to campus is The Village, a Swarthmore neighborhood filled with shops, restaurants, the occasional bed and breakfast, and a food co-op. The town of Swarthmore itself is a quiet little dry town only a twenty-five minute train ride to the robust city life of Philly.

At Swarthmore 95% of the students live on campus in either an eight-person house or one of sixteen 200-person dorms. Most juniors and seniors have single rooms. Because meaningful interaction is a priority, there is only one dining hall on this large campus. This was a conscious decision to facilitate students congregating, mingling, and sharing ideas over meals. While students commune with one another, they enjoy healthy and delicious organic meals. It’s just one more example of how Swarthmore strives to model social awareness and effective change.

Quaker traditions of tolerance are the backbone to Swarthmore College. A strong emphasis is put on community building and consensus decision-making. Equality and progressive change have been important to this school since its founder Lucretia Mott called for equal rights for women at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. While education and social development are the staples of Swarthmore, the school is equally dedicated to balance and a rich life.

Swarthmore holds an annual Crum Creek Regatta where students race homemade boats down the shallow creek, provided they don’t sink first. Each spring, the school holds a weeklong Spring Fling celebration. Worthstock is a one-day outdoor live music event held during Spring Fling week. They are encouraged to work hard and play hard.

Students with a passion for seeking within themselves the change they want in the world would do well to begin their journey by attending Swarthmore College.

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By Colleen Hill

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