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Academic Support

student speaking with professor at the new student advising fair

Peer assistance is an integral part of studying at Swarthmore. Academic support can be accessed through academic departments (peer mentors, clinics, and review sessions), the Writing Associates Program, the libraries, the Student Academic Mentors and the student deans. No additional fees are required for any of these services. 

Library and Research Support

Research and Information Associates (RIAS) are students who assist peers with finding and evaluating information.

Writing Support

Writing Associates (WAs) collaborate with students during all stages of the writing process and in various disciplines.

Department Peer Support

  • Biology: Catalysts, Hannah Donald
  • Chemistry & Biochemistry: Alchemists
  • Chinese language tutoring: Kirsten Speidel
  • Computer Science: Ninjas, Lauri Courtenay
  • Economics: Visible Hands
  • Japanese language tutoring: Prof. Will Gardner
  • Mathematics or Statistics: PiRates and Muses,  Laura Dandridge. 
  • Physics or Astronomy: Physics, Prof. Ben Geller
  • Tutors are arranged through the Office of the Academic Success or, in some cases, are arranged through the individual academic department. 

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 (

Not sure who to ask your academic question? Ask a SAM.

Student Academic Mentors (SAMs) are sophomores, juniors, and seniors specially selected and trained to work with students on the development of skills necessary for academic success at Swarthmore. Important skills include time management, organization, study strategies, and reading techniques.

Academic Advice for Students

For advice on approaching your natural sciences, engineering and math courses, please visit the NSE (Natural Sciences and Engineering) Success Toolkit.

The following advice sheets were developed collaboratively by Student Academic Mentors, professors and the Office of Academic Success staff:

Academic Workshops

In partnership with students, faculty and staff, the Office of Academic Success offers workshops on time management, study skills, class participation, and other topics. Recent workshop topics included time management and effective class participation strategies.

The workshops are a collaborative effort of the deans staff, faculty, and the Student Academic Mentors (SAMs). If you have ideas for new programming, please let us know.