Spotlight on Swarthmore College: Another Private College to Admit Undocumented Students as Domestic Students!


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Swarthmore College, a prestigious small liberal arts college near Philadelphia, recently announced that they are need-blind for all undocumented students (including students without DACA!) who graduate from a US high school.

“At Swarthmore College, we value different viewpoints, identities, and histories among our students, faculty, and staff. We believe this diversity contributes to the community’s strong sense of open dialogue and engagement with ideas and issues, as well as fostering inclusion in our community of scholars. We encourage all students, regardless of citizenship status or national origin, to apply to the College.

Undocumented and DACA students apply to Swarthmore in the same manner as all U.S. citizens and permanent residents. We do not take financial need or application for financial aid into account when making an admissions decision. Swarthmore College commits to meeting 100% of admitted students’ demonstrated financial need, and our aid awards do not include a loan. We believe all students should be able to afford a Swarthmore education regardless of socioeconomic status or ability to pay.”

This policy pertains to incoming freshmen, transfer students, and students who live all over the country. Transfer students can still apply this year since their admission deadline is April 1st. Swarthmore has had this policy for a few years, but they are making it public so all qualified undocumented students and their advisers are aware of this policy. The admissions office advises students to share your story with them in your application so they understand your context.

Please refer to this previous blog post for information about other private colleges that admit undocumented students as domestic students.

Meet Maria, a current undocumented student at Swarthmore College who is double majoring in Peace and Conflict Studies and Spanish!

Maria is a Sophomore (class of 2018) and is from North Carolina.

1) What is your advice for undocumented high school students who are getting ready to apply to college?

I remember that applying for college was one of the most terrifying things I have ever done. Coming from a low-income family, I knew that I would only be able to go to college if I got a significant amount of financial aid. That seemed impossible as an undocumented student and I wish someone would have told me that this was something I could do. It would have helped put me at ease, even if it was just a little. My advice for undocumented students, as cliché as it sounds, don’t lose hope or confidence in yourself. It won’t be easy, but you can go to college because you are completely capable and you deserve an education just as much as any one else.

2) What has been the biggest highlight and/or challenge in going to college out-of-state?

Going to college out of state has been amazing! I grew up in a small, rural town, so coming to a school so close to Philadelphia has been an incredible experience. I’m one of two people from my school to ever go out of state and it’s something I’m glad I decided to do. It’s definitely worth it to do this; it’s nice to get away from the place you grew up and experience life in another part of the country. It has given me a sense of independence to be so far from home.

For transfer students, the application deadline is April 1st, 2016

For incoming freshmen, this is a good college to keep in mind if you are applying this fall. (Fall early decision: November 15, 2016; Winter Early Decision: January 1, 2017; and Regular Decision: January 1, 2017)

For more information, please email, call 610-328-8300 or visit their website.

Rachel is currently pursuing a PhD in Social Sciences and Comparative Education at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. She has worked closely with undocumented youth activists in several states, the Bhutanese refugee community and LGBT community in Oakland, California. Rachel taught in two public high schools in Okinawa, Japan for two years and has worked in the community college and higher education sector for Bunker Hill Community College, MassBay Community College, Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, Achieving the Dream, and Jobs for the Future. She received her Masters in Higher Education from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and her Bachelors in Philosophy from the University of Chicago.


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  1. Peace and Conflict Studies Student Featured | Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore College

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