I'm an international student that got accepted to Haverford with a fantastic fin aid package. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no chance of visiting campus before I have to make my decision so I was just wondering how religious Haverford actually is? Quakerism is practically rubbed in your face wherever you read about Haverford. I'm not at all religious and don't want to end up somewhere I feel lost.
Does anyone know anything about how Quakerism effects life at Haverford? Or is my concern just ridicoulous?
vickii, your concerns are not ridiculous at all, but I don't think you need to to worry about that. If anyone should be worried, it's probably your parents.
Like many colleges and universities in the United States, Haverford did begin with a religious affiliation. However, the Religious Society of Friends has no authority over the college anymore.
Today, if Haverford College admissions had to choose among several equally qualified but borderline applicants, I suspect they would go for a top athlete - maybe even for an oboe player - over a birthright Quaker any day.
Very few Haverford students are Quaker; less than 10%. While the College remains connected to its Quaker tradition/heritage/values--operating by consensus, individual dignity, tolerance, intellectual inquiry, diversity--the school does not push it on students at all. I'e never heard anyone say they were uncomfortable by the Quakerism at Haverford.
Congrats on your financial aid and admission to one of the USA's greatest liberal arts colleges. Haverford attracts students who are particularly interested in diversity of thought and who display respect for the life experiences of others.
I can understand that you might not realize how very liberal and diverse Haverford is as a community if you live abroad, but your concerns are not founded.
Our son is fiercely independent as a thinker and private on the subject of religion and would not like attending a college where one religious persuasion or religious culture dominates. He spent considerable time at Haverford and I can assure you he was extremely impressed with the Haverford community.
Tolerance and a spirit of inquiry dominate the scene as pointoforder has stated.
Preserving the heritage of Haverford and Swarthmore is important..they represent great threads of American political and ethical thought. I liken visiting them to the same authentic slice of the American story/feeling you get on the campuses of William and Mary...or the University of Virginia..or other early American institutions of higher learning.
Believe me, you have nothing to worry about. It's actually quite the opposite. I would venture to say that college campuses in the U.S. in general have become increasingly non-religious places. Also understand that Quakerism is less so a religion and more so a philosophical way of life. You will be asked to follow this philosophy, in terms of respecting your peers, being honest in your coursework, or participating in the customary beginning and opening moments of silence. However, all of this has very little religious component to it and I can think of very few places as accepting as Haverford is to any type of religion, spirituality, sexual preference, etc. You can pretty be whoever you want to be.
It would require far too long to fully explain Quaker education in the United States. They are some of the best private high schools and colleges in the country, President Clinton's and Obama's children attend Sidwell Friends School, a private Quaker school in Washington, DC.
It would talk too long go fully explain the Quaker tradition and the impact on the concensus community governance and lack showy pretense at a place like Haverford.
Suffice to say that religion at Haverford will have ZERO impact on your life at college in the way you are thinking. None. I wouldn't worry about it in the least. The Quaker schools are secular to the extreme.
Like you, I am also an international applicant who applied for financial aid but unlike you, I was wait listed. It would actually be to my advantage if you decline admission but I strongly urge you to accept the offer as soon as possible. Haverford is truly a unique place and is actually quite liberal. I think it features pretty high on the Princeton Review's list of Most Liberal Students in the US.
If you want to know what Haverford really is all about, check out its official online newspaper:The Bi-College News Online. I think reading all the blogs and articles will give you a clearer picture of Haverford.
The religious aspect of Quakerism is not in any way dominant or even blantly obvious at either Haverford or Swarthmore. The Quaker connection at Haverford, however, is somewhat stronger than at Swarthmore. Here is a link from the Haverford website which explains more about Quakerism at Haverford:
The College’s Governance
Approximately one third of Haverford’s governing board (the Board of
Managers) is made up of members of the Religious Society of Friends.
Quaker representation on the Board is a bylaw requirement, but the
College’s Quaker elements are not maintained through legalistic means,
but rather through the way in which the Board as a whole continually
honors the values of the institution. The College also has a 200-member
Corporation, an essentially all-Quaker group that meets annually, holds
title to the College’s assets, approves key nominations and all changes to
the bylaws, and assists in strengthening Haverford’s Quaker elements.
sorry, vickii, but we were all quite incredulous when you even asked! Haverford equals religious tolerance and freedom of inquiry.
I don't like to disparage my undergrad school (it was NOT Haverford) online because it was very very good to me, but I had some religiously preoccupied classmates a generation back who sometimes preached to others in unwelcome moments. For instance....one guy wouldn't read Madame Bovary...."because she broke one of the Ten Commandments." (!!!) To my college's credit, I think this outlook was altered four years later...the faculty was more "tolerant" and understanding than I was of people with these limitations.