Getting To Know: Haverford College (PA)-Again
Haverford’s 200-acre campus has a mix of architectural styles from the 19th through the 21st century.
Quaker-founded, but not religiously-affiliated, Haverford is a liberal arts college with around 1,500 students.
It was founded in 1833, just under 30 years before the Civil War. The college was all-male until 1980 when women became part of all entering classes. Today more than half (54 percent) of Haverford students are women. Haverford students are bound by an honor code that is taken quite seriously. The College calls Plenary Sessions twice yearly where a quorum of the student body may vote to change school policies or amend the Honor Code. . It also has a “customs network” of 15 upper-class students for each first-year student to help them get settled into the culture, understand the Honor Code and succeed academically over the entire first year.. This program also helps Haverford students to connect with Bryn Mawr students.
Haverford is more sports-oriented than some might think, playing 20 sports in the Centennial Conference, one of the “smarter” D-3 (non-scholarship) conferences in the country. Rivals include Bryn Mawr for women’s sports as well as Swarthmore, Dickinson, Franklin & Marshall and Gettysburg.
Haverford is one of America’s most selective liberal arts colleges.
High grades in a challenging academic program are expected. Exceptionally high ACT (32+ each section) or SAT (700+ each section) scores will be helpful. Haverford went test optional during the COVID-19 pandemic and remained test optional ever since. In 2022, the college stated that its “test-optional pilot program resulted in classes that were the most academically selective and the most racially and ethnically diverse in Haverford’s history.” It really helps to have excellence in every academic subject, including those least liked in high school. Haverford does not want its students to have an education that’s too heavily weighted in one discipline such as humanities, social sciences or math and sciences.
The college’s decision to go test optional made Haverford more selective, but also more diverse
The acceptance rate for the Class of 2026 was 14 percent, down from 18 percent for the Class of 2025. However, the yield rate went to a ten-year high of 45 percent. A record high percentage (59 percent) were women. Over half were students of color.
For the Class of 2027 the acceptance rate dropped to 13 percent and the yield rate rose to 46 percent. More interesting, applications rose from just under 5,700 to over 6,300. The college’s freshman classes have grown, too. Haverford had fewer than 300 freshmen before the start of the 21st century. This fall the college welcomed more than 370.
Haverford typically retains over 90 percent of the freshmen and graduates 80 percent on time. However, graduation rates were higher in the past, topping 90 percent for the Class of 2011..
I know. Prospective students are drawn to rankings.
For those who care, Haverford is tied for 21st among the Top 50 National Liberal Arts Colleges in US News. It’s tied with Colgate, a much larger school with over 3,000 undergrads and Washington & Lee, which has about 1,900. More interesting, Haverford has the second-smallest student body among the schools in the “Top 25,” after Harvey Mudd, which is more specialized in the sciences and general engineering.
A Haverford education, no matter the major, will be a rigorous experience.
The college requires every student to complete a thesis. General education requirements cover ten of the 32 courses, aka credits, required for a degree. A minimum GPA of 2.7 is essential to declare a major in the second semester of the sophomore year. The major is comprised of 12 courses. Those who intend to pursue double majors might want to look for a school with a more open curriculum. Haverford’s own marketing material mentions that 16 percent of students graduate with two majors. It’s possible to have more than one minor as long as at least 19 courses, including general education classes, are outside of your major.
Haverford throws tremendous resources behind their students.
‘Fords will not only make strong connections with alumni and employers; they can also get grants for research, even to complete their thesis and take on funded internships. The college also tries harder to be affordable than most, including helping students and alumni to better manage debt. Haverford is a very expensive school with a current estimated total cost of attendance of over $90,000. The income threshold where students see no loans in their aid package is low, only $60,000. However, less than a quarter of 2022 graduates had any student loan debt. On average, graduates owed less than $17,000. That’s $10,000 below the maximum that they could have borrowed through the Federal Student Loan program.
Virtually everyone lives on campus at Haverford. .
Freshmen may get a single room, but still be active participants in hall governance, or choose a traditional double room. There is a diverse choice of living options for upper-class students for a small school. Those who live in the residence halls have a choice of only one meal plan: unlimited meals over the 20 meal periods per week. The College has neither fraternities nor sororities.
Haverford is part of the same college consortia as Bryn Mawr.
.The campus is less than ten minutes from Bryn Mawr’s campus. It is not unusual for a Haverford student to take more of their courses within their major at Bryn Mawr, or even take on a major that is administered by Bryn Mawr faculty.
Like Bryn Mawr, Haverford students went on strike in 2020.
Both schools communicated their strike announcements together, but Haverford students raised causes and issues unique to their college. The strike went 14 days, with students boycotting their classes and jobs. Faculty and staff also participated in solidarity with the striking students. From reading these accounts, I saw that:
- The college’s administration tried to discourage students from joining in protests against the police shooting of William Wallace, Jr., a 27 year old Black man, in Philadelphia through an e-mail sent to students.
- This e-mail not only angered Black students and their supporters; it also sparked them to address several racial and LGBTQIA+ issues within their own community.
The various articles showed me that the “Haverford Bubble” discussed in a few student reviews could be a product of the actions of the full community, students, teachers, and administrators. Dissatisfaction reached such a boiling point that a strike was necessary versus a college assembly such as a Plenary. Current seniors might be aware of the strike if you visit this spring; they were freshmen at the time. But you will probably need to go to media links to learn more.
I read that when Haverford students tell people the name of their school, the listener mistakes it for Harvard. Quite honestly, I believe that the Haverford student will get a lot more attention from the faculty and staff. They might also have the added benefit of a tighter community through the Honor Code, Customs program and the Plenary. However, they are also more likely to run out of new people to meet on campus before they graduate.
Report Card: Haverford College (PA)
- Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: A/A
- Freshman Retention: A
- Curriculum: A
- Community: A
- Comforts: A
- Connections: A
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