The "Why Swarthmore" for someone who doesn't really want to go to Swarthmore

<p>Swarthmore is one of the top schools in the country. I know. </p>

<p>It is also filled with incredible opportunities for its students. I know. </p>

<p>It is amazing overall. I know. </p>

<p>Yet, I don't see myself there. This is because ever since freshman year, I've been dreaming of going to Wharton at UPenn. </p>

<p>But it's not smart to apply to only one school, especially if this school is competitive. So I am applying to other, also awesome, also competitive schools and see what happens. </p>

<p>And Swarthmore is an awesome school. And it is close to UPenn. Yet, I am attempting to write the "Why Swarthmore" essay, and I don't even know how to start it. </p>

<p>Help? Why are you all aplying to Swarthmore?</p>

I really liked Swarthmore when I visited, but I'm applying ED somewhere else, so obviously Swat is not my first choice, and now this "Why Swat?" essay is proving to be quite difficult....</p>

<p>That's why they ask the "Why Swarthmore?" question. </p>

<p>There could be exceptions, but if Wharton is the top choice, 9 times out of 10, you may not be a good fit for being a Swattie. The job of admissions office at Swarthmore is not to identify qualified applicants. They have those coming out the seams. Their job is to identify 900 or so people who are well-matched to Swarthmore and for whom Swarthmore is a good match.</p>

<p>It is not an easy question, especially because writing about generic stuff like "top academics", "arboreteum campus", or "subway to Philly" is not a winning answer.</p>

<p>If you haven't already figured out how to successfully BS your way through an essay, then there's a good chance you don't really belong at Swarthmore. In this case, you have to think of it as something of a creative writing assignment. No, it's not 100% fiction, but you will have to take some liberties and use your imagination. Think of the way you feel about your top choice schools and then pretend it's actually Swarthmore you feel that way about. Can you find those same elements that draw you most to your top choices, or at least some versions of them, somewhere in Swarthmore? Use some of these concrete elements to fashion the character you are creating, the character of you as a Swarthmore enthusiast.</p>

<p>You will undoubtedly have to spend a couple of hours doing a little research in order to create a convincing essay. I might suggest some of the promotional material available at Swarthmore's own website. I would also suggest the promotional entity that is interesteddad here at this very forum. If you take some time to check his posting history, you will find someone who is a true fan of Swarthmore, who truly loves it for everything it is and stands for, who would tell you without batting an eye that it is the greatest place on earth and the finest educational entity in the history of mankind. Between his posts here and the Swarthmore site, you should have no shortage of answers for "why Swarthmore."</p>

<p>To be perfectly honest, I wouldn't worry about it. The odds of being accepted to Swarthmore Regular Decision are slim at best when you don't know what to say in a Why Swat essay on December 27.</p>

<p>It is clear from many comments Jim Bock has made over the years that they give considerable weight to students with well-researched, thoughtful, detailed answers to the "Why Swat?" question.</p>

<p>As for faking it? Why bother? You're only fooling yourself. If Swarthmore's not the right school for you, you are better off not enrolling there.</p>

<p>The thing is, interesteddad, that Swarthmore might be my second choice if I don't get in EDII to the other school I applied to. Plus, you're kind of underestimating those of us who write best under pressure like this. I know a lot about Swat that I like already from when I visited over the summer and from people I have talked to, but as for specifically "Why Swat" over other colleges is a little difficult if I've already made up my mind about one school that I really want to go to. True, they have a lot of similar qualities that I have mentioned so far - don't just assume that because I am posting this now that I have yet to start my essay, I am merely tailoring it - but it is difficult for me to say in an essay that I belong at Swat for sure when I am applying to another school that I liked more. I still loved Swat a lot, that is why I am applying there at all. I am just having trouble with it.</p>

<p>Have you gotten a package from Swat?</p>

<p>Personally, the pamphlet and the CD helped me a lot in writing the Why Swat essay. I would recommend you look through it.</p>

<p>go to the Swarthmore U<em>N</em>I<em>G</em>O* site, surf through some of the videos, there's bound to something out the corner of your eye that catches your attention.</p>

<p>There are so many articles, videos, podcasts on the Swat website (which has updated like a daily blog for years) plus the Phoenix, Daily Gazette, and Bulletin archives that it is almost impossible for an interested applicant not to have more than enough stuff to write about.</p>

<p>If I were applying, I might very well consider watching The Bathtub Debates and noting the interaction among faculty from three divisions and a packed house of students. Or, maybe I'd look into Prof Ratzman's moderating a very well attended student forum after the sidewalk chalkings a couple of years ago and the way the professors and students turned a highly charged issue into a teaching moment, with the students doing the teaching.</p>

<p>But, of course, since Swat admissions reads here from time to time, I might have just spoiled those two ideas!</p>

<p>Gosh, interesteddad. Is there anything (including a possible Tufts Syndrome play signal) you won't do for Swarthmore? ;)</p>

<p>What did I just do for Swarthmore?</p>

<p>dear OP, please don't use anything that can be tagged right away as inspired by the official Swarthmore PR dept. The adcoms will have seen a thousand essays just like it at this late date. I think you know that. A.E. was closer to the mark. At least, something that shows some originality.</p>

<p>I don't think you neccesarily have to focus on "why swat over other schools?" You can just write about what you like about Swarthmore, without worrying about its similarities or differences from other schools on your list.</p>

<p>Then again, I centered my entire essay around comparing Swat to other schools, but that's because that's how I came to the realization that it was my ideal school (long story). Plus, it was actually my first choice, and I was applying early decision. If Swarthmore really is your second choice, just write from the heart about the things that make it your second choice. Just don't mention that it isn't your first choice.</p>

<p>How about the line "When I visited Swarthmore and walked across the (insert favorite Swat location) on a (cold, snowy day/hot summer day/rainy fall day), I could picture myself here next year." Add one extra word maybe. I could easily picture myself here. I could picture myself studying here, living here, etc. What comes to mind?</p>

<p>A sentence about how your visit helped you see yourself at a college is generally useful in "Why Xxxxx" essays, I think.</p>

<p>I think the OP and Coffeeholic are in quite different situations. The OP states that he/she can not see themselves at Swarthmore, and that their first choice is Wharton at Penn. The title of the thread says that they don't want to go to Swarthmore. As IDad points out, Wharton and Swarthmore are fairly different environments. Combined with the OP's statement that they can't see themselves at Swarthmore and their title to the thread, I agree with IDad's advice not to apply. Try to find other schools that really are more similar to your first choice, and don't apply to schools just because they have a good reputation or are highly ranked.</p>

<p>Coffeeholic really likes Swarthmore, but it is not her/his first choice. That should not be a problem. As long as you really like Swarthmore and can see yourself fitting in at the school in some way, there should be a myriad of ways you can weave that together in an essay, after doing some of the research that IDad and others have suggested.</p>

<p>OK, OK.... I'll give a practical tip. When my daughter returned from her overnight visit to Swarthmore, she sat at our kitchen counter and described each person she had met with: the director of the Lang Center, sitting in on a Doestoevsky class, meeting with the chair of the Chemistry department, and her hosts in the dorm. She said the one thing that stood out the most about each of those people or encounters, things that not-coincidentally, turned out to be "A-level" characteristics of Swarthmore College. Voila. Instant Why Swat essay. Each of those encounters became metaphors for one of her Why Swat reasons.</p>

<p>I've read quite a few Why Swat essays. Hers was one of the more straightfoward approaches. I've read others that took completely different angles and were terrific. I absolutely loved the one about a student's priest asking where she was applying and the look of non-recognition on his face when she said Swarthmore. The essay then moved to the internal dialog she had on whether or not to just spew her excitement over this and that at Swarthmore or just low key it by saying it's a small, academically challenging college near Philadelphia. It was terrific because it used a universal experience shared by anyone connected with Swarthmore as the vehicle for the essay, so it was felt genuine and familiar.</p>

<p>Another that knocked me out was a kid who wrote, in a funny self-deprecating way, about his love of out-of-the-box ideas and Swarthmore as a place where people would not only listen to his ideas (rare), but actually get engaged in debating the pros and cons (extremely rare). He went on to write the essay about three of his "ideas" -- one was allowing any country in the world to have a vote to become the 51st state in the United States. The essay knocked me out because it went right to the core of what makes Swarthmore Swarthmore, especially academically, and then used his intriguing ideas to show what a great Swattie he would be. That's everything you can ask of a Why Swat essay and it was just a pleasure to read. I couldn't think of a single suggestion to improve it. He went on to graduate with Highest Honors (one of only 11 his senior year) in Philosophy (of course!)</p>

<p>Thanks dadx3, and everyone else as well, all of your suggestions were really helpful and I think I managed to pull together a fairly good essay! Maybe I'll go over it a couple more times and add some sentences in, and it'll be a great essay. I would love to be accepted, but I don't think I have a chance there....</p>

<p>And you too especially interesteddad, those were some very helpful examples of great Why Swat essays</p>

<p>Hi guys!</p>

<p>Thank you so much for the advice. I looked through the Swarthmore website, and then got a little inspired. I wrote my essay. It sucks. But really, I guess I really don't want to go. I mean I tried to copy my "Why UPenn" essay and realized none of the characteristics were present in Swarthmore (it has no business! =O) and that subsequently, I wouldn't belong there. </p>

<p>But because I had already mailed my Quesbridge app. to Swat, I figured to give it a shot. But yah, my essay sucks. lol</p>

<p>Thank you anyway though! =)</p>

<p>Nvm I didn't apply!</p>

<p>I first figured I would since it's a free application for me (Questbridge) but then I realized I had to pay 20 bucks to send my test scores.</p>