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Swat vs. Haverford

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Replies to: Swat vs. Haverford

  • A.E.A.E. Registered User Posts: 398 Member
    ^You do know that Haverford is allowed to be just as good of a school without threatening Swarthmore's status as another great school; maintaining this illusion that one is a dramatic improvement on the other would be rather silly when schools of this caliber have so much in common

    I agree, in the same sense that the Clippers are allowed to be as good as the Lakers without threatening the Lakers' status as a great team. So, yes, Swarthmore and Haverford are in the same league (just like the Lakers and Clippers), and Haverford is allowed to be good (just like the Clippers).
  • elytronelytron User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 316 Member
    I think as far as your academic needs go, both schools will provide equivalent experience. The question is which one will feel right, go above and beyond, and give you that warm and fuzzy feeling when you think about it. Financial, academic, and social comparison is useful, but you can go to the richest school with the best academics and the coolest people and STILL be unhappy if it isn't your natural niche. I was confronted with the same question you are facing a couple months ago, and going to each school to feel out their respective vibes really tipped the scale. Without suggesting that what suits me would suit you, Haverford was by far the better environment for me, and there were several factors about Swarthmore that I found off-putting in spite of what a great school it is. You might have the exact opposite reaction, and that's great, the point is to have that reaction in the first place. Thus while interestdad's kind of analysis is useful, nothing matters more than finding a place that you can really envision as your home. Moral of the story: go visit each with an open mind and gauge your reaction upon thorough inspection of their facilities, students, classes etc.
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
    Thus while interestdad's kind of analysis is useful, nothing matters more than finding a place that you can really envision as your home.

    That would depend on the severity of the financial situation. You can do all the envisioning you want and, if the money isn't there, it isn't there. For example, I suspect that the men's swimming and diving recruits envisioned a wonderful four years of their sport at UC-Davis -- until the team was eliminated this week.

    These financial issues are not inconsequential. For example, if a school I were considering had the largest endowment losses of any college or university in the country, over 35%, I would want to take into consideration the unavoidable impact of those losses on the current levels of programming.
  • elytronelytron User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 316 Member
    Haverford lost a lot of money and Swarthmore is loaded, we know. If it were really going to ruin the experience, I doubt they would still be matching the $10 million grant from the Jaharis Foundation to build a new dorm in 2012. You go to college for the people, the teachers, and the environment; not how "well endowed they are." The endowment argument is reminiscent of two guys whipping it out to see who is more of a man- and frankly it sounds just as silly to me. Haverford will be fine and continue to provide an excellent education (http://www.haverford.edu/news/stories/31911/51)
  • KeilexandraKeilexandra Registered User Posts: 5,492 Senior Member
    I don't think interesteddad is saying that you HAVE to make a decision based on financial stability. But if you like both schools equally for different reasons, you obviously should pick the one with more money to spare. Sometimes, elytron, people really do feel "warm and fuzzy" at more than one school--myself included. I loved, and still love, Carleton; Swarthmore won because of better financial aid policies (=more money) and distance to home (a plus for my parents, a minor con for me).

    Wrt to the new dorm, it seems more like HC is being "forced" to take out more debt for the new dorm in order not to lose the matching grant. That is, would HC have built a new dorm in this financial climate if not for the grant? It may benefit the current crop of students, but that new debt still has to be paid and may well impact the school's long-term financial standing. I speculate; ID, I'm sure, can provide more concrete data.

    Wrt to the always-controversial academics: Swarthmore is more intense. That's not a good thing for a lot of people. I do believe that a school can have equally rigorous academics without equal intensity. In this respect, Haverford is "just as good"--but it's absolutely not the same academic experience.

    There is also the issue of academic fit. It is really up to the OP to figure out, by comparing course catalogs and major requirements, which English/complit/psych/phil/religion offerings s/he prefers.

    Rereading the OP, I see that you want "seriously intellectual" and "laid-back." While you'll find populations of both at both schools, I personally think that Swarthmore has more "seriously intellectual" students (emphasis on the seriously, which implies intensity to me) and Haverford has more "laid-back" students. Both have a good population of Wes-like quirky students; Haverford is more athletic, especially for intramurals. Swat's religion department is exceptionally broad in non-Judeo-Christian scope, but I have no clue about Haverford's.
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
    Yes, I thought that update was very interesting. This was perhaps the most telling sentence:
    We will have additional updates on the budget situation later this year and early in the next.

    Not all, but most colleges and universities have already outlined their three-year frameworks for budget-cutting -- how many staff will be eliminated, changes to financial aid, projected enrollment increases, and so forth. Just to cite two examples, you can get a pretty good feel for the magnitude of the cuts from planning documents released publicly by Swarthmore, Amherst, and many more.

    If I were looking at colleges for the next four years, years that will be directly and significantly impacted by those budget cuts, I would be very interested in those planning documents, and very curious if none have been released.
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
    Wrt to the new dorm, it seems more like HC is being "forced" to take out more debt for the new dorm in order not to lose the matching grant. That is, would HC have built a new dorm in this financial climate if not for the grant? It may benefit the current crop of students, but that new debt still has to be paid and may well impact the school's long-term financial standing. I speculate; ID, I'm sure, can provide more concrete data.

    The new 80 person dorm will be Haverford's first new dorm since 1968. During that period, Swarthmore has built Mertz, Alice Paul, and David Kemp.

    The plans for the new 80 person dorm at Haverford have been scaled back from 30,000 square feet to 22,000 square feet by eliminating all stairs and elevators from the interior. There will be no inside access between the first and second floors of the dorms. Each floor will have its own outside stairways and entries. Compare to Alice Paul (76 beds) at 30,321 square feet and David Kemp (75 beds) at 29,000 square feet. This is a small, but excellent example of how financial constraints impact student life. It would be one thing if the "fancier" colleges charged higher prices, but Haverford charged, on average, $4,000 more per student last year than Swarthmore did ($35,600 versus $31,600).
  • elytronelytron User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 316 Member
    Fine, you know what, don't go to Haverford, obviously outdoor stairs are not satisfactory
  • elytronelytron User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 316 Member
    I'm sure this has nothing to do with the fact that Swarthmore is 30% larger in terms of population while Haverford students have voted against increasing the size of each incoming class for years.
  • elytronelytron User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 316 Member
    The OP requested information about academic and social life. Now that you're done advertising Swarthmore's money, perhaps you could share your considerable insight into life at Swarthmore instead
  • A.E.A.E. Registered User Posts: 398 Member
    Is there any college ranking/rating list or system anywhere in the world that places Haverford as high or better than Swarthmore? Is there any metric by which we could say that Haverford students are as bright as Swarthmore students? Just curious.
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
    Actually, Swarthmore's enrollment has grown very slowly during that period. The very slow growth in enrollment has been cited in papers (for example, from the Williams College project on higher education economics) as a major reason for Swarthmore's financial strength.

    From 1976 to 2008, Swarthmore's enrollment increased by 21%, from 1224 to 1477 students. Haverford's enrollment increased by 41%, from 829 students to 1169 students. So I don't believe that would account for the lack of new dorms at Haverford since 1968.

    As you are probably aware, Haverford experienced financial distress resulting from a poorly timed growth strategy in the 1970s. They were forced to spend down their endowment to cover operating costs which has had a lasting impact, especially on physical plant.

    I don't know what Haverford's enrollment plans are for the next few years. They have not released budget planning information. Swarthmore's budget plan includes a total increase of 35 students over the next three years. It's an important number because it reflects directly on the quality of the educational program (student/faculty ratios). Amherst, for example, is in the process of increasing its enrollment by 180 students, so the Amherst for next year's freshmen will not be the same Amherst as several years ago.
  • elytronelytron User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 316 Member
    AE, I really hope for Swarthmore's sake that you are not representative of the kind of modest, thoughtful people I'd expect to find there
  • elytronelytron User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 316 Member
    Perhaps you misunderstood the OP

    "And interesteddad, while I appreciate your statistics-driven posts and find them both interesting and valuable, I am really more interested in hearing from people who have more direct experience with each school than being the parent of a student."
  • KeilexandraKeilexandra Registered User Posts: 5,492 Senior Member
    Are you a Haverford student, elytron? I really hope for Haverford's sake that your approach to debate and general courtesy expectations are not representative of the kind, thoughtful people I hope to find there over the course of the next four years.
This discussion has been closed.