Swarthmore vs Washington and Lee University

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Happy female student smiling at the camera.

Swarthmore vs Washington and Lee University

Making a decision on which college or university to attend can be quite challenging, especially when comparing between two reputable institutions like Swarthmore and Washington and Lee Universities. Both have unique features and characteristics that make them stand out and in this article, we will do an extensive comparison of the two, providing detailed information on every aspect. Whether you’re a prospective student or just curious about what these universities have to offer, sit back, relax, and read on to discover everything you need to know about Swarthmore and Washington and Lee Universities. In this article, we will compare Swarthmore vs Washington and Lee University to help you make the right choice!

Swarthmore vs Washington and Lee University: Location and Campus

One of the most significant differences between the two universities is their location and campus size. Swarthmore is situated in a suburban area, about 11 miles from Philadelphia, while Washington and Lee University is located in a small rural town in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Swarthmore’s campus spans 425 acres, with a significant portion dedicated to nature preserves and parks. In contrast, Washington and Lee’s campus is relatively small, with an area of 430 acres.

Despite the difference in size, both universities offer beautiful and well-maintained campuses. Swarthmore’s campus is known for its arboretum, which features over 4,000 varieties of plants and trees. The campus also includes a lake, hiking trails, and several gardens. On the other hand, Washington and Lee’s campus is known for its historic architecture, with many of its buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The campus also features a large lawn known as the Colonnade, which is a popular spot for outdoor events and gatherings.

Swarthmore vs Washington and Lee University: History and Founding

Both Swarthmore and Washington and Lee are old institutions with rich histories. Swarthmore, founded in 1864, was initially a private liberal arts college exclusively for men. It became co-educational in 1981 and is now a highly selective institution that ranks among the best liberal arts colleges in the country. Washington and Lee, on the other hand, was established in 1749 as Augusta Academy but later changed its name to Liberty Hall and then to Washington College after receiving a large donation from George Washington. In 1871, after receiving another donation from Robert E. Lee, the school became Washington and Lee University.

Despite their different histories and founding, both Swarthmore and Washington and Lee have made significant contributions to higher education. Swarthmore has a strong commitment to social responsibility and is known for its Quaker values, which emphasize equality, community, and service. Washington and Lee, on the other hand, has a long tradition of honor and integrity, which is reflected in its Honor System, a student-run system that governs academic and social conduct. Both institutions continue to uphold their respective values and traditions, while also adapting to the changing needs of their students and society.

Swarthmore vs Washington and Lee University: Academic Programs Offered

Both Swarthmore and Washington and Lee offer undergraduate and graduate programs, with a primary focus on the liberal arts. Swarthmore offers over 600 courses across 40 disciplines, while Washington and Lee provide 39 majors and 31 minors. Swarthmore, however, is known for its academic rigor, with a strong emphasis on critical thinking, research, and writing skills. Washington and Lee is also highly regarded for its programs in business, law, and politics.

In addition to its traditional liberal arts programs, Swarthmore also offers a number of interdisciplinary programs, including Environmental Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, and Black Studies. These programs allow students to explore complex issues from multiple perspectives and develop a deeper understanding of the world around them.

Washington and Lee, on the other hand, is home to the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity, which provides students with opportunities to develop their leadership skills through coursework, mentorship, and experiential learning. The university also offers a number of study abroad programs, allowing students to gain a global perspective and expand their cultural horizons.

Swarthmore vs Washington and Lee University: Student Demographics and Diversity

Student demographics vary between Swarthmore and Washington and Lee University. At Swarthmore, about 1,600 students are enrolled, with a slightly higher percentage of females than males. The student body is highly diverse, with 49% identifying as students of color. At Washington and Lee, there are approximately 1,800 students, with a ratio of 50.8% males and 49.2% females. The student body at Washington and Lee is less diverse, with only 22% identifying as students of color.

It is important to note that both Swarthmore and Washington and Lee University have made efforts to increase diversity and inclusivity on their campuses. Swarthmore has implemented various programs and initiatives to support underrepresented students, including a Multicultural Center and a First-Generation College Student Program. Similarly, Washington and Lee has established a Diversity and Inclusion Office and offers resources such as affinity groups and mentorship programs for students from diverse backgrounds.

Swarthmore vs Washington and Lee Universityv: Faculty and Class Sizes

Swarthmore has a student-faculty ratio of 8:1, with over 250 faculty members who are experts in their respective fields. Classes at Swarthmore are relatively small, with an average size of 12 students, which allows for personalized attention and meaningful interaction between students and faculty. Washington and Lee’s student-faculty ratio is 8:1, with over 290 faculty members. Class sizes at Washington and Lee are also small, with an average of 15 students.

Both Swarthmore and Washington and Lee prioritize small class sizes and personalized attention from faculty members. This approach to education allows students to engage in meaningful discussions and receive individualized feedback on their work. Additionally, the small class sizes foster a sense of community among students and faculty, creating a supportive and collaborative learning environment.

Swarthmore vs Washington and Lee University: Admission Requirements and Acceptance Rates

Both universities have selective admission processes, with Swarthmore being one of the most selective liberal arts colleges in the country. Swarthmore requires SAT or ACT scores, recommendation letters, and an essay with an acceptance rate of 8%. Washington and Lee require SAT or ACT scores, recommendation letters, and an optional essay with an acceptance rate of 19%.

SAT and ACT books for exam practice

It is important to note that admission requirements and acceptance rates can vary depending on the program or major that a student is applying to. For example, Swarthmore’s engineering program has a lower acceptance rate than its overall rate, while Washington and Lee’s business program has a higher acceptance rate than its overall rate.

In addition, both universities offer early decision and early action options for applicants. Early decision is a binding agreement, meaning that if a student is accepted, they must attend the university. Early action is non-binding, allowing students to apply to multiple universities and make a decision later. It is important for students to carefully consider their options and deadlines when applying through these programs.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Opportunities

Both universities offer need-based and merit-based financial aid to help students cover the cost of attendance. At Swarthmore, over 55% of students receive financial aid, with an average aid package of about $50,000. At Washington and Lee, around 42% of students receive financial aid, with an average aid package of $43,394. Both universities also offer various merit-based scholarships for students who demonstrate academic excellence or extraordinary talents.

View of dollars placed on top of a graduation cap.

Additionally, both universities have programs in place to assist students in finding and applying for external scholarships. Swarthmore has a dedicated office for scholarship advising, which provides resources and guidance to students seeking external funding opportunities. Washington and Lee offers a similar service through their Office of Career and Professional Development, which helps students identify and apply for scholarships that align with their interests and goals.

Campus Life and Extracurricular Activities

Both Swarthmore and Washington and Lee offer a vibrant campus life with various extracurricular activities and clubs that cater to students’ interests. At Swarthmore, there are over 150 student-run organizations, including cultural groups, athletic clubs, and academic societies. Washington and Lee also have a diverse array of extracurricular activities, including over 130 student organizations and clubs.

Moreover, both colleges have a strong emphasis on community service and civic engagement. Swarthmore’s Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility offers numerous opportunities for students to get involved in community service projects and social justice initiatives. Similarly, Washington and Lee’s Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability provides students with the chance to engage in poverty research and community service projects.

Young woman doing a community service.

Additionally, both colleges have a rich tradition of performing arts. Swarthmore’s theater program is highly regarded, and the college hosts numerous performances throughout the year, including plays, musicals, and dance shows. Washington and Lee’s Lenfest Center for the Arts is a state-of-the-art facility that hosts a variety of performances, including theater productions, concerts, and art exhibitions.

Athletics Programs and Facilities

Both universities offer athletics programs and robust facilities for students who want to pursue athletics interests. Swarthmore is a member of the Centennial Conference and offers 22 varsity sports teams, including basketball, soccer, and cross country. Washington and Lee, on the other hand, is a member of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference and offers 23 varsity sports teams, including football, swimming, and tennis. Both universities have modern athletics facilities that include fitness centers, swimming pools, and soccer fields.

In addition to varsity sports teams, both universities also offer a variety of intramural and club sports for students who want to participate in athletics at a more casual level. Swarthmore has options such as ultimate frisbee, volleyball, and yoga, while Washington and Lee offer options such as rugby, equestrian, and dance.

Furthermore, both universities prioritize the health and wellness of their students by offering resources such as personal training, nutrition counseling, and mental health services through their athletics departments. These resources are available to all students, regardless of their level of involvement in athletics.

Career Services and Alumni Networks

Both universities have excellent career services that help students prepare for life after college. Swarthmore’s career services provide internship and job opportunities, career fairs, and one-on-one counseling. Washington and Lee also have a robust career services program that offers internship and job opportunities, career coaching, and career exploration resources. Both universities also have active alumni networks that provide mentoring, networking opportunities, and help with job and graduate school applications.

Additionally, Swarthmore’s career services offer workshops and seminars on resume writing, interviewing skills, and networking strategies. They also have a strong partnership with local businesses and organizations, providing students with access to a wide range of career opportunities. Washington and Lee’s career services, on the other hand, have a dedicated team that focuses on helping students explore different career paths and industries, providing them with valuable insights and guidance.

Furthermore, both universities’ alumni networks are highly engaged and supportive. Swarthmore’s alumni network spans across the globe, with alumni working in various fields and industries. They regularly host networking events and mentorship programs, connecting current students with alumni who can offer valuable advice and support. Similarly, Washington and Lee’s alumni network is known for its strong sense of community and willingness to help fellow alumni and current students. They also have a robust online platform that allows alumni to connect with each other and share job opportunities and career advice.

Graduate School Placement Rates

Graduate school placement rates at both universities are impressive, with a good percentage of students gaining coveted places in top graduate schools. At Swarthmore, over 75% of students who apply to graduate schools are accepted into their first-choice programs. Washington and Lee also have an excellent record of graduate school placement, with over 95% of students accepted into graduate school within six months of graduation.

View of students throwing their hats on the air.

Furthermore, both universities offer extensive resources and support for students applying to graduate school. Swarthmore has a dedicated career services center that provides individualized advising, workshops, and networking opportunities for students interested in pursuing advanced degrees. Washington and Lee also offer comprehensive support, including assistance with personal statements, application materials, and interview preparation. With these resources at their disposal, students are well-equipped to succeed in the competitive world of graduate school admissions.

Research Opportunities for Undergraduates

Both universities offer research opportunities for undergraduate students through various research projects and programs. Swarthmore has a robust undergraduate research program that allows students to work alongside faculty in various research projects across academic disciplines. Washington and Lee also have an undergraduate research program that connects students with faculty and mentors and provides opportunities for research and creative activities.

In addition to these programs, both universities also offer summer research opportunities for undergraduate students. Swarthmore’s Summer Scholars Program provides funding for students to conduct research with faculty during the summer months. Similarly, Washington and Lee’s Johnson Opportunity Grant provides funding for students to pursue research, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities during the summer.

Furthermore, both universities have research centers and institutes that offer additional opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in research. Swarthmore’s Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility supports research projects that address social and environmental issues, while Washington and Lee’s Center for International Education offers research opportunities for students interested in global issues and cross-cultural communication.

Study Abroad Programs

Both universities offer study abroad programs for students who want to gain international experience. Swarthmore has a robust study abroad program that provides opportunities to study in over 55 countries worldwide. Washington and Lee also have a study abroad program that offers opportunities to study in over 25 countries, with a focus on language immersion and cultural exchange.

Students who participate in Swarthmore’s study abroad program have the option to choose from a variety of programs, including semester-long programs, summer programs, and even year-long programs. The university also offers financial aid and scholarships to help students cover the costs of their study abroad experience.

Washington and Lee’s study abroad program emphasizes language immersion and cultural exchange, with many programs offering homestays with local families. The university also offers unique programs, such as a summer program in Ghana that focuses on African culture and history, and a semester-long program in Japan that includes an internship component.

Campus Safety and Security Measures

Both universities prioritize the safety and security of their students, faculty, and staff. Swarthmore has a 24-hour campus safety team that monitors the campus and provides emergency response services. Washington and Lee also have a campus safety department that provides emergency response services and community health and safety education programs.

In addition to their campus safety teams, both universities have implemented various security measures to ensure the safety of their community. Swarthmore has installed security cameras throughout the campus, and students are required to swipe their ID cards to access certain buildings. Washington and Lee have also installed security cameras and have implemented a system where students can request a security escort when walking on campus at night.

Both universities also have protocols in place for emergency situations. Swarthmore has an emergency notification system that sends alerts to students, faculty, and staff in the event of a crisis. Washington and Lee have a comprehensive emergency response plan that includes procedures for natural disasters, active shooter situations, and other emergencies.

Sustainability Efforts on Campus

Both universities are committed to sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint. Swarthmore has a Climate Action Plan that aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035 and has established various sustainability initiatives, including green buildings and programs to reduce waste and encourage conservation. Similarly, Washington and Lee have a Sustainability Plan that outlines goals to reduce energy use, increase recycling, and promote sustainable transportation.

In addition to these plans and initiatives, both universities have also implemented sustainable food practices. Swarthmore has a campus farm that provides fresh produce to the dining hall and local community, as well as a composting program to reduce food waste. Washington and Lee has a partnership with a local farm to source ingredients for their dining services and has implemented trayless dining to reduce water and energy usage.

Furthermore, both universities offer sustainability-focused academic programs and research opportunities. Swarthmore has an Environmental Studies program that allows students to explore topics such as climate change, sustainable agriculture, and environmental policy. Washington and Lee have a Sustainability Scholars program that provides funding for student research projects related to sustainability and the environment.

Accreditation Status of Both Universities

Both Swarthmore and Washington and Lee are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which is a regional accrediting agency recognized by the US Department of Education.

Accreditation is an important factor to consider when choosing a university. It ensures that the institution meets certain standards of quality and that the degrees it offers are recognized by other universities and employers. In addition to regional accreditation, both Swarthmore and Washington and Lee have also received specialized accreditations for specific programs, such as business, engineering, and education. These additional accreditations demonstrate the universities’ commitment to providing high-quality education in a variety of fields.

Ranking of Swarthmore and Washington & Lee Universities in National College Rankings

Swarthmore is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country by various national college-ranking publications, including US News & World Report, Forbes, and Princeton Review. Washington and Lee also rank highly in national college rankings, with US News & World Report ranking it as the 10th best liberal arts college.

In addition to their high rankings in national college rankings, Swarthmore and Washington & Lee Universities have a lot to offer their students. Swarthmore, located just outside of Philadelphia, has a strong commitment to social responsibility and community engagement. The college offers a wide range of majors and minors, including unique programs such as Peace and Conflict Studies and Black Studies.

Washington & Lee, located in Lexington, Virginia, has a long and rich history dating back to its founding in 1749. The university is known for its strong liberal arts curriculum, as well as its highly regarded law school. Students at Washington & Lee have the opportunity to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, including over 150 student organizations and a thriving Greek life.

People are celebrating.

Student Reviews of Both Universities

Student reviews of both universities vary, as some praise the rigorous academic programs and close-knit communities, while others criticize the lack of diversity or social scene. However, on the whole, students at both Swarthmore and Washington and Lee appear to be highly satisfied with their college experiences.

Prospective Student Advice on Choosing Between Swarthmore and Washington & Lee

Choosing between Swarthmore and Washington and Lee ultimately depends on your personal preferences and goals. If you’re looking for a highly selective liberal arts college with a strong academic reputation and diverse community, Swarthmore might be the right choice for you. However, if you prefer a smaller, tight-knit community, infused with Southern traditions and a focus on law and business, then Washington and Lee could be the perfect fit. It’s essential to visit both campuses, talk to current students, and faculty, and weigh all the pros and cons before making a decision.

In conclusion, both Swarthmore and Washington and Lee Universities are excellent schools, each with its unique strengths and weaknesses. By considering the various factors discussed above, you can make an informed decision and choose the school that best suits your academic, personal, and professional goals. Good luck on your college journey!


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