Last week, the college hosted hundreds of prospective students for SwatStruck and SwatLight. Formerly Ride the Tide, this annual event offers current high school seniors a sample of life at Swarthmore. The students were given a schedule of classes they can attend and were invited to a variety of social events on campus. The overall purpose is to expose these students to Swarthmore’s typical week days, so that they will be more well-informed when they decide whether to commit.
SwatStruck differs from previous years in that it was preceded by a counterpart, Swatlight, which hosts first generation, minority, and low income students. The duration of the program has also changed, shrinking from two to three days to a single-night stay.
In this period of time, prospective students were given a chance to survey Swarthmore’s academic landscape, and many reported positive experiences.
Ryan Stanton ’20 was impressed by his visit. “The classes I attended stand out as some of my best hours on campus,” Stanton said. Stanton sat in a discussion on black iconography [the class was Black Culture in a “Post-Soul” Era, taught by Professor Anthony Foy] and was fascinated by the materials covered. He said, “the students and professor turned toward a central idea of image – agency in an image’s distribution, which I hadn’t considered before that class.” Subsequently, Stanton visited a neuroscience lab and also attended a lecture in Global Capitalism Since 1920.
Although Stanton enjoyed the classroom experience, he observed that the class in black iconography – which he visited by chance – is not included in the list given to the admitted student. Thus, he expressed the need for a more comprehensive course list. “One suggestion I will make is that the full course catalog, or at least a larger portion of it, be given to the Specs,” he said.
Besides giving prospective students a sense of Swarthmore’s academics, the admissions office, which hosted the event, also worked closely with Office of Student Engagement in order give these students a full range of the Swarthmore experience. The office organized on-campus social activities such as the Night Market, which is a space for on-campus organizations to showcase and interact with prospective students. The admissions office also encouraged personal interaction with current students by hosting Swat Unscripted, an annual event where conversations were carried out between a panel of current students and prospective students in a confidential setting. Prospective students may also visit student-run organizations on their own.
According to Jim Bock, Dean of Admissions, these social events are of tantamount importance to academics. He remarked, “One of the central themes is that choices will have to be made academically and socially, and while we are honest about our rigorous academic program, students also have active lives outside of the classroom.” As such, the balance of academic and social life is supposed to be a main takeaway from the program.
Stanton would agree, as he expresses his excitement in learning Swarthmore students’ involvement in art and journalism. “The Swarthmore Showcase … demonstrated to me the range of art at Swat, from impressive acapella to innovative dance and comedy,” said Stanton.
Overall, like many others, Stanton is very satisfied with his stay at Swarthmore, and expresses his desire to spend more time on campus.
Such sentiment, according to Bock, is a sign that Swarthmore is a good match. “Often students are left wanting to spend more time at each event or to sit in on more classes, and our response is to spend four years with us at Swarthmore.”
Bock also is confident in the progress made by SwatStruck in attracting prospective students, which is the goal of admissions.
“We have seen both attendance and yield increase as students have so many wonderful options and places to visit in April. We look forward to bringing in an amazing Class of 2020.”