Swarthmore Admits 15% of Largest Applicant Pool Ever

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.

The admissions decisions have been made. Out of 6,547 applicants, 977 perspective students were granted admission. Out of the largest pool of applications Swarthmore has ever received, 500 more applications than last year, just under 15% of candidates were accepted as potential students.

Though the actual size and make-up of the Class of 2015 will not be determined until prospective students who matriculate, based on yield rates of previous years the class will be around 383 new students. The Admissions Office finds that about 40% of domestic students and 50% of international students choose to come to Swarthmore when offered a place.

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jim Bock ’90 said, “Not all of the students offered a position will come. We don’t know where else a student has applied and been admitted. We don’t know who will accept Swarthmore in the end, and we just hope many make a good decision and choose to come here.”

In creating the Class of 2015, Admissions aimed to keep the number of students small, so while 500 more applications were received this year, only 10 more applicants were admitted, increasing the school’s selectivity.

In response to the perennial question of whether Swarthmore had shifted towards admitting more “mainstream” students, Bock replied, “We have not changed who we are recruiting. We are looking for diverse individuals with a wide range of interests from all corners of the world who are committed to academic rigor in a small college setting. In any case, how does one define mainstream?”

Perhaps the reason that upperclassmen always think the freshman class is more mainstream is that they “are transformed by their own Swarthmore experience,” he said.

The geographic areas which yielded more applications were also areas with demographic growth and a rise in the number of college-age residents. The largest increase in applications came from the states of California and New York as well as the international population. (This year there were 1043 international applications.) The pool of applications reflects the statistics on the national and international population.

In their applications this year, as in previous years, many potential students cited the Honors Program, the college’s commitment to activism, the freshman fall pass/fail adjustment period, and the rigorously intellectual yet collaborative spirit of the college, as reasons they chose to apply to Swarthmore.

In their applications, many prospective students were undecided on their major. Engineering was last year’s most popular major and it remained one of the top choices. Other popular declared majors this year are Political Science, Biology, English, Economics, Mathematics, History, Physics, and Psychology.

Geographically, the domestic admitted students hail from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. California was the state with the most students admitted and New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, were also highly represented.

The international admitted students come from all continents but Antarctica, totaling 64 countries. South Korea is the country with the most admitted students, followed by China, Canada, India, Nepal, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordon, and Kenya. There is one student in the admitted class from each of Australia, Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iraq, Jamaica, Macedonia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, and Vietnam.

In terms of the activities the incoming class participates in, that data is not yet available. The college does not keep track of the number of students involved in social activism, though that involvement does affect the admissions decision. While the college recruits for athletics, it is uncertain how many athletes will be in next year’s incoming class.

The first confirmation from an accepted student has already been received, but most admitted student’s decisions will come in after the Ride the Tide event on April 14th and 15th.

In a few more weeks, admissions will have a better idea of the characteristics of the class of 2015, but for now, Bock said, “I am very excited and looking forward to meeting our admitted students. I am thrilled with the depth and quality of the admitted class. Our goal is not to convince students to come to Swarthmore, but to inform students why Swarthmore might be their best option.”

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