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Swarthmore vs Bates: A Side-by-Side Analysis

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Does Columbia have Early Action?

Swarthmore vs Bates: A Side-by-Side Analysis

When it comes to choosing the right college, there are a lot of factors to consider. Campus location, admission requirements, cost of attendance, curriculum offerings, extracurricular opportunities, and more can all play a role in your decision. In this side-by-side analysis, we’ll take a closer look at two top liberal arts colleges: Swarthmore vs Bates. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of what makes these schools unique, and which one might be the right choice for you.

Location and Campus Overview: Swarthmore vs Bates

Swarthmore College is located just outside Philadelphia, in the small town of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. The college’s campus spans more than 425 acres and is characterized by its beautiful gardens, woods, and fields. Bates College, on the other hand, is located in Lewiston, Maine. Its 133-acre campus is home to a mix of historic and modern buildings and is situated near the Androscoggin River. Both campuses offer a peaceful and picturesque setting for students to learn and grow.

Despite their differences in location, Swarthmore and Bates share a commitment to sustainability. Swarthmore has implemented a number of environmentally friendly initiatives, such as a solar array that provides 12% of the campus’s electricity and a composting program that diverts over 100 tons of waste from landfills each year. Bates has also made strides in sustainability, with a LEED-certified dining hall and a commitment to carbon neutrality. Both colleges prioritize sustainability as a key aspect of their campus culture and community.

Admission Requirements: Which College is More Selective?

Both Swarthmore and Bates are known for their competitive admission processes. According to the most recent data, Swarthmore had an acceptance rate of just 8%, while Bates had an acceptance rate of 17%. Both colleges consider factors such as GPA, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation when evaluating applicants. However, Swarthmore’s acceptance rate suggests that it may be slightly more selective than Bates.

View of a laptop placed on a table.

It’s important to note that admission requirements can vary depending on the program or major you are applying to. For example, Swarthmore’s engineering program may have different admission criteria than its liberal arts program. Similarly, Bates’ biology program may have different requirements than its economics program. It’s important to research the specific requirements for your intended major or program before applying to ensure you meet all necessary criteria.

Cost of Attendance Comparison: Swarthmore vs Bates

The cost of attending college is a major consideration for many students and their families. At Swarthmore, the total cost of attendance for the academic year (including tuition, fees, room, and board) is $77,354. At Bates, the total cost of attendance is $78,290. However, both colleges offer need-based financial aid to students who qualify. In fact, Swarthmore meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need for all admitted students, while Bates meets 97% of the demonstrated need.

It is important to note that the cost of attendance can vary depending on individual circumstances, such as the student’s residency status and choice of major. Additionally, both Swarthmore and Bates offer various scholarships and grants to students, which can further reduce the cost of attendance.

Another factor to consider when comparing the cost of attendance is the location of the college. Swarthmore is located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, which is a suburb of Philadelphia. Bates, on the other hand, is located in Lewiston, Maine. The cost of living in these two locations can vary significantly, which can impact the overall cost of attending college.

Understanding the Curriculum: Core Requirements and Major Offerings

Both Swarthmore and Bates have rigorous academic programs that require students to complete a range of core requirements in addition to their major courses of study. For example, Swarthmore requires students to complete courses in humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering. Similarly, Bates has distribution requirements in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and interdisciplinary studies. At Swarthmore, there are over 40 majors to choose from, while Bates offers more than 35. Both colleges also have opportunities for students to design their own majors or pursue interdepartmental majors.

Additionally, both Swarthmore and Bates offer a variety of academic resources to support students in their studies. These resources include writing centers, tutoring services, and academic advising. Swarthmore also has a dedicated library for science and engineering, while Bates has a state-of-the-art digital media lab. Both colleges also offer opportunities for students to conduct research with faculty members and present their findings at academic conferences.

Student Life at Swarthmore and Bates: Campus Culture and Social Scene

While each college has its own unique campus culture, both Swarthmore and Bates are known for their tight-knit communities. Swarthmore has a strong Quaker tradition and emphasizes social responsibility and civic engagement. The college has over 120 student groups, including an active student government and a thriving performing arts scene. Bates, on the other hand, has a reputation for being more laid-back and outdoorsy. The college has over 100 student groups, and students can participate in everything from club sports to community service projects.

a male student doing community work

Despite their differences, both Swarthmore and Bates offer a variety of opportunities for students to get involved and make connections on campus. Swarthmore hosts a number of annual events, such as the Folk Dance Festival and the Fun Day Carnival, which bring together students from all different backgrounds. Bates also has its fair share of traditions, including the Puddle Jump, where students jump into a freezing cold pond at the start of the spring semester.

When it comes to the social scene, both colleges offer a mix of on-campus and off-campus options. Swarthmore has a number of student-run parties and events, as well as a popular coffeehouse that hosts live music and open mic nights. Bates students often frequent the local bars and restaurants in downtown Lewiston, and the college also sponsors a number of off-campus trips and activities throughout the year.

Athletics and Extracurricular Opportunities: Swarthmore vs Bates

Both colleges have robust athletic programs, with Swarthmore competing in NCAA Division III sports and Bates competing in both NCAA Division III and club sports. Swarthmore has 22 varsity teams, while Bates has 31. Beyond athletics, both colleges offer a range of extracurricular activities, including student clubs, arts organizations, and volunteer opportunities. Swarthmore also has a strong emphasis on research and internships, with many students collaborating with faculty members on projects both on and off campus.

male and female tennis players playing in the court

Additionally, Swarthmore has a unique program called the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, which offers students opportunities to engage in community service and social justice work. The center provides resources and support for students to develop their own projects and initiatives and also hosts events and workshops related to social issues. Bates also has a strong commitment to community engagement, with programs like the Harward Center for Community Partnerships, which connects students with local organizations and initiatives. Both colleges prioritize the development of well-rounded individuals who are not only academically successful but also engaged and active members of their communities.

Graduation Rates and Post-Graduate Success Comparison

When it comes to post-graduation success, both Swarthmore and Bates have impressive track records. According to data from the Department of Education, Swarthmore has a graduation rate of 87%, while Bates has a graduation rate of 88%. Both colleges have strong career centers that help students prepare for life after college, and many graduates go on to pursue advanced degrees or successful careers in a variety of fields.

PHD graduate wearing his graduation gown and whose back is on the camera

However, there are some differences in the post-graduate paths of Swarthmore and Bates graduates. Swarthmore graduates tend to pursue advanced degrees at a higher rate than Bates graduates, with over 40% of Swarthmore alumni going on to earn a graduate or professional degree within 10 years of graduation. In contrast, around 30% of Bates alumni pursue advanced degrees within the same timeframe.

On the other hand, Bates graduates tend to have higher rates of employment in fields related to their majors. According to a recent survey of Bates alumni, over 80% of respondents reported working in a field related to their major, compared to around 70% of Swarthmore alumni. This may be due in part to Bates’ strong emphasis on experiential learning and internships, which help students gain practical skills and connections in their chosen fields.

Faculty at Swarthmore and Bates: Expertise and Teaching Style

At both Swarthmore and Bates, faculty members are highly respected for their expertise and dedication to teaching. Swarthmore has a student-faculty ratio of 8:1, and 99% of its classes are taught by full-time faculty members. Similarly, Bates has a student-faculty ratio of 10:1, and its faculty members are recognized for their accessibility and mentorship of students. Both colleges also provide opportunities for students to engage with faculty members through research, independent studies, and office hours.

Additionally, faculty members at both Swarthmore and Bates are actively engaged in their respective fields and often bring their research and real-world experiences into the classroom. This allows students to learn from experts who are at the forefront of their fields and who can provide valuable insights and perspectives. Furthermore, faculty members at both colleges are committed to creating inclusive and supportive learning environments, where students from diverse backgrounds can thrive and succeed.

Research Opportunities for Students: A Comparative Analysis

Both Swarthmore and Bates offer ample opportunities for students to engage in research and scholarship. Swarthmore is home to the Scott Arboretum, which is a popular destination for botany and ecology research. The college also has partnerships with local organizations and institutions that offer research opportunities in fields such as healthcare and social justice. Bates, meanwhile, encourages its students to pursue independent research projects and has numerous research centers and programs, including the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and the Harward Center for Community Partnerships.

Additionally, both Swarthmore and Bates have faculty members who are actively engaged in research and often involve students in their projects. This provides students with the opportunity to work closely with experienced researchers and gain valuable hands-on experience in their field of interest. Furthermore, both colleges offer funding and resources to support student research, including grants, fellowships, and access to specialized equipment and facilities.

International Student Experience: Comparing Swarthmore vs Bates

Both Swarthmore and Bates have a diverse student body, with students hailing from all over the world. Swarthmore has a robust study abroad program, with partnerships with over 100 universities and programs in more than 40 countries. The college also provides funding and support for students who wish to conduct research or pursue internships abroad. Bates also has a study abroad program and encourages its students to pursue meaningful experiences both on and off campus. Bates also hosts an annual international student orientation to welcome new international students to the college.

One of the key differences between the international student experience at Swarthmore and Bates is the size of the international student community. Swarthmore has a larger international student population, with students from over 70 countries. This creates a more diverse and global community, with a wider range of perspectives and experiences. Bates, on the other hand, has a smaller international student population, which can create a more tight-knit community and provide more individualized support for international students.

Group of students smiling at the camera.

Another factor to consider is the location of the colleges. Swarthmore is located just outside of Philadelphia, a major city with a diverse population and many opportunities for cultural exploration. Bates, on the other hand, is located in Lewiston, Maine, a smaller city with a more homogenous population. While both locations have their advantages and disadvantages, it is important for international students to consider which environment would be the best fit for them.

Campus Safety and Security Comparison

Both Swarthmore and Bates have comprehensive campus safety programs that prioritize the well-being of students and faculty. Swarthmore has a 24/7 campus safety and security department that works closely with local law enforcement agencies. The college also has a campus emergency notification system and provides regular safety training for students and staff. Bates similarly has a dedicated campus safety department that works closely with the local police department. The college also has a campus emergency notification system and provides regular safety training and resources for its students.

However, there are some differences in the safety and security measures taken by the two colleges. Swarthmore has a larger security team, with more officers patrolling the campus at all times. The college also has a system of security cameras placed strategically around the campus, which are monitored by the security team. Bates, on the other hand, has a smaller security team, but the officers are trained in crisis intervention and de-escalation techniques, which can be helpful in diffusing potentially dangerous situations.

Additionally, Swarthmore has a program called “Safe Ride,” which provides free transportation to students who feel unsafe walking alone on campus at night. Bates does not have a similar program, but the college is located in a relatively safe area with low crime rates. Overall, both colleges prioritize the safety and security of their students and faculty, but they have different approaches to achieving this goal.

Sustainability Efforts on Campus: Swarthmore vs Bates

Both Swarthmore and Bates are committed to promoting sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint. Swarthmore has a Sustainability Committee that oversees the college’s sustainability initiatives, which include everything from reducing energy use to promoting sustainable transportation. The college also has several green buildings, including the largest solar array in Pennsylvania. Bates similarly has a strong commitment to sustainability and has set a goal of becoming carbon neutral. The college has implemented a number of sustainable practices, including composting, recycling, and energy conservation measures.

One of the unique sustainability efforts at Swarthmore is the campus farm, which provides fresh produce to the dining hall and local community. The farm also serves as an educational resource for students interested in sustainable agriculture and food systems. Bates, on the other hand, has a student-led initiative called the EcoReps program, which promotes sustainable living practices in residence halls and across campus. The program includes events and workshops on topics such as reducing waste, energy conservation, and sustainable transportation.

Both colleges also prioritize sustainable transportation options. Swarthmore offers a bike share program and has installed electric vehicle charging stations on campus. Bates has a free shuttle service that runs on biodiesel fuel and encourages students to use public transportation through partnerships with local transit agencies. These efforts not only reduce carbon emissions but also promote healthier and more active lifestyles for students and staff.

Alumni Network Comparison: Benefits for Graduates of Swarthmore vs. Bates

Both Swarthmore and Bates have active alumni networks that provide support and networking opportunities to graduates. Swarthmore alumni are known for their successful careers in a variety of fields, and the college boasts several notable alumnae, including former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and renowned author Jonathan Franzen. Bates alumni similarly have a strong track record of career success, with many graduates going on to become leaders in their fields. The college has several notable alumni, including former US Senator George Mitchell and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anthony Doerr.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to choosing between Swarthmore and Bates, there is no definitive answer. Both colleges have their own unique strengths and offer a top-notch liberal arts education. Ultimately, the decision should come down to the needs and goals of each individual student. We hope that this side-by-side analysis has provided helpful insights into what each college offers, and has helped you make a more informed decision about your college search.

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