Computer and Account Advice

Setting up your Swarthmore College accounts

One of the first things you should do is activate your Swarthmore College account. You will need to collect your user ID and temporary password, mailed to you mid-May. This will allow you to begin collecting emails at your Swarthmore College email address, submit many of the forms we require online, and receive critical information back from us, like your housing assignment (once made). Recall that by activating your Swarthmore accounts, you are agreeing to abide by the Swarthmore College Acceptable Use Policy and  the copyright policy in the student handbook.

To activate these accounts, you will need to follow the directions found in the mailing from the Dean of Students Division. The address for activating your network account is

After activating your account, you will be able to access the forms at: 

Our computer advice

  • Mac, Windows, or other? ITS supports and recommends Mac or Windows. Both operating systems are supported by Swarthmore, and Apple and Dell hardware can be repaired on campus. Linux machines are allowed on the network, but are not supported by the College.
  • Desktop vs. Laptop? Either is an option. Desktops are generally less expensive, more powerful and durable, and less likely to be stolen or lost. Laptops allow you to take your work with you, and Swarthmore provides campus-wide wireless coverage so they can connect anywhere. If you choose a laptop, the College highly recommends getting an extended service plan.
  • What do I need in order to connect my computer to the network? The College provides campus-wide wireless coverage, and all dorm rooms contain at least one Ethernet jack. To connect to the jack, you will need a 14' to 25' Ethernet cable. Swarthmore requires all students to install the College's anti-virus software to gain access to the network, so purchasing additional anti-virus software with your computer is not necessary.
  • For those buying a PC: We recommend Intel Core processor, 8 GB of RAM or more, 500 GB Hard Drive, Windows 7 or higher, and a 20-inch professional widescreen display for a desktop or a 14.1-inch WIXGA+ widescreen display for a laptop.
  • For those buying a Mac: We recommend Intel Core processor, 8 GB RAM or more, 500 GB Hard Drive, Mac OS 10.7 or higher, and a 21.5-inch widescreen display for a desktop or a 15-inch widescreen display for a laptop.

Whichever system you choose, bring everything that comes with your computer, including the operating system and software CDs. You can find more information about buying a computer at

  • What about software? We recommend Office 2013 for the PC and Office 2011 for the Mac. Swarthmore students can purchase software at significant discounts at the College Bookstore's web site. Click on COMPUTER SUPPLIES, and follow the link to the technology e-store for more information.