BackgroundInterview Date:February 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
Graduation Year: 2022
High School Experience: Private performing arts high school in New York City with a graduating class of about 35 students. Many of the students did not go to college in order to pursue their artistic careers.
First Generation College Student: No
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a student-athlete, and am working on a satire newspaper.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
I have never been an athletic person at all. I kind of serendipitously found myself joining a team. It’s absolutely changed me in the way I manage my time, and my general work ethic in terms of strongly committing to things in my life. It can be a little hard to manage time-wise, but it has generally positively impacted me. I’m fairly close with everybody on our team. I joined at the beginning of the year, and now I’m pretty good friends with a lot of them.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for general Physics courses?
We have a problem set due at the end of every week, and a lab every other week. The way it breaks down in my class now, and my class last semester, is we spend a fair amount of time doing our problem sets over the week. Part of it is collaborative, and there’s a section that you work on by yourself. The next week you receive your graded homework, and you are allowed to correct it. You create revisions by working with other people, your professors, or recitation and then handing it back in. Your grades are then averaged. Our grades are mostly the problem sets, and exams are weighted based on how well you do. Some exams are weighted less if you do better on the others. Your professor is giving you the best chance to succeed in the course.
Is there anything you feel the Physics Department does especially well or poorly?
The amount of resources they provide for the students. I feel like for Physics, and all STEM-heavy fields at the college, it takes a lot of work and it’s very difficult. Because of that, there are a huge amount of resources for students. Every week there are different student-run resource centers for various subjects, which run for a few hours every few nights. The professors are very open to meeting with you, even outside of their office hours. Recitations are always scheduled based on surveys sent out to students, to make sure they are as accessible to as many students as possible. In my experience, professors care deeply about the success of the students.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s incredibly collaborative. One of the things that goes for pretty much all areas at Haverford is it does a lot to make sure there isn’t a competitive academic environment. For instance, grades aren’t generally openly discussed among students, which is the way the culture is. It seems that the number one priority is your success in getting a good education, and learning as much as you possibly can. Professors often encourage you to collaborate with other students. About two-thirds of the problem sets you can work on with other students in the class. For humanities courses, we have the writing center and they are a great resource. It seems that all of my work is collaborative.
Why did you pick your Astrophysics? Are you happy with your choice?
It’s been a lifelong interest for me. I was lucky enough to get a lot of work experience in it in high school, and absolutely loved it. I knew coming in I wanted to do Astrophysics, and being a first-year the work that actually has to do my major is kind of far away right now. My advisor has been very helpful in planning out what the next four years are going to look like. I don’t know yet, but I’ll have some astrophysics research lined up this summer with a professor from last semester. So far, I’m absolutely happy with the major, and I made sure to look deeply into the Astrophysics Department before applying. All of my expectations have been exceeded if anything.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Barclay Hall in a double.
How was transitioning from Manhattan to Haverford, PA?
It was a very big change for me. I was born and raised in New York, so I knew nothing about living in a suburban environment. I spent the summer before college preparing myself for that a little bit. There were some things I had to get used to. I didn’t completely understand you needed a car to do a lot of things. I think the transition was easier than I expected because I was a little concerned about moving out of the city for the first time. During Customs week, they had us go out and explore Ardmore and get integrated into the environment around us. Now, I absolutely love it.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
Haverford is generally a very safe campus. Campus security is very attentive and cares about the wellbeing of the students. I haven’t felt particularly unsafe on campus. Generally, what I hear from my friends is they feel the same way. It’s well-lit, so you can walk around at night.
Pros and cons of being located in Haverford, PA:
1) We’re in a suburban environment, if you like that.
2) We are 15-20 minutes outside of downtown Philadelphia, so it’s easy to get into the city.
3) We have the nature trail and everything like that, which I go on a lot.
1) It can be difficult to get around if you don’t have a car.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
On the weekends or a free night, I like to spend time with my hall. We are a pretty close community, so we will often spend time on the hall hanging out, or move as a unit to attend a party somewhere. Most of the time on the weekends I can go out if I want to. Really there’s as much of a party scene as you want. Every weekend there will be two or three parties anywhere on campus that you can find. At James House, which is an art space, there are specific themed parties that go on.
Is there a certain group that hosts parties or a certain location for parties you attend more often?
There are a few locations on campus that comprise 70% of the parties. These could be James House, Gummere’s Basement, and sometimes down in the apartments. I would say most of the time doing something party wise is having a small party on the hall, and I’ll stay on the hall. Often times there are very small things in your friend’s dorm, which I prefer going to than a large party.
How has identifying as LGBTQ influenced your nightlife experience? Are there any LGBTQ nightlife options that you like?
I don’t think it’s played a large role so far. This identification is a relatively new thing for me, so I haven’t had that much time to explore it. For other people, it has a fairly large effect. There are certain LGBTQ groups on campus that throw specific parties and events that you can attend.
How happy have you been with the weekend options at Haverford? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m fairly happy with the way things are. I’ve never been a big party person, so, for the most part, I just enjoy hanging out with my friends over the weekend. There are some people that wish there were a more active party scene on campus. You’ll always be able to find a sizeable party if you’re looking for it, but when it comes to things like Greek life parties, Haverford doesn’t have that. Personally, I’m fine with that and its part of what attracted me to the culture here. A lot of stuff tends to happen within small groups, because of the size of the campus.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Almost all of my closest friends have been met through the Customs experience, and are people on my hall. Customs Week happens at the beginning of the year for first-years, and it’s this really great time when you spend all this time with your hall. You essentially spend the whole week together and get to know each other really well. We talked about it and were stunned that at the end of the week we felt like we knew each other for a month. I’ve also made a few friends in classes from working together on projects.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Haverford?
Students talk a lot about the student-athlete divide. How intense it actually is is up for debate, but it’s a topic that’s talked about a lot. People tend to mostly hang out with their teams. I haven’t experienced it because our team is in a weird limbo because we’re varsity on paper, but within the social scene on campus we’re not really viewed as having that cliquey team culture. Outside of that, it seems that there’s not too many distinctive groups on campus where one group wouldn’t want to interact with another. However, there are a fair amount of clubs or organizations for people with different affinity groups where they feel more welcome. In general, all students are fairly open to each other.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
There’s a fair amount of groups and organizations for people who identify with specific groups. Besides that, people don’t seclude themselves to these groups. In my experience, I don’t see too great of a divide. Every once in a while, you’ll have a student who’s not as open to that, but in general it doesn’t seem like there’s a large amount of antagonism between any groups. [About 43% of Haverford’s student body are people of color.]
How would you describe the LGBTQ community on campus? How strong is it?
At the moment, I can only speak from an external perspective, but I can say it’s generally a pretty vocal group on campus. It’s one that comprises a significant amount of the student body. LGBTQ issues are frequently discussed on campus. As far as the general campus, people are very open and understanding. Other students care a lot about other students own well-being.
How would you describe the student body?
There’s a fairly large variety of interests among the student body, and you’ll always be able to find a group that you feel you fit in with. In general, I noticed it’s a very creatively active campus in academic and social conversation. Students are very open to talking about how they feel about the problems that exist on campus, or within the administration. Students are very politically active in general. Student apathy is not too common here.
How do you like the size of Haverford in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How does it influence your social experience? [Haverford has about 1,353 students.]
I went to a very small high school so I was used to a lot of things that come with that, like having a close friend group where you know everybody. At a small college, you get a lot of attention from your professors. They clearly care a lot about their students, which is important to me. I do feel like it can be restricting that you’re at such a small college. It’s impossible to avoid people if you feel that is what’s necessary. If you have an interaction in one environment, you’ll see them at some point in the future.
Have you learned any computer programs or languages that will be helpful to you professionally?
In my lab work is where I’ve learned the most. I already had a pretty fairly extensive background coming into college, but I did learn to use Origin, which is a data visualization software. We’ve learned a lot of useful statistical methods typically done in Excel.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Haverford before entering as a freshman?
I wish I had better understood how many of the school’s institutions are there to help you. The first semester I didn’t take advantage of a lot of the services that are there to help you in academics and personal life. Not that I didn’t feel they were available, but I just didn’t understand. Things like being open with my professors about the difficulties I’m having. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into college, so I was a little reserved in doing that. I’ve opened up this semester to my professors, advisors, and CAPS, which is the Counseling & Psychological Services, which is a really helpful organization.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
If you’re a student visiting on a regular tour, I don’t think they’ll bring you to Lunt Café, which is the student run café. It’s a great place hang out, study, or get amazing food for almost no money. If you stay overnight they’ll probably bring you.
Reasons to attend Haverford:
1) The generally tight-knit community. It’s somewhere you can feel that you can be open and make friends relatively easily.
2) If you’re looking for a close student–professor relationship.
3) Our academics are very strong in almost every department. We’re in the Tri-Co, meaning you can take courses at Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and even Penn.
4) If you’re looking for a place where people are very open and understanding about others having their own academic success, instead of people competing with each other.
Reasons to not attend Haverford:
1) If you’re looking for a Greek life scene, you won’t find that here.
2) We’re near Philadelphia and you can go in as much as you want, which is easy on paper. However, I find it a little difficult to go in every weekend because of my workload.
3) It’s a very politically active campus. It’s difficult at Haverford to be open about not being interested in the student government, administration, or US politics in general.