Why I Picked Swarthmore College

A member of the Class of 2011 discusses his decision to attend Swarthmore College.

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William Hopkins, Class of 2011

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The engineering program may have put Swarthmore College on my radar, but it took more than strong academics to make me fall in love with the school.

Imagine the busiest market in the biggest city you've ever been to. Now fill it with the smartest, friendliest people you've ever met, each trying to persuade you to build houses in Cambodia for the homeless or sing in a musical. Now you understand the annual Swarthmore activities fair, which convinced me of the individual passion each Swattie brings to campus and reminded me that there's more to a great education than seminars and independent research.

It was the presence of the science fiction club at that activities fair, which I attended as an admitted student while in high school and again as a freshman, that made me realize I had found a place to call home, even if engineering didn't end up being as good a fit. Swarthmore's flexible academic program made it painless when, after freshman year, I transferred to psychology. Working with my adviser, we planned which classes I needed to take while also leaving room for the "liberal" part of liberal arts.

On top of that, I really enjoy the student, faculty, and staff interaction. At the conclusion of my honors seminar in psycholinguistics, the professor invited us to his house for dinner. My professor for the honors seminar in modern poetry had class at her house every week. I often stop by the dean of housing's office to chat for a few minutes and snag a candy bar. And I can't imagine not saying hello to Joan, who cares for my residence hall, every morning.

Swarthmore, founded by Quakers in 1864 and located southwest of Philadelphia, was one of the nation's first coeducational colleges.

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