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Lehigh and Swarthmore: Comparing Two Top-Ranked Universities

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a student thinking while holding his pen

Lehigh and Swarthmore: Comparing Two Top-Ranked Universities

Are you considering attending one of the top-ranked universities in the United States, but aren’t sure which one to choose? In this article, we’ll take a comprehensive look at two of the most highly-regarded institutions – Lehigh University and Swarthmore College.

We’ll compare and contrast various aspects of both schools, including academics, faculty, campus life, and more. By the end of this article, you should have a much better idea of which university might be the right fit for you.

Introduction: A Brief Overview of Lehigh and Swarthmore

Lehigh University is a private research institution located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1865, Lehigh has a long history of excellence in engineering, business, and other fields.

Swarthmore College, on the other hand, is a private liberal arts institution located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1864 and has a strong reputation for providing a well-rounded education with a focus on the arts and humanities, as well as science and engineering.

Lehigh University has a diverse student body, with students from all 50 states and over 100 countries. The university offers over 100 undergraduate and graduate programs, including highly ranked programs in engineering, business, and education. Lehigh is also known for its strong research programs, with over $100 million in research funding annually.

Swarthmore College has a unique academic program called the Honors Program, which allows students to design their own course of study and work closely with faculty members on independent research projects.

History and Background: How Lehigh and Swarthmore Came to Be

Lehigh University was founded by Asa Packer, a wealthy businessman and philanthropist. Packer had made his fortune in railroads and coal mining, and he wanted to use his wealth to establish an institution of higher learning that would provide practical education in the sciences and engineering.

Swarthmore College, on the other hand, was founded by members of the Hicksite branch of the Religious Society of Friends (also known as Quakers), who were looking to establish a new type of college that would be free from denominational control and focused on intellectual inquiry rather than dogma.

Lehigh University was established in 1865, and it was originally called the Lehigh University of South Bethlehem. The university was founded with the goal of providing education to the working class, and it was one of the first universities in the United States to offer a degree in engineering.

Swarthmore College was founded in 1864, and it was originally located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. The college was founded with the goal of providing a liberal arts education that emphasized critical thinking and intellectual inquiry.

Academic Programs: A Comparison of Degree Offerings at Lehigh and Swarthmore

Lehigh University offers over 100 undergraduate and graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, including engineering, business, the arts and humanities, the social sciences, and more.

View of computer engineers working on a project.

Swarthmore College offers fewer degree programs, but they are all focused on the liberal arts and sciences. Students at Swarthmore can choose from majors in humanities, natural sciences, engineering, and social sciences.

Despite the difference in the number of degree programs offered, both Lehigh and Swarthmore provide students with ample opportunities to pursue their academic interests.

Lehigh’s diverse range of programs allows students to explore different fields and potentially discover new passions. Swarthmore’s focus on the liberal arts and sciences provides students with a well-rounded education that emphasizes critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Faculty and Staff: What Sets the Professors Apart at Each University

Both Lehigh and Swarthmore boast highly qualified faculty members who are leaders in their respective fields.

Lehigh professors are known for their practical expertise and real-world experience, while Swarthmore professors are known for their commitment to the liberal arts and their dedication to mentoring students both inside and outside the classroom.

However, one key difference between the two universities is the size of their faculty. Lehigh has a larger faculty, which allows for a wider range of course offerings and research opportunities.

On the other hand, Swarthmore has a smaller faculty-to-student ratio, which fosters a more intimate and personalized learning experience. This means that Swarthmore students have more opportunities to work closely with their professors on research projects and receive individualized attention in the classroom.

Admissions Process: How to Get into Lehigh or Swarthmore

Both Lehigh and Swarthmore are highly selective institutions that require applicants to have a strong academic record, a demonstrated commitment to extracurricular activities or community service, and impressive standardized test scores.

Close up of students smiling at the camera.

Lehigh takes a holistic approach to admissions and considers a wide range of factors, including academic achievement, essays, recommendations, and interviews.

Swarthmore also takes a holistic approach but places a strong emphasis on academic achievement and intellectual curiosity.

It is important to note that both Lehigh and Swarthmore have different application deadlines and requirements.

Lehigh offers Early Decision and Regular Decision options, while Swarthmore offers Early Decision I, Early Decision II, and Regular Decision.

Additionally, Swarthmore requires applicants to submit a graded writing sample and encourages interviews with alumni or admissions staff.

Campus Life: Extracurricular Activities, Clubs, and Organizations at Both Schools

Lehigh and Swarthmore both offer a wide variety of extracurricular activities, clubs, and organizations for students to get involved in.

At Lehigh, students can participate in various sports teams, clubs, and organizations focused on music, theater, community service, and more.

Swarthmore offers a similarly diverse range of activities but with a greater emphasis on intellectual pursuits, such as debate and activism.

Additionally, both schools have a strong focus on sustainability and environmentalism.

Lehigh has a student-run sustainability initiative that promotes eco-friendly practices on campus and in the surrounding community.

Swarthmore has a renowned environmental studies program and offers opportunities for students to get involved in sustainability efforts through clubs and organizations like the Green Advisors and the Environmental Justice League.

Location and Surrounding Area: Comparing the Towns and Cities Surrounding Lehigh and Swarthmore

Lehigh is located in Bethlehem, which is a small city in eastern Pennsylvania. The surrounding area is suburban and largely residential, with easy access to major metropolitan areas like New York City and Philadelphia.

Swarthmore, on the other hand, is located in a small town in suburban Philadelphia. The surrounding area is picturesque and wooded, with easy access to the city for cultural events and entertainment.

Despite their differences, both Lehigh and Swarthmore offer unique opportunities for students to explore their surroundings. Lehigh’s location in Bethlehem provides access to a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking and skiing in the nearby Pocono Mountains.

Swarthmore’s wooded surroundings offer opportunities for nature walks and birdwatching. Additionally, both locations have a rich history and cultural heritage, with museums, historical sites, and festivals to explore.

Student Body: A Look at the Demographics of Students Attending Lehigh vs. Swarthmore

The student bodies of both Lehigh and Swarthmore are diverse in many ways.

Multiracial students talking while walking.

Lehigh has a larger student body, with over 7,000 undergraduates and graduates from all 50 states and over 80 countries. Swarthmore is smaller, with just over 1,500 undergraduates from various backgrounds and cultures. Both universities value diversity and encourage students from a wide range of backgrounds to apply.

At Lehigh, the majority of students are from the Northeast region of the United States, with Pennsylvania being the most represented state. However, the university has made efforts to increase diversity in recent years, with a growing number of students from underrepresented minority groups.

Swarthmore, on the other hand, has a more evenly distributed student population, with students from all regions of the country and a significant international student population.

Alumni Network: The Strength of the Alumni Community at Both Universities

The alumni communities of both Lehigh and Swarthmore are strong and supportive.

Lehigh has over 80,000 alumni around the world, many of whom have gone on to highly successful careers in various fields.

Swarthmore alumni are known for their commitment to social justice and many have gone on to become leaders in their respective fields.

Lehigh’s alumni network is particularly active in providing career support and mentorship to current students and recent graduates. The university hosts regular networking events and job fairs, and many alumni are eager to offer advice and guidance to those just starting out in their careers.

Swarthmore’s alumni community is also known for its strong philanthropic spirit. Many alumni give back to the university through donations and volunteer work, helping to fund scholarships and other initiatives that support current students.

Cost of Attendance: Comparing the Tuition Fees, Scholarships, Loans, etc.

Attending either Lehigh or Swarthmore is a significant investment, with tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 academic year coming in at around $58,000 per year for both institutions.

Group of students walking in the campus.

However, both universities offer generous financial aid packages to help offset the cost of attendance for eligible students. Lehigh also offers various scholarship opportunities to students based on academic merit, talent, and need.

It is important to note that the cost of attendance goes beyond just tuition and fees. Students also need to consider the cost of textbooks, housing, meals, transportation, and personal expenses. Swarthmore offers on-campus housing options for all four years, while Lehigh requires students to live on campus for their first two years.

Both universities have dining plans that vary in cost depending on the number of meals per week. Additionally, students may need to purchase textbooks and other course materials, which can add up to several hundred dollars per semester.

It is important for students and their families to carefully budget and plan for all of these expenses when considering the overall cost of attendance.

Career Prospects: Employment Opportunities for Graduates from Both Institutions

Graduates from both Lehigh and Swarthmore are highly sought-after by employers in various fields.

a young man shakes someone's hand after being interviewed

Lehigh graduates have gone on to successful careers in engineering, business, the arts and humanities, and more.

Swarthmore graduates have a similarly impressive record, with a strong focus on social justice and activism.

Both universities have robust career services offices that provide students with the tools and resources they need to succeed in their chosen fields.

Lehigh University has a strong reputation for producing graduates who are well-prepared for leadership roles in their respective industries.

Many Lehigh alumni have gone on to become CEOs, entrepreneurs, and innovators in their fields. Swarthmore College, on the other hand, has a strong focus on interdisciplinary studies and research. Graduates from Swarthmore are known for their critical thinking skills and ability to solve complex problems.

Both Lehigh and Swarthmore have a strong alumni network that provides graduates with valuable connections and opportunities. Alumni from both institutions are actively involved in mentoring current students and helping them navigate the job market.

Conclusion: Which University is Right for You?

In conclusion, both Lehigh University and Swarthmore College are exceptional institutions that offer a top-notch education in a supportive and challenging environment. The right university for you will depend on your academic interests, personal preferences, and overall goals for your education and career.

Regardless of which institution you choose, you can be sure that you will receive a rigorous and rewarding education that will prepare you for success in whatever field you choose to pursue.

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