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Washington University in St. Louis vs Swarthmore: Which School Is Right for You?

July 17, 2023
By AdmissionSight
Young woman using a laptop on a table.

Washington University in St. Louis vs Swarthmore: Which School Is Right for You?

Choosing the right college is a big decision. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to figure out which school will be the best fit for you. In this article, we’ll take a comprehensive look at Washington University in St. Louis vs Swarthmore College, two highly regarded institutions of higher learning. We’ll compare and contrast a variety of factors, including location, academic programs, admission requirements, campus life, housing, cost of attendance, and more so you’ll be better equipped to make an informed choice about which school is right for you.

Location and Campus

Washington University in St. Louis and Swarthmore College are located in very different parts of the United States. Swarthmore is situated in a small town about 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The campus is located on the outskirts of Swarthmore and is surrounded by a wooded area. Washington University in St. Louis is located in St. Louis, Missouri in a bustling urban environment. The campus itself is large and features both historic and modern buildings.

Despite their differences in location, both universities offer unique opportunities for students. Swarthmore College’s proximity to Philadelphia allows for easy access to cultural events and internships in the city. The campus also offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking trails and a disc golf course. Washington University in St. Louis, on the other hand, is located in a city known for its vibrant arts and music scene. The campus is home to several museums and galleries, as well as a performing arts center that hosts concerts and theater productions throughout the year.

Both universities also prioritize sustainability and environmental responsibility. Swarthmore College has implemented several initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint, including a composting program and a solar panel installation. Washington University in St. Louis has a LEED-certified green building program and offers courses in environmental studies and sustainability. Students at both universities have the opportunity to get involved in sustainability efforts on campus and in the surrounding communities.

Academic Programs Offered at Washington University in St. Louis vs Swarthmore

Both institutions offer a wide range of academic programs. Swarthmore is a liberal arts college, so its academic programs are diverse and focused on critical thinking, writing, and problem-solving skills. Washington University, on the other hand, offers a broader range of programs, including schools of Law, Business, Medicine, Engineering, and Arts & Sciences.

View of students walking in the campus.

At Swarthmore, students have the opportunity to design their majors, allowing them to tailor their education to their specific interests and career goals. The college also offers several interdisciplinary programs, such as Environmental Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies, which allow students to explore complex issues from multiple perspectives.

Washington University is known for its strong research programs, particularly in the fields of medicine and engineering. The university has partnerships with several leading research institutions, including the National Institutes of Health and the McDonnell International Scholars Academy, which provide students with unique opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research projects.

Admission Requirements and Process at Washington University in St. Louis vs Swarthmore

Both schools have rigorous admission requirements and a competitive process. Swarthmore has an acceptance rate of 8%, while Washington University has an acceptance rate of 13%. Both schools require strong grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities. However, Swarthmore also has a unique application process that includes a writing supplement and a personal interview.

Additionally, both schools consider factors beyond academics in their admission decisions. Swarthmore values demonstrated commitment to social justice and community service, while Washington University looks for leadership potential and a diverse range of experiences. Applicants need to showcase their unique strengths and passions in their application materials.

Student Life and Extracurricular Activities at Washington University in St. Louis vs Swarthmore

The student life and extracurricular activities at both schools are engaging and diverse. Swarthmore has more than 100 student clubs and organizations, including sports teams, music groups, and academic clubs. Washington University has more than 300 student organizations, including academic clubs, service organizations, and Greek life. Both schools also provide ample opportunities for undergraduate research and community service.

Group of students working together and talking.

Additionally, both Swarthmore and Washington University offer a variety of cultural and social events throughout the year. Swarthmore hosts an annual Folk Dance Festival, which brings together dancers from around the world to perform and teach traditional dances. Washington University’s Social Programming Board organizes events such as concerts, comedy shows, and movie screenings. Both schools also have active student government associations that plan events and advocate for student interests.

Housing Options and Amenities at Washington University in St. Louis vs Swarthmore

Both schools offer a variety of housing options, including traditional dorms, apartment-style living, and special interest housing. Swarthmore features a unique residential system that assigns students to small groups called “lodges” based on shared interests. The lodges are self-governing and have their own culture and traditions. Washington University offers a wide range of living options, from traditional dorms to apartment-style living and even graduate-level apartments.

In addition to the various housing options, both schools offer a range of amenities to make students feel at home. Swarthmore provides laundry facilities in each residence hall, as well as communal kitchens and lounges. The college also has a bike-sharing program and a shuttle service that runs on weekends. At Washington University, students can take advantage of on-campus dining options, fitness centers, and recreational facilities. The university also offers a grocery delivery service and a campus safety escort program for students who need to travel at night.

Faculty and Staff Qualifications at Washington University in St. Louis vs Swarthmore

Both schools have highly qualified faculty and staff. The faculty at Swarthmore consists of approximately 200 professors, of which 95% hold a Ph.D. or equivalent degree. Washington University has approximately 2,300 full-time faculty members, with a small student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1.

In addition to their impressive credentials, both schools prioritize hiring faculty and staff who are not only knowledgeable in their fields but also passionate about teaching and mentoring students. Swarthmore’s faculty members are known for their accessibility and willingness to work closely with students, while Washington University’s faculty members are recognized for their commitment to interdisciplinary research and collaboration.

Cost of Attendance and Financial Aid Options at Washington University in St. Louis vs Swarthmore

Attending either school is a significant financial investment. However, both schools offer generous financial aid packages to eligible students, including need-based and merit-based scholarships, grants, and work-study programs.

It is important to note that the cost of attendance may vary depending on factors such as housing options, meal plans, and personal expenses. Swarthmore and Washington University provide detailed breakdowns of their cost of attendance on their respective websites, allowing students and families to better understand the expenses associated with attending each school.

In addition to financial aid, both schools also offer resources and support for students to manage their finances and make informed decisions about their education. Swarthmore’s Office of Financial Aid provides individualized counseling and workshops on topics such as budgeting and loan repayment, while Washington University’s Student Financial Services offers financial literacy programs and resources to help students navigate the financial aspects of college.

Student Success Rates and Post-Graduate Opportunities at Washington University in St. Louis vs Swarthmore

Both schools have excellent student success rates and offer a range of post-graduate opportunities. Swarthmore has a four-year graduation rate of 94%, and 93% of graduates report being employed or in graduate school one year after graduation. Washington University has a graduation rate of 94%, and 93% of graduates are employed or in advanced study six months after graduation.

In addition to their high success rates and post-graduate opportunities, both schools have strong alumni networks. Swarthmore’s alumni network includes notable figures such as Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, and MacArthur Fellows. Washington University’s alumni network includes CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, politicians, and prominent researchers.

Furthermore, both schools prioritize experiential learning opportunities for their students. Swarthmore offers a variety of research opportunities, internships, and community engagement programs. Washington University has a strong emphasis on global learning, with study abroad programs in over 50 countries and partnerships with international institutions.

Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives at Washington University in St. Louis vs Swarthmore

Both institutions prioritize diversity and inclusion. Swarthmore has a Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Development Office that offers a range of programs and resources to support underrepresented students. Washington University has a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council that is responsible for developing, implementing, and assessing diversity initiatives across campus.

One of the key initiatives at Swarthmore is the Intercultural Center, which provides a space for students to engage in dialogue and activities related to diversity and inclusion. The center hosts events such as cultural celebrations, workshops, and discussions on social justice issues. Similarly, Washington University has a Multicultural Center that offers programming and resources to support students from diverse backgrounds. The center also provides opportunities for students to engage in cross-cultural dialogue and learn from one another.

Group of students walking in the stairs.

Campus Safety and Security Measures at Washington University in St. Louis vs Swarthmore

Both schools take campus safety and security seriously. Swarthmore has a Department of Public Safety that provides around-the-clock security services and a student-run Escort Safety Service that provides companionship for students walking around campus at night. Washington University has a full-service police department and a campus emergency alert system that provides information and instructions during emergencies.

In addition to these measures, both schools have implemented various safety protocols to ensure the well-being of their students. Swarthmore has a comprehensive sexual assault prevention program that includes education, training, and support services for survivors. Washington University has a Behavioral Intervention Team that assesses and addresses concerning behavior on campus, as well as a network of mental health resources for students.

Furthermore, both schools have taken steps to promote a culture of inclusivity and respect on campus. Swarthmore has a Bias Response Team that addresses incidents of bias and discrimination and offers resources for those affected. Washington University has a Diversity and Inclusion Council that works to create a welcoming and supportive environment for students of all backgrounds.

Alumni Network and Support Services at Washington University in St. Louis and Swarthmore

Both schools have active alumni networks and offer support services to alumni. Swarthmore’s Alumni Association provides networking opportunities, mentoring programs, and career development resources. Washington University’s Alumni Association offers similar services, as well as access to an online directory of fellow alumni.

Additionally, both schools have dedicated staff members who work specifically with alumni to provide support and assistance. Swarthmore’s Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement offers personalized career counseling, assistance with graduate school applications, and help with planning alumni events. Washington University’s Alumni and Development team provides similar services, including access to exclusive job postings and professional development opportunities.

Sports Programs and Facilities at Washington University in St. Louis and Swarthmore

Both schools offer a range of sports programs and facilities. Swarthmore has 22 varsity sports teams, club sports, and intramural sports opportunities. Washington University has 19 varsity sports teams, and its athletic facilities include a state-of-the-art recreation center, an outdoor track, and numerous indoor gymnasiums.

Sports equipments placed next to each other.

In addition to the sports programs and facilities mentioned above, Swarthmore also has a strong emphasis on outdoor recreation. The college has its outdoor club, which offers activities such as hiking, camping, and rock climbing. Swarthmore also has access to nearby parks and nature reserves, providing students with ample opportunities to explore the outdoors.

Washington University, on the other hand, has a unique program called “BearFit,” which offers fitness classes and wellness programs to students, faculty, and staff. These classes range from yoga and Pilates to kickboxing and dance. The university also has a nutritionist on staff to help students make healthy choices and maintain a balanced diet.

Research Opportunities for Students at Washington University in St. Louis vs Swarthmore

Both schools offer opportunities for undergraduate research. Swarthmore has a renowned undergraduate research program that provides funding and research opportunities across a wide range of disciplines. Washington University has a similarly robust undergraduate research program, with opportunities to work alongside faculty members on research projects.

Additionally, both schools have partnerships with local research institutions and companies, providing students with even more opportunities to gain hands-on experience in their field of study. Swarthmore has partnerships with institutions such as the Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, while Washington University has partnerships with companies such as Monsanto and Boeing. These partnerships allow students to work on real-world projects and make valuable connections in their industry.

Community Outreach Programs at Washington University in St. Louis and Swarthmore

Both schools prioritize community outreach and engagement. Swarthmore has a range of community outreach programs, including a Civic Engagement Office, a Social Innovation Lab, and a Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility. Washington University has a similarly broad range of community outreach programs, including the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, the Center for Social Development, and the McDonnell International Scholars Academy.

In addition to these programs, Swarthmore also offers a Community Partnership Program, which connects students with local organizations to work on community-based projects. The program aims to foster long-term relationships between the college and the surrounding community, while also providing students with valuable hands-on experience.

Washington University also has a strong focus on sustainability and environmental outreach. The Office of Sustainability works to reduce the university’s environmental impact and promote sustainable practices, while the Tyson Research Center researches ecology and conservation. The university also partners with local organizations to promote environmental education and awareness in the St. Louis community.

Study Abroad Programs Available at Washington University in St. Louis and Swarthmore

Both schools offer a range of study abroad programs. Swarthmore has partnerships with more than 30 study abroad programs around the world and offers financial aid for eligible students. Washington University offers a full range of study abroad options, including programs in more than 60 countries, and offers scholarships and grants to eligible students to help cover the cost.

Students holding flags from different parts of the world.

Additionally, both schools have dedicated study-abroad offices that provide resources and support to students throughout the study-abroad process. These offices offer pre-departure orientations, assistance with visa applications, and guidance on academic planning and credit transfer. Students can also connect with alumni who have participated in study abroad programs to gain insight and advice on their experiences.

Campus Events and Traditions at Washington University in St. Louis and Swarthmore

Both schools have a range of campus events and traditions that contribute to their vibrant campus cultures. Swarthmore celebrates an annual Founder’s Day, a quirky tradition in which students dress up in period costumes and parade around campus. Washington University hosts several cultural events throughout the year, including an annual Lunar New Year Festival and a Broadway musical series.

Additionally, Swarthmore hosts an annual Crum Regatta, where students build and race homemade boats down the nearby Crum Creek. This event draws large crowds and is a beloved tradition on campus. Washington University also has a unique tradition called WILD (Walk In Lay Down), where students gather on the main quad to listen to live music and enjoy food trucks before the start of final exams.

Both schools also have a strong athletic culture, with a variety of sports teams and events. Swarthmore’s men’s soccer team has won multiple national championships, and the school hosts an annual Garnet Weekend, where alumni and current students come together to celebrate athletics and school spirit. Washington University has a popular annual event called Bear Olympics, where students compete in a variety of athletic challenges and games.

Technology and Resources Available to Students at Washington University in St. Louis and Swarthmore

Both schools offer cutting-edge technology and resources to students. Swarthmore has several computer labs and a media center that provides equipment and support for multimedia projects. Washington University has a similarly robust technology infrastructure, including a high-speed Wi-Fi network, an extensive digital library collection, and a range of software resources available free to students.

In addition to the technology and resources mentioned above, Swarthmore also offers students access to a virtual reality lab, where they can explore and create immersive experiences. The lab is equipped with state-of-the-art VR headsets and software and is available for use by students in a variety of disciplines.

Washington University also provides students with access to a range of specialized resources, such as a language lab for practicing foreign language skills, and a data analysis lab for students in the social sciences. These resources are staffed by knowledgeable professionals who can provide guidance and support to students as they work on their projects and assignments.

Environmental Initiatives on Campus at Washington University in St. Louis and Swarthmore

Both schools prioritize sustainability and environmental initiatives on campus. Swarthmore has several green initiatives, including a Green Advisors program, a campus garden, and an Eco-Reps program. Washington University has a similarly robust range of sustainability initiatives, including a Green Office Program, a bike-share program, and several LEED-certified buildings.

Additionally, Swarthmore has implemented a composting program in all of its dining halls, diverting food waste from landfills and turning it into nutrient-rich soil for the campus garden. Washington University has also taken steps to reduce waste, with a comprehensive recycling program and a commitment to reducing single-use plastics on campus.

male cashier handing out goods to female customer

Both schools also offer opportunities for students to get involved in environmental activism and advocacy. Swarthmore has a student-run environmental group, the Green Advisors, which organizes events and campaigns to raise awareness about sustainability issues on campus and in the wider community. Washington University has a similar group, the Green Action Committee, which works to promote sustainable practices and policies on campus and beyond.

In conclusion, both Washington University in St. Louis and Swarthmore College are excellent institutions with a variety of unique features and strengths. The right school for you ultimately depends on your personal preferences, academic interests, and career goals. We hope this comprehensive comparison has provided valuable information that will help you make an informed decision about which school is right for you. Good luck in your search for the perfect college!

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