Colleges: Swarthmore's 100th

A fitting motto for Swarthmore College near Philadelphia would be the exhortation that a Quaker math professor used to give her students: "Use thy gumption." Though it seems pathetically small (547 men, 447 women), Swarthmore has such gumptious devotion to excellence that some awed academics call it the No. 1 college in the U.S. However impious this may appear to Yale or Harvard, hundreds of the country's brightest youngsters have reason to agree. Of 2,000 applicants in a typical year, Swarthmore enrolls only about 260—making it one of the toughest colleges in the U.S. to get into.

Swarthmore,* which last...

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