Swarthmore Applications Drop Due to Extra 500-Word Essay, School Says

The college plans to drop an essay and reduce the word-count to 250 next year.

Applications to Swarthmore College dropped 16 percent this year, and the school has a culprit: The extra supplemental 500-word essay the school required in this year’s app. By contrast, applications at Penn — which dropped an essay this time — saw applications to the school rise 15 percent.

“Twice as many essays at twice the length was too much,” one prospective student who chose not to apply told the Inquirer. To be fair to Swarthmore kids, lots of people go there for math and whatever. But also it’s an extra 500-word essay for a liberal arts school. You’ll be writing much longer papers if you decide to attend the school!


Still, the school says the huge drop in applications didn't make the incoming class any shallower. "We remain outrageously selective," Dean of Admissions Jim Bock said. The school plans to drop to one, 250-word supplemental essay next year. To put that in perspective, this post is 208 words. I could probably submit it if I wanted to attend Swarthmore in the fall of 2015.

Meanwhile, at Penn, the school's jump in applications led to a 10-percent admission rate this year, down from 12 percent the year before. The school also granted 7,000 application fee waivers this year, 3,000 more than last.

[Inquirer]

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.