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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
  • Engineering: Wizards, Ann Ruether
  • 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:

Adjusting to Remote Learning

Communicate with your professors

This is a unique mode of learning and you will have questions along the way. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your professors if you are unsure about expectations, encounter difficulties or need help with the course material. Read and respond to your email every day. Attend online office hours, if possible.

Manage your time

Make and follow a weekly schedule in Google Calendar, mapping out the times that you have scheduled activities (class, professors’ office hours, support clinics), deadlines, time to work on short- and long-term assignments and down-time. Build in time for self care and connecting with friends. Try strategies for managing screen fatigue.

Study Space: Communicate Your Needs

You may have found yourself in a crowded space or somewhere where it is only quiet during late hours when others are asleep. Try to make a schedule with your household members or roommates that reflects when each of you needs a private space or quiet time to conduct work, especially work that requires video or audio conferencing. If there are conflicts that make it difficult for you to have a private space to study or attend class, reach out to your professor or your assigned dean.

Connect to Your Support Network

Reach out to SAMs, WAs, your assigned student dean, tutors, Health Sciences and Pre-Law Advising, Student Disability Services, and academic department peer support groups (e.g. Math/Stats Pi-Rates). They are available to support you during this transition. Take time to talk with friends to stay connected and to take breaks.

If you experience computer or technical difficulties, email the ITS department at

If you need new or adjusted accommodations for a documented disability or chronic medical condition or if you have questions about disability accommodations, please contact Director of Student Disability Services Monica Vance (

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 dean's staff, faculty, and the Student Academic Mentors (SAMs). If you have ideas for new programming, please let us know.