Acceptance rate rises to 17% for class of 2018

The admissions decisions mailed out by the college last week mark a decrease in applications to the college and a dip in selectivity for the class of 2018. While applications from the college steadily increased from 6,547 in 2011 to 6,614 in 2013, this year the college received only 5,540 applications. The college has accepted a similar number of students this year, 930, as in 2013, 947, and 2012, 935. The college expects that 405 students will enroll in the class of 2018, in line with its plan to continue to increase the size of the student body. 

“We try to fall within three to five students every year of our target,” said Dean of Admissions Jim Bock. “We’re conservative enough to allow us to admit a few from the waitlist.”

The decrease in applications has resulted in a decrease in selectivity, with 17 percent of students admitted, compared to 14 percent in 2012 and 2013 and 16 percent in 2010. This is despite an extension in the deadline for regular admissions applications to January 15 after issues with the Common Application impacted submissions for students across the country. A number of other colleges also decided to extend their deadlines to address the technical problems.

Bock attributed the drop in applications to, among other things, “an increase in early decision activity at peer institutions; economic and demographic trends affecting many schools, especially in the northeast; and an additional essay the College required this year.”

Changing admissions trends for the class of 2018 were also observed at comparable institutions, including Williams College. Williams accepted 1,150 students, an acceptance rate of 18 percent, up from 17 percent last year, while applications dipped slightly from 6,853 to 6,316.

In stark contrast, the University of Pennsylvania saw a record number of applications, accepting only 10 percent of applications this year compared to 12 percent last year.

Letters were mailed to domestic students on March 27 and emailed to international students and Americans abroad on March 31 to ensure that everyone received their decision by April 1. If students had not heard by April 1, they were invited to call and speak with a regional dean who would inform them of their decision.

According to Jim Bock ’90, vice president and dean of admissions, in future years, the college may switch to exclusively electronic notifications of admissions decisions. This is a practice that many comparable institutions such as Williams and Amherst have adopted in recent years.

A major factor in the decision of many admitted students will be Ride the Tide, a weekend for prospective students, which will take place on April 24 and 25.

Students admitted through the regular decision process have until May 1 to decide whether they will matriculate.

For the month of April, the admissions committee will be reviewing the applications of potential transfer students, whose deadline for application was April 1.

These applicants can also expect to be notified of their admissions decisions in early May. The college expects that ten transfer applicants will be accepted.


  1. Down a 1,000 is not normal. This is clearly due to the negative press the school has gotten whether its for sexual assaults or the board of managers fiasco. Lastly, Swarthmore is stuck in this ideal bubble that everyone who attends wants to become an academic and orients it school towards this way (heavy emphasis on theory, a poor career services department, and recruiting). Compared to say Williams, if you happen to want to take the other fork in the road and become say a consultant, or heaven forbid an investment banker the school has you covered and well prepared. As college costs reach over 200,000 students and parents want a return on their investment, and a journey in intellectual masturbation is not going to cut it.

  2. A good college should do 3 things well: academics, residential life, and career services. After almost 4 years at swarthmore, I’m sorry to say that Swarthmore is only doing fine in the academics category. Its residential life sucks, especially its dining services. Sharples has to assign an employee to hand out only 2 meat balls per person on wed and sun for its not-so-well-made pasta bar. Career service is even a bigger disappointment. It doesn’t hire students who got into good investment banks, good consultancies and good tech companies, even when some of those students volunteered to help other fellow students.

  3. Why isn’t the article titled: number of application dropped 15% from last year ? This should be the core of debate, not some acceptance rate. I suspect the choice of title for this article lacks some professionalism and integrity. I only hope my suspicion is wrong.

  4. As a parent, I think that Swarthmore has some wonderful things to offer but I do believe that it has to take the drop in admissions seriously, particularly given the fact that University of Pennsylvania applications were up. I think the school definitely needs to invest more in housing and dining options for students given tuition cost and endowment per student. The academics are strong and the school should continue to emphasize its STEM programs in order to drive even better job placement metrics for undergrads.

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