Applying to Swarthmore

Students Laughing in the Sharples Dining Hall

We work hard to identify a potential "match" between you and Swarthmore. We look for students who are most likely to thrive in our classrooms, living spaces, and campus community.

What We Look for in a Swattie

While no individual student can epitomize all of Swarthmore's values, these are qualities and attributes that we elevate in our application review process: 

  • Intellectual curiosity and an enthusiasm for learning: We are looking for students who genuinely enjoy learning and are uncommonly curious. Students relish the opportunities presented by our selection of 40+ academic programs, an extraordinarily devoted faculty, and a one-of-a-kind honors program. 
  • Creative and proactive problem-solving: We are intrigued by students who are flexible in their approach to learning, who are comfortable with experimentation, and who are willing to take intellectual risks that move them out of their comfort zone.
  • Generosity toward others: We are looking for students who want to work with their peers, embrace collaboration, have a strong sense of empathy, and look for ways to support each other. 
  • Civic engagement: We appreciate students who have had a sustained commitment to service, who express a genuine interest in moving our world forward, and who demonstrate an interest in improving their school or local or cultural community in a collaborative way. 
  • Willingness to work hard and to seek help: The volume of commitments you will face at Swarthmore will demand a strong sense of organization. We are looking for students who have developed reliable work habits, an ability to focus on the task or commitment in front of them, and a willingness to use the support resources we provide. 
  • Potential contributions to campus life: Whether you are from an urban center or a rural outpost (or somewhere in-between), we value your point of view. We are looking for students who will contribute their talents, interests, perspectives, and distinct voices to our community. 
  • Sustained commitment: We are more interested in your focus on a few activities over time (such as work, care for parents and siblings, service, or athletics), rather than membership in a long list of clubs—although we understand that some students can balance an assortment of activities. 
  • Open-mindedness in general and to the liberal arts writ large: Our most popular major tends to be “undecided,” and we welcome everyone to the liberal arts tradition. We admit students to Swarthmore College, not a specific major. The ideal Swattie values humanities, the natural sciences and engineering, and the social sciences as lenses through which they can learn and grow.

How We Evaluate Your Application

When you apply to Swarthmore, a committee of admissions deans reviews your application. First, at least two deans sit down together, review all of your application components, and discuss your strengths. We take into account what opportunities and resources you have had access to, your high school's curricula, your geographic location, your family background, and your cultural identity. If we believe you might be a good fit for Swarthmore, your application will move past the first review to additional reviews and discussions. By the time we offer you admission, your application may have been reviewed in as many as half a dozen committees, each of which considers the full context of your background, experiences, and opportunities.

There is no formula for admission to Swarthmore. We do not admit students based on a single factor or one admissions dean's opinion. Each admission decision is the result of a thorough, committee-based, holistic, contextual, and highly selective application evaluation.