Swarthmore College, founded in 1864 by members of the Religious Society of Friends as a co-educational institution, occupies a campus of 425 acres of rolling wooded land in and adjacent to the Borough of Swarthmore in Delaware County, Pa. It is a small college by deliberate policy, with an enrollment of approximately 1,550 students. The Borough of Swarthmore is a residential suburb within half an hour’s commuting distance of Philadelphia. College students are able to enjoy both the advantages of nearby rural settings and the opportunities offered by Philadelphia. The College’s location also makes cooperation possible with three nearby institutions, Bryn Mawr and Haverford colleges and the University of Pennsylvania.
Swarthmore students are expected to prepare themselves for full, balanced lives as individuals and as responsible citizens through exacting intellectual study supplemented by a varied program of sports and other extracurricular activities. The purpose of Swarthmore College is to make its students more valuable human beings and more useful members of society. Although it shares this purpose with other educational institutions, each school, college, and university seeks to realize that purpose in its own way. Swarthmore seeks to help its students realize their full intellectual and personal potential combined with a deep sense of ethical and social concern.
Education is largely an individual matter, for no two students are exactly alike. The Swarthmore College curriculum is designed to give recognition to this fact and seeks to evoke the maximum effort and development from each student. The Swarthmore College Honors Program offers additional enriching and exciting intellectual experiences to students who choose to prepare for evaluation by examiners from other colleges and universities. Throughout the curriculum, options for independent study and interdisciplinary work offer opportunities for exploration and development over a wide range of individual goals. These opportunities typically include considerable flexibility of program choices from semester to semester, so that academic planning may be responsive to the emerging needs of students.
Swarthmore College was founded by members of the Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers). Although it has been nonsectarian in control since 1908 and Friends now compose a small minority of the student body, the faculty, and the administration, the College still values highly many of the principles of that society. Foremost among these principles is the individual’s responsibility for seeking and applying truth and for testing whatever truth one believes one has found. As a way of life, Quakerism emphasizes hard work, simple living, and generous giving as well as personal integrity, social justice, and the peaceful settlement of disputes. The College does not seek to impose on its students this Quaker view of life or any other specific set of convictions about the nature of things and the duties of human beings. It does, however, encourage ethical and religious concern about such matters and continuing examination of any view that may be held regarding them.
A college draws strength from tradition and energy from the necessity of change. Its purposes and policies must respond to new conditions and new demands. By being open to change, Swarthmore tries to provide for its students, by means appropriate to the times, the standard of excellence it has sought to maintain from its founding.