I had no idea how lucky I was when I chose Haverford... this place is truly ideal for me. :)
Good Things: (no particular order)
** Customs Program!: Customs is hard to explain if you haven't been through it, but basically each hall of about 15 freshman is paired with a Customs team of 8 upperclassmen, 3 of which live with you on your hall. (They are NOT RAs!) Also, during first week of school, only freshman and their Customs team are on campus, and you really bond with everyone. They have a bunch of special top-secret methods that they use on you to get you to become close friends with your Customs group within one week. I can't reveal details--but it works! My Customs group still are some of my closest friends! I think it is really essential for you to be close with the people that you will be living with and brushing your teeth next to every day. Also, it makes the beginning a lot less scary. Instead of suddenly being thrown into a whole new world full of strange people and hard classes, you face the beginning of college with a close-knit group of new friends. And your upperclassmen on the Customs team are always there for you, whether you need academic/personal advice, a car ride, or just some cool people to hang with.
** Social Honor Code: We all make an active effort to treat each other with trust, concern, and respect, and it pays off. And the practice of "confronting" (I put that in quotes because it is not as argument-based as that word implies) is also great. Say your roommate is ALWAYS watching movies in her room. Instead of going to your other buddies and bitching together about how it's never quiet and she has no respect for you when you're studying and she's thoughtless and those movies are so dumb anyways what kind of loser watches them... you could confront her politely about it and find a solution that works for both of you. Sure, this type of respectful confrontation could happen anywhere, but having it as part of our Honor Code makes it more common and easy to do... it's sort of the traditional way to deal with conflicts here at Haverford. It makes a differenceâ€”you'll see.
** Academic Honor Code: Self-scheduled exams! I was talking to a friend at another college during finals week, and she was complaining about how she had three exams in one day. I was about to ask her why she scheduled it that way, and then I remembered that at other schools, students don't have a choice as to when they take their finals. Lucky us! Also, take-home exams are nice and relaxing. It feels good to know that your profs automatically trust you not to cheat. And you can feel proud of yourself for your academic honesty. :)
** Alcohol: This is a wet campus, so security/police won't bust you for drinking and partying. Students are generally very responsible with alcohol here, and you do not have to be drunk/wasted to have a good time at parties (I say this from experience). If you are not responsible with alcohol, please do not come here and make it worse for the rest of us!
** Quaker Heritage: (Founded by Quakers, but no longer a religious school). This is something I completely ignored as a prospective student, but it really does influence things and it gives Haverford a very unique and special campus culture. This brings me to the next two points...
** No Frats/Sororities: As you will see, you don't need Frats/Sororities to have fun parties. Everything is inclusive here. It's nice. Thanks, Quaker founders!
** Politics: Most students here range from moderate to liberal, but if you are conservative, or if you just have some odd opinions--fear not! You will generally find that your peers are a respectful audience and are more interested in understanding where you're coming from and why you think the way you do than in trying to smash you. And in my experience, people are open-minded and not too proud to change their opinion if they think you have a valid point. Again, thank you Quaker heritage.
** Friendly, Quirky and Smart Students: A little awkward sometimes, but always friendly and pleasant. Students are very ambitious, but still relaxed enough to have a good time and they don't let the workload affect their sanity.
** Happy Students: The vast majority of the students love it here. It's much more pleasant to be in an environment where your classmates feel happy and lucky to be here than an environment where everyone is always criticizing the college and their fellow students. There will always be some people who are disgruntled, as evidenced by some of the other reviewers here. Luckily I haven't met any in person. Please bear in mind that perhaps some of these individuals wouldn't be happy at any college. Either way, I wish them all luck.
** Gorgeous Campus: It's a national arboretum! Breathtakingly beautiful.
** Rigorous Academics: Duh. But don't let this scare you. There is so much help available if you need it! If that Multivariable Calculus problem set is giving you a hard time, just go hang out in the math lounge. Stressed about that bio test? Go to the Bio Question Center meetings. Or ask a classmate, as students here are generally very eager to help. And naturally, you could always ask for help from your patient and approachable professors.
** Super-friendly and Interesting Profs: Kind of self-explanatory. Anecdote: Last semester, my physics professor came to school every Sunday morning, even though he wasn't being paid extra or required to be there, and he led an optional two-hour "intensive" section for the about 5 students in his class who felt like they needed some additional support in physics. Imagine something like that happening at a large university!
** Non-competitive atmosphere: Cooperation, not competition. We don't talk about our grades here. It takes some getting used to, after the HS environment where everyone compares grades, but it is something I really appreciate. We are all smart and ambitious here, and we shouldn't be judging our peers (consciously or subconsciously) based on their grades.
** Proximity to Philly: So convenient! A SEPTA train station is just a 5 minute walk away from campus, and it takes about 20 minutes to get into the heart of Philadelphia by train. This makes music, museums, theater, good food, clubs, and an airport all easily accessible. I personally have never felt bored at Haverford, since there's always plenty going on here, but it's nice to know that if things ever did slow down on campus there are so many off-campus options available.
** The town of Haverford: It's a cute little suburb with plenty of good places to eat and shop (ranging from Free People to Macys to good thrift stores) within walking distance. You also can walk to CVS in about 5 minutes and Chipotle is about 10 minutes away. It is also a very safe community, and lots of people have dogs that they like to walk on campus (which is wonderful if you have a puppy back home whom you miss a lot!)
** Student Government-Plenary: Plenary is a meeting that happens every semester. Students congregate in the field house (and bring pillows/blankets/food/etc), and resolutions are presented. If a student has a new idea or wants to change something about Haverford, (s)he can write such a resolution and if (s)he gets enough signatures on it, it will be brought to plenary. The whole process is very democratic, and really cool. Students respectfully debate on things like whether Haverford should be SAT-optional, or whether the school should stop providing free plastic water bottles at campus events. The administration generally respects our decisions. As a freshman, I expected that I would be really bored at plenary, so I bought a bunch of homework and a laptop for movies, but I actually ended up paying attention the whole time! Plenary often extends as long as 5 hours, and it can be a hassle, but I think everyone is glad we have it nonetheless.
** Reasonable Graduation Requirements: You need 3 humanities classes (english, religion, languages, philosophy, the arts), 3 social sciences (psych, history, poli sci, econ, soc, anthro), and 3 natural sciences (chem, bio, math, physics, astro, comp sci). One of the natural science classes has to be quantitative, and all freshmen take a writing seminar of their choice, which counts as a humanities credit as well. The requirements force you to be well-rounded, while giving you the freedom to take classes you will enjoy. Oh, there's also a PE requirement, which sounds ridiculous but it's actually a piece of cake (lol). The classes are one quarter long and you can take the same class twice. Some of my favorites were yoga, Pilates, massage therapy (give a 30 min massage, then get a 30 min massage--good deal!), and self-paced run/walk (run or walk or elliptical or bike 2 miles, five days a week, then send an email to the coach telling him what you did).
** Small Size: Small classes, personal attention. You are a person, not a number. Oh, and most profs (exceptions are rare) will have you call them by their first name, which is pretty sweet. (Another Quaker equality thing.)
** Good Administration: This school is well-run. It's handy.
** Food: Ew, college food! I guess technically it's about average as far as college food goes, and I've never been in a situation where there wasn't anything I could eat in the Dining Center, but I still don't particularly like it. That is why I will be living in an on-campus apartment next year (no extra housing cost). I will be off the meal plan and cook my own food. There is only one dining center, which is nice because it brings everyone together, but I think the quality of food is better at Bryn Mawr (5 min bus ride away, food is free if you are on Haverford meal plan), where they have multiple dining centers. If you have some cash, you can also always go to the Coop or Lunt Cafe for super yummy on-campus food and snacks.
** Small: I like the small campus, but be aware that it is hard to keep that hookup a secret. Not impossible, but not easy either. It's not like people are going to be gossipy or bitchy about it (thank you, Social Honor Code and the basic human decency of our students!!!), but sometimes I wish hookups were more anonymous. I know I could always go to parties at Bryn Mawr (5 min bus ride away), UPenn (quick train ride), Swarthmore, or Villanova, but so far I haven't bothered.
Of those students who could get into this college, who WOULDN'T like it here? (btw, this is a great question to ask random students as you are visiting college campuses)
** Binge drinkers: If this is you, then please, please, either change your habits or don't come here! Yes, it is a wet campus, but that does not give anyone the right to abuse our lenient alcohol policy! Also, individuals whose regular weekend (or weekday!) activities include getting drunk to the point where they are throwing up probably won't feel very at home here.... Seeing as most students are pretty responsible with alcohol. Additionally, we hold each other responsible for actions taken while intoxicated. "I was drunk" is not an excuse.
** Douchebags: Please don't come here if you are a mean and rude person! The campus is small enough that if you are a douchebag to everyone, you will soon get a reputation as such.
** Homophobes/Racists/etc: Using "gay" as an insult is really not okay. And mean racist jokes aren't funny.
** People who thrive on an intensely competitive environment: There is nothing wrong with this, but if this is you, you may feel more comfortable at a different school. I might recommend Swarthmore, as it also a nice school--albeit, not one that I personally would ever apply to or attend.
** People who find balance unnecessary and like to focus strictly on academics: Again, there is nothing bad about living this way. But people who do may fit in more at a different school, including Swarthmore. (It's a very personal decision as to whether you apply to/attend Haverford or Swarthmore. Both are excellent schools, but they are different and which one you prefer has a lot to do with taste. Visit both, and talk to the students. That is the only advice I can give on this matter. For me, Haverford is the better option and I didn't even apply to Swat.)
If you are not any of the aforementioned people: come here!!! You will have a great time and make AMAZING friends.[Please, my gramarr and speling excuse. Typing I am very fast, and proofreading I am not. Yoda, I am, aswell. Apperently.]