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Despite Disruptions, Class of 2021 Thrives Post-Swarthmore

Student wearing graduation robe and cap hugs person

Despite the disruption of the ongoing pandemic, students from the Class of 2021 have found ways to thrive in their post-Swarthmore lives, according to results gleaned from the Senior Survey, a self-reported survey compiled by Career Services with data from 73% of this year’s graduating class. It shows that 66% of respondents went directly into the workforce and 30% entered graduate school.

“Swarthmore students showed tremendous resilience and adaptability as they navigated the post-graduate landscape during the pandemic,” says Senior Associate Director of Career Services Erin Massey. “We were proud to support students in many ways as they integrated their multifaceted experiences and skills into their plans and goals for their launch into life after Swarthmore, and we are excited to see what their futures hold.”

To help graduates clear the many hurdles created by the pandemic, the Career Services team in April 2020 immediately launched employer-development initiatives to offer new opportunities for students and also created innovative remote-work and project-based learning experiences, including the College's first-ever virtual micro-internship projects funded by alumni donors.

As a result of these and other initiatives, the outlook of this year’s Senior Survey is bright. Among the report’s insights:  

The 66% who went straight into the workforce identified their top career paths as technology/engineering (28%) and finance/business (19%). Other members of the class embarked on careers in research, consulting, education/teaching, nonprofits and advocacy, law, policy/politics, education, and communications/media.

For the 30% pursuing graduate studies, the most popular fields of study were social sciences (40%), life sciences (18%), humanities (18%), engineering (13%), and math and physical sciences (11%).

The remaining 4% of graduates were either undecided or undertaking fellowships, further undergraduate studies, or travel. 

Additional self-reported data from 248 members of the Class of 2021:

  • Eighty percent seeking employment had secured jobs before graduation, up 10 percentage points from last year.
  • The top geographic location for grads to begin their careers was New York City (32%), followed by Philadelphia (22%), Washington, D.C. (12%), Boston (12%), the West Coast (10%), and the Midwest (10%).
  • Grad schools attended included Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania, among others.
  • Fifty-five percent had completed at least one internship prior to graduation (43% with for-profits, 43% with nonprofits, and 16% with government agencies).
  • Nearly 1,200 counseling appointments with Career Services were made by members of the class.

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