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New Student Orientation

students at orientation

*International Student Orientation is required and mandatory for all incoming international students and international exchange and transfer students. While optional, Americans living abroad are welcome to participate in the International Student Orientation.

"The best part of orientation was being able to meet people like me and create a community that I'll be a part of for all my time at Swat"

The International Student Orientation is intended to provide international students with added time and exposure to life at Swarthmore College. This program helps students to adjust not only to Swarthmore , but also to completely different food, weather, and time zone, among other things. 

Organized and run by the Assistant Dean & Director of International Student Programs, International Student Coordinator and Orientation Leaders (OLs) , this fun-filled program introduces you to Swarthmore’s rich academic, social  and cultural resources. 

"Although I was nervous at first, spending time with other international students prepared me for the year ahead - I had fun!"

Orientation Goals Include: 

  • Introduction to immigration regulations/fulfilling immigration-related reporting obligations/ verifying your travel documents/Learning about rights and responsibilities of non-immigrant students 
  • Opening a bank account 
  • Shopping for necessary supplies 
  • General advising and support 
  • Public safety issues 
  • Health Education 
  • Introduction to campus facilities/key areas of support and guidance 
  • Intercultural adjustments strategies/Culture shock/ Learning about life in the US 
  • Moving into the residence halls 
  • Meeting other new students 
  • Getting familiar with the campus and local community, day trip to Philadelphia. 
  • Obtaining permission to work on-campus 
  • Applying for a U.S. social security number 

First Year FAQs

When can I move into my dorm?

As soon as you check in for the early orientation you will receive the key to your room and be on the College meal plan.

Can my parents come to the orientation?

Due to COVID the normal Q&A and reception events are tentative but parents are welcome in outdoor spaces on campus.

What if I have special health needs?

Casey Anderson, the director of Worth Health Center, will be able to answer health- and insurance-related questions.

How early can I come? What is a nonimmigrant?

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will not permit you to enter the U.S. until 30 days before the College start date on your I-20 form. The College has no facilities open for you until the International Orientation date.

A nonimmigrant is someone coming to the U.S. for a temporary stay. Students with an F-1 or J-1 visa are considered nonimmigrants. A permanent resident ("green card" holder) is considered an immigrant.

What kind of clothes should I bring?

Light-weight clothes are usually worn during the early fall days, but heavier clothes and coats or jackets are needed for the late fall and winter months.

How safe is it?

The Department of Public Safety maintains security and safety for the College community. The department is open 24 hours a day and provides uniformed patrol of campus buildings and grounds.

Will there be an opportunity to shop?

We will have a College van available during the international orientation to drive you to some near-by favorite places to shop. The Swarthmore Campus and Community Store provides many items that you may need.

What kind of international students are enrolled?

There are approximately 209 international students with non-immigrant visas. If the permanent residents and dual citizens are included, the number rises to over 403. Among the non-immigrant students alone, there are approximately 53 countries represented.