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Help me love Haverford

dla26dla26 162 replies22 threads Junior Member
[Sorry, long read ahead. It's mostly me thinking out loud.]

My daughter is applying to Haverford ED2. While by no means a slam dunk, I think she has a decent shot since she went to Have-A-Look, and this whole college admissions process could be over in a little more than a month. (Thank god.) On the other hand, part of me thinks she might also have a decent shot at some other great schools she hasn't had a chance to visit yet, like Vassar, Middlebury, Grinnell (maybe with merit aid?), etc. and I wonder if maybe she should have waited for the results at those schools - or maybe even her reaches like Amherst or Bowdoin. (She already submitted her ED2 application, so it's moot at this point.)

So I guess I'm not sure I get why she's so excited about Haverford in particular. Don't get me wrong, I know it's a great school. It's just that there are so many other great schools in that category. (Also, for the record, I know that it doesn't matter that I don't get why she's so excited, since I'm not the one who's going to be going. As long as she's excited, that's really all that matters.)

When I asked her, she said that she really likes the honor code system there and the fact that students are trusted enough to be responsible. Personally, I'm not sure I get that. I mean it's nice, but is that a reason to choose a school? Again, I feel like I'm missing something. They make such a big deal about the honor code, but I don't see why it's that interesting. I also didn't want to be too skeptical about it in front of her, since I wouldn't want her to pick up a vibe that I somehow disapprove of her choice.

The things I do like about Haverford are that the students seem to be fairly laid back and friendly, if a bit on the preppy side. The professors also seem to be really involved, even for a liberal arts college. I also really like the location. It's remote enough that people won't feel like they're constantly being pulled away to the giant city right outside the gates (like, say, Columbia) but has really easy access to Philadelphia. Also the consortium seems good, though I'm not sure she'll take advantage of it that much.

The things I'm a little on the fence about are:

Sports - Because it's such a small school, a very large percentage of students are varsity athletes. When we visited, they made a point to show how they were better than their rival (Swarthmore maybe?) and how they beat them every year. For a non-sports kid, that seems like a negative.

Quaker-emphasis - I looked through the course catalog and there were a bunch of history classes that examined events through a Quaker lens, like Quakers and the Abolitionist Movement, etc. And although I do think it's one of the chillest religions out there, we're not Quaker, so I don't think that's a big plus.

Size - My daughter is interested in a small liberal arts school, so I get the appeal of small, but 1300 students seems crazy tiny to me. Most other LACs are around 2000.

Name recognition - Maybe it's just me, but I had never heard of Haverford before she started looking at colleges. I had heard of some of its peer schools like Vassar, Middlebury, Bowdoin, Carleton, etc. Maybe that was just a gap in my knowledge, and it's just as well known as those others. It just wasn't on my radar. Then again, I do get that no one goes to a LAC for the brand name.

So yeah... kind of rambling at this point. If she gets in in a month, I want to be genuinely excited about it. Of course I'll be excited that she's excited, but I kind of want to love the school too. (Especially since it's most of my life savings that will be paying for it!) What am I missing?
31 replies
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Replies to: Help me love Haverford

  • toomanykiddostoomanykiddos 229 replies8 threads Junior Member
    I hope you get some feedback. My DD applied RD, and it’s very high on her list. She too attended the Have-A-Look program.
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  • Sunny66Sunny66 333 replies14 threads Member
    I know two current students who love it, as well as a recent grad who is now in grad school at an Ivy. Great school and super kind students.
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  • Momof3kidzMomof3kidz 110 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I think you should be extremely excited that your daughter has felt a connection to Haverford. The honor code really is a big deal and is valued throughout the tri-college community.

    I personally think your concerns will subside quickly if your daughter attends. There are plenty of non-athletes and I believe there is actually a low percentage of Quaker students. There will be tons of intelligent, motivated students. I think there a much to be said about a Quaker education and the focus on community. The professors are engaged and truly care about their students (obviously not unique to Haverford). Having been a part of the tri-college community, I can tell you the consortium makes the school feel bigger and gives students the benefits of a larger school with more class options. You might be surprised how much your daughter takes classes on other campuses.

    The location was a big part of why I would prefer Haverford over the other schools you have mentioned. It is an active suburb with easy access to the city. There is a lot to do in the area. I truly think you have much to be excited about for your daughter.
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  • luckyboothluckybooth 61 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Sent you a PM.
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  • merc81merc81 11901 replies203 threads Senior Member
    edited January 2019
    Haverford's standardized scoring profile indicates rarefied selection criteria, particularly when compared to a school you labeled as a reach:

    Middle Range SATs


    EBRW: 650-750
    Math: 640-760


    EBRW: 700-760
    Math: 690-770

    (Sources: Common Data Sets.)
    edited January 2019
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  • dla26dla26 162 replies22 threads Junior Member
    Thanks, everyone, for all of the feedback. (And congrats, @maddz7702 for getting in ED!) All of this is making me feel a bit better about it, though like @milgymfam's husband, I still kind of want to see where else she might get in. :)

    @merc81 - I did actually notice something similar to your point about the SAT range. I'm not a huge fan of the USNWR ranking system, since they heavily weigh things that don't really matter to me, like the 6-year graduation rate of Pell Grant recipients, but one thing that is helpful is that you can see how each school scored in a bunch of different categories, so if there are some metrics that matter to you more than others, you can just focus on those. I was impressed to see that Haverford actually ranked #1 on the "Student Excellence" measure, which I believe is a function of mid-range SAT/ACT scores and percentage of applicants in the top 10% of their class. (96% of freshmen attending Haverford were in the top 10%!) For comparison, Williams was #3 and Amherst and Carleton were tied for #6. (I only checked the schools my daughter is applying to, so I don't know what was #2, 4, 5, etc.) I'd be happy to share my spreadsheet in case anyone is interested.

    One area I was a little disappointed by was the Peer Assessment rating, which is on a 1-5 scale. That's the rating I trust the most since the peer institutions would be in the best position to know which schools delivered the best education. Haverford was kind of in the middle of the pack among the schools my daughter is applying to. In case anyone is interested, here's the full list:

    Williams - 4.7 (applied EDI but was deferred)
    Amherst - 4.7
    Bowdoin - 4.4
    Carleton - 4.3
    Middlebury - 4.3
    Vassar - 4.2
    Grinnell - 4.2
    Haverford - 4.1
    Bryn Mawr - 4.1
    Wesleyan - 4.1
    Oberlin - 4.1
    Bates - 4.1
    Colby - 4.0
    Macalester - 4.0
    Hamilton - 3.9
    Scripps - 3.9
    Kenyon - 3.9
    Reed - 3.8
    Lewis & Clark - 3.4 (Already admitted EA)
    Willamette - 3.2 (Already admitted EA)

    Another metric that I was interested in was Faculty Resources, which I believe is a function of student-faculty ratio, % of classes with 20 or fewer students, % of faculty with PhDs, etc.. Haverford ranked #18 among all LACs. None of the ones on my daughter's list was in the top 4, though Williams was #5 and Hamilton was #8.

    Probably the biggest factor for me is how across the board everyone characterizes Haverford students as happy and friendly. I suppose that's ultimately the most important factor, since I want to make sure she really enjoys these next 4 years to the fullest.
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  • merc81merc81 11901 replies203 threads Senior Member
    Regarding peer assessment ratings, they may be the most recursive of the U.S. News metrics (PA -> ranking -> PA -> ranking -> PA . . .), which would seem to limit their value. They also may not translate that well into the real world. Graduates of Hamilton, for example, register the highest early career earnings (also reported by U.S. News, but not as a ranking factor) of the twenty colleges you listed above, yet the school's PA rating appears neutral on this aspect.
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  • LMC9902LMC9902 267 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @Proudpatriot I'm curious to hear about the student athlete experience at Haverford. My D is a current sophomore and has gotten good feedback from the Haverford coach so far and she likes the vibe and programs she's read about. She is planning to do a clinic in her sport soon to visit campus and meet the coach and team in person. She's a strong student and wants to choose a school for the programs it offers but it would be a bonus to play as well. You mention that your son's girlfriend isn't an athlete so I'm assuming the student body mixes well between athletes and non, yes? My daughter would say that most of her friends currently are not athletes so she's definitely looking for a college social scene where everyone mixes regularly. Since Haverford is a very small school, I'm wondering if the college does anything to help strike that balance since a high percentage of students must be athletes. Would love your thoughts.
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  • ProudpatriotProudpatriot 1538 replies12 threads Senior Member
    My son was in the same situation as your D @LMC9902 . He wanted to play in college but not at the expense of choosing the wrong school. My son says there is an athlete/non athlete divide for those who choose it. There will always be the group who thinks lacrosse players are neanderthals, sports take up too many resources, etc. However, for those who don't want the divide to exist it doesn't exist. The student will be the one who chooses.

    My son is very involved on campus. Many of his friends come from his team. After all they spend a lot of time together, especially now that it is in season for them. However, he holds leadership positions in two clubs that are not athletic in nature (one religious, one political). His sport does not require him to give up everything else in his life. Nor does he have to stick to certain majors.

    My son had a lot of weight training in high school and he really likes the H training program. He had some minor injuries this fall (off season) and got lots of support from the training staff with recovery.

    As far a social life goes I would say my son spends a lot of time with his team mates. Since H has no Greek Life sports teams sometimes fill that void. His team throws parties, goes to other teams' parties and attends other events together. He has been happy there.

    His only complaint is about the lack of diversity of viewpoint on campus. It is all liberal, all the time with little room for other viewpoints. He complains that there is simply an assumption that everyone agrees with the liberal orthodoxy with little thought given to the possibility that they don't. He says nearly all LAC are like this so he doesn't think it is unique to H.
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  • luckyboothluckybooth 61 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Good job. Congrats!
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  • dla26dla26 162 replies22 threads Junior Member
    Thank you!
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6717 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Hooray, @dla26 ! Great choice.
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