Secrets of Academic Success: advice from Dean Anderson for first-year students [doc]

Dear Class of 2019 and Transfers:

Welcome to Swarthmore College Academics! I look forward to meeting you during Orientation, which begins on Tuesday, August 25 and continues through Sunday, August 30, 2015. The information in this section is dedicated to helping you think about and plan your first semester of courses at Swarthmore. It also contains information to help you think about how your first semester fits with and will support your full academic experience. At first glance it might seem overwhelming to balance your interests, goals, and college requirements with the range and number of options available. Our goal in this section is to scaffold you through all of your choices to an intellectually satisfying first semester.

As you embark on your first academic decisions at Swarthmore, we need you to begin by completing one more set of forms, submit scores, and, in some cases, take one or more placement exams. You can do this by logging back in to:

Once you log in, you will see these new forms. Ideally, we'd like you to have these completed by August 1, but definitely by August 15. Below is a brief description of each:

 Language Placement Exams: This section provides links to the online, adaptive placement exams for Chinese, French, German, Russian, and Spanish. If after reading the guidelines there, you determine that you need to take one of these exams, please complete the exam before August 15. For those students who have studied Japanese, there is a survey for you to complete prior to your arrival.  You should still plan to meet with the Japanese section during orientation, but completing this survey will help determine your proficiency level.  Click here to access the survey.

Math Placement Exam: This form will initially guide you through the process of determining which or which parts of our math placement exams you will need to take. If it is determined that you need to take the math placement exam, we need you to complete and return the exam before August 15. If that is not possible, you should still complete the relevant parts of the exam before arriving to campus and bring the exam with you. Please note: If you did not take a Calculus AP or Higher Level IB exam and scored highly enough, you should consider taking the appropriate placement exam as mandatory. 

Other Placement Exams: There are several on-campus placement exams, and meetings for those interested in particular disciplines. We need to know which placement exams you need to take so that we can schedule them. Please complete this form by August 15.

 AP and IB Scores: All AP scores received from the College Board will be uploaded during the month of July, and IB scores will be uploaded as they are received. Near the end of July, please check this section and if you see that there are scores missing, please contact the registrar's office by email using the link provided there.

Travel Form: This form asks for and provides some basic information about your travel. Tri-College Summer Institute participants should arrive on August 19. International students should plan to arrive in time for international student orientation on August 21. The rest of you we will see on Move-in Day, August 25. (Fall athletes should plan to arrive according to the schedule set by their coaches.)

Although not a form to be completed now, we want to alert those of you who are interested in having your art portfolio reviewed during Orientation Week.
Placement Portfolio Review for studio art class: STUA001B FYS: Drawing: All studio art classes have a prerequisite of either STUA 001 Foundation Drawing or STUA 001B FYS: Drawing. If you are interested in taking STUA 001B FYS: Drawing, you must demonstrate through a portfolio review that you have had enough drawing experience to waive out of Foundation Drawing. Space will be limited in this seminar format class. If interested please come by the office of Professor Brian Meunier, Beardsley Rm. 317, on Wednesday, August 26 to sign up for a time to meet with him on the following day, Thursday, August 27. You will be expected to arrive with a portfolio - actual work or a disk. While filling out other placement exams on the newstudentforms site, be sure to indicate you will be bringing a portfolio for review.

When you have completed these last forms, submitted scores, and applicable exams, please review the additional information in this section on Choosing Courses (Part I), Requirements, Academic Advisers, and Choosing Courses (Part II).  Remember, too, that once you arrive on campus there will be Resident Assistants (RAs), Student Academic Mentors (SAMs), Diversity Peer Advisers (DPAs), Deans, Academic Advisers, and others available to help you.

Best wishes for a terrific start to your first semester at Swarthmore!


Diane Anderson
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs