Haverford College’s bucolic setting belies its location: the campus is just a 20 minute ride from downtown Philadelphia on the area’s regional rail system, and a few blocks’ walk from the rail station. The campus reminded me of the boarding school in the movie Dead Poets’ Society, with old stone buildings, rolling lawns and a lake in the center of campus. Haverford is a registered arboretum, its campus filled with trees planted a hundred and eighty years ago. It consistently ranks in the top 10 on US News’ rankings for National Liberal Arts Colleges.
Haverford’s website gives those who visit a clear snapshot of “fast facts,” including the number of students, percentage of men, women, and minorities, where students come from, class size, popular majors and more. Haverford’s Honor Code is well-known and engrained in the student experience: tests are not proctored, and students have continual input into the ever-evolving facets of the Code.
Founded by Quakers, Haverford has a strong social justice undercurrent, both in the way they treat their students, and in the students the college attracts. There is only need-based aid, no merit aid, and Haverford admits students without regard for their need. They will meet 100% of demonstrated need (based on information received from the FAFSA and CSS Profile). Students are proactive, curious, and challenge themselves, but are not necessarily competitive with each other. They push each other to do better.
The Quaker college consortium allows Haverford students to take classes at nearby Bryn Mawr College (all women) and Swarthmore College, with a shuttle that connects the schools. Villanova University is also very close. While engineering is not offered at Haverford, an agreement with the University of Pennsylvania allows students to major in physics or biophysics and then take an additional year at Penn, graduating with a Bachelor’s from Haverford and a Master’s from Penn.
Haverford has excellent fine arts programs, and an interdisciplinary approach to the arts and sciences. Haverford challenges students to bring real life context to their study of the humanities. Most students do research with professors; there are no graduate students or TAs here. An overwhelming majority of students live on campus; this is the quintessential residential college experience.
School was out when I visited, so there weren’t many students on campus, but I did meet one recent graduate in the bookstore. An English major, Gabi told me that the lack of a competitive atmosphere was her favorite part of her Haverford experience. “Everyone wants you to succeed, and that makes you want to succeed more,” she told me.
Evelyn visited Haverford in spring, 2013. You can see all of her photos from Haverford here.