Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Incoming Families

Students gather during new student orientation

Q: When can I visit my student?

A: Swarthmore students are welcome to have guests on campus. Guests are defined as fellow students, family, non-Swarthmore friends, and prospective students. Garnet Homecoming and Family Weekend is an excellent opportunity to visit your student. Held every fall in late September or October you can take advantage of the weekend’s programming to get to know Swarthmore and spend time with your student on campus. In the spring, the month-long Spring Arts Celebration offers a number of performances and exhibits to experience with your student. 

Children and adults are prohibited as overnight guests—residence halls are not appropriate places for either group.

Q: Is there a resource like this I can share with my student?

A: The Student Handbook is available online and is an excellent resource for students. Another helpful place guide is our “Meet the Deans” site.

If there’s anything else your student is unsure about, encourage them to set up a meeting with their class dean or call the Dean’s office at 610-328-8365 for more information.

Q: My student was unable to register for a course. Is this a widespread problem? Will it impact my student’s ability to complete a major and/or meet their graduation requirements?

A: Your student should speak to their academic adviser or class dean about their general academic goals. Deans and academic advisers are excellent resources for alternate courses and academic planning advice. Most importantly, it is highly unlikely that a student will be unable to complete a major or graduate as a result of being “lotteried out” of a particular course.

Q: Can I find out my student’s grades?

A: Federal law prohibits the College from disclosing information to you about your student’s grades, courses, disciplinary actions, and other matters. We encourage families to talk together about how students will share information about their grades and other issues. Read the College’s full statement on student records and parental notification.

Q: What should I do if I have concerns about my student?

A: While staff members may not be able to discuss your concerns in-depth due to FERPA considerations, feel free to contact the Dean’s Office at deans@swarthmore.edu or call 610-328-8365. We can tell you and your student about resources available to support them. In case of an emergency or after hours concern, please call the emergency number at Public Safety 610-328-8333.

Q: My student reports a high fever or another illness. What can I do to make sure they will be cared for?

A: Advise your student to contact Student Health and Wellness in Worth Health Center to make an appointment. They should also contact their professors if they will miss class. The Student Health and Wellness Service does not provide individual “notes” for students to give to professors for missing class, though medical staff may encourage a student to avoid class if necessary. If your student is seriously ill, we encourage them to reach out to their class dean for additional support. In case of an emergency or after hours concern, please call the emergency number at Public Safety 610-328-8333.

Q: I’m worried that my student is lonely. What should I do to help them?

A: Most students encounter initial struggles with making friends and forming connections. Encourage your student to try and find a few clubs and activities outside of the classroom that can help them get to know other students, or try talking with other students in their dorms and classes. Remind them that this is a normal part of the adjustment to college and that even the students who look as if they already have a tight friendship group often feel exactly the same way. Encourage them to speak with older students who have already gone through such experiences. The best place for them to start is with their Resident Assistants.

Q: My student reports being depressed. What can I do to help them?

A: Advise your student to contact CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) at 610-328-8059 for an appointment or information weekdays from 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. CAPS is also on-call 24/7 at 610-328-7768. The Dean's Offices reminds students when calling to make an appointment at CAPS to let CAPS know if this is an emergency situation requiring that you be seen that day. 

Q: What should I do if my student experiences academic difficulty?

A: Advise your student to go to their professors’ office hours, talk with their academic adviser or class dean, or take advantage of tutoring and support programs like Writing Associates and Student Academic Mentors. The office of Academic Advising and Support can offer students tools and resources for success.

Q: My student has concerns related to their dorm room or roommate. What should I do?

A: Encourage your student to share their concerns with their Resident Assistant (RA) or they can also talk with their Residential Community Coordinator, the professional staff in the Office of Student Engagement who work directly with the RAs and oversee the residence halls. Learn more.

Q: Is my student allowed to bring a car to campus?

A: A limited number of student parking permits are available for seniors and other students who demonstrate an extenuating need. Students must receive a parking permit from the Dean’s Office and Public Safety before bringing a car to campus. Generally, first-, second-, and third-year students are not eligible for on-campus parking. Parking permit applications are available from the Deans Office and Public Safety in July for the upcoming fall term. Learn more

Students without a parking permit may not park a car on campus in any lot at any time. Campus parking restrictions are strongly enforced. Please note that overnight street parking is not permitted in the Swarthmore borough business district, and residential streets have restrictions against overnight and extended hours parking.