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Musings from Miami

February 25th, 2010

Rebecca ChoppI'm writing from Florida where Tuesday night we enjoyed an intimate and quite lively event in Miami. This week I will also have the opportunity to travel to Naples and Sarasota. I was in Palm Beach earlier this week. Our Florida alums and parents are a great group. I'm struck, again, by how frequently we hear the same themes recur in our Listening Tour events, no matter which part of the country we're in — A need for greater visibility for the College. Preserving our commitment to intellectual rigor and exploration. Achieving the right balance between classroom, core learning and preparation for life and careers. We talked about each of these in Miami, as we have elsewhere.

Guests at the Miami eventWe also talked about our admissions process, and in particular, our campus visits. Campus visits are crucial in the decision making process when prospective students are weighing each school very carefully. Our student guides serve as influential ambassadors on behalf of the college and we work hard to give them the appropriate training they need to provide the best possible experience for our visitors. We aim to give our prospective students clear insight into what life at Swarthmore will be like, how they might fit in and how they will be challenged. I know that Jim Bock '90, our dean of admissions, takes our campus visit program very seriously, and I will share with him the comments and suggestions I heard from our alumni and parents in Miami.

Rebecca Chopp and guests at the Miami eventAlso related to the admissions process, we talked about the importance of helping newly admitted students connect with others from their high school or area who already attend or, are planning to attend, Swarthmore. We want to begin building community even before students arrive at Swarthmore. It's a tremendous step from high school to college and we can facilitate those connections, whether they are geographic, or through shared affinities, such as sports or performing arts. We are also building community "online" — before students arrive — with an active electronic web of resources that are available to our matriculants. We will continue to strengthen these community-building resources and remain flexible about the ways in which our students most want and need to communicate with one another before orientation.