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haverford vs. georgetown.

the prophetthe prophet Registered User Posts: 715 Member
edited May 2009 in Haverford College
i seriously have no idea where i want to go. can some people tell me the pros and cons of gtown as compared to a small but well ranked (10) LAC like haverford? i'm thinking about majoring in english and filling up my premed requirements.

from what i've come to gather, the one main thing that is different about them is the size (obviously). haverford seems to have a huge focus on community; is everyone kind of like on their own in gtown, lost in d.c. and all? haverford has penn and swarthmore, but gtown has d.c. and opportunities, and of course, a huge research university -- and the name. it's not an h-bomb, but it's definitely like a g-missle, and not many people have ever heard of haverford (i'm talking about the common man).

the social scene means just as much to me as the academic. at haverford, i have this feeling i'll get to know people a lot better since there will be so few -- it'll be like high school all over again in a way. at georgetown, there'd be a lot more people to get to know, etc.

whatever and thanks in advance. tell me your mood. hit me with some thoughts.
Post edited by the prophet on

Replies to: haverford vs. georgetown.

  • Luckie StarchildLuckie Starchild Registered User Posts: 330 Member
    Among the cognoscenti, Haverford is its own h-bomb... and if you wanna impress the common man, pas de probleme: all you have to do is mumble the name and they'll think you go to Harvard.
  • Sligh_AnarchistSligh_Anarchist Registered User Posts: 2,193 Senior Member
    I unfortunately second Luckie Starchild's idea. I can't tell you how many times that people have said to me, "Wow!!! You are going to Harvard?" In fact, one of my good friend was convinced for weeks that I was going to Harvard until I said, "you don't think I am going to Harvard, do you?" after she said, "well, Yale is your school's rival, right?"

    Feel free to join the "Haverford, not Harvard" group on Facebook. ;)
  • kerouackerouackerouackerouac Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    Georgetown, hands-down.

    About DC...

    Washington D.C. is just full of opportunities that are endless and is just a fantastic city in general (socially, intellectually, musically, etc). You'll have a very diverse experience there.
  • pointoforderpointoforder Registered User Posts: 546 Member
    Why is Haverford do special? Haverford's academic atmosphere is as rigorous, serious, and stimulating as any college in the nation. Moreover, at Haverford the principal education mission of the faculty is to focus on two things: research and undergraduate students. In addition, the College is committed to educating the “whole person.” Finally, it also has a great social environment, students are very happy, and there’s a strong sense of community. Generally, students love the College.

    You are right that Haverford doesn’t have the general name recognition of Georgetown (Div I basketball and an undergrad enrollment 6 times that Haverford, a total enrollment that’s about 11 times that of Haverford). But, people that need to know, understand the prestige of Haverford. While Harvard offers the “H-bomb,” it’s Haverford that offers the tactical, smart “H-missile.” Those at the investment bank, at the elite law firm, on the Hill (in D.C.), in the top-ranked Ph.D. program, in the medical school admissions office, etc. will know. In other words, those that need to know actually know. It’s got plenty of cache.

    If you care that the dental hygienist is impressed when he or she asks where you go/went to school, then there are bigger names to do the trick (and actually they aren’t the Ivys). At he end of the day, IMHO, the common man being impressed really doesn’t matter. What matters is that chairs of Ph.D. programs and presidents of the nations most important science foundation, writes “My pulse quickens when I see students from Carleton, Haverford, and Williams who have applied to our Ph.D. program.” See http://www.collegenews.org/prebuilt/daedalus/cech_article.pdf

    On occasion, I’ve used the regional analogies. If the person’s from the Pacific Northwest I say it’s similar to Reed. If the person’s from California, I say it’s like Pomona. If the person’s from Ohio, I say it’s a cousin of Oberlin. If the person’s from Massachusetts, I say it’s equivalent to Amherst (or Williams). You get the point. Sometimes, they still don’t know the reference and other times it works.

    On the social side, there are actually plenty of people to get to know. At most LACs, including Haverford, students get to know others from the classes above them and below them really well. Something that’s pretty rare in high school. So, with a 25% turnover every year there are lots of new people to meet. Also, the relationship with BMC also expands the pool of people to meet. So, I don’t think you need to worry about running out of people to interact and socialize with. That said, the social scene will be a bit more laid back than G’town.

    Have you seen these videos about the College? Haverford College Office of Admission: Admission Videos
  • casey75casey75 Registered User Posts: 110 Junior Member
    Regarding the advice to choose G-town based on the Washington, DC social scene and cultural scene and other offerings, I would be careful about that. My daughter went to American U., partly because she liked their International Relations program, but also because she loves DC and the cultural offerings there, the energy, etc. What she found once she got to American was that very few students wanted to take advantage of the wonderful museums, speakers, rallies, etc. They were mostly interested in going out to the Georgetown area to party. Very few students actually stayed on campus on weekend evenings, so their was very little social activity or cohesiveness for those who did not want to spend all their time clubbing. She ended up transferring to Ursinus her sophomore year and loves it. There is a much more close-knit student body and more things to do on campus on weekends. She can get into Philly to satisfy her city yearnings. I do not know how this scenario compares to G-town, but I'm just saying be careful not to pick a school based on what you believe the social scene may or may not be. Really look into that closely. If one of your main goals is to be in a place where you can hit the club scene and spend a lot of time off campus, then G-town may have an advantage there. I don't know if the students there take more advantage of the cultural offerings of DC than those at American (or to be fair, than my D's impression she formed during her one year at American).
  • h50h50 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    I must say that, after months of stalking College Confidential throughout the college process, this is the thread that made me finally take the plunge to join and post. Here's my take, from the perspective of a Haverford '13 ED admit who lives in Washington DC. (Sorry in advance for a long post, but I sense one coming...)

    *THE CONCERN OVER NAMES - Despite loving the school, every time I said I was looking at Haverford to a relative or friend and got a blank stare in response (or the occasional "I'm sure it's a very good school"), it hurt on the inside. It's hard, especially for the kind of motivated and talented students that are applying to schools like Haverford and other top LACs, to go to a school that doesn't get instant name recognition.

    Ultimately, though, you need to really ask yourself what school environment (not name) is going to give you the best four year experience. If you choose a school you don't like just for the reputation associated with its name (which is not at all your situation, but an exaggerated scenario for the sake of example), you might not do as well academically if you're not happy socially, and then you lose all advantages of attending that big name school in the first place. An F is an F, whether it's from Harvard or anywhere else.

    Also, from things I've heard, I have to agree with what's been said above about Haverford being very well respected by people who need to know. For example, I took a summer class at Johns Hopkins University and the PhD student who was teaching it praised one of Haverford's academic departments as much as, if not more than, the same undergrad one at Hopkins.

    * WASHINGTON, DC vs. HAVERFORD, PA - I love living in DC, and I can completely understand why someone might want to go to college here. At the same time, though, I think many people overestimate the role the city itself will play in their college experience. College life is very insular, whether you're in a city or not. Your life centers around your academics and extracurriculars on campus, and your social life will be rooted there too. It's really graduate students who can make much better use of being in a city like DC.

    Trust me when I say that the best DC has to offer is not in Georgetown, unless you happen to come to DC to shop at chain retailers like J. Crew, Gap, etc. To get downtown to the Mall, government buildings, Verizon Center, and many cultural institutions, you would need to take several buses to even get to a subway station. I tried running Gtown to the Smithsonian Metro station through Metro's trip planner, and it could take around 30-50 minutes - as long as it takes to get from Haverford to Philly. (I've never seen any Georgetown University transportation, but I'm sure a system must exist to minimize this time.) So take that into account - you might end up utilizing DC much less than you think.

    * ONE MORE THOUGHT - Georgetown is a Jesuit school (albeit probably a more secular and liberal one than most), which will provide a much different environment than a liberal leaning school with no religious affiliation (though with a Quaker tradition). Be sure to take your thoughts on both of those environments into account as well.

    I know I've poured out a lot here, and I hope at least some of it helps. Good luck with your decision, and (maybe) see you next year!
  • casey75casey75 Registered User Posts: 110 Junior Member
    h50 -- nice thoughts above. Best of luck at HC in the fall...my son will be starting there as well and we are confident he will have a great college experience there.
  • the prophetthe prophet Registered User Posts: 715 Member
    good thoughts, guys. i'm maybe leaning more and more to the 'ford, partly because of everyone's logic and also because they have a much better financial aide package than georgetown (though that's not my reason to pick the college).

    hmm. let's see. haverford open house on the 19th, for sure. if everything fits well, i guess i'll be seeing some of you around, next year.

    thanks for everything.
  • casey75casey75 Registered User Posts: 110 Junior Member
    Prophet - I was looking at many of your other posts on this site just to sort of see where your thinking was on schools and how Haverford and G-town might fit into those. I see you were really dreaming to get into an Ivy, with many posts on the Harvard and Yale forums discussing them as your dream schools. You might want to think about what it was about those schools that was so appealing to you and then compare those aspects to HC and G-town. Haverford is very different than a school like Harvard or Yale, and I don't mean in an inferior way. Many students would rather attend a small, top LAC where there are no TA-taught classes and the emphasis on research is necessarily at the undergraduate level, not in the graduate schools. In fact, many faculty of Ivy schools have been shown to prefer LAC's for their own sons and daughters. But those are reasons to favor a school like Haverford. I'm sure there must have been reasons you dreamed of attending one of the Ivies, and G-town may be more like one of those schools in terms of overall size, class size, the impact of having a grad school, etc. I would think you might want to really look within yourself and think about what it is you are looking for in a college experience. My bias is in favor of a school like Haverford over Georgetown for someone interested in English and pre-med. But as I said, Haverford is very different than your dream schools of Harvard and Yale. I saw in one of your other posts that you might consider accepting at Haverford and then try to transfer to Yale, I believe. I would hope that between Haverford and G-town, both great schools, you could decide that one of them would be a place you could be happy for four years and not have to think about transferring.
  • the prophetthe prophet Registered User Posts: 715 Member
    good call, casey. i see your point. it won't be an easy decision and it'll require a lot more introspection than i thought.

    thanks for the great advice everyone.
  • newengland8newengland8 Registered User Posts: 48 Junior Member
    While I don't think that you could go wrong at either place, I think you are better off at Georgetown. Haverford is not a name that is recognized by the average person, and that seems to be important to you.
  • Luckie StarchildLuckie Starchild Registered User Posts: 330 Member
    ^^ Who would want to go to a school that every random idiot on the street has heard of? Yuck! Wouldn't it be much better to go somewhere that is exclusively known by the intelligentsia only? A place with a little elegance, a little flair, a little panache...
  • EndicottEndicott Registered User Posts: 1,435 Senior Member
    I have visited Georgetown and Haverford, and I would absolutely choose Haverford. Close-knit, intimate, with professors who spend lots of time out of class getting to know you. It really looked like heaven, if you're passionate about learning.
  • the prophetthe prophet Registered User Posts: 715 Member
    the name means something, but it's obviously not everything. i would much rather go to a place where i will make more lasting relationships and learn enthusiastically than a place that's known but doesn't really offer a place to grow.

    i think it'd be unfair to say georgetown doesn't offer that though, just as it'd be unfair to say only random idiots don't know about haverford or know about georgetown. but i'm still leaning more and more to h. ya'll have me convinced.

    we'll see what happens. i'll let you all know as soon as i make up my mind -- haha, if it makes any difference in your lives. but just more so as a common courtesy. thanks.
  • swat69swat69 Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
    People who matter know the name Haverford, and know it very well. People who don't know the name Haverford don't matter. (If the ones who don't know are your relatives, they can look it up, whereupon they will be very, very impressed.) I was told this by a Washington lawyer who used it when speaking of Williams (where he went), and it is the same with any of the outstanding colleges. People who never heard of Haverford have also never heard of Amherst, Swarthmore, Williams, etc., etc. Or they confuse Amherst with Andover prep school ("Amherst -- isn't that where George W. Bush was a cheerleader? Isn't it a high school?") They may have heard of Wesleyan because Obama gave the commencement address there last year after Ted Kennedy fell ill -- but they often mix it up with other colleges and small universities whose names begin with W. Occasionally somebody who should know better makes a mistake, probably while writing under deadline. Maureen Dowd, the NYTimes columnist, who obviously knows better, wrote "Wesleyan" in a recent column instead of "Wellesley" -- but it was hastily changed before the print version of the paper hit the street the next morning.

    The only exception to this "name" rule comes if you are abroad: somebody from Britain or France or Latin America s more likely to have heard of a big American university than a small college -- but so what? They even confuse the names of huge American universities. Le Monde Diplomatique (which surely knows better) recently confused the University of Michigan with Michigan State. It was embarrassing to the writer and editors, not to the universities.

    Grad schools, law schools, medical schools, etc. all know Haverford very well. I've never gone to Haverford, although I strongly considered it, but they have an engineering arrangement where you take 3 years of liberal arts at Haverford and then 2 years of engineering at Caltech, and get 2 bachelors degrees, one BA from Haverford and one BS from Caltech. Similar arrangements exist with Amherst (and Dartmouth engineering), Williams (and Columbia engineering, I think), and Colgate (Columbia or Washington University in St. Louis engineering). Swarthmore has its own excellent, and highly regarded engineering program. All of these schools are superb, and known to be. I would say that they all outshine Georgetown, but that may be a personal taste.
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