Should I Go To Haverford College?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Matthew received his Bachelor’s degree in History from Haverford College. He is currently a tutor in Philadelphia specializing in Chemistry tutoring, History tutoring, Literature tutoring, and several other subjects. See what he had to say about his experience at Haverford College:

VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?

Matthew: The Haverford College campus is an arboretum, so the grounds are particularly nice. In the spring and fall, the trees form a screen between the core of campus and the surrounding suburban neighborhoods. The campus buildings are centered on Founders Green, and anywhere on campus is within easy walking distance. Haverford College is also very close to a major train line that travels into Philadelphia, so using public transit is very convenient.   

VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Matthew: Haverford College does not have teaching assistants, so all of our contact is with our professors. The professors are open and friendly, and they love spending time with their students. Many live on campus or in the surrounding neighborhoods, so they are available to meet with students almost anytime. (I had one professor promise that he would meet us at any point day or night as long as we provided him with food!)

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Matthew: The buildings on campus are fairly close together, so everything is easy to get to. There are a wide range of housing options, from apartments, to suites, to dedicated singles, and this gives students a fair amount of choice. There is one dining hall on campus, but the apartments are equipped with kitchens. There is also a café in the student center. Haverford College hosts numerous events throughout the school year, but most friendships start through one of the many extracurricular activities.

VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study?

Matthew: Haverford College’s most popular major is Biology, but as a liberal arts college, many other majors like Political Science and English are not far behind. I studied History and Greek, and I enjoyed the professors and classes in both departments. The History department is more geared toward modern history at present, but the professors provided me with ample support and encouragement as I pursued my medieval interests.

VT: How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Matthew: Haverford College has no Greek life, so that is not a problem! Haverford College tries to foster strong connections between the freshmen through Customs Week and the related Customs groups. Some of my closest friends were from my Customs group. The small size of the student body allows you to get to know people well, and the environment is very welcoming.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

Matthew: The Career Center supports students by offering many workshops throughout the year, bringing in many well known companies for job fairs, and providing extensive resources to students who are looking for both temporary and permanent employment. Haverford College also networks with nearby Bryn Mawr College to be able to provide even more resources for students looking for internships and jobs.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?

Matthew: We have three libraries on campus, as well various study areas, dorm common rooms, and a café. The main library has many areas to work in, ranging from comfortable chairs, to open tables, to more quiet carrels. The two new dorms include dedicated study spaces, which is a good improvement. I studied in many different places on campus, but I tended to work in my carrel in the main library.

VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus? 

Matthew: Haverford College is sometimes described as a bubble, but it does not need to be. There are various shopping areas and restaurants in the immediate vicinity, but one of Haverford College’s real perks is its proximity to Philadelphia. I frequently took the train into the city to visit museums and to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra. Haverford College also sponsors trips to art galleries, sporting events, and the ever-popular cheesesteak run during finals week. It is great to be in the suburbs with easy access to all that a city like Philadelphia has to offer!  

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Matthew: The student body is under 1,200 students, but about half of the students study abroad during their time at Haverford College, so the actual number on campus is smaller. One of the interesting aspects of Haverford College is its close connection to Bryn Mawr College and Swarthmore College. Students are able to take classes at any one of the three schools, and many do. My classes averaged around 10 people – the small class size and the emphasis on seminar-style learning enabled us to go much deeper into the material. Class sizes are larger in the sciences, and those classes are more lecture-oriented.  

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Matthew: I became very close to many of my professors throughout my time at Haverford College, but my Greek professor was my favorite. I approached him about reading more Greek together for fun, and this blossomed into a Greek reading group at his home every week. We read Greek, drank tea, ate cookies, and talked about life. He also took pity on those of us who came from far away and hosted us for holidays! My time with him underscored the personal experience provided by Haverford College and the accessibility of the professors.

Check out Matthew’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.