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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. During the COVID-19 pandemic, most of our academic support is provided remotely and not in-person.

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, Jocelyne Noveral
  • Chemistry & Biochemistry: Alchemists, Donna Halley
  • 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, Danielle Ledford
  • 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 such as time management, organization, study strategies, and reading techniques.

Need help with computer or internet access?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, students with demonstrated financial need can request loaner laptops by emailing For personal laptop repairs, students with high levels of financial need can request student emergency fund support to help cover the cost.

Any student can request help with internet access issues by emailing ITS staff help troubleshoot existing wi-fi access and - for students with demonstrated financial need who are studying away from campus - ITS has sometimes been able to provide hotspots. 



Academic Workshops

In collaboration with students, faculty and staff, we offer workshops on time management, study skills, class participation, and other topics. Workshops have included topics like:

  • Participating Effectively in Class 
  • Take Charge of your Time 
  • Studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) - talk by Prof. Amy Vollmer (Biology Dept.)
  • Cultural Contexts of Academic Discourse - workshop with Prof. Natalie Mera Ford (Multilingual Writing Specialist)   
  • The Art of Reading at Swarthmore  - talk by Prof. Tim Burke (History Dept.)

These events 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.

Academic Advice for Students

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