Swarthmore Workload

<p>Hey there...</p>

<p>Just wanted to know how many hours a typical Swat student studies per day and on the weekends, as well as the intensity of the work. I understand that majors make a difference with respect to answering that question; I'll be a Dance or Theatre major, most likely. Also, I was wondering how the workload affected social life on campus. Any comments would be appreciated.</p>

<p>TIA. :)</p>

<p>I don't think there would be any way to give an "average" number of hours.</p>

<p>The homework and reading load is heavy and my impression is that most Swatties need to put in 4+ hours a day outside of class to keep up. They definitely have to learn how to prioritize the work because it is probably impossible to complete every assignment to perfection. </p>

<p>There is also a learning curve in terms of the expected quality of thought. There are definitely some times during the semester (mid-terms, etc.) when Swat "kicks their butts". Although she seems to have taken it stride, I can tell that my daughter has felt some anxiety that the level of work that got easy "A's" in high school no longer cuts it. The pass/fail first semester is a superb policy that gives incoming freshmen an opportunity to find out what is expected and step up their games. </p>

<p>Overall, I would say that the academic challenge has shaped up to be about what my daughter expected -- pretty tough. She's found that keeping up with the assigments is not impossible, but the grades don't all look like the ones on her high school transcript. I think that's pretty typical and that most Swarthmore freshmen have some areas where they have to step it up. I believe that the professors are quite intentional in presenting a serious challenge and demanding a high level of work. I believe that the whole school, including the students, values the challenge and the lack of grade inflation. I know that an "A" really means a lot and that I've never seen my daughter so excited about seeing a "B" on an exam!</p>

<p>I wouldn't recommend Swarthmore unless you are braced to be challenged academically. It's not a place where "cruising through college" would be the norm.</p>

<p>From what I can tell, the "social life" at Swarthmore is excellent. My daughter has developed a close circle of friends. They "do something" together -- a concert, a keg/dance party, a movie, or dinner in Phila. two nights per week. The other nights, they typically come back from dinner and study together in a dorm lounge. As far as I can tell, my daughter has at least one "study partner" for each of her classes.</p>

<p>I agree that social life is just fine, my son goes to Philly often (except last week because he had finals this week, but even then he went to a circus or something), movies, parties etc. </p>

<p>I'll ask my son to respond when I hear from him next (in a day or two), he has a CC id and can speak for himself.</p>

<p>Interesteddad and Achat...</p>

<p>Thank you for the heads up! I'm a little concerned about workload, but as long as I can blow off steam on the weekends, it is all good. I'll be sending in my app soon, so hopefully I'll get a chance to see it all first hand.</p>


<p>Given the rather flexible and unstructured life of a college student, I can't really quantify the number of hours a student at Swat works. But I can tell you that the workload is heavy. I have friends at other institutions (I've spoken with friends at Columbia, Penn, Wash. U in St Louis, and Wesleyan about this in particular) who have done considerably less amounts of writing than I have. </p>

<p>Swat also has regular classes that last about 3 hours. They do meet less frequently than 3 times a week but classes this long for freshmen are unheard of in other places.</p>

<p>Majors do make a difference; I can't tell you much about Theatre or Dance. I have a few friends in Acting 001 and Directing 001 classes and I can tell you they do a fair amount of work for those courses, although it is definitely less than most classes. Acting 001 is a Pass/Fail class but it does involve writing small papers every week. This probably doesn't mean you'll work less than other freshmen- your other classes will make up for it. For freshmen, I'd say the First Year Seminars have the most work, but the small size and intimacy make them really worthwhile. Writing courses vary, with some having students write 5-7 page papers the first week and others without a writing assignment until a month into the class. </p>

<p>As for the workload affecting social life, the quick, easy answer is yes. It is often a factor in students deciding to stay in for the night or for the weekend. In general, it is the main reason why Swat's social scene in the stereotypical collegiate sense is more subdued than at other places. I'd still say that the social life at Swat is fun. No matter what, Swatties need to let off steam. They can do it in little ways, like spending an hour in one of the two student run cafes, or they can go out during the weekend. I've seen tons of honors students at parties and concerts.
Hope that answered your question!</p>




<p>Just to put that into a little perspective. I would say that academic workload will cut into social life at virtually any top college or university. It certainly was the case at Williams, to varying degrees. For example, the pre-meds basically had no social life unless you count the library!</p>

<p>Definitely, places like Swarthmore and UChicago are at the top end of academic intensity and workload (a result of campus culture and the student's who self-select). But, I do think we are talking about shades of gray, rather than a black and white distinction). It's not like Swatties never have fun and students at other elite schools never study!</p>

<p>Itsrainingpants & Interesteddad...</p>

<p>Thank you for the awesome insight to Swarthmore. I will definately apply, even though the workload is a bit heavy, as the other aspects of the college outweigh a few sleepless nights. :) I guess i'm a sucker for punishment. Oh well.</p>

<p>Just wanted to thank you (I'm trying to multitask right now, and failing miserably).</p>