Beyond campus, Swarthmore offers a wide variety of opportunities for helping students prepare for the world that lies ahead.
Swarthmore strongly encourages students to spend a semester or year studying abroad, as a key element of their degree programs. About 40 percent of all students take advantage of this opportunity.
Students participate in an array of opportunities in more than 60 countries. With more than 300 approved programs or universities, students can choose either a College program coordinated by Swarthmore faculty (in Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Poland, or South Africa), a direct-enrollment program at a university abroad, or one of a broad range of other study-abroad programs.
Beyond study abroad, the College’s externship program allows students to explore a field of interest by shadowing an alum in their professional environment for a week between semesters. Each year, this hands-on, real-time program matches 200 students with more than 300 alumni sponsors—leaders of industries and agents of change who are as invested in their alma mater and the success of its students as they are in making a difference. Whether at a national park in California, a Wall Street investment bank, a microbiology lab in Europe, or a K Street law firm, students collect invaluable insights and memories.
"It was one of the most amazing and eye-opening experiences I’ve ever had,” says Mishel Figueroa ’18, who followed physicians and medical staff through rotations and got real-time lessons in the operating room. “I was in awe the whole time, learning and observing everything I could. It helped me decide to commit fully and enthusiastically to a career in medicine.
Each year, a small number of courses are offered with an end-of-semester field/research component. Recent courses have traveled to Israel/Palestine, China/Hong Kong/Taiwan, Cuba, and Spain. Exchange programs also provide the opportunity for students from host institutions (e.g., Ashesi University College in Ghana, the University of Tokyo, Yale-National University of Singapore) to study at Swarthmore.
The Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility also stokes opportunity throughout the U.S. and the world with engaged scholarship opportunities like internships with social justice organizations, engaged research with faculty members, and projects with community partners. These beyond the classroom experiences can be a crucial bridge between students' academic pursuits and the people and issues they care about. For instance, in the Lang Opportunity Scholarship (LOS) Program, sophomores are chosen based upon distinguished academic and co-curricular achievement, leadership qualities, and demonstrated commitment to civic and social responsibility. The LOS Program offers an array of of benefits, including a $10,000 grant, a designated advisor, a core course, and networking opportunities to support the development of a project that creates social impact.