Haverford vs. Bryn Mawr

Haverford and Bryn Mawr seem to be pretty similar with their close relationship and cross registration. I can’t seem to decide between the two of them. What are their differences? (besides the fact that Bryn Mawr is a women’s college). And if you got into both, what made you choose one over the other?

They are very similar. Haverford is slightly more prestigious, if you care about that kind of thing. Bryn Mawr is known for having a strong sense of tradition. The main difference is definitely co-ed vs. all female. Haverford also may give more financial aid, although Bryn Mawr offers merit scholarships and Haverford does not.

Haverford doesnt give merit scholarships??
Does Haverford give out any money in any other way? How do they determine how big the financial aid will be?

Right, very few top schools give merit scholarships. Haverford gives financial aid (and a lot of it), based solely on family income.

I believe Haverford is a little more challenging than Bryn Mawr in some of their academics so it would be slightly higher in the list of top schools. Depending on what you’re looking to major in, it could be important. However, the students often attend each other’s classes so even if you do go to Bryn Mawr, if you feel like you’re not being challenged enough, you can attend classes at Haverford.

Bryn Mawr offers geology and archaeology; Haverford offers astronomy and astrophysics. Cross-registration is possible of course.

Other examples of shared academic specialization: Bryn Mawr offers Art History, Haverford offers Fine Arts. You can major at either college, even for subjects where both schools offer the major. For example, you can be a Philosophy major and a Bryn Mawr student but chose to do your major through Haverford’s dept. if you wish.

If you like both schools, apply to both. Bryn Mawr is easier to get into and does offer some merit money.

Only about 50% of Haverford students receive financial aid, whereas about 70% of BMC students receive aid.

As for academic rigor, they’re definitely the same. Bryn Mawr has the country’s top post-bac pre-med program, so all of the intro science courses are taught alongside these pre-med students. Excellent prep if you want to pursue med school.

Very similar schools academically and reputation, and they are physically less than one mile apart. Can cross register for classes, extra curriculars, etc. Although Haverford gets more applicants (coed), admit stats are pretty similar. Biggest difference coed vs women’s and Bryn Mawr has more international students. Bryn Mawr actually has almost double the endowment of Haverford and generally gives better aid.

Just a clarification, Haverford and Bryn Mawr give very comparable aid. In terms of endowment per capita (the most relevant stat for endowments) Bryn Mawr was 482 thousand per student and Haverford was 417 thousand per student in 2014. Also, it is worth noting that while Bryn Mawr gives a larger percentage of students aid, a portion of that is merit aid which Haverford does not offer. Lastly, Haverford is need-blind meaning it does’t consider ability to pay in admission decisions. Bryn Mawr is need-aware.

“I believe Haverford is a little more challenging than Bryn Mawr in some of their academics so it would be slightly higher in the list of top schools. Depending on what you’re looking to major in, it could be important. However, the students often attend each other’s classes so even if you do go to Bryn Mawr, if you feel like you’re not being challenged enough, you can attend classes at Haverford.” @megan12 I disagree with you. I have taken multiple classes at both institutions. While there are probably some departments at Haverford that are challenging, Bryn Mawr classes are extremely challenging, even more so than its Haverford counterparts. Bryn Mawr’s science classes are much more challenging, yet much more extensive and helpful than its Haverford counterparts. Bryn Mawr’s English department and Creative Writing department are some of the best in the country, which is why Haverford students are constantly trying to take these classes at Bryn Mawr.

Both campuses have certain strengths and specialties in terms of departments but I’ve heard several current students state that Haverford classes are a little more challenging.

We found Bryn Mawr to be a bit edgier than we expected when visiting. My D1 had a friend who went there, so we met up with her and a group of her friends in the cafeteria. Maybe it was just this specific group of friends, but there were a couple of goth-type young women, LGBT students, and some punk hairstyles. Nothing wrong with any of those things, but all of them had some kind of sort of counterculture vibe going, and it surprised us – I had envisioned Bryn Mawr as more traditional. (We did visit other women’s colleges – Mount Holyoke and Wellesley, and it seemed more striking at Bryn Mawr). This particular group had kind of a cynical vibe going (again, maybe just specific to this group of kids) that ended up being a turnoff for D, and it was enough for her to take it off her list. Haverford seemed a little more mainstream. My D attended classes at both, and found the discussion to be more lively in the Bryn Mawr class – she said participation was weak in the Haverford one. I had expected the opposite. But I only have visit info to reference, neither of my kids ended up applying to either school, although we did visit Haverford for both.

I have a sense that Haverford has a particularly strong sense of community. Students watch out for each other, and they take their role with the honor code really seriously there. My D1 (more social kid) really liked that vibe. But when D2 visited, a Haverford student described how she was feeling sad one day, and her RA came and really encouraged her to come join a group activity to cheer her up. To introverted D2 it sounded like hell on earth to be pestered to join a group when she was feeling down… so that just goes to show that different students want different things!

I agree that Bryn Mawr students can be a bit “edgy”. It is not a traditional school at all. Think “liberal” when considering Bryn Mawr. Although Haverford is also very liberal, it’s probably not quite as severe.

We ran the net price calculators for both schools, and Haverford not only came out much cheaper than BM, it was the least inexpensive of any school on our list.

@megan12 “edgy” is hardly a term I’d use to describe BMC, and I’ve been around these two schools quite a bit as a P of 2 athletes recruited heavily by each school in two different sports. MoHo, maybe yeah a bit of the “edge” you describe, but that’s what makes a great LAC. If you want everyone to look and think the same, I recommend Liberty University or Greek Row at your nearest southern state U football factory. You should be challenged by being around people with diverse views. I love, for example, the Black Lives debate that rages at Wesleyan right now. There is always something brewing there, and I think that is what makes for a great and stimulating academic environment.

There is so much cross pollination at these two schools, and they are so physically close, that it almost counts as a fool’s errand to try and draw meaningful distinctions. It’s like saying you really fit in at Claremont but don’t feel the vibe at Pomona. With a kid at Pomona, I’d know that to be preposterous. Other than the obvious women’s college distinction, which itself doesn’t factor in as much as one would think given its relatively urban setting and its proximity to Hav and Villanova and other schools, these are very similarly situated schools.

As for traditional … I think all of the 7 sisters are about as tradiation laden as they come. And BMC is known for its rigor, rivaled only by Wellesely among the 7.

There is a certain intellectually lazy appeal to painting the 7 sisters with the same broad brush as each being full of militant, radical, man-hating lesbians. That is NOT Bryn Mawr College. Spend some time there beyond a 15 minute visit.

Here’s one big difference: BMC’s endowment is almost double Haverford’s.

@MiddleburyDad2 Total endowment is not what is important. Endowment per capita is the more relevant statistic. Since Bryn Mawr has more students than Haverford, it needs a larger endowment. Bryn Mawr’s endowment per capita is 482 thousand whereas Haverford’s is 417. So a slight difference, but not nearly as large. You wouldn’t compare Princeton’s total endowment to William’s, so you should focus on how large the school is when considering endowment.


I come up with:

853,000,000 / 1700 = 501.7 k per student

495,000,000 / 1200 = 412.5 k per student

A difference of $89.2 k per student in favor of Bryn Mawr.

I think an almost $90,000 per student difference, while not stunning, is more than slight. I’d say it’s more significant than the 12 spot difference in the schools’ relative US news rankings.

@MiddleburyDad2 It is one of many measures and yes Bryn Mawr does have the edge in endowment since Haverford lost the highest percentage of any school during the recession. However, if you really want to directly compare the schools, a comparison that is at least as relevant is the fact that Bryn Mawr’s medium SATs are just shy of 2000 whereas Haverford’s entering class this year was 2160.

No one on this thread seems to realize that BMC’s larger endowment also subsidizes a graduate school and its students, thus making the amount of its resources available to undergraduates (significantly?) less than the figures under discussion thus far.