Swarthmore is an elite and demanding liberal arts school. Though relatively small, with just 1,600 undergraduates, Swarthmore gives its students unusually expansive opportunities. Swatties can take classes at nearby Bryn Mawr, Haverford, or the University of Pennsylvania. Swarthmore classes themselves are typically small. Roughly one-third of the students opt for the school’s Honors Program, taught in a seminar format with final grades given by outside examiners.
Swarthmore appears to instill a love of learning: About 20% of Swatties go on to earn PhDs, the third-highest percentage in the country. But those who go into the job market report average earnings of about $51,000 within five years, a healthy premium over schools with similar students. (And that’s not counting the recent $300,000 Jeopardy winnings of 2008 alum Arthur Chu.)
Swarthmore, which plays in Division III, fields 22 varsity teams, but the school’s spirit is perhaps better exemplified by another kind of athletic tradition: Once a year, students race 18 laps around the library stacks in an effort to win a big roll of Scott toilet paper, in honor of an alum who was once the president of Scott Paper Company.