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How to Respond to the 2023/2024 Swarthmore Supplemental Essay Prompts

Founded in 1864 by Quakers, Swarthmore College is found just outside of Philadelphia in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. The beauty of Swarthmore’s campus is renowned; the Scott Arboretum showcases robust gardens and delicate landscaping. If you know that Swarthmore is the place for you, read our guide for how to best respond to the Swarthmore College supplemental essays!

Breaking down the Swarthmore College supplemental essay prompts

Swarthmore College is a small liberal arts college that contains just 1,643 undergraduate students. To become a part of this small community, you will need to make your answer to the Swarthmore supplemental essay questions stand out. 

Swarthmore asks applicants to respond to two Swarthmore supplemental essays. The maximum allowed word count is 250 words for each Swarthmore supplemental essay. 

Option #1

Swarthmore College maintains an ongoing commitment of building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive residential community dedicated to rigorous intellectual inquiry. 

All who engage in our community are empowered through the open exchange of ideas guided by equity and social responsibility to thrive and contribute as bridge builders within global communities. 

Our identities and perspectives are supported and developed by our immediate contexts and lived experiences – in our neighborhoods, families, classrooms, communities of faith, and more. 

What aspects of your self-identity or personal background are most significant to you? Reflecting on the elements of your home, school, or other communities that have shaped your life, explain how you have grown in your ability to navigate differences when engaging with others, or demonstrated your ability to collaborate in communities other than your own.

This is the time to showcase your unique background and culture and how it has shaped you into the person you are today. Therefore, think about all the aspects of your life that make “you” unique. Think about the communities you belong to and environments you grew up in. Some examples might include having five siblings or how group-project oriented your high school was. 

Once you select one aspect of your upbringing that has impacted your life, write about it! Briefly describe what exactly this aspect of your life is and how it has affected you. For example, having five siblings may have taught you to be more independent or constantly taking part in group projects in school taught you how to be a leader.

Showcase the “why” of a positive trait you possess. Meaning, you want to give context into why you are the way you are. Therefore, select something that has truly impacted you and made you into the person you are today. Remember, that’s what the admissions officers want to read. They want to get to know a potential student who is able to thrive in the particular environment or situation they were part of. 

Questions to consider

  • What is an important piece of your background? 
  • How have you contributed to your community? 
  • What makes you unique? 

Option #2

Swarthmore’s community of learners inspire one another through their collaborative and flexible approach to learning. Swarthmore students are comfortable with intellectual experimentation and connection of ideas across the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and interdisciplinary studies through a liberal arts education.

Tell us about a topic that has fascinated you recently- either inside or outside the classroom. What made you curious about this? Has this topic connected across other areas of your interests? How has this experience shaped you and what encourages you to keep exploring? 

There is a lot of freedom allowed in this response! Try to pick a topic that interests you, it can range from academic subject to an extracurricular topic. Just ensure that you are being extremely specific about your niche interest to demonstrate your passion. 

Brainstorm subjects you’ve been obsessed with lately! Try to think of the last rabbit hole you went down online and what you discovered.

Then, describe a story or anecdote that reveals how you became interested in this topic. Talk about what this topic means to you. How has this experience shaped you and what encourages you to keep exploring? 

Lastly, create connections between other interests you may have including your intended major at Swarthmore! This will flawlessly tie back your passions with your career interest and demonstrate your interest in your intended major which can give you a leg up on the Swarthmore competition.

Questions to consider

  • What is a subject you are fascinated by? 
  • How do you go about exploring a subject you are interested in? 
  • Why are you passionate about this topic? 

Final thoughts on responding to the Swarthmore supplemental essays

Remember, this is Swarthmore you are applying to! You want to ensure that every piece of your essay responses are well-thought out and planned ahead. Just make sure you are not going over the 250 word limit. 

After reading this guide, you are ready to absolutely ace the Swarthmore supplemental essay questions. Good luck in your writing! 

Next steps after applying to Swarthmore 

Once you have completed your response to your choice of the Swarthmore supplemental essays, it is time to submit your application! 

Now that your application is submitted, keep checking the following: 

  • Your Email 
  • Swarthmore portal
  • Any Swarthmore social media accounts

For any updates to your application status! Once again best of luck to you! 

Additional resources

We know how stressful it can be navigating the college applications and admissions process. So, do not worry because we are here to help with our helpful guides. 

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