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A Harpist, A Curler, A Juggler—and 371 More—in the Class of 2012

By Carol Brévart-Demm

Class of 2012 First Collection

At First Collection, members of the Class of 2012 light each other’s candles by one student passing the light to the next, symbolizing Quaker “inner light.”

On Aug. 26, 373 first-year students—from a total 6,121 applicants— descended onto the campus. Of these 185 women and 188 men, 55 percent are from public, 28 percent from private, and 9 percent from parochial schools—as well as 8 percent from foreign or American schools abroad. Of the 44 percent from schools reporting class rank, 24 percent were valedictorians or salutatorians, 45 percent were in the top 2 percent of their class, and 87 percent in the top 10 percent.

The new freshman class represents 42 states and 16 foreign countries. The class’s ethnicity includes 10 percent African American, 12 percent Hispanic/Latino/a American, and 16 percent Asian American for a total of 38 percent domestic students of color. States yielding at least 10 percent of the class are, in descending order, New York, Pennsylvania, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Texas, Connecticut, and Virginia.

According to Director of Financial Aid Laura Talbot, about 50 percent of first-year students—all those who need help—receive financial aid, as does approximately the same percentage of the entire student body. Because the College’s new “loan-free-awards” policy, which also applies to all returning students, was implemented this fall, the average aid award— corresponding to need—is about $34,600, of which $32,840 is in the form of scholarships/grants and the rest in campus jobs, Talbot says.

Members of the Class of 2012 bring a fascinating mélange of accomplishments to the College. They include:

· a Celtic harp player
· a co-founder of a trap shooting club in her high school
· a competitor at the junior nationals and nationals in men’s curling
· a participant at summer circus camp, taught by former Swarthmore admissions counselor Kennette Banks ’06
· a student who discovered Swarthmore by corresponding with 2006 Physics Nobel Laureate John Mather ’68
· a prospective engineer and self-taught metal worker who built a foundry in his basement to create artistic crystal structures
· at least one professional juggler
· two students—one from California, the other from New Jersey—who competed against each other in the international FIRST Robotics Championships
· a student whose hometown was named after him for a day in honor of service to his community.

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