Swarthmore or Grinnell ED? Which to choose!

Being close to home can have some advantages (both of my kids would disagree😄), but let’s remember that it’s also so much more difficult to get into Swat, ED or otherwise. If this student is serious about Grinnell, that’s a much better use of an ED card.

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ED card? Sounds more like a game than a commitment.

Obviously the OP is struggling with the decision and presumed to be serious about both.

The reality is that Grinnell has nearly 3X the admit rate. If Swat is in the range for ED, then Grinnell should be a reasonable option RD. If they can’t commit to Swat if accepted, then they shouldn’t apply ED. But if the student really can’t decide, then the only chance they may have at Swat is ED. RD at Swat is in the 5% range, and the local competition (the number of PA/NJ apps) makes it really hard.

I agree with many of the points from above, but not this one. I do feel the need to point out that Grinnell’s overall admission rate last year was 10% (no detail on ED vs RD). So it is a reach, for OP’s D, and all unhooked applicants…just like Swat, whose acceptance rate for class of 2025 was around 8%.


I would never compare ED to a game. ED is a useful tool if a student genuinely feels they can commit to a college. Semantics aside, it’s an advantage to this student to apply ED to one or the other if she can be equally happy with either choice.


Do we know enough about the student to know her chance will be improved sufficiently to make ED to Swat potentially worthwhile?


I saw a 23% acceptance rate…which is how I got to 3X.

Regarding the link… I didn’t read the whole thing, but if they had 8,300 apps (I’m rounding) and a 23% acceptance rate the year before (1900 accepted students), getting 30% more apps (10,790) and accepting the same number of kids would result in a 17.5% acceptance rate (not 10%)?

Not going to audit my 23% or the schools’ website to find out…but I don’t see 10%?

The 23% is the 5 year average rate, which is not relevant. Regarding the student newspaper article, we would have to trust they did the math right, because the school hasn’t released Class of 2025 numbers AFAIK.

From the article I linked above:

The larger number of applications has combined with more slots reserved for students who took a gap year – about 50 this year compared to fewer than 20 in normal years – to drive Grinnell’s acceptance rate down to 10 percent, the lowest in school history.

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10% is the most recent rate although the article doesn’t break out RD and ED. ED apps did rise from 384 to 580. I’d assume RD is less than 10% and ED is more.

Grinnell College application rates spike after pandemic-related changes – The Scarlet and Black (thesandb.com)

Grinnell went no loans starting with last fall’s class so that has and will continue to impact acceptance rate.



I think the vibe is pretty different at these two schools. If your student is willing to go to a different part of the country, I consider that as a bonus part in the education they will receive. Two great choices with what sounds like a nice connection at Grinnell. I am a Grinnell fan and with the merit $ they have to offer, I’d choose them.


My daughter is a first-year student at Grinnell. She’s found that there’s a ton of co-curricular events and activities on campus, and they’re all free, including athletic events against other colleges. She’s also found that the academic environment is highly collaborative and engaging. Additionally, she’s met kids from other countries as 20% of the student body is international, and everyone can get free music lessons to boot.


We visited Grinnell multiple times with both our kids, truly an amazing school. Grinnell’s over-sized endowment allows it to invest heavily in its students and programming. Both my kids enjoyed the serious academic engagement, incredible faculty engagement with students, and collaborative, non-judgmental student culture. Travel from the east coast is multi-step, but not impossible. I wouldn’t hesitate to apply ED there.


With respect to pure classroom experience, you could make a case for either of these schools: Great Classroom Experience | The Princeton Review.

I don’t know much about Swat, but if she’s really into music, she might be disappointed with Grinnell.

They are very similar in many ways. It was mentioned that Grinnell just went “loan-free”…Swat has been loan-free for years. The per-student endowment for both is nearly identical. The big issue for OP is location, and both have their own issues and charms.

Anyone who’s ever applied ED has dealt with all of the “what-ifs”…and ultimately it almost always comes down to a gut feeling.

@lilmelissa1 - what was the final decision? What tipped the scales?