Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

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prospecting swarthmore college

should you go to swarthmore? do you like to be serious or dedicated to things? it's kinda like mike sugarbaker's geek theory - geeks, and "swatties," are people that get too excited about things. so if you want to enjoy yourself at school, and wigging out about some weirdo theory sounds like fun, then by all means...

don't let swarthmore's reputation scare you - they seem to characterize it as intensely work oriented and intellectual or something. but i have met some of the best dancers, and bullshitters and just passionate people there. it's not an autopilot place.

what else can you figure out about swarthmore college from the web? the school's official web page is mostly a brochure, but there are two professors that i know of that have web pages you should read. timothy burke reviews local restaurants and hands out advice to students. his kind of honesty is refreshing. kaori kitao writes about her pets and theories and pet theories - a unique perspective on the world. both of these folks share engaging stuff about themselves, and there are more people with that kind of richness to them teaching there.

i went to swarthmore because it was the best school i got into, because other schools seemed too easy - like they were too much of what i already knew, but swarthmore was gonna kick my butt with all sorts of stuff i hadn't thought about. it did. it was really hard, sometimes it sucked, people i loved were in pain there, i applied to transfer out, i cursed it at the top of my lungs, but i left san francisco and my lover and neat jobs over and over again to go back until i finished.

visit - the campus is beautiful, but i never went into philly much. it's kind of like an enclave. if you can deal with a brainy small town...

also, it's quite possible to get by at swarthmore without doing so much reading and paying attention and stuff. i went whole semesters without missing a single class, but i did smoke a fair amount of pot and i failed some classes and so forth. what eventually happened was wonderous - after years of working outside of school and feeling alienated, i learned how to work there, and i came to actually enjoy the readings and i lived for some class discussions. maybe that happens anywhere. when it happened at swarthmore, i came to love the place, and i was finally ready to leave.

the place has a veneer of resources, like a huge endowment and nice facilities (new buildings, some nice chairs here and there). but there was never great computer facilities, which i thought was kinda stupid. there was a great multimedia studio, digital video station, etc, reserved for faculty use. it was like they didn't think that students would care to use photoshop with a slidescanner. but that was the mid-ninties - maybe that's changed. they did have an analog video editing station free for use, and a video camera i could check out at any time (only realized that second semester senior year - shucks). the student radio station is great, awesome, totally open to having shows - just don't try to do rock. pitch a solid jazz show first to start out with; it worked for me. and a huge dance studio you can reserve and use to choregraph whatever! you know how much that kind of space/time costs in new york? and good speakers and films and bands - cornel west, watermelon woman, satan & adam, and where else could you see cabaret?

and what do i ask in return for this fabulous and cutting edge insight? please if you go to swarthmore, do weird stuff. too many people study too much, and there's too much potential for madness.

heck - do that anywhere you go to school!

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