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English Major at Haverford

newengland8newengland8 Registered User Posts: 48 Junior Member
edited April 2009 in Haverford College
I've been accepted to Haverford and am trying to get a handle on its English program. It seems that the school is known for its science program and I'm wondering if I would be the only non-science major at the school. Any thoughts on this?
Post edited by newengland8 on

Replies to: English Major at Haverford

  • pointoforderpointoforder Registered User Posts: 546 Member
    While Haverford has great sciences, it is a true liberal arts college with outstanding social sciences and humanities. For the HC classes of 2009 and 2010, the five most popular majors are Political Science (11.6%), Biology (10.5%), English (10%), Economics (9.8%), and Psychology (9.3%).

    As you can see, English is one of the three most popular majors--with virtually the same number of students as biology. The English professors are world-class and very much loved by the students. In addition, the Hurford Humanities Center is a major force on campus. The Center brings together faculty, students, and diverse communities of writers, artists, performers, thinkers, activists, and innovators.

    In recent years, English majors have gone off to top Ph.D. programs (Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, among others), pursued high school teaching, journalism careers, law school, medical school, Peace Corps, nonprofit jobs, business careers, and a host of other things.

    Haverford has an academic atmosphere that is as rigorous, serious, and stimulating as one will find anywhere, whether you want to study the natural sciences, social sciences, or the humanities.

    By the way, if you haven’t already done so, be sure to checkout these videos about Haverford: Haverford College Office of Admission: Admission Videos
  • HC AlumHC Alum Registered User Posts: 604 Member
    I feel partly responsible for this... sorry.

    You have to understand, I was a science major (biochem) so I write what is most familiar to me. In addition, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a top LAC that DOESN'T have a great English (or econ, history, poli sci...) department. You go to these schools expecting this... it's really bread and butter. Haverford's english program is very very strong and you can tap into BMC as well and their humanities are stunning... uh, the current head of the National Endowment for the Humanities did graduate work at BMC afterall...

    The *very small* things I've noticed that seems to distinguish some schools from others in terms of academics are things like studio arts, performing arts, smaller areas of study and opportunities for scientific research... Haverford provides a great education because you can get the small intimate feel but also tap into the resources of a school twice its size with BMC. Large departments are universally strong across LACs.

    ...did you see the HHMI post I just made??!! just kidding...
  • newengland8newengland8 Registered User Posts: 48 Junior Member
    Thanks for your insight. It is hard to imagine an English department that is not on par with the rest of the school, but the sciences are really talked about everywhere. I am going to admitted students' day on Sunday, and hope that I am able to see the English department to which you refer.

    HC Alum - I read some of your posts regarding Swarthmore vs Haverford. As a high school senior from a high pressured high school in New England, I am sick to death of hearing the ongoing hair-splitting among the many excellent LAC's out there. Around the lunch table, with the Middlebury vs Wesleyan vs Amherst vs Williams vs Wellesley vs Bowdoin vs Colby vs Hamilton vs Haverford vs Swarthmore, etc., you'd think that we were discussing living on different planets. It is fostered by our inane college admission process which gives the valedictorian admission to almost every Ivy while the salutatorian, who got an A- in Honors Geometry, admission to none. Same 2350 SAT's. This process has caused me to feel a sense of loss - burnout - regarding the college admission process and learning in general. If all goes well on Sunday, Haverford will be my choice of colleges. The hair-splitting between it and my other choices is that it appears that at Haverford, my classmates will not be looking over my shoulder to see what grade I got on a recent paper or where I stand in class rank. I hope that everything I have read about the intense academic nature of the school (which I enjoy) without the nasty competitiveness of my high school (which I despise) really holds true.

    Let me do well (or not) due to my own work ethic and desire to learn. This was what separates Haverford from the others for me.
  • HC AlumHC Alum Registered User Posts: 604 Member
    hmmm... I hope you don't interpret my Haverford vs Swarthmore posts as hair-splitting. If that's the case, then I'm not writing as clearly as I should.

    If anything, I try to point out that many of the arguments used by some Swat fans to distinguish the schools (and occasionally dismiss Haverford) are distracting details, just not true or exaggerations. I think very highly of Swarthmore... but not so much the antics of some of its CC fans and CC alumni.

    The main differences in my opinion are that Swat is a little larger and has more money but Haverford has Bryn Mawr which greatly expands academic and extracurricular opportunities.

    Swarthmore>Haverford usually but not always
    Bi-College>Swarthmore usually but not always

    Regarding the grade mongering, you're not going to find that at Haverford as you've correctly stated but, from my experience, that isn't an issue at Swat and likely a few other LACs as well. So, I hope you have several other reasons to go to Haverford because this is not a true distinguishing feature of the school. :)
  • newengland8newengland8 Registered User Posts: 48 Junior Member
    Thanks for the input. Looking forward to Sunday.
  • Faline2Faline2 Registered User Posts: 4,241 Senior Member
    we live in the more rural part of Virginia...I would say Haverford draws from Northern Virginia and has name recognition there. We live in Hokie Country. You would think our local paper is the Virginia Tech paper. The last 24 hours of course have been full of wrenching reporting on students who were there during the shootings, many from right here in our town. VMI gets tons of attention. UVA gets some attention. Otherwise, no one speaks of any colleges up north. Philadelphia is vaguely equated with New England, not connected at all in anyone's minds with its relatively easy access to the DC burbs where northern Virginians live.

    I was just thinking of your experiences listening to kids in New England hotly debating the trivial and inane "distinctions" and pros and cons of many of the finest liberal arts colleges in America, and the intense interest where you grew up re getting into the northern LACs.

    Son was making his initial visits to Haverford and Swat last year, and his GF of that time complained to him, "why are you driving Waaaay up there applying to "random" colleges?"

    What a difference where you live can make.
  • newengland8newengland8 Registered User Posts: 48 Junior Member
    Faline - Yes, I have many cousins in Kentucky who would never dream of applying to a LAC in the northeast. One cousin, however, has decided that this would be an appealing option. She is a very good student. If she decides to apply to these colleges her chances of being accepted are great due to the desire for geographical distribution among colleges. Those of us who are in the very competitive high schools in the northeast understand the value of a great liberal arts college, but are competing with each other for the limited spots alloted by them for kids from new england. I envy my cousin and if Hokie County is considered an underrepresented area, I envy students from there as well. My high school (and many other area high schools) have an unhealthy workload and stressful environment for those of us desiring to get into "great" schools. We have enormous amounts of work to do (a recent grad told me that Wesleyan was 17 times easier than our high school) and then get waitlisted at these schools because there are too many of us. A double-edged sword, in my opinion.
  • redandtheblackredandtheblack Registered User Posts: 139 Junior Member
    I hear ya, newengland8. And I gotta wonder if that double-edged sword also applies to graduates of highly selective colleges competing against each other to get into top graduate and professional schools. My dad turned down an Ivy to attend a large state university for undergrad. He did great, got a great education, and went to an Ivy for law school. Meanwhile, he says that none of his friends from high school who went to Ivys or top NE LACs for undergrad were accepted to the same Ivy law schools that took him, despite, in some cases, having better LSAT scores; some ended up going to law school at state universities (and went on to have great careers, BTW). He thinks that he was really helped in the law school admissions process by being a standout at a large public U instead of an also-ran at an Ivy, or at A, W, or S. Maybe getting waitlisted at the "great" schools is a blessing in disguise.
  • Faline2Faline2 Registered User Posts: 4,241 Senior Member
    well, you all must come to Haverford and reinvent yourselves, and toss aside all your worries and high school stresses, and take some big Middle Atlantic State breaths. Haverford is a wonderful college with a new set of challenges. My son had to turn in a card that said he isn't coming because we lost heart and confidence in paying our EFC..for various good reasons I won't bore you with now. Haverford offered some need aid, and we wrote an appeal, but never mailed it. Even if granted more support, we would not have been on solid ground, so we didn't pursue after much serious thought and many days of fiddling with numbers and doing the math. We are just on that cusp that has trouble this year with the cost of privates. My son has accepted a merit award elsewhere...and he will have his own surprise alternative adventure instead in a school with some family roots for us.

    but for the English major OP, I will quote Irving: Good Night you tired and beleaguered New England Haverford admittees and hopefuls! You Princes of Maine and various other NE states :), you Princes and Princesses of New England.

    Sleep well...you are stepping into your future in a historic school in the city of Philadelphia...where many blessings, rewarding times and great teachers and friends await you..best wishes!
  • HC AlumHC Alum Registered User Posts: 604 Member
    Hi Faline

    Congrats on your son's merit scholarship. I hope he will have a blast where he goes as I'm sure he will. I've enjoyed reading your posts on this and other forums... your posts reflect an enthusiasm for education that is just crackling with excitement. Thank you.

    I think I heard that quote in the "Cider House Rules" where it was spoken by the older physician who, if I remember correctly, was noted to have gone to Bowdoin.
  • Faline2Faline2 Registered User Posts: 4,241 Senior Member
    Hey HC Alum, your posts helped us attach to Haverford, although we also think the website is also rather brilliant. My son visited twice and spent some real time on campus. I think our son really was a Haverperson, but my only comfort is that perhaps it is the Haverperson in him that received the merit award, and his qualities are wanted where he will be attending.
    this recession has been so very deep and frightening for many, certainly for us.

    Yes, that was the good Doc's bedtime blessing.

    I grew up in Delaware with Philly as my "city" so it does not feel alien and northern to me..I like being that close actually to the Chesapeake world not that far away..and there are miles and miles of greenways nearby the Haverford campuses that have their own magic, artist's have loved the area forever.
  • newengland8newengland8 Registered User Posts: 48 Junior Member
    Loved Haverford yesterday. Thanks for the encouragement Faline2. My father has the same feelings about Philly, and I hope to adopt them soon.

    Red and Black - I have had the same concerns about graduate school. I was offered a spot at my state university's honors college, and have wondered if, in the end, I'd have more options applying to grad school from there. Probably. But I'm having trouble seeing that far ahead, and will go with what feels right at this point.

    In any event, off to Haverford at the end of August.
  • Faline2Faline2 Registered User Posts: 4,241 Senior Member
    thanks for the happy update, newengland8. in our book, giving up Haverford was giving up excellent, personal post graduate placement outcomes...we think post graduate placements for Haverford graduates is actually one of the great assets of a Haverford degree. HIGHLY respected in graduate schools, and yet so extremely balanced civil and sane as an undergraduate school experience. Where else does half the faculty live on grounds? This is a rare school with its own rare culture..let us know how freshman year goes and hope your Customs week is a joy.
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