Swarthmore is an elite and demanding liberal arts school founded by the Quakers in 1864. Though relatively small, with about 1,600 undergraduates, the private school offers students unusually expansive opportunities.

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Swatties can leave the 425-acre campus to take classes at nearby Bryn Mawr, Haverford and the University of Pennsylvania. Swarthmore's own classes are typically small — there is an 8:1 student-faculty ratio — and many students participate in the school's honors program.

With seven libraries and more than 40 paths of study, Swarthmore appears to instill a love of learning: Some 22% of graduates go on to complete doctoral programs, the third-highest percentage in the nation. Those who do go on to graduate school are well-prepared; two-thirds of undergraduate students participate in research or independent creative projects.

Swarthmore's 20 varsity teams play in Division III, but school spirit is perhaps better exemplified by another kind of athletic tradition: Once a year, students partake in the McCabe Mile, an 18-lap race around the stacks in the library named for Tim McCabe, an alum and past president of the Scott Paper Company. Runners vie for a unique prize: a big roll of Scott toilet paper.