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Academic Support and Student Disability Services

Student Academic Mentors (SAMs)

Student Academic Mentors (SAMs) are sophomores, juniors and seniors who are specially selected and trained to help students develop and sustain effective learning skills. Each SAM is assigned to a residential hall, and mentors a small number of students individually. SAMs also offer workshops throughout the year on academic skills; these workshops are open to all students. SAMs provide specific information on time management, reading, note-taking, test-taking, course selection, and accessing resources as well as encouragement and general advice. First-year students in particular are urged to work with a SAM, but any student may work with a SAM as well. The SAM program is supervised by Melissa Mandos, Fellowships and Prizes Advisor and Director of the SAM program.

Contact: Melissa Mandos, or 610-328-8363.

Writing Center; Writing Associates (WAs); Speaking Associates (SPAs)

The Writing and Speaking Associates Program provides academic collaborators for Swarthmore students. 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 individual mentoring through the Writing Associates Mentor (WAM) program, workshops, write-ins, and other events throughout the year. For further information, check out the Writing Program website.

Student Disability Services

The Office of Student Disability Services advises students about the College's policy, procedures and resources. It oversees College compliance with agreed upon, reasonable accommodations and assists in the day-to-day provision of supports and accommodations for the academic needs of individual students.

Any student needing accommodations for a disability should contact the staff of Student Disability Services, located in Parrish 113 and 123 West, or e-mail to set up an appointment to discuss needs and the process for requesting accommodations. Student Disability Services is responsible for reviewing disability-related accommodation requests and, as appropriate, will issue students with documented disabilities an Accommodation Authorization Letter. Since accommodations may require early planning and are not retroactive, students should contact the Student Disability Services as soon as possible. Monica Vance, Director of Student Disability Services, is happy to answer any questions that arise. For details about Student Disabilities Services and the accommodations process, visit the Student Disability Service Website (see especially the resource section "For Faculty and Staff")

Study Group Meetings and Departmental Clinics

Seven departments, mostly in the Natural Sciences, offer peer-led sessions designed to facilitate collaborative interactions around homework and course content. These sessions provide an opportunity for any student enrolled in introductory (and some intermediate-level) courses to get help with homework and to work actively with peers.

The help sessions are staffed by students (“peer assistants”) who are comfortable with the course material and trained in STEM pedagogy. Sessions for a given course are typically offered on several evenings each week.  Detailed information about these sessions is disseminated via the introductory courses themselves.

The peer assistants associated with a given course often play a supportive role during the course lecture periods as well, helping to facilitate in-class discussion.

For further information about NSE peer assistants generally, or about the pedagogy training offered to new NSE peer assistants, please contact the Coordinator of NSE Educational Support Initiatives, Prof. Ben Geller (

For further information about individual departmental help sessions (and the peer assistants in each department), please contact:


Through the Dean of Students office, individual tutors are available to students in almost all disciplines, at no cost to the student. Students should use clinics, when available, before seeking an individual tutor; students should also consult the course instructor before asking for a tutor. Mira Baric, administrative coordinator for the dean of academic success, coordinates tutoring assistance. She will enlist the faculty's help in generating a list of students who are available for individual tutoring needs. Contact: Mira Baric, or 610-328-8367.

When Advisees Need More Help

In the course of advising, you may realize that your advisee needs more help, academic or otherwise, than you are in a position to provide. In that case, we urge you to bring the matter to the attention of a Student Affairs staff member. In some cases contact with Worth Health Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, or Public Safety (available 24/7 at 610-328-8333) may be appropriate. A member of the Student Affairs staff can help advise you about available resources on (and off) campus. Please also see Faculty Concerns FAQ and Student Affairs Division Offices and Staff directory for more information.