Resources for Incoming Families

A family hugs their student

Below are the offices and resources you may find most valuable as you and your student get to know Swarthmore. We also encourage you to direct your student to the online Student Handbook. The best way to stay up-to-date with campus news and events is to sign up to receive emails from the College including SwatNews, a monthly e-newsletter. 

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Offices and Services

The associate dean for academic affairs serves as the principal liaison between the dean’s office and the faculty, provides personal and academic advice to students, and oversees programs focused on graduate and fellowship advising, learning resources, disability services support, and health careers and pre-law advising. The Office of Academic Affairs also coordinates the Sophomore Plan process, in which students apply for majors, minors, and make plans for their junior and senior years.

The Swarthmore College Department of Physical Education and Athletics manages the physical education requirement and sponsors 22 varsity sports teams as well as a club sport and intramural program. 

The Black Cultural Center (BCC) plans and oversees programs and activities related to the academic, cultural, and social life of students of African, Caribbean, and African-American descent. 

The Swarthmore Campus & Community Store is located at 4 South Chester Rd. The bookstore provides all textbooks for every class as well as supplies, clothing, and gifts. Textbooks are a critical component of a Swarthmore education, and the bookstore does its best to keep your options affordable. The bookstore provides an online comparison shopping tool, which shows the bookstore’s prices alongside those from online sources such as Amazon, Half.com, ABE, and more. Most bookstore titles are also available to rent. Students simply choose an eligible book—new or used—right from the shelf and take them to the register. 

  • Calendar

For important academic dates, including finals, advising, and breaks, view the Academic Calendar. Current and upcoming events are available on the Campus Calendar

Care packages from home are a great way to send birthday wishes, encouragement, or just to let your student know you are thinking about him or her. Note: Deliveries from off-campus vendors are made to the Benjamin West House (Public Safety), which is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Students will receive phone calls to alert them to deliveries. Vendors do not deliver to dormitories. 

Career Services provides students with counsel as they explore career directions. Since career development is preparation for life, our mission is to help students gain self-understanding and connect their interests, values, and skills with knowledge about careers and life beyond Swarthmore. In support of that mission, we build relationships with faculty, colleagues at the College, and families of students and serve as a resource for employers and graduate schools that offer opportunities. Services include career counseling and career assessments, internship and employment opportunities, externships and networking with alumni, assistance with graduate school applications, on-campus recruiting, and consortium-based interview days in various cities. Career Services helps students develop strong application materials, interview skills, and the ability to network effectively in their career search as well as programs to help students navigate the important post-college transition.

Swarthmore College is a residential campus committed to sustainability; therefore parking for student cars is extremely limited. A limited number of student parking permits are available for seniors and other students who demonstrate an extenuating need. Contact the Dean's Office for more information.

Deans are assigned to work with students throughout their four years at Swarthmore. Class deans are available for academic and personal advising and support and serve as a student’s first point of contact for information, advice, and referrals.

  • First years (2020): Dean Karen Henry '87
  • Sophomores (2019): Dean Jason Rivera
  • Juniors (2018): Dean Dion Lewis
  • Seniors (2017): Dean Nathan Miller

The Information Technology Services (ITS) Help Desk provides students with a single point of contact for computer, network, and telephone help services, at help@swarthmore.edu, ext. 4357 (HELP) from on campus, or 610-328-8513 from off campus. 

ITS maintains about 400 computers for student use in the libraries, computer labs, classrooms, and residence halls, although almost all students own computers. A guide for those looking to purchase a computer can be found here. Students also bring iPads, e-readers, and Android devices to campus. ITS recommends purchasing an extended service contract for your computer from the manufacturer. Warranty repair services for Dell and Apple computers are available in Beardsley Hall.

CAPS offers counseling, psychotherapy, psychiatric consultation, and psychoeducational programming. An after-hours, on-call emergency service is available to all students via the Office of Public Safety. CAPS is staffed by professional and preprofessional psychology, social work, and psychiatry clinicians. Student contacts with CAPS are confidential under Commonwealth of Pennsylvania statutes.

The Dean’s Office staff advises students throughout their four years at Swarthmore. Dean Liz Braun is the chief student affairs officer, and she and her colleagues provide programs and advising that support students in their academic success, personal development, social life, and the creation of a rich campus experience.
An open-door policy exists throughout the Dean’s Office, and each staff member is available to students for advice and consultation, interpretation of College policy, and appropriate referrals.

We welcome information from parents that might be helpful in supporting your child. However, please note that, in accordance with law and our Parental Notification Policy, there are types of information that we are only able to share after consent is received from your student.

The Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Development engages all students in helping to cultivate a diverse and inclusive environment. The Associate Dean collaborates with colleagues in the Provost’s Office, Human Resources, and the Dean’s Office, including the Black Cultural Center, Intercultural Center, Interfaith Center, and Women’s Resource Center to help foster dialogue, collaboration, and education among students, faculty, and staff.
The Associate Dean also works across campus to facilitate conversations on the definition, recognition, and/or introduction of diversity initiatives, policies, or programs that address the academic, student, and administrative communities.

The Student Health and Wellness Service provides educational resources to the student body about alcohol and other drugs. Any students who need counseling or support in order to confront challenges presented by alcohol and other drugs may contact Student Health and Wellness for assistance.

The Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility supports the College’s mission to “help its students realize their full intellectual and personal potential combined with a deep sense of ethical and social concern.” The Center provides space, information, advising, volunteer opportunities, workshops, trainings, speakers, and curriculum support as well as funding for students to engage in summer internships, to create social action projects of lasting impact, and to learn effective methods of advocating for issues of importance to them.

Melissa Mandos is the chief liaison between students and opportunities for internal and external fellowships and awards, and she co-chairs the College’s Committee on Fellowships and Prizes. Swarthmore is consistently well represented among the recipients of prestigious fellowships and grants, among them Fulbright grants, Watson fellowships, and Rhodes and Goldwater scholarships.

Information about College scholarships, campus jobs, student loans, parent loans, and the monthly payment program as well as application forms and instructions, FAQs, policies, and facts and figures is available online. Current students apply for financial aid for the coming academic year by April 30 and learn about aid opportunities late in June.

Student Health and Wellness Service (SHWS) is available 24 hours a day, to consult with students either in person or over the phone, seven days a week when the College is in session. Services include telephone triage and support for urgent care after hours, general medical care, reproductive health, sexually transmitted infection screening, travel medicine, allergy shots, and referrals to specialists in our area. Care is provided by our certified team of nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and physicians from the Crozer-Keystone Health Care System. When the center is closed, over breaks and summer months, medical resources can be found on the Health Center website.

Health Center policy states information will not be shared with those not participating in the care of a student, including professors and parents, without the explicit permission of the student. Health services staff encourage students to contact parents when they are hospitalized or their medical condition becomes prolonged or requires special testing. In the case of a life-threatening emergency, information will be shared with parents or those listed as emergency contacts on the student’s medical file.

All students must be covered by a health insurance plan that meets the minimum requirements established by the College. The College offers a health insurance plan students may purchase if they have no health insurance. If your health insurance status changes, notify student health services immediately. Enrollment to the College health plan must be done within 31 days of the loss of other coverage. 

The health sciences/pre-law office offers advice, counseling, and information to students and alumni interested in the health professions and legal professions. It assists students and alumni throughout the medical or law school application process. 

  • Important Phone Numbers

College offices are open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. eastern time. The College switchboard and the Public Safety Office are available 24 hours a day. (During the academic year, a member of the Dean’s Office is on call 24 hours a day to handle emergencies.) 

  • College Switchboard: 610-328-8000
  • Public Safety (nonemergencies): 610-328-8281
  • Public Safety (emergencies): 610-328-8333

The Intercultural Center (IC) provides programs, advocacy, and support for Asian/Pacific Islander American, Latino/a, multiracial, Native American, LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, pansexual, omnisexual, intersex, and asexual), low-income, international, undocumented, and first-generation students. In addition, the IC promotes systemic change toward intersectional perspectives across the institution and fosters collaboration and coalition building among communities both within and outside the IC and the College.

The Office of International Student Services provides information on matters of particular concern to international students and scholars including navigating the U.S. government immigration policies, employment, taxation, insurance, English usage, and American customs. 

The Office of Learning Resources helps students navigate the unique academic environment at Swarthmore. The coordinator works one-on-one with students on academic skills critical to college success, including time management, organization, studying, test-taking, and reading strategies.

The coordinator also helps advise the Student Academic Mentor Program. Student Academic Mentors (SAMS) are trained peer mentors who assist first-year and other students with academic concerns and questions, including course selection and registration, time management, study skills, test preparation, reading techniques, and effective academic problem solving.

The Swarthmore College libraries include the main library (McCabe) and two branch libraries (Cornell Science Library and Underhill Music and Dance Library). The libraries have extensive print and electronic collections of books, journals, databases, films, archives, and other materials. The College libraries offer a variety of support services including the support of reference librarians; Research and Information Associates (RIAs) who help their peers find and evaluate information; Student Academic Mentors (SAMS) who teach academic skills; and Information Technology Services (ITS) student consultants who assist with computing issues.

The College emphasizes the importance of study abroad and encourages all students to explore possibilities for doing so as integral parts of their degree programs. Approximately 40 percent of Swarthmore students study abroad for credit during their undergraduate years.

The off-campus study office will help all interested students at every stage of the process: planning, study abroad, and return. To receive Swarthmore credit for study abroad, students must participate in the College’s Semester/Year Abroad Program and courses taken abroad must meet Swarthmore academic standards. With proper planning, this condition is usually readily met. Students continue to pay Swarthmore’s comprehensive fee for tuition, room, and board. The College then pays for the tuition fees, room, and board costs, health/travel insurance, and provides a round-trip travel allowance (according to semester/year abroad guidelines). Typically, financial aid is automatically applied toward meeting study abroad fees.

The office of student engagement supports residential life, student activities, Greek life, and student organization leadership.

Swarthmore College is committed to establishing and maintaining a community dedicated to equality and free from all forms of discrimination and harassment. The College seeks to create an environment in which the greatest academic potential of students and professional potential of employees may be realized. In order to create and maintain such an environment, the College recognizes that all who work and learn at the College are responsible for ensuring that the community is free from discrimination based on sex or gender, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, other forms of sexual misconduct, stalking, and intimate-partner violence. These behaviors threaten our learning, living, and work environments and will not be tolerated.

The Parents Council is comprised of parents who demonstrate their commitment to Swarthmore through their philanthropic leadership and active engagement in the life of the College. 

  • Phones

Most students use personal cell phones. A cell phone signal booster system is installed in all residence halls to help ensure good cell coverage regardless of carrier. Locations within some nonresidential campus buildings may have a weak signal or no cellular service at all. Long-distance calls can be made from any College phone with a telephone calling card that uses 10xxx or 800/888 toll-free numbers. Students are responsible for providing their own prepaid or billable calling cards.

Hall phones are installed in hallways or common areas in all residence halls. These phones can be used to make on-campus calls or long distance calls using a calling card.

  • Post Office   

All mail is delivered to a central mail room on campus. Correspondence to your student should include his/her class year as follows:
     Student Name ’20
     Swarthmore College
     500 College Ave.
     Swarthmore, PA 19081

The Department of Public Safety is located at the Benjamin West House and serves as the visitor center and central phone operator for Swarthmore College. The department operates 24 hours a day and is committed to ensuring a safe and healthy campus. Uniformed officers provide a range of assistance. They patrol buildings, grounds, social events, respond to emergencies and educate the community about crime prevention measures. Public safety offers a variety of resources, such as self-defense classes for women, safety presentations, an evening campus shuttle and individual safety escorts upon request. In addition, the department offers smartphone/device applications, like SWAT Safety and EmergenSee, which can be downloaded for free. EmergenSee, when activated in a crisis, will send audio, video and a GPS location to the Swarthmore College Communication/Visitor Center. Officers are in constant radio contact with the communication/visitor center and are dispatched immediately to the scene of an emergency. The Department of Public Safety strives to educate and partner with the community and instill the concept that safety is our shared responsibility. 

The registrar is responsible for all academic records. He is available to answer students’ questions about graduation requirements, majors, enrollment in classes, and credit transfers from other schools. The registrar works with faculty in establishing the class and exam schedules and advises faculty committees regarding academic policies.

Within limits, students may cross-register for courses offered at Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, or the University of Pennsylvania without paying extra tuition. There is a shuttle bus service between Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford colleges; students attending classes at Penn take the train (limited travel funding is available from the Dean’s Office) or provide their own transportation.

Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious advisers are available as counselors, resources, and friends regardless of students’ religious affiliations. Advisers conduct services, coordinate programs, and assist student religious organizations. Student interfaith interns, supervised by the coordinator for interfaith initiatives, arrange interfaith programs and dialogue among the many different religious groups on campus. Religious advisers are independent of the College and are supported by the denominational bodies of their respective traditions.

Jewish Shabbat services, Muslim prayers, ecumenical Christian worship, Quaker meeting for worship, and Roman Catholic Mass are held weekly on campus. Services for many faith traditions are available within a short distance from campus, and there is a Friends Meetinghouse on campus. 

Resident assistants (RAs) are juniors and seniors who serve as peer mentors and advisers. They are available to provide general information and advice and to make appropriate referrals as needed. Resident assistants are responsible for security, fire protection, and general safety within residence halls, and they function as liaisons between students, environmental services, facilities, and the Dean’s Office. In addition, the RAs help organize social life on the halls and in the residential buildings.

Swarthmore residence halls come in a variety of types and locations. New students are assigned rooms based on roommate questionnaire responses and, as such, building and room preferences cannot always be honored. First-year and second-year students are usually placed in doubles, triples, or quads. All residence hall rooms are non-smoking.

Residence hall rooms are equipped with a closet, desk, chair, drawers, bed frame, and mattress. Some, but not all, rooms also contain a bookshelf. Mattresses require extra-long twin-size sheets. Halogen lamps, hot plates, cooking equipment, irons, toasters, heaters, or appliances with open heating elements are not permitted for fire-safety reasons and will be removed from residence hall rooms. Waste baskets must be made of metal. The refrigerator size limit for the rooms is 24 inches high, 18 inches deep and 18 inches wide. Energy-star-rated refrigerators are required. No pets are allowed. Residence halls are equipped with washers, dryers, and vacuum cleaners. Efficiency kitchens are also available in residence halls, where snacks and light meals may be prepared with a College-provided microwave.

Established in 1929 on the College’s 425-acre campus, the Scott Arboretum’s mission is to delight and educate all visitors and inspire them to enjoy the many benefits of horticulture. The arboretum headquarters is in Cunningham House and the Wister Education Center and Greenhouse, opposite the Swarthmore College border on College Avenue. Guests are invited to drop in whenever they are on campus.

The College Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy prohibits all forms of sexual misconduct committed against Swarthmore community members of any gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. This policy prohibits a broad continuum of behaviors, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, physical assault, bullying, intimidation and retaliation, and stalking.

Students who are victims of sexual misconduct are encouraged to seek assistance through confidential resources and/or by reporting their experience to the Title IX Coordinator, Public Safety, or local police. Campus confidential resources include staff in Counseling and Psychological Services, Worth Health Center, religions advisors, and the Violence Prevention Educator and Advocate.  

When the College becomes aware of allegations of sexual misconduct, it will take prompt and effective action. This action may include an initial assessment of safety and well-being, interim provisions for immediate protection and support for a complainant, a Title IX assessment or investigation, remedies-based resolution (as appropriate), or disciplinary action against a respondent.

The Sexual Violence Prevention and Healthy Relationships Education Team provides ongoing programming, events, and educational opportunities to prevent sexual violence and to create a healthy, safe, and supportive community. Throughout the year, the team plans speakers, workshops, and other events to provide opportunities to learn about healthy relationships, supporting friends, and bystander intervention.  The team also works to educate students about our policy and campus resources.  

  • Staying Connected

The College primarily communicates with parents via email and SwatNews, a monthly e-newsletter reporting on campus events, institutional developments, and the achievements of faculty and students. If you are not receiving emails from the College and would like to, please send your current email address to records@swarthmore.edu or complete this simple sign-up form

The Student Accounts Office issues student bills for tuition and miscellaneous items. The office also administers the repayment of Perkins and Swarthmore College loans.

The Office of Student Engagement is committed to enhancing student life on campus and providing a diverse selection of late-night and weekend programming. Student activities and leadership also assists student organizations with event planning, leadership development, and budget management.

The director of student conduct provides leadership and coordination of all aspects of student conduct. He or she serves as the primary hearing officer for all allegations of minor misconduct and coordinator of and adviser to the College Judiciary Committee and external adjudicator, providing oversight for the review of college student conduct policies and procedures. 

Swarthmore College welcomes students with disabilities to participate fully in all aspects of College life. This office’s mission is to ensure that students with physical, medical, learning, or psychological disabilities are provided with equal access to all College programs, activities, and services. Our policy is consistent with relevant governmental statutes and regulations, including those pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title IX of the Federal Education Amendments of 1972, and Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The coordinator advises students about the College’s policy, procedures, and resources and oversees College compliance with agreed-upon, reasonable accommodations. The coordinator also assists in the daily provision of supports and accommodations for the academic needs of individual students. 

The student employment office (SEO) guides more than 1,200 students who work part time on campus each year. During new student orientation in August, the student directors lead a session for the incoming class about finding a job and navigating the campus employment culture. A list of all campus job opportunities and salaries can be found on the SEO website, however, most academic departments and administrative offices hire students.

The Student Payroll Office (SPO) collects all required employment paperwork (W-4, 1-9, etc.) and provides information and training on how to be paid for on-campus employment. The SPO, in conjunction with the Student Employment Office, offers orientation sessions each fall and distributes information about the salary process, electronic timekeeping system, pay dates, and so on. All students are paid via direct deposit into a bank account of their choice. 

The Swarthmore Fund, comprised of support from alumni, parents, and friends of the College, is a simple way to contribute to the Swarthmore experience. The Swarthmore Fund is vital to providing students with a truly transformational experience. Swarthmore’s endowment, substantial though it is, does not bridge the gap between what the College collects in tuition and what is needed to provide the life-changing, world-class education that students receive. Ultimately, it’s the generosity of alumni and parents supporting The Swarthmore Fund that make the hallmarks of a Swarthmore education possible.

To make a gift to Swarthmore, please visit the College’s secure giving page at gift.swarthmore.edu or call toll-free 800-660-9714.

A shuttle bus is provided by the College to transport students between the main campus and off-campus residence halls or apartments in the evenings. Over the weekend shuttles are also available to select off-campus destinations including Target. A separate Tri-College shuttle bus operates among Swarthmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr colleges. The College also offers a car-sharing service (ZipCar). Car-sharing is a membership program that allows students over 18 years of age to rent a car on an hourly or daily basis.

Help us keep in touch with you by notifying Alumni and Parent Records of any address, telephone, or email changes. 

For directions as well as lodging, restaurant, and transportation information.

Writing Associates (WAs) and Speaking Associates (SPAs) operate not as tutors but as collaborating readers, writers, speakers, and listeners. They work closely with students across the disciplines through the Course WA Program and the Writing Center, helping their peers discover more effective ways of communicating. The WA Program also offers one-on-one mentoring through the Writing Associates Mentor (WAM) program, workshops, write-ins, and other events throughout the year.

Did we miss something? See the full A-Z Index to find the office or topic you're looking for or contact mykidis@swarthmore.edu for assistance.