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what are the most important factors , in order, for admissions?

roderickroderick Registered User Posts: 1,488 Senior Member
edited October 2010 in Swarthmore College
into Swat?

for example, what is the order of importance of the following factors when

HS gpa
HS rank
HS course rigor
AP courses
ACT score

demographic attributes of the student




essay - common app (I assume swat is a c a school, true?)

essay - why swat?

any other factors that I did not list?

financial worthiness? - is swat need blind, aware, or...?
Post edited by roderick on

Replies to: what are the most important factors , in order, for admissions?

  • kidloveitkidloveit Registered User Posts: 175 Junior Member
    collegeboard.com :)
  • xavier110xavier110 Registered User Posts: 413 Member
    At Junior Visit Day, two admissions people said that the Why Swarthmore? essay is the first part of the application to be read (or one of the first parts) and also the most important.
  • roderickroderick Registered User Posts: 1,488 Senior Member
    thanks, xavier. I was trying to get what this community's views on the question were based on their experiences or their hearsay - potentially to temper or reiterate what the guidebooks say.

    College Search - Swarthmore College - Swat - Admission
  • tspritetsprite Registered User Posts: 277 Junior Member
    Roderick: I don't claim to be an expert here (that would be Interested Dad <g>). My daughter is a Swat soph and I believe from what I have observed and read, that it is the "Why Swat?" essay that is most important.

    There are many brilliant applicants from all over the world who possess high scores and/or high rankings and/or numerous ECs. Swat Admissions remarkably manages to bring together the perfect balance of students who all manage to contribute something special which is what makes Swat the fantastic school it is!

    When you write the "Why Swat?" essay accentuate a passion or unique experiences that sets you apart from the rest. Imagine being an Admissions person and wading through thousands of applications. When reading that essay first if something grabs your attention, prompts you to look further, that applicant is already closer to becoming a Swattie.

    You need to convey who you are and what you will bring to the Swat community. Swatties are brilliant but possess unique passions, talents, backgrounds and the willingness to share those. I believe that is why it us supportive rather than competitive.

    My daughter had high scores (but not top), high ranking (but not top), numerous EC's with leadership positions but not many AP classes due to an unusual upbringing.

    She wrote about that upbringing as well as her passion for theatre. Simply she write from the heart and through her desire to go to Swat.

    Hope this helps! Good luck!
  • nngmmnngmm Registered User Posts: 5,708 Senior Member
    OK, I guess I'll offer a slightly different perspective.

    I just feel that the "why Swarthmore?" essay gets so much attention on this board, that it can scare some people away. After all, not everyone can visit before applying, and, for most people, it is hard to pinpoint the exact difference between Swarthmore and many other academically intense excellent LACs in wich they could also end up perfectly happy.

    My daughter had a very strong application, with high scores, top grades, and excellent common app essay. Her "Why Swat?" essay was well written, but it was nothing special. She was already accepted at Stanford EA, and although she thought she preferred Swarthmore based on things she heard about it, there wasn't much she could say beyond the trivial things about it. She also felt that she'd be fine if she had to "settle for Stanford"...

    She got to visit during her spring break (well after the application was submitted), and loved the school. She got accepted, went there, and had no regrets.

    I guess my point is that a good fit is important, and if you can effectively convey it in your "Why Swat" essay, more power to you. But if you are a strong applicant, you don't have to have an earth-shattering "why Swat?" essay to get accepted.
  • achatachat Registered User Posts: 2,146 Senior Member
    I agree with nngmm. If you have great grades and scores the 'Why Swat' essay is important but not as much as others are saying it is. Unless your 'Why Swat' essay is not good at all (seems like you copied and pasted from other apps and is very generic). I mean I know people who got into other top schools but not Swat with great grades also..one of them with a 1600 SAT (it was on a 1600 scale then) and great grades.
  • liminalliminal Registered User Posts: 113 Junior Member
    As said, the "Why Swarthmore?" essay becomes a deciding factor.... once you've met other criteria. It has the potential to catch the admissions' office's eye; but a strong essay is going to be much more powerful if you a strong profile to go with it.

    Strong grades, rigorous courses and solid scores never hurt. GPA and ranking aren't really as useful because they're so relative from school to school given (sometimes super) large disparities between high schools.

    Common App essay is important as well. (When an admissions adcom emailed me that was what they noted in my application -- so at the very least we know they're reading more than just the Why Swat? essay :P.) And actually, my supplemental essay was a piece of crap. I wrote it together the night before (as opposed to going through 15-20 drafts of my other essays) and really didn't even like Swat that much at the time. Maybe I was really good at BSing? The adcoms aren't stupid -- they can use other things besides that essay to figure out if you're a good fit (are you rounding out their class? can you handle the courseload? are you an interesting person? etc.) so just remember that your entire profile can have a bit of a give and take component. So i think that worked out for me because my main essay was very effective in communicating the type of person that I am (i.e. a topic that conveyed my moral values, drive, focus on the community, blah blah blah) so they got some of my passion -- but it was just somewhere else in my app.

    Interviews at Swat are probably going to count a bit more than at other schools (for some schools they're just a formality/have .001 weight). Again, they're looking for the spark. What're you interested in? (Note: I didn't interview.)

    Swat is need-blind and one of the most generous institutions. It prides itself on its ability to give out aid to all those who need it.

    A hook here or there never hurt anyone.
  • tspritetsprite Registered User Posts: 277 Junior Member
    Sorry was just giving my opinion. As I stated, I am no expert.
  • achatachat Registered User Posts: 2,146 Senior Member
    No need to be sorry, tsprite. If you daughter had some so-so factors in her stats then 'Why Swat' could be make or break the application. She did make a compelling case for why she wanted Swat and is a sophomore now as you indicated. So you did make a good case of having a good 'Why Swat' essay.

    nngmm's daughter is a scholar and one of the top students of her year. Hope I am not giving her anonymity away by saying that. My son is from her daughter's year of graduation and knows her somewhat; her daughter is a well-known national scholarship recipient and one of the top students of that year (or for that matter any year). Swat has it's share of extremely brilliant students and her daughter is one of them - who would have been admitted anywhere and chose to go to Swat.
  • CollegeDadX3CollegeDadX3 Registered User Posts: 169 Junior Member
    One thing that isn't being talked about is a coach's tip. A good number of Swat student's are there due to a coach wanting them in combination of having outstanding grades. The number of spots available to non-tipped athletes is maybe half of the total number of people who go there. The competition for those spots is extreme.
This discussion has been closed.