Swarthmore vs Tulane University: Which One Is Right for You?

August 28, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Swarthmore vs Tulane University: Which One Is Right for You?

Choosing the right university can be a daunting task, but comparing the offerings of different institutions can help you make an informed decision. In this article, we will compare Swarthmore vs Tulane University and discuss what each one has to offer. From location and campus to academics, student life, and extracurricular activities, we will examine all the important factors to consider when deciding which university is the best fit for you.

Location and Campus: A Comparison of Swarthmore vs Tulane University

Swarthmore College is located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Tulane University is located in New Orleans, Louisiana. Swarthmore’s campus is small, but picturesque, with red-brick buildings and lush greenery. Though it’s only 11 miles from Philadelphia, the town of Swarthmore maintains a peaceful ambiance and a close-knit community feel. In contrast, Tulane’s campus is much larger, spanning over 110 acres, and boasts a mixture of modern and historical architecture. Tulane’s location in New Orleans offers students a vibrant, culturally rich environment with plenty of entertainment options.

Tulane University's university banner hanging off a pole

Despite its small size, Swarthmore College offers a variety of outdoor recreational activities for students, including hiking trails, a disc golf course, and a community garden. The college also has a strong commitment to sustainability, with LEED-certified buildings and a focus on reducing its carbon footprint.

On the other hand, Tulane University is known for its strong programs in public health and environmental studies. The university has a number of research centers and institutes dedicated to these fields, including the Tulane Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Tulane Prevention Research Center.

The Academic Programs of Swarthmore vs Tulane University: A Breakdown

Swarthmore College is known for its rigorous academic programs, especially in the fields of humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Students have the option to major in over 40 different academic departments, with many opportunities for interdisciplinary learning. Tulane University offers a broad range of majors across its undergraduate colleges, including the School of Liberal Arts, the School of Science and Engineering, and the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Tulane is particularly known for its philosophy and architecture programs, as well as its public health research.

Group of medical students smiling for the camera.

Both Swarthmore and Tulane Universities offer a variety of extracurricular activities and opportunities for students to get involved on campus. Swarthmore has over 100 student-run clubs and organizations, including a student-run theater group and a community service organization. Tulane has a strong Greek life presence, with over 20 fraternities and sororities on campus, as well as a variety of student organizations focused on community service and social justice issues. Both universities also offer study abroad programs, allowing students to gain international experience and broaden their perspectives.

Student Life at Swarthmore vs Tulane University: What to Expect

Both Swarthmore and Tulane have diverse and engaged student bodies that allow for meaningful connections and cultural exchanges. Swarthmore has a unique social scene, with a thriving arts community and various clubs and organizations catering to a range of interests. Tulane’s campus is very social, with a vibrant Greek life culture and a lively party scene. Both universities offer opportunities for community service and volunteering, and a wide range of extracurricular activities, including athletics and student-run organizations.

Young unidentified male running in the field.

However, there are some differences in the academic culture between the two universities. Swarthmore is known for its rigorous academic program, with a strong emphasis on critical thinking and intellectual inquiry. The small class sizes and close relationships with professors allow for personalized attention and mentorship. Tulane, on the other hand, offers a more relaxed academic environment, with a focus on interdisciplinary studies and experiential learning. The university also has a strong emphasis on research, with many opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in research projects alongside faculty members.

Cost of Attendance: Which University Offers the Better Value?

Swarthmore College and Tulane University have different price points and financial aid packages. Swarthmore is a private institution with a high price tag but offers generous financial aid packages that make attendance more affordable for many students. Tulane, though also a private institution, offers more merit-based scholarships and has a lower overall cost of attendance, making it an attractive option for students who are concerned about the financial burden of attending college.

However, it is important to consider other factors beyond just the cost of attendance when making a decision about which university to attend. Swarthmore College is known for its rigorous academic programs and small class sizes, which provide students with personalized attention and a challenging academic environment. Tulane University, on the other hand, is located in New Orleans and offers a unique cultural experience for students, with opportunities to explore the city’s rich history and vibrant music and food scenes.

Additionally, both universities offer a variety of extracurricular activities and opportunities for students to get involved on campus. Swarthmore has a strong focus on community service and social justice, with many student-led organizations dedicated to these causes. Tulane has a thriving Greek life community and a wide range of sports teams and clubs for students to participate in.

Athletics and Extracurricular Activities at Swarthmore vs Tulane University

Swarthmore and Tulane both offer a wide variety of athletics and extracurricular activities for students. Swarthmore is known for its Division III athletics program, which allows students to participate in competitive sports while balancing rigorous academics. Tulane is a Division I university, with a strong reputation for its football program and high-quality facilities. Both universities offer robust intramural and club sports programs, catering to a range of abilities and interests. Additionally, both universities offer a diverse range of extracurricular activities, including student-run organizations, community service opportunities, and arts-based clubs.

At Swarthmore, students can participate in unique extracurricular activities such as the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, which is the largest archive of peace-related materials in the United States. The collection includes over 100,000 books, manuscripts, and photographs related to peace and social justice movements. Tulane, on the other hand, offers a variety of service-learning opportunities for students, including the Center for Public Service, which connects students with community organizations to address social and environmental issues. Both universities prioritize providing students with opportunities to engage in meaningful activities outside of the classroom, fostering a well-rounded college experience.

Diversity and Inclusivity on Campus: Swarthmore vs Tulane University

Both Swarthmore and Tulane are committed to fostering diverse and inclusive communities. Swarthmore has a strong commitment to social justice issues and offers programs that encourage cross-cultural understanding and action on campus and beyond. Tulane is located in a city that is widely known for its multicultural population and offers various programs to increase awareness of cultures and backgrounds. Overall, both universities place a high value on diversity and inclusivity and offer resources and programs to promote these values.

Students talking in the corrigidor.

However, there are some differences in the approaches taken by Swarthmore and Tulane. Swarthmore has a more structured approach to promoting diversity and inclusivity, with mandatory diversity training for all students and faculty, and a dedicated office for diversity and inclusion initiatives. Tulane, on the other hand, takes a more decentralized approach, with various departments and student organizations leading their own initiatives. While both approaches have their strengths, it is important for each university to continually evaluate and improve their efforts to create truly inclusive communities.

Career Opportunities after Graduation: Swarthmore vs Tulane

Both Swarthmore and Tulane have strong track records regarding post-graduation employment and opportunities for further education. Swarthmore ranks highly for its graduates’ success in higher education and in the areas of research, academia, and public service. Tulane has strong industry connections, and its alumni are often recruited by prominent companies. Additionally, Tulane offers various graduate programs, including law school and medical school, which can be an advantage for students who want to continue their studies after earning their undergraduate degree.

a female criminal justice attorney writing on a paper

However, it is important to note that the career opportunities after graduation also depend on the individual student’s interests, skills, and networking abilities. Both Swarthmore and Tulane offer career services and resources to help students explore their options and connect with potential employers. It is recommended that students take advantage of these resources and also seek out internships and other experiential learning opportunities to gain practical skills and industry knowledge.

Admissions Requirements: How Do Swarthmore and Tulane Compare?

Swarthmore and Tulane have similar expectations for incoming students. Both universities require a completed application, transcripts, standardized test scores, essays, and recommendations. Swarthmore places a heavy emphasis on academic excellence, but also looks for well-rounded applicants who have demonstrated leadership and community involvement. Tulane values high academic performance but also looks for applicants with unique experiences and interests.

Additionally, Swarthmore requires applicants to submit a graded writing sample, while Tulane does not have this requirement. This writing sample can be from any subject and is used to evaluate the applicant’s writing skills and critical thinking abilities. Tulane, on the other hand, requires applicants to submit a resume, which highlights their extracurricular activities, work experience, and community service.

Furthermore, Swarthmore has a test-optional policy, which means that applicants can choose not to submit standardized test scores if they feel that their scores do not accurately reflect their academic abilities. Tulane, on the other hand, requires applicants to submit either SAT or ACT scores, but also accepts self-reported scores for the application process. However, admitted students must submit official scores before enrolling.

Faculty Profiles at Swarthmore and Tulane Universities: A Comparative Analysis

Swarthmore and Tulane both have dedicated and accomplished faculty members. Swarthmore’s faculty has a reputation for being accessible and committed to student success, and many professors are active in their fields of research. Tulane’s faculty is similarly interdisciplinary and committed to research, and many professors are involved in the local community, in addition to their scholarly work.

However, there are some notable differences between the two faculties. Swarthmore’s faculty is known for its small size and close-knit community, which allows for more personalized attention and mentorship opportunities for students. In contrast, Tulane’s faculty is larger and more diverse, offering a wider range of expertise and perspectives. Additionally, Tulane’s faculty has a strong focus on service and social justice, reflected in their research and community involvement.

Student Success Stories: A Look at Alumni from Swarthmore and Tulane Universities

Both Swarthmore and Tulane have successful alumni who have achieved great things in a variety of fields. Swarthmore alumni include Nobel laureates, MacArthur “geniuses,” and Pulitzer Prize winners, as well as prominent politicians, musicians, and business leaders. Tulane alumni are also widely successful, with many graduates becoming industry leaders, politicians, and philanthropists. Whichever university you choose, you’ll be in good company with a bustling network of successful alumni to offer guidance and support.

One notable Swarthmore alum, who is known for his philanthropic work and founding the “I Have a Dream” Foundation, which provides educational opportunities for underprivileged children. Tulane alumna is a well-known comedian, actress, and talk show host who has won numerous awards for her work in the entertainment industry. Both universities have produced alumni who have made significant contributions to society and have become role models for future generations.

Campus Safety Measures at Swarthmore vs Tulane: Which One Is Safer?

Safety is a top priority for both Swarthmore and Tulane. Swarthmore has a low crime rate, and the college has a robust campus security team that is available 24/7 to ensure students’ safety. Tulane also takes safety seriously, and has implemented various measures to ensure that students feel secure on campus and in the surrounding New Orleans area.

One of the safety measures that Swarthmore has implemented is the use of a campus-wide emergency notification system. This system allows the college to quickly and efficiently communicate with students in the event of an emergency, such as severe weather or an active shooter situation. Tulane has also implemented a similar system, which sends emergency alerts to students’ phones and emails. Additionally, Tulane has a campus escort service that provides students with a safe way to travel around campus at night. Overall, both Swarthmore and Tulane have taken significant steps to ensure the safety of their students, and it is important for prospective students to consider these measures when choosing a college.

The Impact of Location on Your College Experience: Choosing Between Swarthmore and Tulane Universities

Ultimately, your choice between Swarthmore and Tulane may come down to the impact of location on your college experience. Swarthmore offers a peaceful, tight-knit community in the suburbs of Philadelphia, while Tulane’s campus is located in the heart of a vibrant city known for its rich culture and history. Consider what you hope to experience during your time at college, and decide which location is the best fit for you.

It’s important to note that the impact of location on your college experience goes beyond just the campus itself. Swarthmore’s location in the suburbs means that there may be limited opportunities for off-campus activities and internships, while Tulane’s location in a city like New Orleans offers a plethora of options for students to explore and gain real-world experience. Additionally, the cost of living in each location may vary, with Philadelphia being a more expensive city to live in compared to New Orleans. These are all important factors to consider when making your decision.

Class Size and Instructional Methodologies Compared between Swarthmore and Tulane Universities

Class size and instructional methodologies vary between Swarthmore and Tulane. At Swarthmore, the student-to-faculty ratio is 8:1, and most classes are small, with an average size of 20 students. This allows for more personalized attention from professors and a more collaborative learning environment. At Tulane, class sizes are generally larger, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1, but the university prides itself on its innovative, student-centered learning initiatives, such as service-learning programs and experiential learning opportunities.

Despite the differences in class size and instructional methodologies, both Swarthmore and Tulane offer a wide range of academic programs and opportunities for students to pursue their interests. Swarthmore is known for its strong liberal arts curriculum, while Tulane offers a diverse range of programs in fields such as business, engineering, and public health.

Additionally, both universities have a strong commitment to research and scholarship. Swarthmore has a number of research centers and institutes, including the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility and the Scott Arboretum, while Tulane is home to several research centers and institutes, such as the Tulane Cancer Center and the ByWater Institute for Coastal Science and Management.

The Role of Research in Learning between Swarthmore and Tulane Universities

Research is a crucial component of the learning experience at both Swarthmore and Tulane. Swarthmore students often engage in research alongside their professors, which allows them to take a more active role in the learning process and develops valuable research skills. Tulane emphasizes research and encourages students to engage with local issues and social justice causes through research projects. Both universities provide ample opportunities for students to engage in research that is meaningful and relevant to their interests and goals.

At Swarthmore, research is not limited to the sciences. Students in the humanities and social sciences also have the opportunity to conduct research and contribute to their fields. This interdisciplinary approach to research allows students to explore a wide range of topics and develop a well-rounded understanding of their chosen field of study.

Similarly, at Tulane, research is not limited to traditional academic disciplines. Students in the arts and design programs are encouraged to engage in research and explore the intersection of their creative work with social and cultural issues. This approach to research allows students to develop a unique perspective and contribute to the broader conversation on important issues.

Note: These subheadings can be further broken down into more specific topics for a comprehensive article comparing the two universities.

As you can see, there are many factors to consider when deciding between Swarthmore and Tulane universities. From location and campus to academics, student life, and extracurricular activities, each university has its own unique offerings that appeal to different students. Carefully consider each factor, and take the time to research both universities thoroughly, to determine which one is the best fit for you.

One important factor to consider when comparing Swarthmore and Tulane universities is the size of the student body. Swarthmore is a small liberal arts college with just over 1,600 students, while Tulane is a larger research university with over 13,000 undergraduate students. This difference in size can impact the overall feel of the campus, as well as the availability of resources and opportunities. Some students may prefer the close-knit community of a smaller college, while others may thrive in a larger, more diverse environment.


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