Recently Visited: Haverford College

Dr. Lisa Ransdell is an independent educational consultant and college counselor who helps students and their families stay on top of college planning. Lisa’s practice is grounded in 27 years of college teaching and 20 years in higher education administration. She constantly tours, reads, and does professional development in order to give clients the most up-to-date info.

One of the schools I visited on my recent Philadelphia college-touring trip was Haverford College, located in Haverford, PA, a suburb of Philly. Haverford is a lovely, leafy, historic gem of a school, with many attractive features.

First a few factoids: Haverford is on the small side, with 1190 students, and it’s in the pricey range characteristic of highly selective private liberal arts colleges, at a total cost of attendance of $52, 970 for 2010-11. The most popular majors are biology, political science, economics, English, and psychology. This would be a place to receive a high-quality education in a unique environment and be well positioned for graduate or professional school afterwards. The nearly 96% freshman retention rate speaks well to student attachment to the place.

Two things in particular stood out to me during my visit, one being the student run, character-based honor code. The code harkens back to the Quaker origins of the school, and is so strongly honored that exams can be taken unproctored nearly anywhere on campus (even in students’ dorm rooms!).  One testament to the code that I observed while visiting was that students are comfortable (and apparently safe) in leaving possessions like backpacks, laptops and bikes unattended and unlocked while eating in the dining commons and doing other things.  Apparently theft is not a problem on this campus.

Secondly, the school is a member of the “Quaker Consortium,” a grouping of four nearby colleges founded by the historic sect that involves a reciprocal agreement to share course enrollments and activities.  The schools involved include Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, and the University of Pennsylvania, along with Haverford. A student at ‘Ford who begins to chafe at it’s size would be free to take a class downtown at Penn, and join a club at Bryn Mawr, for example. Shuttle buses regularly ferry students amongst the campuses.

Haverford isn’t cheap, but for those who can negotiate its cost (lots of financial aid is distributed, btw), this would be one fine educational experience.

The photo is of Founders Hall, a historic campus building.  On the day of my tour Korean students were hosting a barbecue in front.  The smell made me want to get in line!

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