Swarthmore Supplemental Essays 2023-24

September 25, 2023

Swarthmore supplemental essay

Getting accepted into Swarthmore College, one of the very best liberal arts schools in the country, is equivalent to gaining acceptance into an Ivy League school. With sub-7% acceptance rate for the Class of 2027, Swarthmore rejects the bulk of perfectly qualified candidates who apply each year. Therefore, those who want to maximize their chances at getting in need to shine in every single aspect of their application. The required Swarthmore supplemental essays provide one such opportunity.

 (Want to learn more about How to Get Into Swarthmore? Visit our blog entitled: How to Get Into Swarthmore College: Admissions Data and Strategies for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

Swarthmore Supplemental Essay – Prompt #1

In our experience, successful Swarthmore applicants have a few things in common. In addition to near-perfect grades and test scores, they also compose exceptional Common App and Swarthmore-specific essays. Let’s dive right in and begin examining the two required essay prompts that Swarthmore offers.

Swarthmore College maintains an ongoing commitment of building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive residential community dedicated to rigorous intellectual inquiry.

All who engage in our community are empowered through the open exchange of ideas guided by equity and social responsibility to thrive and contribute as bridge builders within global communities.

Our identities and perspectives are supported and developed by our immediate contexts and lived experiences – in our neighborhoods, families, classrooms, communities of faith, and more.

What aspects of your self-identity or personal background are most significant to you? Reflecting on the elements of your home, school, or other communities that have shaped your life, explain how you have grown in your ability to navigate differences when engaging with others, or demonstrated your ability to collaborate in communities other than your own. (250 words)

This essay has two parts: 1) a discussion of an aspect of your identity or background that is most significant to you and 2) a reflection of how said aspect has enabled you to collaborate and/or navigate differences with others outside of your immediate circle.

First, let’s tackle part one. Take note of its wide-open nature—you are essentially invited to talk about any of the following topics:

  1. A perspective you hold
  2. An experience you had
  3. A community you belong to
  4. Your cultural background
  5. Your family background

Swarthmore Supplemental Essays (Continued)

Although this prompt’s open floor plan may feel daunting, a good tactic is to first consider what has already been communicated within your Common App personal statement and activities list. What important aspects of yourself have not been shared (or sufficiently discussed)?

Now for part two: after you select/discuss an element of your identity/background that is meaningful to you, you’ll need to share how it has also enabled you to better navigate differences with others. The U.S. presently finds itself in an extreme state of polarization, and within this divided world, it can be hard for individuals with competing viewpoints to engage in civil and productive dialogue. Here, Swat is giving you the chance to show that you are an open-minded and intellectually curious young person. Illustrate how you are willing to engage or collaborate with people who hold opposing positions on topics of great importance to you or are outside your immediate community. One key thing to remember when addressing this prompt is that you don’t have to be the hero of the anecdote. In fact, you may be one who learned to expand their thinking.

Most importantly, your story should be personal, sincere, and revealing of your core character and developing values system.

Prompt #2

Swarthmore’s community of learners inspire one another through their collaborative and flexible approach to learning. Swarthmore students are comfortable with intellectual experimentation and connection of ideas across the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and interdisciplinary studies through a liberal arts education.

Tell us about a topic that has fascinated you recently – either inside or outside of the classroom. What made you curious about this? Has this topic connected across other areas of your interests? How has this experience shaped you and what encourages you to keep exploring? (250 words)

This prompt is an opportunity to reveal more about the way you pursue knowledge and make connections across disciplines. Swarthmore is a school that places serious emphasis on one’s intellectual curiosity and drive for knowledge. Similar to Brown University or Wesleyan University, Swat genuinely wants to know that you are the type of student who will take intellectual risks and will continue those pursuits outside of the classroom.

In light of that…out of everything on this Earth, what makes you tick? What keeps you up at night? What subject makes you read books and online content until your eyes bleed? Immerse the reader in your intellectual journey of choice. Share what made you interested in the topic, how you’ve pursued it, and what types of cross-disciplinary connections you’ve made. Finally, be sure to address what you’ve learned about yourself and why the experience has encouraged you to continue boldly pursuing newfound knowledge and skills.

How important are the Swarthmore supplemental essays?

Overall, Swarthmore views six factors as being “very important” to the admissions process. Those factors are: the rigor of your high school classes, GPA, class rank, recommendations, character/personal qualities, and your application essays. In fact, the essays are of greater importance than test scores,  activities, or talent/ability.

Want Personalized Assistance?

In conclusion, if you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced essay coaches as you craft your Swarthmore supplemental essays, we encourage you to get a quote today.