Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Swarthmore received 6040 applications this admissions year—an 8 percent increase over last year and the second highest in the history of the College after the class of 2012. The college only accepted 967 students from its applicant pool, reaching a flat admissions rate of 16 percent. Admitted students of 2014 tie with class of 2012 for the most selective admitted class of Swatties.
The increase in applicants reflected an increase in the change in national demographics, said Bock. Applications from California increased by 15 percent where as applications from the Northeast decreased slightly. “The applications trend mirrored the national demographic landscape where the number of 18 year olds peaked in growth areas such as the Southwest and California.”
The Admissions Office aimed for a smaller class size to compensate for the small size of exiting 2010 class, said Jim Bock ’90, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. Admissions projected ten fewer students.
Early Decision applications only increased by 3 or 4 total and the admissions rate remained relatively static at around 40%.
Over 56% of the accepted applicant pool are domestic students of color, topped by representation of Asian-Americans at 21%, followed by 17% African Americans, 17% Hispanic Americans, 1% Native Americans. Swarthmore received a record number of applications from both the Asian American and African American minority groups. First generation applications were the second highest and international applicants. International students hail from over 70 countries.
The Lang Center still stands out in the “Why Swarthmore” Admissions essays – many applicants discussed how Swarthmore is unique among colleges in its “commitment to social justice and ethical intelligence.”
Swarthmore has benefited from its reputation of having outstanding financial aid in light of the economy. Many students may not apply to private colleges because of the perception that they cannot afford it; however, Bock explains, “I think we have done a good job…in sending the message Swarthmore may be an affordable option for the most qualified neediest students.” There has been in change in the percent of financial aid requested from the accepted applicant pool but since there were a record number of applications, the actual number of financial aid requested increased.
Lastly, in response to a campus general perception of that Swarthmore becoming more “mainstream”, Bock lightheartedly reveals that he gets this question every year and argues that Swarthmore is a self-selecting institution that draws a certain type of student. Furthermore, they do not make a “conscious effort” to specific types of students. Anything beyond that, Admissions has no control over.