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Swarthmore College Campus Life

Campus Life

Campus Size

Swarthmore College is an undergraduate-only institution of about 1,600 students. Because we only offer bachelor's degrees, all of the focus is on you as an undergraduate. You won't be competing for attention, funded research, or internships with graduate students. Our professors choose to teach at Swarthmore because they enjoy working with undergraduate students. We welcome about 400 first-year students and 15 transfer students to our campus each year.

Swarthmore College has it all. We're a small, residential college where nearly everyone lives on campus during their four years of college. The campus is an arboretum; think big green open spaces, tons of trees and flowers, the Crum Woods and Creek, and a gorgeous an outdoor amphitheater.

Steps away from campus, you have "The Ville," or the downtown area of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. There, you'll find independent coffee shops and restaurants, a co-op grocery story, and our train station. On the other side of campus, you can access a shopping mall and Target by foot, or you can take a shuttle to many of these places.

Our train station at the foot of campus takes you to Center City Philadelphia in less than 30 minutes. In the city, you can sample taste Philadelphia favorites: cheesesteaks, hoagies, soft pretzels and water ice. You can visit world-class museums and public art spaces, concerts and film screenings, the National Constitution Center and the Liberty Bell. Many entrance fees are paid for by Swarthmore departments, and our students take advantage of everything Philly has to offer.

Diversity

At Swarthmore, we believe diversity comes in many forms. Here are few things you might want to know:

  • U.S. states represented: 49
  • Countries of origin: 75+
  • Domestic students of color: 45%
  • International and undocumented students: 12%
  • Students receiving need-based financial aid: 52%
  • First in family to attend college: 20%

We think that listing some statistics don't speak to a true feeling of diversity and inclusion. Diversity at Swarthmore College takes center stage. Whether you're engaged in conversations at the Black Cultural Center, planning events with a LatinX group, or working with our Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Development, know that you will be celebrated and supported on our campus. Here are a few of the campus support we offer at Swarthmore.

Academic Diversity

As a Swarthmore student, you'll have access to more than 600 courses at the College each year. In addition, you may take classes as part of our Tri-College Consortium with Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College. Across the consortium, you can eat in any of the dining halls and partake in any social or extracurricular activity. And as a cross-registration partner with the University of Pennsylvania, you can take courses at Penn that Swarthmore doesn't offer, such as the study of primates or Swahili 101, or a business course. Free shuttles take you to Bryn Mawr and Haverford, and we reimburse your train ticket to Penn's campus if you register for a course there.

Services and Housing

Swarthmore is a residential college, meaning that nearly all of our students live on campus during their four years here. We have 18 residential communities supported by resident assistants and diversity peer advisors. Depending on their seniority, students can often choose among singles, doubles, triples, apartment-style, suite-style and other types of living arrangements.

We are here to support you in every way we can, including:

  • Academic advising and support
  • Career Services
  • Counseling and Psychological Services
  • International Student Advising
  • LGBTQ+ Resources
  • Religious and Spiritual Life
  • Student Disability Services
  • Student Health and Wellness
  • Visit our Student Life section of the Swarthmore website to learn more about programs and services for students.

    Clubs and Organizations

    Swarthmore students are involved in more than 100 student organizations, clubs, and activities. You can also join Tri-College club and organizations, which are composed of students from Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford Colleges.

    Swarthmore is part of the Centennial Conference, one of the nation's elite small college athletic conferences, and our student-athletes compete at the NCAA Division III level in 22 sports. Swarthmore also has a number of club and intramural sports available. About 40% of our students play a sport at the varsity, club, or intramural level.

    Notable Alumni

    • Robert Zoellick, 1975, former President of the World Bank
    • Mark Hanis, 2004, Executive Director, Genocide Intervention Network
    • Cynthia Leive, 1988, Editor-in-chief of Glamour magazine
    • John Mather, 1968, Nobel Prize for Physics and chief scientist for NASA
    • Sandra Moore Faber, 1966, Astronomer involved in both the Hubble Space Telescope and Keck Telescope projects
    • Patrick Awuah, Jr., 1988, Founder, Ashesi University, Ghana's first liberal arts college
    • Christiana Figueres, 1979, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
    • Edward C. Prescott, 1962, winner of 2004 Nobel Prize for Economics
    • Anne Schuchat, 1980, Principal Deputy Director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)/ Assistant Surgeon General
    • Joseph Altuzarra, 2005, fashion designer, ALTUZARRA
Reviews Food and Dining
  • Emily from Ellicott City, MD
  • 3
  • The dining hall food is not your mother's home cooking, but it is good. Many upperclassmen get tired of the cycling menu after three or four years, but as…

  • Jun-11-2015 Read More
  • Sarah from Wynnewood, PA
  • 3
  • There is only one dining hall, Sharples, one snack bar, and two coffee bars. The selection is not fantastic compared to many other schools, but I found it met…

  • Sep-18-2012 Read More
Reviews Dorm Life
  • Sarah from Wynnewood, PA
  • 4
  • Dorm life is essential to the social scene at Swat, and very few people live off campus. Study breaks, hall crawls, and random social events are a key part…

  • Sep-18-2012 Read More
  • Emily from Ellicott City, MD
  • 4
  • Dorm life is what you make of it. I would recommend leaving your door open and interacting with your hall-mates as much as possible. The co-ed, all-year floors…

  • Jun-11-2015 Read More
  • Jacob from Wayne, MI
  • 4
  • Having stayed overnight, the dorms are all right in size. Most are really cozy, but the whole dorm system is hoping for the best one--in terms of centrality, AC, size…

  • May-23-2017 Read More
Reviews Greek Life
  • Emily from Ellicott City, MD
  • 0
  • We have one sorority that does not have a house, but is active in the community. We have two fraternities whose houses are used mainly for parties. Greek…

  • Jun-11-2015 Read More

Reviews

Student Responses to Review Topic: Food And Dining
  • 5
  • Jacob from Wayne, MI
  • May-23-2017 I am accepted here and planning to attend soon

    As a vegetarian, I think the food is absolutely delicious. I heard that it can get repetitive though.

    Read More
  • 3
  • Emily from Ellicott City, MD
  • Jun-11-2015 I am a current student here

    The dining hall food is not your mother's home cooking, but it is good. Many upperclassmen get tired of the cycling menu after three or four years, but as a freshmen I was more than happy with the selection, both in Sharples (the main dining hall) and Essie Mae's (a deli/cafe that accepts meal swipes). My main complaint is that there are certain hours where there are no dining options available.

    Read More
  • 3
  • High School Senior from Swarthmore
  • Feb-16-2014 I am researching this school and have visited the campus

    I hear students complain about food a lot. Mostly about their meal plans and having to skip meals. There are some cool places right next to campus (Dunkin' Donuts & Baskin Robin's, coffee/sandwich shop, Chinese, Mediterranean, pizza place, and a few other shops, there's also a small grocery store [kinda expensive] that should have the basic stuff you need), but they get kind of expensive and if you don't have the money you're stuck with on-campus dining, which I'd imagine is pretty decent but people aren't quick to praise it.

    Read More
  • 3
  • Sarah from Wynnewood, PA
  • Sep-18-2012 I am a past student here

    There is only one dining hall, Sharples, one snack bar, and two coffee bars. The selection is not fantastic compared to many other schools, but I found it met the needs of a busy student who just wanted to be fed without worrying about cooking. Having one dining hall actually makes Sharples a great place to run into people, and catch up with busy friends over a meal.

    Read More
Student Responses to Review Topic: Greek Life
  • 0
  • Emily from Ellicott City, MD
  • Jun-11-2015 I am a current student here

    We have one sorority that does not have a house, but is active in the community. We have two fraternities whose houses are used mainly for parties. Greek life is not essential to be active in campus life.

    Read More
  • 0
  • High School Senior from Swarthmore
  • Feb-16-2014 I am researching this school and have visited the campus

    It seems to be pretty nonexistent, even though I'm pretty sure they have one (kind of). You'll definitely encounter a lot of drunk bros, though (like I said, streakers).

    Read More