How to get into Swarthmore; collegadvisor.com image: a photo of Swarthmore College Observatory

How do I get into Swarthmore– General Information

Swarthmore College is a private liberal arts college located in suburban Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1864 by the Quakers as a coeducational college, and is a member of the Tri-College Consortium with Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges. The Tri-College Consortium also offers cross-registration with the University of Pennsylvania.

Swarthmore undergraduate enrollment is approximately 1500 students. Additionally, the Swarthmore acceptance rate is 9%.

Want more information on college rankings and acceptance rates? Check out our expert guide.

What we’ll cover in this How to Get Into Swarthmore guide:

  • Swarthmore average GPA
  • Optimal Swarthmore SAT scores
  • Swarthmore application deadline
  • Details on Swarthmore Early Decision details
  • Swarthmore interview
  • Swarthmore class of 2025 statistics, and more. 

When thinking about how to get into Swarthmore, you should make sure each part of your application—your GPA, test scores, Swarthmore interview, and Swarthmore supplemental essays —is top-notch. This means keeping your GPA high, studying to ensure strong Swarthmore SAT scores, and building up your extracurriculars. To boost your chances of Swarthmore undergraduate enrollment, you should start strategizing well before the Swarthmore application deadline. 

Figuring out how to get into Swarthmore takes strategy. We can help. CollegeAdvisor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes Swarthmore graduates. Want to maximize your Swarthmore admissions odds?  Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272. 

What are my chances of getting into Swarthmore College?

Swarthmore is one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, ranked #3 on the U.S. News’ list of National Liberal Arts Colleges. So, it is no surprise that the Swarthmore acceptance rate is in the single digits. This makes it one of the most selective liberal arts colleges in the nation. 

When trying to figure out how to get into Swarthmore, the average Swarthmore College GPA, average Swarthmore College SAT scores, and the Swarthmore acceptance rate will likely be at the forefront of your research. The average Swarthmore College GPA is not published. However, you can assume that the Swarthmore College GPA is over a 4.0. 

The data for Swarthmore College SAT scores for admitted students is published, with U.S. News reporting that the middle 50% of students achieving a 1400 to 1530. This translates to an average ACT of 31-34. 

It’s hard to figure out how to get into Swarthmore. If you know you want to attend Swarthmore, applying Early Decision is a great option. To increase your chances of joining the Swarthmore undergraduate enrollment and overcoming the Swarthmore acceptance rate, consider applying by the Early Decision Swarthmore application deadline.

Want tips on how to prepare for standardized tests from a Harvard graduate? Check out our webinar.

What is the GPA requirement for Swarthmore College?

Unlike the Swarthmore College SAT scores, the average Swarthmore College GPA for either Swarthmore application deadline is not published. However, we can assume that GPA is a significant factor in the admissions process. When the admissions team determines if you’re fit to join the Swarthmore undergraduate enrollment, your GPA will play a major role. 

Though there is no data on the average Swarthmore College GPA, we assume that the relatively small Swarthmore undergraduate enrollment figures indicate that most admitted students are at the top of their class. 

In the absence of an average Swarthmore College GPA, students should plan their “how to get into Swarthmore” strategy accordingly: take rigorous classes and study hard. When building your strategy for how to get into Swarthmore, opt for honors, AP, and IB courses whenever possible. Assume that average Swarthmore college GPA is at or near 4.0. While a lower GPA doesn’t make Swarthmore undergraduate enrollment impossible, it does make it more difficult. So, make sure you craft a balanced course schedule. 

Need help choosing the right courses? We have a webinar to help you pick high school courses sure to help you stand out.

What does the Swarthmore College application include?

All applicants wondering how to get into Swarthmore must apply through either the Common Application or the Coalition Application. Though it may seem obvious, the first step to determining how to get into Swarthmore is to understand the items on the application checklist

You should start thinking about this checklist well before your Swarthmore application deadline. For more information on how to ace the Common App, click here

All materials to apply for Swarthmore undergraduate enrollment must be submitted by the Swarthmore application deadline. The binding Early Decision Swarthmore application deadline is November 15. The Regular Decision Swarthmore application deadline is January 1. For more on the Swarthmore application deadlines, click here

Required materials:

  • Common Application or Coalition Application
  • Swarthmore supplemental essays
  • $60 application fee or fee waiver
  • School report
  • School counselor recommendation
  • High school transcript
  • Midyear grades
  • Two academic-subject teacher recommendations/evaluations

Optional materials:

  • SAT or ACT scores
  • Interview
  • Arts supplement

For more information on the Swarthmore College SAT policy, click here

Another optional (but recommended) part of your application process is your Swarthmore interview. We’ll expand on the Swarthmore interview process later in this guide on how to get into Swarthmore College. 

What extracurriculars does Swarthmore College like?

Want to know how to get into Swarthmore? The short answer is to be authentically involved and intellectually zealous. Swarthmore is impressed by applicants who pursue their unique academic and extracurricular passions. So, the admissions team focuses on building a well-rounded and diverse Swarthmore undergraduate enrollment cohort.

Swarthmore’s acceptance rate is low because nearly all applicants have high grades and scores. Looking at the Swarthmore College GPA and Swarthmore College SAT scores, you can see that admitted students are high achievers. Extracurriculars, however, let you set yourself apart from the crowd. 

Click here to read about how to find your extracurricular “hook” in your approach to how to get into Swarthmore.

When crafting your “How to get into Swarthmore” strategy, think about what motivates you. Extracurriculars are a crucial part of your candidate profile —your 1-2 sentence description of who you are and what you do. Your candidate profile is what makes you unique. So, there are no right or wrong activities!

Given the 8% Swarthmore acceptance rate, you want to choose activities that impress. Strategize how to get into Swarthmore by choosing activities that interest you. Then, remain involved with these activities, taking initiative and showing leadership throughout high school. Swarthmore looks for your potential to succeed on campus, and your extracurriculars speak to this. You can also highlight them in your Swarthmore supplemental essays and Swarthmore interview. 

Watch this webinar to learn more about developing depth and breadth in your extracurriculars as an element of your strategy for how to get into Swarthmore.

What is the acceptance rate at Swarthmore?

Swarthmore accepts only a small fraction of the over 13,000 applicants who apply for Swarthmore undergraduate enrollment. The Swarthmore acceptance rate for the class of 2025 was 8%. The Early Decision Swarthmore application deadline saw an acceptance rate of 24%—significantly higher than the RD Swarthmore acceptance rate.

Though there is no published average Swarthmore College GPA, we can assume that the small percentage of students admitted are high achievers. The Swarthmore College SAT scores, which are reported, supports this. contributes to the Swarthmore acceptance rate—as do many other qualitative factors. To read more about Swarthmore’s Class of 2025, visit their website

Want to learn more about acceptance rates? Check out our expert guide.

Does Swarthmore College require interviews?

All applicants have the option to complete a Swarthmore interview. Swarthmore interviews have been on campus in the past. However, due to COVID-19, all Swarthmore interviews are now virtual. 

When preparing for your Swarthmore interview, be prepared to describe why you want to attend. Be specific and personal, and show that you’ve done your research on Swarthmore. Genuine, authentic answers will be the most impactful in your Swarthmore interview.

Your Swarthmore interview is also the perfect time to ask questions about the college. Don’t be nervous—instead, treat your Swarthmore interview as a conversation. Your Swarthmore interviewer wants to get to know you, so be as authentic as possible. And remember, the Swarthmore interview is not just for them to evaluate you as a candidate, but also for you to figure out if Swarthmore is the right fit for you.

Tips for writing the Swarthmore essays

In addition to the personal statement you submit on the Common Application, you will also submit Swarthmore supplemental essays.

You must select one of the following three prompts and answer it in 250 words or less. 

1. Swarthmore students’ worldviews are often forged by their prior experiences and exposure to ideas and values. Our students are often mentored, supported, and developed by their immediate context—in their neighborhoods, communities of faith, families, and classrooms. Reflect on what elements of your home, school, or community have shaped you or positively impacted you. How have you grown or changed because of the influence of your community?

2. We are inspired by students who are flexible in their approach to learning, who are comfortable with experimentation, and who are willing to take intellectual risks that move them out of their comfort zone. Reflect on a time that you were intellectually challenged, inspired, or took an intellectual risk—inside or outside of the classroom. How has that experience shaped you, and what questions still linger?

3. Why are you interested in applying to and attending Swarthmore?

When selecting a prompt for your Swarthmore supplemental essays, look at your application as a whole. Given your Common App essay and extracurriculars, which prompt for the Swarthmore supplemental essays would allow you to say the most about yourself? Your Swarthmore supplemental essays should provide a window into who you are. 

If you know a lot about the College or have a connection to it, Prompt #3 of the Swarthmore supplemental essays would likely be best to showcase your knowledge. Regardless of the prompt you choose, you can also highlight clubs you may want to join or the major you want to pursue. This shows the admissions team that you care about Swarthmore and can see yourself on campus. 

How does Swarthmore review applications?

Swarthmore is transparent about its admissions policies and procedures. This will help you create your strategy for how to get into Swarthmore. 

Understanding the values and mission of the College can help you identify aspects of your background and experiences that align. In addition, the College’s website provides details on what they look for in a Swattie to help you figure out how to get into Swarthmore.

The Swarthmore 2020-2021 Common Data Set includes information such as the average Swarthmore College SAT, Swarthmore undergraduate enrollment by area of study, the Swarthmore acceptance rate, and other factors. This is a valuable tool for understanding how to get into Swarthmore. 

According to Swarthmore’s 2020–21 Common Data Set, the college ranks these factors as “very important:”

  • Rigor of secondary school record
  • Class rank
  • Academic GPA
  • Application Essay
  • Recommendation
  • Character/personal qualities

Swarthmore ranks the following factor as “important:”

  • Extracurricular activities

Clearly, academic achievement has a major influence in the Swarthmore admissions process. Regardless of the average Swarthmore College GPA, average Swarthmore College SAT scores, or Swarthmore acceptance rate, you must strive to succeed in your courses. 

Swarthmore knows that every applicant is unique. However, knowing what they look for in an applicant is very helpful!

Swarthmore seeks students with the following characteristics:

  • Intellectual curiosity and an enthusiasm for learning
  • Creative and proactive problem-solving
  • Generosity toward others
  • Civic engagement
  • Willingness to work hard and to seek help
  • Potential contributions to campus life
  • Sustained commitment
  • Open-mindedness in general and to the liberal arts writ large

If you feel you exemplify one or several of these characteristics particularly well, it could be part of your “how to get into Swarthmore” plan to ask a recommender to highlight a specific instance where you showed this trait. Your Swarthmore supplemental essays also present a prime opportunity to showcase these characteristics. 

To help you plan how to get into Swarthmore, the College details how they evaluate your application. Initially, two deans review all parts of your application package and discuss your strengths. In doing so, they evaluate how you have made the most of your opportunities within the context of your high school. This means that they do not compare an applicant coming from a small rural high school to an applicant from a large urban high school when considering Swarthmore undergraduate enrollment. Then, your application is reviewed by groups of deans who discuss your experiences, identity, and academic history. 

The Swarthmore acceptance rate is low, but you can distinguish yourself through your Swarthmore supplemental essays, extracurricular profile, and many other factors in the process that you have control over. 

Will Swarthmore review my social media?

While thinking about how to get into Swarthmore, you may worry about how your social media presence might affect your admissions odds. Swarthmore receives tens of thousands of applications each year, so readers usually don’t have the time to look up students’ social media. 

However, you still shouldn’t post offensive or irresponsible content. Even beyond the college application process, you should use social media responsibly. So, our final recommendation is to play it safe. Swarthmore likely won’t read your Twitter or check your Instagram, but there’s always an outside chance.

Is Swarthmore the school for me?

When preparing for how to get into Swarthmore, you should first think about whether Swarthmore is the right fit for you. College applications are a two-way street! So, do your research. Think about more than the high average Swarthmore College GPA, high average Swarthmore College SAT scores, and low Swarthmore acceptance rate. 

Swarthmore has several unique programs and opportunities that make it stand out from other top liberal arts schools. 

Honors Program

The Swarthmore Honors Program is rare in its emphasis on collaboration between students and faculty and written and oral examinations by outside experts. Honors students have a lot of independence to pursue interdisciplinary projects that meet their interests. 

Focus

Swarthmore College only accepts undergraduate students, so the energy of the faculty is devoted to helping those students succeed. This creates opportunities to explore academic arenas in both creative and community-based settings. 

Tri-College Consortium

Swarthmore is part of a collaboration with Bryn Mawr and Haverford. As a result, students can benefit academically and socially from this campus community. Swarthmore students also have the benefit of being able to register for classes at the University of Pennsylvania

Research these and the other programs, initiatives, and opportunities at Swarthmore to learn if it’s the school for you!

Additional tips to get into Swarthmore College

Build your profile

A strong candidate profile can help you overcome the 8% Swarthmore acceptance rate. Essentially, it is the narrative you tell through your extracurriculars, service, and projects. Try to showcase who you are and what is important to you. 

Prepare, prepare, prepare 

Don’t wait to craft your “how to get into Swarthmore” strategy. If you are striving to be part of the Swarthmore undergraduate enrollment, you should get started early. Maintain a high GPA throughout high school, and start pursuing extracurriculars as early as freshman year so that you can set yourself up for leadership positions. 

No average Swarthmore College GPA or Swarthmore College SAT scores will assure you a spot in the next incoming class. However, don’t worry about what Swarthmore wants to see. Submit the strongest application you can, and consider the Early Decision Swarthmore application deadline if it is your top choice. Good luck!


This guide was written by Caroline Marapese, Notre Dame ’22. Cracking the code of how to get into Swarthmore is hard. If you want to know how to get into Swarthmore, we’ve got you covered. CollegeAdvisor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes Swarthmore graduates. Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.