How to Impress with Your Swarthmore Supplemental Essay 2019-2020

Padya Paramita

How to Impress with Your Swarthmore Supplemental Essay 2019-2020

With an acceptance rate of only 8.7%, Swarthmore College is currently the most selective liberal arts college in the country. If you’re a creative and hardworking individual with enthusiasm for learning and you thrive when working towards proactive problem solving – you may fit the bill of what this Pennsylvania institution is looking for. Anyone can claim to have these qualities, but you need to do more than that. Convince admissions officers that you and Swarthmore are right for each other by writing a stellar Swarthmore supplemental essay 2019-2020.

You might be used to writing multiple supplemental essays, or at least having a choice between different prompts, when it comes to college applications. But there is only one question for the Swarthmore supplemental essay 2019-2020. The school wants to know why you’ve picked it. You need to demonstrate that you’ve done thorough research and make sure that admissions officers know you’re a strong candidate for one of their coveted 400 spots. To guide you, I’ve outlined the prompt, the dos and don’ts of your response, and more tips to help as you take on the essay-writing process.

Download Every Supplemental Prompt Here!



The Swarthmore Supplemental Essay 2019-2020 Prompt

In 150 to 250 words, please write about why you are interested in applying to and attending Swarthmore.

Any “why have you chosen our school” essay requires plenty of research on the institution. One with a 250-word limit will require even more detailed and specific knowledge, not only about what makes Swarthmore special, but what makes the college stand out to you specifically. Since the Swarthmore supplemental essay 2019-2020 is meant to enhance your application, admissions officers don’t want to read about how the campus is beautiful, or that the Computer Science program is great. These are general ideas that pretty much anyone can present, and admissions officers already know what the campus looks like - they work there! The reader is looking for how your specific interests and goals can benefit from an education at Swarthmore College. You’ve got less than a page to really drive your commitment home, so don’t waste words!

Browse the website and Swarthmore’s social media pages to see how courses, clubs, or study abroad programs align with your passions. In order to answer such a prompt, you need to narrow down one - maybe a maximum of two - factors that call out to you the most about the idea of being a Swattie. (Yes, that’s a thing). Instead of discussing academics as a whole, talk about why Swarthmore is the best place to explore your chosen major. Is there a particular way their liberal arts approach would allow you to combine your intellectual pursuits that other universities won’t? What can the English Literature or Biochemistry department at Swarthmore offer that other schools can’t? You need to dig deeper than just naming courses or professors in order to write a convincing Swarthmore supplemental essay 2019-2020. For any aspect or resource that you mention, you have to outline why it matters to you. How can your career goals benefit from a course dedicated exclusively to the works of Toni Morrison? How would you take advantage of the Business + European Studies study abroad program in Budapest?  

Add an extracurricular club at Swarthmore that has grabbed your attention. While you can write one or two lines on how the activity has impacted your life thus far, the main focus should be on how you plan to participate in it once at Swarthmore, and how Swarthmore’s approach to the experience uniquely stands out to you.

You should use anecdotes to really highlight your interest in Swarthmore. For example, if a course stood out from a campus visit, or an interesting student blog while browsing the website grabbed your attention - note it down. Remember, admissions officers want to know if your interest in the school is authentic and well-informed. Providing concrete examples of how Swarthmore appeals to you is an effective way of conveying your commitment. 

A well written Swarthmore supplemental essay 2019-2020 should focus on giving admissions officers a strong, memorable sense of how and where you would contribute to their school. They need to come out from reading your essay with a clear picture of exactly why you are excited to attend Swarthmore.

Additional Tips for the Swarthmore Supplemental Essay 2019-2020

As you brainstorm your response to the prompt, think about the tips below to enhance the quality of your essay:

  • Cut unnecessary words - While a 250-word limit isn’t as restricted as other short prompts you might have written for other schools on your list, it’s not extremely generous either. You need to make sure that your response is completely focused. When you’re sitting down to edit, ask yourself whether each of your sentences could apply to any other school, or if they’re each adding new information about you. If your lines are too generic, and you could easily pass your essay off to another college, then you’re doing it wrong. Make sure you only keep material which can help admissions officers confidently want to put your file in the pile of accepted students.
  • Remember what you’ve said in the rest of your application - Supplemental essays must strike a perfect balance between providing new information about yourself that doesn’t appear in the rest of your application and making sure what you’ve written makes sense alongside the other components of your file. First of all, don’t repeat your personal statement or activities list or anything else the reader might already know from the Common App. Second, check whether your Swarthmore supplemental essay 2019-2020 aligns with your choice of major, future plans, and your activities and extracurriculars. If your course load and activities suggest that you’re a STEM-focused student and hope to work in a science field, admissions officers will be confused if you say you want to attend Swarthmore for the Gender Studies department!
  • Keep what you’ve researched in mind - We cannot emphasize this enough - research is key for the “Why Swarthmore” essay! Ensure that the details you include are specifics not just to the school, but to you. Every component that you outline as an important contributing factor to your application decision should be backed up by how your aspirations would benefit from it. 

You’ve got up to 250 words to prove to the Swarthmore admissions officers that you’re committed to the school. Take advantage of the Swarthmore supplemental essay 2019-2020 to dive deeper into the unique opportunities that appeal to you the most about Swarthmore, and hopefully you’ll get one step closer to making the cut. Good luck!

Schedule a free consultation

to find out how we can help you get accepted.