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Rural and Small Town Students

Swarthmore College recognizes that academic talent has no geographic boundaries. Students from small towns and rural areas contribute a vital element to our campus community. Our Small Towns at Swarthmore initiative recruits intellectually curious and socially engaged students coming from rural areas and small towns.

Our admissions staff travels widely each fall and late spring to meet as many students as possible—find out if we'll be in your area. While our staff cannot visit every community in person, we want to our prospective students to have the resources they need. We reach out directly to students in rural communities with email and print communications to help them learn more about Swarthmore. (Not on our list? Sign up to start receiving information from us.)

We feature interviews on our blog with current students who come from rural areas; check out Q&As with Tara Cannon '20 and Timothy St. Pierre '21. Our Ask a Swattie page connects prospective students with current students, including ones who can share what it's like for a student from a rural location to live and learn at Swarthmore.

Prospective students and their families are encouraged to visit our campus, take our online tour, and reach out to current students with questions. Have questions for admissions staff? Locate your regional dean and send them an email.


We're dedicated to raising awareness about the college access needs of students from rural areas and small towns. The Wall Street Journal profiled our efforts to connect with these applicants. Inside Higher Ed's article discussed how Swarthmore values the ways students from small towns contribute to ideological diversity on campus. The Rural Matters podcast features a conversation between Andrew Moe, our associate dean of admissions and director of access, and John White, former deputy assistant secretary of education for rural outreach. VOA News spoke with Moe about the complexity of recruiting students who live outside major metropolitan and suburban areas. 

Our Swarthmore Aid & Access Guide provides a broad overview of the many ways Swarthmore commits to college access, student support, and financial aid—and serves as a helpful resource for counselors, advisors, and community-based organizations based in small towns and rural areas. 

Are you a counselor who's interested in an in-person or virtual visit from one of our deans?  Let us know. In addition, if you'll be in the Philadelphia area, we would love to host you for a campus visit