Opeyemi Ogundele ’26 vividly recalls the jitters and jubilation of his first week at Swarthmore.
This time last year, he formed first impressions of the College. He found the opportunity to exist on his own exciting, the sea of new faces “harrowing.”
This week, as an orientation leader, Ogundele formed first impressions of the Class of 2027.
“I can surely say that these new students are a special bunch,” says the prospective computer science and sociology & anthropology major from Houston, Texas. “They seized the day with so much enthusiasm and joy — it was refreshing to witness and to interact with firsthand.”
Swarthmore, which began its 155th year of instruction on Sept. 5, welcomed 415 first-year students, 15 transfer students, and four exchange students to campus last week. The students were selected from one of the most diverse applicant pools in the College’s history.
“Every year, our office has the difficult work of building a class from a sizable pool of talented and qualified students,” says Jim Bock ’90, vice president and dean of admissions. “We are so honored and humbled to read their stories and learn about their incredible accomplishments.
“Whether it’s helping their communities through environmental work, senior care, social justice movements, artistic expression, athletic achievements, and beyond,” Bock adds, “this class of Swatties brings their passion to everything they do.”
The first-years quickly got to know one another last week. After moving into residence halls, they took part in communal ice-breaker activities on Parrish Beach. They delighted in Philly food, open mic nights, and an ice cream social. They also got to experience beloved Swarthmore traditions, such as First Collection and the Scott Arboretum’s plant giveaway, and activities like the Career Services carnival.
“The incoming class is off to an amazing start,” says Rebecca Weintraub-Barth, director of student activities. “We’re excited for them to start their journeys here at Swarthmore and hope that orientation gave them a good chance to acclimate and meet some new friends!”
Katie Kerman ’26, who transferred to Swarthmore from Davidson College, points to how “welcoming and approachable” she has found the College community.
“I’m most excited for classes to begin, and to be able to be on campus with everyone and get a real campus feel,” says Kerman, of Durham, N.C.
“I’ve had a super fun experience so far exploring the ’Ville and Media, as well as going to sports games,” adds Matthew Fleming ’27, of Westport, Conn. “It’s been great to meet new people, too, and I’m looking forward to a good semester academically, socially, and athletically.”
Members of the incoming class represent 43 states as well as the District of Columbia, Mariana Islands, and Virgin Islands. Twenty-seven percent are dual citizens, permanent residents, or non-U.S citizens, representing more than 50 countries. One of them, Mina Bakhshi ’27, told her incredible story of fleeing Afghanistan en route to Swarthmore on NPR’s Up First.
International students were among the first on campus. They began an earlier orientation program in late August led by Jennifer Marks-Gold, assistant dean and director of international student programs, and leaders from the International Student Center. Their excitement abounded, and carried one karaoke session deep into the night.
Also getting an early jump were many of the College’s student-athletes, whose practices and training began in earnest in mid-August.
"We are thrilled to welcome this year's class into the Garnet family,” says Brad Koch, Marion Ware director of athletics, physical education, and recreation. “We have a talented group of first year and transfer student-athletes that are ready to contribute to the Swarthmore community.”
But the first members of the class to arrive were the 16 participants of the Summer Scholars Program (S3P), who began a full academic-immersion experience at the end of July.
“They’re a thoughtful, creative, dynamic bunch, and we’re fortunate that they are joining the Swarthmore community,” says Ben Geller, associate professor of physics and director of the S3P Program.
In light of the Supreme Court’s decision on race-conscious admissions, the College no longer makes admissions decisions with regard to race. However, its holistic admissions process considers individuals’ lived experience, and its student body represents people from all walks of life. Fifty-six percent of this year’s admitted domestic students are students of color, 25% of this year’s class are the first generation in their family to attend college, and 17% receive Pell Grants.
“It’s always so energizing to see such a strong and diverse cohort join us at Swat,” says Ben Lipchin ’25, a pre-med major from Camberwell, Australia, and student orientation leader. “It’s been interesting to hear many unique stories, so much in keeping with Swarthmore’s liberal arts ethos.”
Together, the Class of 2027 reflects Swarthmore’s zeal for interdisciplinary and wide-ranging study. Among the most popular anticipated majors are engineering, economics, biology, political science, computer science, English literature, neuroscience, and Classics.
"It's always exciting to welcome the new incoming class to campus,” says Krista Thomason, associate professor of philosophy. “As faculty, we watch our new students take their first steps on their college journey knowing how much they'll grow while they're here. Getting to see a student's intellectual and personal development during their time at Swarthmore is truly one of the joys of teaching here."
Adds Eric Jensen, professor of physics and astronomy and interim dean of academic success: “Their excitement is contagious, giving us all energy as we embark on a new academic year together. “
These students are entering Swarthmore at a time of “transformation, evolution, and change,” says Rachel Head, associate dean and director of student engagement.
“You'll be the first class to experience the completed Dining and Community Commons project next spring, and throughout your four years at Swat you'll have a front-row seat as the College continues its To Zero By 35 efforts,” says Head. “We in the Office of Student Engagement are excited to get to be a part of your journey and experience this with you! Welcome home.”