Help me love Haverford

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.

Okay, I will start by saying what your D loves about Haverford is exactly what’s awesome about it. A learning community that values and trusts and genuinely respects the students allows them to participate in (and own) their education differently than one that treats them as customers or charges. It’s seems subtle, but it’s a Quaker thing that it’s not about religion classes but about how people treat each other. Which also translates into the idea of holding many truths (which is core to intellectual exploration.)

Haverford is a school for thinkers. It is the only school that I ever went to visit (when I was in college elsewhere) where my friends insisted I go to “the most amazing philosophy class” with them. In retrospect, how cool (okay, and unusual! ) that they were all so excited by a class (rather than a costume party with a keg!) Academically, it has long had a great reputation. The student body is diverse and inclusive. Great location.

I could not get my kid to consider it although two of his closest friends ended up there - both exceptionally nice, talented, smart kids. I have gotten to meet a number of recent grads and have been wowed by all of them.

I will say, fwiw, I think this may just be a gap in your college knowledge (which I get - we dropped into several when DC was looking at schools) rather than a reflection on the school. But I think your D is onto something.

I think it was Sarah Susanah Willie-LeBron (who is a prof at Swat) who said how disappointed her mom was when she chose Haverford over Harvard and how, looking back, Haverford was pivotal to her life. (I heard her at an event promoting Quaker colleges…)

Trust your D!! I can pretty much guarantee that if she gets in, both of you will be really impressed with the school. Really!

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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Hi! I’m currently a senior in high school who has recently been accepted ED to the Haverford College class of 2023, so while I cannot speak to many personal experiences I’ve had on campus, I can address a few of the points you’ve brought up and what my thinking was while applying to the school. Like your daughter, I was immediately drawn to Haverford’s Honor Code. While other schools have honor codes, I have not heard of one that is similar to Haverford’s. It emphasizes trust, respect, and concern, which can be seen through the self-scheduled, un-proctored exams, the absence of RAs in the dorms, plenary, the alcohol policy, and the 24-hour lab access, to name a few. I’m sure you’ve heard this countless times from students studying at schools all over, but when stepping onto the campus, I experienced a feeling unlike any other and Haverford felt like the closest thing to home for me. I can imagine that your daughter feels the same way since she’s applying ED2. Since I am not an athlete, I also have concerns about the athlete/non-athlete relationship on campus. Since about 40% of the students do participate in varsity sports and sports are taken pretty seriously, there is prone to be a natural divide due to the time athletes spend with their teammates. But, since the athletics have such a large presence on campus, no classes are scheduled from 4-7 pm, which I see as an advantage. Non athletes and athletes still live together, have classes together, and participate in other extracurriculars together, so there is still a lot of interactions taking place between those that play sports and those that do not. There are many club and intramural sports that students participate in, especially since some of them fulfill the mandatory PE requirement. There are also tons of extracurriculars that are not sports related and if a club that you’re interested in doesn’t exist, you’re welcome to create a new one. In terms of the size, I do agree that it’s very small, but the campus itself is incredibly big and since the city is easily accessible, I’m not too worried about it. To my knowledge, there are aspects of Quaker religion emphasized in the Honor Code, but outside of that, you have some control as to how much of the religion you’re exposed to and whether or not you take classes on it. I’m sorry that this has gotten so long, but I hope it helps! If you have any questions, feel free to ask and I’ll be happy to answer them to the best of my ability! I wish your daughter the best of luck!

Honestly, I’m from Philadelphia and I had not heard of Haverford before my D brought up the consortium after visiting Swarthmore on a summer scholarship trip. That trip had her feeling good about Swat and she went back in the fall to visit a class and see school while in session- and she instantly hated the vibe. Just knew completely after that visit that Swarthmore was all wrong for her personality.

We figured, hey why don’t we check out Haverford and Bryn Mawr since we are here (we are OOS these days). We did a little unofficial tour of each and she absolutely loved Haverford from the minute she set foot on campus. She went back three more times to visit and read everything she could find about the school, her major, some clubs, and the consortium. The honor code did speak to her too. She’s a mature and independent woman and loves that the university places so much trust in the students. She sees it as a sign of respect. She loves that many of the faculty lives on campus and that they’re so accessible- she was even able to converse about the major over email and in person with faculty members before she applied. The fact that school is so small is a plus to her, and the consortium, especially the close relationship with Bryn Mawr, makes her feel more certain that it will feel bigger than the numbers. My D is an athlete, though not a varsity level, and she loves that there are great club sport opportunities. She loves the lack of Greek life and that something like nerd house exists.

My D first ranked Haverford in Questbridge. When that didn’t work out she switched to ED1. Honestly, had that not worked she would’ve applied to Bryn Mawr to get the next best thing (in her opinion). She was so happy to withdraw her apps from more prestigious schools where she had applied because she knew she was going to the right place for her. Since her acceptance I have been surprised at the number of people in a variety of my circles that know of and speak highly about Haverford. If prestige is something that really concerns you, it’s place at number 11 in the rankings for this year seems solidly prestigious to me. If you’re worried about name recognition… well that’s probably something that won’t live up to its level of prestige, but my D is always excited to introduce new people to all the things she loves about the school.

If it makes you feel any better though, my husband was a little bitter to see her pull her apps from Brown and Harvard- he really wanted to know if she could get in. Even if we could know though- and she got in to both, it’s better for him to not know because he’d be even more disappointed when she still picked Haverford. Ha!

Sent you a PM.

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.)

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. :slight_smile:

@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.

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.

My DD is at Haverford. She had a 4.0 in IB and a 35 ACT. She was trying to decide between Bowdoin and H ED1 and went for the prestige and got rejected. Then she was accepted at Middlebury, Hamilton, Bates, Smith and waitlisted at Amherst and Wesleyan. Only rejected by Bowdoin for LACs.
Anyway, it was a tough choice but she is SO happy at H. She loves the honor code and the self-governance, and it makes a HUGE difference in the campus vibe. Her brothers both went to Midd, and I’d have to say her dad and I feel the mentoring, lack of emphasis on grades, alcohol policy and kindness and like-mindedness of the student body make it a superior learning and living community. Of course you can’t beat Midd for stunningly beautiful campus, but she (and we) feel totally thrilled with her experience so far.
For size, everything at Bryn Mawr is equally accessible to both student bodies, and they are less than 2 miles apart w frequent busses, so it’s essentially one campus for academic purposes. My DD took a class there her first semester, and some majors are centered at Bryn Mawr. They also have access to Swarthmore and Penn, tho that takes more planning.
Let her choose! It’s awesome!

I am a bit late to the game and have never posted before, but a couple of things struck me about your post. First, you don’t have to love Haverford, your daughter does. And whether you have heard of it or not doesn’t matter. Most people haven’t heard of Carlton or Harvey Mudd, either. My son, who graduated a few years back, had straight A’s, national merit scholar, 99th in SAT, with a great (non-athlete) resume of activities, and could have reasonably applied anywhere (he didn’t cure cancer so we don’t know where he would have been accepted). He had is sights set on Yale. I thought LAC would be better for him and we toured the usual. After that was over he was set on Swarthmore, ED. No question about it. Then he came home from school one day and said that he had met the admissions counselor from Haverford and wanted to give it another look. I still don’t know why, and he never articulated it, but we went back for an interview, he applied ED and his experience was extraordinary. His adult friends are extraordinary people. They are thriving in their careers (as is my son), or going to med school, law school and grad school at Yale, Harvard, Univ. of Chicago, Berkeley, etc. Trust me, those schools have heard of Haverford. Yes, it cost a small fortunate if you don’t get aid, and yes, we both wondered if he would have been accepted by Yale or Swarthmore, but his education was first rate, his writing, the sophistication of his thinking, and his growth as an individual were incredibly impressive. In the end, I trusted him to figure out where he would be happy, and I trusted the school to help him get there. Haverford will hold up their end of the bargain. Before the process started a friend of mine, who sent two to Carlton and one to Mac) told me, “they choose the right school for the wrong reason.” She may have been right.

The things your D are enthused about are exactly what makes H a great place for the right student. My S is a sophomore and he adores everything about H. He likes that the students are treated like adults and says that as a result most of them act like adults. He is an athlete but I don’t think that really matters. His girlfriend is not an athlete and he has a group of friends from his team as well as outside his team.

We are Jewish and my son is somewhat religious (more so that his parents). Yet, he really loves the Quaker philosophy. He has taken a few of the “through a Quaker lens” classes and they are interesting to him in an academic sense. He has no plans to convert to Quaker but he does embrace some of the philosophies.

He is taking his first class at Bryn Mawr and I don’t think he will repeat it. He is the only male in the room and I think that makes him uncomfortable. Personally, I think it is good for him having frequently been one of the only females in meeting in my career. It is always uncomfortable to be the only fill in the blank in the room yet you have to find a way forward and most people grow from the experience.

My son wanted a school where he could learn without being sidetracked by things like grades. He wanted an environment where students learn together. H has that kind of environment. Of course if you want to go on to grad school you have to worry about your own grades but he really likes the lack of cutthroat competition at H.

@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.

My DD is a student athlete. She has lots of friends who are not athletes. Her hall, which is a group that spends a lot of structured and unstructured time together, has no one else from her team and plenty of non-athletes. She also spends a lot of time with her team doing non-athletic fun activities.
We’ve been extremely impressed with the care and attention paid to the athlete by the trainers. Our daughter had never done any weight training and they did an incredible job working with her to make sure she safely developed an individualized plan to be her best physical self.
Our son was a recruited athlete at Midd. Haverford has a much better supervised and organized program for out of season athletes.

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.

Thank you, everyone, for all of the wonderful feedback! I apologize that I haven’t been nearly as active on this thread as I originally intended. All of the thoughts everyone shared made me incredibly excited about Haverford.

And best of all…today she got in!

Good job. Congrats!

Thank you!

Hooray, @dla26 ! Great choice.

Thanks @Proudpatriot and @OldbatesieDoc - this is exactly the info I was wondering about. My D already does weight training in her sport but I like hearing that they take great care at Haverford to develop the athletes and support them. Knowing her and what you both say, it seems like it would be a great fit for her. We are going up in a few weeks so hopefully it’s a good visit.