Swat Visually: Swarthmore Professor and Course Rankings

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.

According to Best College Reviews, Swarthmore ranks #2 for schools with the best professors. While I’m not suggesting you take college rankings to heart – Buzzfeed, after all, recently published, “How Does Your College Rank for Delivering Food” including riveting metrics such as “best tippers,” and “most different types of ethnic cuisine ordered” – our data from this week suggests that this rating could have been onto something.

This week Swat Visually asked you all who your favorite professors were, the ones that no student here should leave without having a class with. And out of the 178 full-time faculty on campus, students insist you must take a class with 94 of them. That means 53% of the faculty on campus ranked as blow-your-mind-away awesome. Even if you took five credits a semester, never repeated a professor, and graduated from Swarthmore twice, you would still miss four of them.

The takeaway here is that we go to a college with an insanely talented and dedicated faculty. The vast majority of professors were listed once or twice. Even the highest rated professor, Donna Jo, received only 7% of the votes. What this suggests is that Swat actually does have a pretty high bar for our professors.  So much so that we can’t even seem to agree on a class or professor that truly rises above the rest.

So what’s our advice for pre-registration? Don’t worry about trying to have that professor or take that class. In this sample alone, there were so many classes and professors that have changed students’ lives that it’s straight up statistically improbable that you will go through Swarthmore without at least one of these classes.

However, if you were curious who the top ranked professors are, I give you the Professors that will Change Your Life Ranking. Also, if you wanted to peruse the hundreds of classes and professors that were only mentioned once or twice, feel free to peruse the results by following this link.

For our next and last survey of the semester, Swat Visually is asking you to submit your favorite feel good tunes. You know, those songs that you play once you finish your take-home final before you start that essay to make life feel a little better. Submit your songs here and look out for a playlist next week that should brighten up your finals week!

Happy Thanksgiving,


Swat Visually

1 Comment

  1. Insofar as the human/nonhuman dichotomy continues to have meaning (and the erosion of this dichotomy might ultimately be a felicitous phenomenon), your life-altering professors may merit the status of being a “who” rather than a “that.”

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