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Quaker Roots

First Collection

Our Quaker founders believed in the practical application of knowledge for the common good. While Swarthmore is no longer a religious institution, these Quaker roots anchor and inform how Swatties learn and work. Your classmates create technology that enables people to track food donations. They found leadership programs for girls who have lost family members to violence. They fund programs for equitable real estate development. They build systems to improve healthcare for refugees. They design structures for reflection and contemplation. They work to initiate positive change in fields as diverse as business, medicine, government, education, and more.

The Quaker principle of equality manifests itself in myriad ways on campus:

  • Our annual activity fee covers just about every campus activity you can imagine: concerts, sports events, movie nights, music and dance performances, plays, late-night coffee and snacks at the library, and more.
  • Our campus community gathers periodically throughout the year for Collections, which are times for reflection, sharing, and contemplation. Collections mark key times in your College experience, and many Swatties remember their First and Last Collections as some of the most meaningful events in their lives.
  • Our senior speaker for commencement is elected by the class, rather than being chosen for having the highest grades.
  • We emphasize collaborative, non-competitive learning. Swarthmore does not track GPA or use class rank.
  • Our processes for admitting students and awarding financial aid help build a student body that reflects a wide range of values and life experiences. 

Swarthmore has changed in many ways since its founding in 1864, but Swatties still strive to make the most of their opportunities and abilities to benefit the world around them, just as they did more than 150 years ago.