Haverford culture

Hello! I am a prospective Haverford applicant. I love what Haverford college has to offer academically, but I have some reservations about its culture/admissions. Although they have different programs that aid FGLI students and have diversity outreach, I can’t help but think they’re just accepting people that foot the bill. I want to love this place and all its resources! Also, is the Haverford community truly welcoming and collaborative? I hear there might be an underlying competitiveness there too. I would really appreciate any input from current students/parents of current students. Thanks for your help!

A parental perspective (of current student):

I know of several current students that receive a great deal of support, up to and including 100% of the cost. They go so far as to provide for help with things like winter coats and cothing assistance if necessary. All schools are under new financial pressures with COVID, so any answers you get based on past experience could be misleading with regard to the future…but they have been supportive in the past.

In general, I think the community is very welcoming and open. I have attended a handful of on-campus events (games, concerts), and there is a lot of support for each other and the students generally seem very happy, very interactive, very engaged. Anyone answering this is biased by their own interests and engagement, but we’ve found all 3 of the Tri-Co schools to be very open and welcoming.

This is another answer that’s really perspective driven. My take is that Haverford is not competitive. There is a rigor to the classwork that requires focus and effort, but I get the sense that student interaction is totally supportive with very little sense of competition between classmates. Haverford is slightly more competitive with regard to sports than the other two Tri-co schools (the mix of size and being co-ed does bring a large number of athletes to the campus as a percentage of the total student body), but I don’t think it generates competition within the Haverford community.

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Parent perspective here: my daughter is a first year at HC and LOVES it, even with this year being so highly unusual because of covid.

She attended a highly competitive high school and chose HC precisely because of its quaker values and its collaborative environment. She has repeatedly told me that it is exactly that, highly supportive and collaborative. She says everyone works very hard but no one is thinking or talking about grades, just the work and there is lots of it.
Socially, because of covid, she hasn’t met many people, but she has a very happy and busy social life with the small group of friends in her hall. They are together all the time. They go out together, eat together, study together, watch movies together.

HC has handled the covid situation incredibly well, we are super pleased with the administration and the fact that the students seem to really follow mask requirements.

With regard to FGLI, I’m sorry I don’t have much info on it, even though she is not FGLI she does receive FA and many of her friends have a work study job on campus like her. She says people are truly kind and caring. Again, it’s been a very unusual semester, but I know she has no regrets.

Hope that helps…

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I echo that Haverford is known for its collaborative and supportive spirit.It’s also open to all sorts of people. I know nothing about the FGLI but in general Haverford is known for its excellent financial aid. Quaker values guide its principles–for this family that’s been a plus. Bryn Mawr within the consortium us probably the most like Haverford–so you have at least two campuses and two schools that work closely with each other and that share similar values, class schedules, facilites, clubs etc. Importantly they also share the low-competition among the students while retaining high-level academics. Also the campuses are beautiful. Swarthmore might be welcoming of people but from everything I’ve heard it’s more academically competitive. Some people from Haverford take classes at Swat and many do not, the choice is entirely yours.

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@ansenior Your post about your D’s Haverford experience made me so happy. I, too, went to a competitive high school and chose HC for the same reasons as your daughter. I am delighted to know that all these years the collaborative, hardworking, Quakerly environment continues. I hope that things can get back to normal so that she can have the full HC experience. Viva la Haverford!

Considering your question in terms of location, Pennsylvania might place as some people’s favorite state right now.

My daughter is a sophomore at Haverford and is a FGLI student on near 100% FA. They are trying to build bridges with the low income students there in new ways still, but the money is there for sure (thought my daughter has had a few issues with summer things). My daughter has seen zero competitiveness at Haverford. Everyone seems very collaborative and focused on their own goals and doing the best they can. They’re generally a very open place in her opinion and she made friends quickly and easily and loves them dearly. I would say that if you’re an ultra conservative you might have a different perspective on campus culture, as they do seem to lean left. The students are currently on strike, actually, because of issues between the school and BIPOC and FGLI students, but I have to say the administration has been working hard on the changes that will get the all back to work and that will better care for the students who feel they’ve been treated as less-than. No school is perfect, but the community and administration at Haverford seems to always be striving to be better, which is the most you can hope for imo.

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Lean left? I’d say as a progressive, leftist, the campus’ culture is extremely narrow, and conforming. Be prepared to be known for your "identity first:, who you are and what you think, second. BIPOC, FGLI, cis, LGBTQIA+, etc., etc. The student “strike” is a perfect example, as group think and quite angry words have shut down most classes and forced my child to “go along” with the groupthink rather than have the fight. A lot of spoiled kids, regardless of their economic status. My child is almost out, but would not consider it a viable option and have serious concerns the administration will shut the school down for the rest of the year to appease a small minority of spoiled children.

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Concern about Haverford College is whether the campus community is open to & respectful of moderate and/or conservative points of view.

Haverford’s reputation is an academically outstanding school with a very liberal, closed-minded campus culture.

P.S. Many confuse the concept of being “open-minded” with being very liberal and progressive.

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I just came across the article about the strike this week, which I linked below for those unaware. This school had never been on our radar prior to this year. We have participated in a couple of zooms with the Dean of Admission and I’ve always been impressed. I thought that this strike was more just a part of their culture and a result of the emphasis on self-governance. I’d be interested to hear more of what other’s thoughts are.

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/11/09/students-color-haverford-college-continue-strike-racial-equity

The strike has ended. Here is the latest update from the organizers: https://www.hc-strike.com/updates.html
@Meddy I hope your student will be able to connect with current students to get a more accurate sense of what campus is like right now. It seems like the administration has committed to meaningful change. As an alum, I hope that these changes can be implemented quickly and effectively. Good luck!

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I should have recorded the conversations I’ve had the past two weeks with my currently striking student (ends tonight).

I support efforts to provide equality for every member of the Haverford community, but struggle to understand how NOT attending classes for 2 weeks (at a cost of $3,000+ per week) harms anyone but the students? In the end, the administration has committed to $400k+ of investment in programs for BIPOC students, committments to change or evaluate some processes, a day off for election day, and some bias and sensitivity training. Important steps, but at a cost of nearly $8M in lost educational time during the pandemic?

IMO the real issue at Haverford right now is a lack of leadership. President Raymond was admittedly thrown into the deep end of the pool with this pandemic in her first year, but she and other members of the executive committee at Haverford have done a very poor job of leading this year. This entire issue (again IMO) was in response to her tone-deaf letter to the community regarding the death of Walter Wallace Jr. She was trying to do the right thing, but threw gasoline on the embers. The BIPOC students, who had been trying to implement some changes with the school all semester, took the opportunity to blow things up. That put the rest of the community in the position to either support a strike, or be seen as indifferent to the very real issues these members face.

I believe that the communication referenced above was an attempt to remind the community about the pandemic, and point out that participation in protests and marches by community members puts the entire group at risk. A few of the students were arrested. Their actions put people at risk, but the message was overshadowed by terms and phrases used unwisely, most notably that protesting and other activities “won’t bring Walter back”.

One thing making this even harder for Pres. Raymond is the relationship Haverford has with Swathmore. Valerie Smith (Swat Pres) is an exceptional leader, as well as just an amazing person. Her deep understanding of the subject matter, and maybe more importantly, her ability to communicate with a sense of empathy, has been used as a foil to Pres. Raymond’s handling of the events following the death of Mr. Wallace. As I pointed out to my student, if Haverford students want to compare Swat and Haverford, the juniors and seniors should appreciate they would not be living at Haverford had the school followed Swarthmore’s lead, and the need to remind the community of the risks associated with large gatherings would be roughly halved.

In the end, Haverford remains an amazing place with an active community that values equality. I hope the strike has improved things on campus, but will remain a skeptic regarding the value wasted in pursuit of the commitments recieved.

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The Hford culture is intolerant of conservatives period. The conservative view point is shut down “on sight.” Beyond this the Hford President Raymond has allowed the most extreme liberal views to hurt the academic experience for all. Then there is the breach of contract issue. Money has been paid for classes which haven’t occurred. If anyone is familiar w/ the Oberlin College story, you’ll see the same progression of self-destruction. It’s not good for the students, parents, or the school. Someone has to be in charge and I thought that was Raymond who to date has been incommunicado.

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Who is John Galt?

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The atmosphere is still toxic and if you didn’t agree with the striker tactics you were targeted for retribution. We all agreed that racism is wrong and should be addressed, I was horrified by the hate rhetoric thrown out by the strike organizers. I was pressured to sign documents, I was pressured to give money to the strikers, and when I expressed that I had only been on campus for four weeks and wanted to attend class, I was labeled as racist and bullied constantly to the point where I ended up leaving school several weeks early and did classes remotely. I am not the only person. They haven’t addressed the bullying and I don’t think they have plans to do so. So many people are depressed and I’m scared for them.

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Absolutely true and to hear the leadership of this school be cursed out and denigrated online in meetings and on social media was terrible. How is this bullying and intimidation of students and leaders acceptable? Imagine if adults behaved this way in the workplace and there were no consequences? Haverford needs to put in place a policy on bullying and intimidation!

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Nvm conservative, but are even moderate, or centrist opinions tolerated? How about someone who is apolitical? The problem with small schools is that when things go wrong, there is nowhere to run.

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Our “right-leaning” athlete fortunately has many friends to huddle with on campus. He keeps a very low profile with regard to his opinions. He knows how to play the game and go with the flow. We would never have considered Haverford for our opinionated and vocal older son who was a Poli-Sci major at a larger Jesuit institution. Very different kids and very different schools.

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The events this fall were troubling and raise serious concerns about the depth and breadth of the dysfunction at Haverford. I hope anyone with influence can step up and save this institution from its own so-called leadership. Please look up and read an article in Quillette from December which accurately describes what really happened (not allowed to post link here).

I read the quillette article and I highly recommend it for anyone considering attending Haverford. I can PM the link if anyone needs it.