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Apply as a First-Year Student

Students sit on bench underneath fall foliage

First-year applicants may apply to Swarthmore via Common Application or QuestBridge Application. Swarthmore does not have a preference among any of our application options. Please submit only one application in an application year. International studentshomeschooled studentsundocumented students, and transfer students should review information specific to their situation. 

Common Application

Swarthmore College is one of more than 700 members of the Common Application. The Common Application allows you to submit one application to as many colleges as you want from their list of members. Each college may ask you to answer member-specific questions, or require you to submit a supplement to the Common Application.

Applying via the Common Application

You can easily add Swarthmore to your list of colleges in the Common Application.

In addition to the Common Application's personal statement (you can choose one of seven essay prompts), we ask you to submit no more than 250 words in response to a short answer question. For the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, students will be asked to choose one of the following three questions: 

  • Swarthmore students’ worldviews are often forged by their prior experiences and exposure to ideas and values. Our students are often mentored, supported, and developed by their immediate context—in their neighborhoods, communities of faith, families, and classrooms. Reflect on what elements of your home, school, or community have shaped you or positively impacted you. How have you grown or changed because of the influence of your community?
  • We are inspired by students who are flexible in their approach to learning, who are comfortable with experimentation, and who are willing to take intellectual risks that move them out of their comfort zone. Reflect on a time that you were intellectually challenged, inspired, or took an intellectual risk—inside or outside of the classroom. How has that experience shaped you, and what questions still linger?
  • Why are you interested in applying to and attending Swarthmore?
QuestBridge Application

Swarthmore is a proud partner of QuestBridge, a program that links low-income students with educational and scholarship opportunities at some of the nation’s best colleges and universities. The QuestBridge National College Match helps high-achieving, low-income high school seniors gain admission to a variety of selective colleges with full four-year scholarships through an early application process. The QuestBridge application is completely free to students.

National College Match Program

QuestBridge’s National College Match program consists of two parts:

  • Students submit the College Match application to QuestBridge and rank up to 15 of QuestBridge’s partner schools based on their preferences. QuestBridge evaluates these students and selects finalists. QuestBridge forwards the applications of finalists to partner schools that the students have identified as their top choices (up to 15).
  • The partner schools evaluate the students’ applications and select students for admission; these students are “matched” with their choice schools. Students who are selected for admission to multiple colleges attend—and “match” with—the institution at the top of the ranking list that was submitted with their application. You can see how National College Match works on the QuestBridge website or watch this helpful video.

Students who match with a partner college receive a full four-year scholarship. This scholarship covers the entire cost of college (tuition, room, board, and other expenses), is loan-free, and requires no parental contribution.

How to Apply

Students must follow the application timeline designated by QuestBridge. Students choosing to participate in the National College Match must also submit additional materials, such as financial aid documents, to Swarthmore by the stated deadlines on Swarthmore’s QuestBridge requirements site. The Swarthmore-QuestBridge Intent to Apply form and Swarthmore Supplement Questions are not required for any National College Match applicants prior to Dec. 1

Non-finalists and those finalists who do not match to a partner college may convert their QuestBridge application to a Swarthmore application by completing the Swarthmore-QuestBridge Intent to Apply form and indicating an application plan (Fall Early Decision, Winter Early Decision, or Regular Decision). This eliminates the need to submit a separate application for admission to Swarthmore beyond the QuestBridge application. Swarthmore is committed to meeting full financial need with loan-free financial aid packages for all students admitted to the College


  • You can search Frequently Asked Questions on the QuestBridge website.
  • If you have specific questions about the QuestBridge partnership with Swarthmore, please email us.
  • If you need to submit financial aid documents as part of your QuestBridge application to Swarthmore, please upload them via IDOC.
  • Our current QuestBridge Scholars are here to talk with you! If you have questions for a current QB Swattie, please email the Executive Board; your email will be answered by a current Swarthmore student who participated in QuestBridge while in high school.