BackgroundInterview Date:February 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public high school in Michigan with a graduating class of about 300 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a student-athlete, on intramural teams, and I do a Street Outreach program handing out food in Philadelphia.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
My sport has dramatically shaped [my experience]. It takes up most of my free time and requires time management. It’s impacted my friend group because I spend a lot of time with the kids on the team, which becomes a lot of your social area. I workout and take care of myself, which I wouldn’t have done nearly as much otherwise.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for Physics?
There’s one problem set every week and it takes about 5 hours. I always have to do it in the physics lounge with a bunch of other people in the class, along with TAs. The readings don’t take very long, then we have a lab that fluctuates by week. Four times a semester we’ll have a write-up which takes a long time. The hardest part of labs is definitely the programming, graphing, and all the math behind it. The writing isn’t too intensive. We have two midterms and then a final exam. The lab is a combination of full lab write-ups, oral exams, and then a few weeks we have a worksheet that you fill out question and answer style.
Is there anything you feel the Physics Department does especially well or poorly?
Community building is one thing the Physics Department does well compared to the others. We have get-togethers at a professor’s house where there is home cooked food. There are a lot of lunches [with focus] on building connections between the students and the faculty. Almost everyone in the Physics major is friends with each other.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
Definitely collaborative. I can’t think of an instance of competition. People talk about whether they did well or poorly, but never a specific grade. Everyone is doing the problem sets together which builds the collaborative aspect. There are one or two individual problem sets, but they are not particularly difficult.
How accessible are your professors?
I’d say very accessible. They have lots of office hours, and maybe 40% of them put up their entire schedule, so instead of having blocked office hours, they show us every moment they are in their office doing work so you can schedule an appointment easily.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I am happy with my choice so far. Based on the classes I liked, and that ones that I’m good at, it was between physics, math, or chemistry. When I got to college I was between physics and math, but I liked the physics classes and professors better.
How was managing both your sport and your coursework?
It’s a lot, but a lot of the people not [playing] a sport are involved in so many groups. Everyone is very busy, so I don’t really feel like playing a sport is much more difficult than just going to school in the first place. With that being said, there’s not a lot of free time for watching TV or anything.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Barclay Hall in a double.
Sophomore: Comfort Hall in a single with four suitemates.
How was transitioning from your hometown in Michigan to Haverford, PA?
People don’t understand when you say pop instead of soda. That’s not particularly a big issue, and overall it wasn’t much of a transition at all. The food is more expensive, so I don’t go out to eat as much.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I can’t think of any instances of danger. I had to walk to CVS at 11 PM and still felt fine. A couple of friends of mine walked into Philadelphia when it was dark outside, so point being there is no perceived danger.
Pros and cons of being located in Haverford, PA:
1) Being close to the city means there’s a lot of opportunities for cool field trips and conferences. The school pays for our train tickets to go to them.
2) Our restaurant selection is pretty good considering we’re not in the city.
3) Weather, but that is very subjective. It’s cold but not miserable.
1) We are more secluded. The campus has the classic liberal arts summer camp sort of deal, where it’s surrounded by trees and feels like it’s in its own little world.
2) The whole area is pretty expensive. The area we’re in happens to be a rich suburb.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
Probably not as much as a college kid should. It’s not my scene as much, but I’ll show up and say hi if one of my good friends is throwing something. I’ll also go if a group I participate in has an event, or if it’s important to one of my close friends. I don’t love the whole loud noises, very drunk environment. I hang out with a group of six to eight friends at least one weekend night, but I’m not a huge partier.
What is the impact of sports teams on the nightlife?
The sports teams host most of the parties. They are typically the most extreme, and I don’t go to those. A lot of people really dislike them, but a lot of people still go. From what I understand the sports teams fill the void of fraternities.
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
We have a ton of acapella concerts, so I go to a couple of those. There’s a club called FAB, and they’ll have an event every week. I’ll go depending on what it is. They have game night, trivia, and then there are field trips with a bunch of options to travel into Philly. You can ice skate every Friday for free, and I’ve gone a couple of times. A lot of the intramural sports clubs happen on the weekends.
How happy are you with the weekend activities or nightlife at your school? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m pretty happy. I know the general sentiment on campus is that there’s nothing to do. This may be because of who I am as a person, but I’m perfectly happy sitting around talking to the people I like. I’ve never been stuck bored twiddling my thumbs.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Three different ways. The first one is from [my sports team]. Another way is the Physics Department, and everyone in my class. The third way is living together, mainly on my first-year hall.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Haverford?
During the first semester of your first year, it’s very tight-knit with who you live with. Haverford does a lot of team building and getting to know the people on your hall. It sort of breaks out into athletes and non-athletes. The athletes are mainly friends with their teammates. Other than that, it’s pretty mixed.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I’d say to a pretty good extent. Not every friend group is a perfect mix of the school’s demographics, but it’s very rare to see a friend group that is completely homogenous. I’d say there’s a lot of mixing overall. [About 43% of Haverford’s student body are people of color.]
How would you describe the student body?
Somewhat nerdy, extremely liberal, and idealistic because of the honor code. People have this grand vision of what education means, and there’s not a lot of people just trying to get their degree.
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 like the size and the interconnectedness of it. I like that I can go around and know a lot of the people that I see, or to be able to show up to the dining center knowing I’ll find a friend to sit with.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I have not sought out that resource. I’m still a sophomore and am kind of thinking graduate school, which means my summers will be more research instead of job internships.
Have you learned any computer programs or languages that will be helpful to you professionally?
We use a lot of Excel, Origin, some Python for my astrophysics classes, and a lot of Mathematica for physics problem sets.
Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs? Were they responsive to your questions?
They have been very easy and accommodating. I don’t interact with them much.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Haverford before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew about the extent of the Customs, the freshman year summer camp [feel when we are] getting to know each other. I glanced over it when applying, but I don’t think it would’ve changed my decision. Before school starts you do a lot of discussions and activities with the people you live with. Even first semester it’s pretty cliquey while hanging out with your Customs team, before people make other friends.
What is something a prospective athlete may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
It depends on the sport. The campus has a negative connotation about certain teams.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
The lounges for each major. It’s very cooperative and everyone’s having fun. It serves as a place that’s a home away from your dorm, where you can pop in during the middle of the day. It brings everyone together where you can have interesting conversations. I like how cooperative doing your homework is, and really the whole experience is something I didn’t expect. It has had a positive influence on my experience.
Reasons to attend Haverford:
1) I love where we are. I think it has a perfect level of being rural, having security, and privacy, but you can walk to any food place or take a bus to whatever resources you want. I think it’s the perfect compromise.
2) Most people have single rooms on campus.
3) The academic culture is the biggest thing for me. I kind of take it for granted, but the cooperative, super nice, academic culture is one of my top reasons.
4) I love all the professors.
5) It’s a super optimistic environment.
Reasons to not attend Haverford:
1) If you want a really intense party scene, or prioritize nightlife, this is not the place.