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23 Tips for the Class of 2023

Purple flower in foreground with Clothier Belltower in background

The Class of 2023 will arrive on campus next week to embark on their Swarthmore journey. In advance of the new students’ orientation, the first week of classes, First Collection, and the annual screening of The Graduate, we asked students, staff, faculty, and alumni from across campus and beyond to impart one piece of advice.

Janet Barkdoll '20Janet Barkdoll ’22, First-Year Student Orientation Co-Director

“Ask questions! The next part of your life here at Swarthmore and in the world will be full of changes, challenges, and newness. It is not uncommon for us to need help in ways we have never encountered before. Asking questions and asking for help are encouraged and healthy!”

Syon BhanotSyon Bhanot, Assistant Professor of Economics

“Watch out for the sometimes pernicious effects of peer influence and comparison. It is easy to get caught up in what you think others expect you to do, or how you compare to your classmates. Once you start making such comparisons, they never end until you’re old and gray! So just try your best to learn to resist these pressures now, and you’ll be much happier!”

Sue BrennanSue Brennan, Associate Director, Individual Giving

“Ask! There are so many people in this community on and off campus who want to connect and want to help. Don’t be shy to ask and seek every opportunity!”

Chris GaetaChris Gaeta ’22, First-Year Student Orientation Co-Director

“Keep an open mind and a willingness to learn from others in the community in spaces you did not think were particularly impactful. I have countless memories of my first year that did not occur in academic buildings, but rather in Sharples, athletic fields, or the dorms. Take advantage of the unique assortment of community members at Swarthmore.”

Amy GravesAmy Graves, Walter Kemp Professor in the Natural Sciences and Professor of Physics

“Welcome! College is a transformative experience—you won't be the same person after your first semester, first year, last year at Swat. Embrace the change. It's a fact that talent is not inborn, it's acquired. The more open, mindful, and forgiving you are with yourself and others, the more talented, intellectually and emotionally rich you'll become."

Roy Greim '14Roy Greim '14,  Assistant Director of Communications

“Take advantage of the Credit/No Credit Policy, which is Swarthmore's version of pass-fail, in your first semester. Use that freedom to try courses that you might not normally take and to explore all the College offers outside the classroom. The workload tends to increase as you progress, so now is the time to find that balance."

Andrew Hauze '04Andrew Hauze ’04, Music Lecturer and Director of the College Orchestra and Wind Ensemble

“Try to get enough sleep! I know how hard it can be with so many competing pressures on your time, but think how much better your school work, extracurriculars, and personal relationships will be if you are well-rested and can really concentrate on the things that matter.”

Mike HillMichael Hill, Director of Public Safety

“Get to know the Public Safety team! Always lock your room door, leave the building when the fire alarm goes off, and pay attention to emergency notifications and timely warning notices. Personal safety is about awareness and looking out for each other. Never assume that somebody else is going to make the call. Download LiveSafe, the College’s free personal safety app with resources and information.”

Izzy the therapy DogIzzy the Therapy Dog, Student Health & Wellness

“Wash your hands!”

Nabil KashyapNabil Kashyap, Digital Scholarship Librarian

“Each assignment means a new excuse to get into someone whose work we’ve been meaning to read; permission to learn a new technology; a chance to delve into something unfamiliar or to build on something we stumbled across in an unrelated field; an opportunity to seek out community organizations and to consider the pressing issues facing those who live just beyond the bubble.”

Tarzan MacMood '20Aqil “Tarzan” MacMood ’20, Resident Assistant

“Come in with an open mind. Be open to taking courses that weren’t available to you in your earlier education, but pique your interest. You’ll appreciate your education and time in Swarthmore when you’ve given enough time to investigate your own interests and not ones you’re pressured into developing.”

Sue MacQueenSue MacQueen, Campus Engagement Coordinator for the Scott Arboretum

“Get outside! Balance your life! It sounds easy, but I watch Swatties get so intense about their academics and forget to breathe. Take a walk in the Crum Woods (I’ll lead you!), come to the Science Center or Sharples and makes crafts from nature. Take time to work with your hands and get outside your head.”

Jennifer Marks-GoldJennifer Marks-Gold, Assistant Dean and Director of International Student Programs

“Stop and smell the rose garden. Make time to enjoy all the beautiful surroundings at Swarthmore each season.”

Temba MatekeTemba Mateke ’21, International Student Orientation Leader

“I'd say explore all of Swarthmore during orientation. There are several dorms and academic buildings that I didn't see the inside of until my sophomore year, and I regret not having explored them earlier. Going into those places and interacting with those people will affect which classes you take and which dorms you decide to live in later.”

Linda McDougallLinda McDougall, Director of Dining Services

“A few words of advice from your dining services team: Be sure to closely monitor your meals and points once you choose a flexible meal plan. We feel bad when you are out of meals and points before the end of the semester!”

Max MillerMax Miller, Assistant Athletics Director for Recreation & Fitness

“There are so many great opportunities for recreation and wellness at Swarthmore College. Be sure to check out the club sports, intramural sports, and group exercise class offerings!”

Donna Jo NapoliDonna Jo Napoli, Professor of Linguistics and Social Justice, Faculty Member at Large

“You didn’t make a mistake and Swarthmore didn’t make a mistake: This is your place. Just be yourself and allow serendipities. All the many parts of you can find nourishment here; it’s your choice which to water when. And choices can change. So, unless you are pre-med, you do not have to hit the ground running. You can stroll, dance, hop, box-kick, leap, trot, gambol … it’s all good.”

Joel Price '00Joel Price ’00, Technology Outreach Team Lead for Information Technology Services

“Welcome, Swatties! I encourage you to find ways to celebrate and benefit from the varied ways you all approach your time here—there are so many folks to share with and to learn from.”

Katie PriceKatie Price, Associate Director, Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility

“Get engaged! I highly recommend students visit the Lang Center’s annual open house for new students, where you’ll meet our Lang Center Associates. There you can connect with other students who care about the same issues as you, learn about courses that get you involved in social change off-campus, and discover how to link your academics with action.”

Peter SchmidtPeter Schmidt, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English Literature

“In your four years here, no matter what your major, take a course in race and ethnic history, and a course in gender and sexuality. They will rock your world by teaching you how to think historically about why we're in the current mess we're in and what we might do about fixing that.”

Britni Teresi '19Brittni Teresi ’19, who majored in Psychology and Environmental Studies

“Embrace something fun every day. Yes, even when you’re busy—every day. It can be as simple as social studying, but embrace the social. Let yourself get distracted, laugh with your friends, and check in to see how everyone’s doing. You’re never too busy for some stress relief, and little moments of relaxation and joy will make you more effective in the long run.”

Isaiah ThomasIsaiah Thomas, Director of Residential Communities

“My best advice for coming to Swarthmore is to embrace newness. College is going to be full of new experiences, especially during your first year at Swat. Keeping an open perspective to difference is deeply valued in our community, and will serve you well throughout and beyond your time at Swarthmore.”

Amy Cheng VollmerAmy Cheng Vollmer, Isaac H. Clothier, Jr. Professor of Biology

“The worst thing to do is to sit in your room and highlight the textbook. Get up and get out. Go to class, take notes, meet with others to study, discuss. Go to peer tutoring sessions regularly, not just the night before the exam. Attend office hours—regularly!"

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