I was planning on applying ED 1 to Swarthmore, but I've kind of fallen in love with Wesleyan -- or at least their website -- over the weekend and I'll be visiting Wes on Tuesday. I'm sure that things will be much clearer once I've officially seen Wesleyan, but I'm worried that it might make me question my previous conviction. I mean, if I really love Wesleyan, then I'll really have to think again about applying to Swarthmore ED.
But anyway. I was just wondering if anyone could offer up the significant differences/similarities between the two schools.
Both are politically & socially very liberal schools with highly intelligent students. A significant number of Swarthmore students seem headed for careers in academia, probably as college professors & researchers. Wes tends to be a bit more varied. A visit to Wesleyan will probably make your choice much easier. For an interesting read try The Big Book of Colleges '08 by College Pro wler.
What do you mean? The "point" is simply posting some of the key statistical differences between Swarthmore and Wesleyan. These are some of the statistical indicators I would look to for comparing any colleges. The diversity and financial comparisons are particularly valuable, IMO.
PS: Sorry for the duplicates. I messed up a cut n' paste. Unfortunately, the forum database errors made it impossible to fix the post.
My D is having the same dilemma. For better or worse the overnight to Swarthmore left her with the impression the school boasts heavy drinking as its weekend evening activity, an activity that she is not real interested in. At the visit at Wes, she seemed to do other things and had more fun. Is Swat is a drinkers haven!!??
Also, I think she did not feel an LGBT friendliness at Swat but did at Wes and that made her more comfortable. Again, is Swat really LGBT unfriendly? Are D's impression right? we would hate for her to miss the wonderful opportunities at Swat b/c she has the wrong impression of the school. She is a smart recruited athlete.
Yikes! Your D definitely didn't luck out on hosts!
Swarthmore is most definitely queer-friendly; I haven't talked to anyone who feels otherwise. There is a lot of awareness-raising on campus (including Coming Out Week and the Sager Symposium, an annual conference on queer/trans issues) and the culture is just generally very accepting, as far as I can tell.
In terms of drinking--for some people, yes, that's the way they like to spend the weekend. They can, and they do. However, I'm not a partier, and I was able to find other people and other weekend activities without much trouble at all. Starting partway through last year, an anonymous donor gave a significant amount of money for dry social life. This translates into twice-weekly (Thurs. and Sat. nights) "Parlor Parties"--dry parties with music, food and games, as an alternative to Pub Nite, Paces and Olde Club.
Some of the athletic teams are really into drinking--so perhaps if your daughter stayed with an athlete she would have been more likely to get that impression--but there are many Swarthmore students (including some athletes) who don't drink, and they do just fine socially.
Good luck, and feel free to ask if you have any more questions!
To the OP:
They're both great schools! I have only secondhand information about Wesleyan, but from what I understand it's bigger than Swarthmore (which means a bit more course selection and variety in extracurriculars, but less tiny-community feel and maybe bigger classes), a bit "crunchier" (ie more hippie types--Swat has some, not tons) and more laid-back academically. That's not to say Wes kids aren't ridiculously smart--but Swarthmore academics are really intense. That can be rewarding, or frustrating, depending on who you are (I'll trust that if you were considering applying ED to Swat, you know that and have thought about it already).
I mean, that's all just stereotypes. But there's usually a grain of truth in there somewhere, right?
Good lord, no. It has one of the lower binge drinking rates of elite colleges. About a third of the college doesn't drink at all and another third drinks occasionally. Booze is served at all-campus parties on weekends. However, there is also social event programing every weekend with no alcohol. There's a special endowment fund to pay for non-alchohol social events. Did your daughter go to the Parrish Parlor parties on Thursday or Saturday nights?
From this parent's perspective, it's the best scenario. Very low binge drinking rate. Two thirds of the students are non-drinkers or light/moderate drinkers. An average of only 0 to 3 alcohol transports a year (incredibly low). Yet, alcohol is freely available at parties on campus so students don't have to pregame.
Again, is Swat really LGBT unfriendly?
Are you sure she visited Swarthmore and not Skidmore? <grin> Swarthmore is one of the most gay friendly colleges you'll find, in fact, it's kind of a standing joke about rejecting "hetereonormative constructs" and so forth.
It was one of the first colleges to offer insurance and benefits to same-sex couples -- back in 1992. They even have a gay assistant dean to represent the interests of the gay students.
Here's an example of the role gay students play. In the search for a new Dean a few years back, the students derailed one of the leading candidates because he talked about his belief in accepting alternative lifestyles. The gay students at Swarthmore objected to his characterization of "alternative". Both gay and straight students voiced their concerns to the search committee and the search committee responded to the concerns. My daughter lives with a gay Swattie alum who was Class President of the senior class last year. He loved Swarthmore. I honestly can't think of a more welcoming friendly place for gay students. Swarthmore has even had a transgendered professor, with a student art gallery named after him.
Swat is definitely really queer friendly (queer is the generally used word at Swat, as an umbrella for LGBTQQIAetc)! While there is no "gay assistant dean" specifically there for queer students (if only!), we are definitely fighting for one, and there are plenty of queer deans, as well as faculty and staff members - and we do have Deans for Multicultural Affairs and Gender Education. This doesn't mean that there isn't administrative support of the queer community, because it's definitely there!
Other key queer-friendly features about Swat include: its large amount of gender-neutral housing and gender-neutral bathrooms around campus and in dorms, being one of the first schools in the nation to allow gender-neutral housing by room; its many closed student groups for queer people, including SQU (Swarthmore Queer Union), COLORS (group for queer people of color), NOTA (none of the above, for people who identify as non-gay and non-straight), Small Group (for questioning students), PersuAsian (for Asian queer-identified students), and open groups like QSA (queer-straight alliance) - feel free to mail me for more info on groups; and its large amount of events focused on queer issues, from the aforementioned Sager Symposium and Coming Out Week to smaller events like speakers and movies.
Homophobic incidents happen, like they would anywhere, but they're rare, and people usually get really upset about them. I chose Swarthmore in large part because of it's queer-friendliness: it's hard not to see it!
rusha, there are a couple of teams - not the majority - who feel it's necessary to represent the work hard, play hard ethic, especially if they're off season or if they've just won a big game. I want to underline what other posters have said: There are plenty of other things going on around campus, and plenty of athletes who drink in moderation or not at all.
Swarthmore has even had a transgendered professor, with a student art gallery named after him.
You meant "her," not "him."
Last edited by HarrietMWelsch; 10-13-2008 at 08:45 AM.
Reason: punctuation error.
The "Drinking aspect" of Swarthmore really interests me. S2 has done a number of overnights at colleges and is dismayed by the amount of drinking at every campus but Swarthmore. It was one of the only over nights not to offer alchohol to him or take him to a drinking party. He has expressed to me that he does not want to go to a "party school". It sounds as though Swarthmore has really taken it seriously that there are things to do there other than drink. Is this really the case?
There are tons of other things to do if you aren't a partier. I'm definitely not a partier, and I've found ways to have fun every weekend, whether it's just dancing it up at the parties sans drinking, chilling at a Parlor party, or watching a cheesy musical with my hallmates back at my dorm. I haven't been pressured into drinking at all, either. It's a really relaxed environment; people manage to have fun in whatever fashion they choose. So, jollymon, I'd agree that Swat definitely believes in other ways to have fun. (On the other hand, they're relaxed about drinking, as well- they realize that some students are going to drink, and they put their faith in the students' responsibility to keep things safe.)
jollymon, here's my take on the drinking aspect at Swarthmore:
People here do drink. People everywhere drink. Now, the question is how many people drink? I don't have any statistics to back me up, but based on my experience at Swarthmore so far, it seems like over half of the student body here drinks. I mean, pretty much everybody in my floor of my dorm drinks and have gotten drunk at parties. Jollymon, you mentioned that Swarthmore didn't offer alcohol to him at an overnight stay. To be honest, the idea of offering a visiting student alcohol at a party is kind of strange--also, if your son went to Discovery Weekend, note that during Discovery Weekend there are fewer parties than usual because of DW. To be frank, a lot of my friends drink, and when they party they can get really drunk, especially my friends in the rugby team.
On the other hand, I don't drink, and I'm not pressured to drink. People who drink here know that some people aren't comfortable with alcohol, and they acknowledge that. And there are always social events going on that don't involve alcohol, so there really isn't a problem, but your son has to be somewhat comfortable with people in his dorm drinking and knowing that some (perhaps many) of his friends drink. That's part of college, not necessarily Swarthmore. I don't think that a higher proportion of students at Swarthmore drink compared to other colleges in general.
Is Swarthmore a party school? NO. But that does not mean that people don't party. Frankly, if people wanted to go to a party school, they would never have applied to Swarthmore in the first place. But it is certainly possible to get really drunk on the weekends but still be an active participant in class and have good grades.
You mention that it seems like Swarthmore has taken it seriously that there are other things to do besides drinking. Well, that stems from the fact that there are people at Swarthmore who don't drink but still want to do things over the weekend. But overall, there usually won't be a ton of activities over the weekend. It's pretty laid back.
Ok to clarify a couple things. I don't think he was offered any drinks while staying over, it was that he was brought to parties where there was drinking. I know there will be drinking at colleges and frankly I enjoyed the parties at college. It is just that S2 is a little more serious that I ever was and is not looking at a huge party school. Do I expect him to have a few beers while he is at college? Of course. But he is the one driving this "I don't want to go to a party school" college search. I just got the feeling that he was very comfortable while at Swarthmore and told me the kids there are very much like him. Who knows at this point, but he just keeps comparing all the colleges on his list to Swarthmore. I think that is not only a good thing, but also shows me he has a good head on his shoulders.