An Interview On
Haverford College

Background

Interview Date:February 2019

Gender Identity: Non-Binary
Race/Ethnicity: White
Sexual Orientation: Lesbian
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public high school in central Pennsylvania with a graduating class of about 300 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: English
Minor: International Studies
Extracurricular Activities: I’m part of an acapella group, and a theater productions group.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
I’ve always been a theater person, and I also enjoy singing. Doing theater and acapella has been really important to my experience. Both of them have definitely given me communities of friends that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It’s also a fun stress reliever, and it’s something for me to do that isn’t class or watching YouTube videos all day.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for English?
It’s a lot of readings and essays, and not a lot of tests. I probably have about 200 pages of reading to do each week, for two class. I don’t think it’s usually that heavy, but I’m taking a class with a visiting professor, so it’s a lot of work. Generally, there are a couple of short papers a week, along with longer ten-page papers every now and then.

Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
I’m technically majoring at Bryn Mawr, and the professors are so great. I haven’t heard anyone having issues with professors in the English department at either Haverford or Bryn Mawr. It’s a lot of work, and I don’t think the school especially respects the major as much as the STEM majors, but the professors themselves really care about the students and the classes they’re teaching.

Do you take most of your classes at Bryn Mawr by choice? What is the reasoning behind this?
This semester I’m not, but by choice I’m taking most of my classes at Bryn Mawr. Generally, I’m not personally into old crusty literature, and I feel like Bryn Mawr generally has more modern options. The nice thing about the major is you can take classes at either Haverford or Bryn Mawr and it’ll count.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think its definitely more collaborative. People take the honor code very seriously. There is no talk about tests, or comparing grades on anything. The only communication people have in class is collaborative, and it’s not competitive at all.

How accessible are your professors?
For the most part, very accessible. It definitely depends. I’m an English major, but most of the classes I’ve taken have been STEM. With those classes, it can be a lot harder to talk to your professors, because more people want to talk to them about homework. With English and the Humanities classes, there are people who want to talk about something cool they found, or something that happened in class.

Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
It was a really hard decision for me to make. Getting to Haverford there was this culture that STEM majors are the ones that are respected. I really like writing so it took a little bit for me to feel comfortable. Now that I’ve settled on it, I’m really happy with it. I’m happy with the people in my department, and the support I’ve gotten from faculty being behind my major. It’s really great.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Barclay Hall in a double.
Sophomore: Barclay Hall in a double, living on the freshman hall as an RA.

How do you like going to a school close to your hometown?
I really like it. My roommate that I live with is from California, which is much further. I definitely think there are benefits going to a college close to home. I’m far enough away that it’s a different environment, but it’s close enough if I want to go home for the weekend, or if I leave something at home it’s not that big of a deal to go back. I can drive home pretty much whenever, and do whatever I need to do.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve never felt unsafe on campus. I like going out on the weekends, and even on the weekdays when I come back to my room at like 4 AM from doing homework, I’ve never felt unsafe. Outside of campus I wouldn’t walk late at night. There’s a little city nearby, which I don’t think is dangerous, but it’s just my own paranoia.

Pros and cons of being located in Haverford, PA:
Pros:
1) Being so close to Philly. It’s a half-hour train ride to the center of Philadelphia.
2) We’re close to a cute little town called Ardmore, where there are tons of places to get food within walking distance.

Cons:
1) I’m kind of sick and tired of Pennsylvania, but that isn’t really fair.
2) It’s cold.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
I like going to parties. It’s definitely more of a party school than I was expecting. Most of my friends go out on the weekends, and if I didn’t I think I’d be kind of lonely. There are definitely activities to do if you don’t go out, but they usually end around 10 or 11, and then people head out to parties. A lot of people also go to Bryn Mawr or Swarthmore, and I have a friend that goes to UPenn all the time for parties. I also know people that just hang out with their friends, so it depends on what you want to do.

What nights of the week do you regularly do things? Are there regular places you go or things you do on certain nights?
Definitely Saturday night. A lot of athletes have things Saturday mornings, so there aren’t usually big parties on Friday nights. I personally don’t like going to athlete hosted parties because those are the spaces that aren’t my vibe. I like going to parties hosted by my friends, or there is a building called James House, which also hosts whacky parties. There was a goth prom a few weeks ago, and there was once a party where they threw fake blood on everyone. I love it because it’s just insane.

What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
I’m half part of the Climbing Club, which does things on the weekends. They’ll do hiking trips, or skiing trips every now and then. There’s an organization on campus called FAB, which hosts apple picking and pumpkin carving. Last weekend for Valentine’s Day my friend and I did a date trivia game. There is a Nerd House on campus that hosts laser tag every now and then, or pajama parties. All of their parties are dry.

How has identifying as LGBTQ influenced your nightlife experience? Are there any LGBTQ nightlife options that you like to go to?
I would say the James House parties are generally the Queer spaces, which is why I enjoy them. Sometimes there are weekends when nothing is going on, which is when we go to Swarthmore to see if anything is happening. I really like going out on the weekends, so that kind of sucks for me. It just depends on how you make your night. There aren’t a lot of huge ragers, especially ones I’m comfortable going to. Sometimes I wish the parties where I felt comfortable were bigger.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
One of them was my roommate last year so we just got lucky. She and I are now living together this year. Most of my other close friends I either met from living near them, being on the same hall, or in my extracurriculars. One of my closest friends I met through the theater group I do. I haven’t made a lot of friends through classes, which I think is a little interesting.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Haverford?
I think people stay within their own groups. It depends on who you are as a person. I’d consider myself pretty outgoing, but I’ve never been one who can sit down at a table of people I’ve never seen before and [start up a conversation]. I think because it’s a small school you can get kind of comfortable in your friend groups, until you’re forced to make more friends when your group is doing something. It’s very easy to meet new people, but also you have to put in some work to expand outside of your own group.

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
It’s hard for me to say as a White person, because I haven’t had to worry about feeling comfortable in friend groups. I will say I don’t think there’s a solid base for the LGBTQ community, like solid affinity groups. I think [they’re forced to be friends] because there are no other options. [About 43% of Haverford’s student body are people of color.]

How would you describe the queer community on campus? How strong is it?
I personally am not happy with it, just because I feel it’s not strong. I have a lot of Queer friends and am grateful for them, and we have our own support system going. There is an anonymous discussion group called the QDG and a support group specifically for queer trans people of color (QTPOC), and there is a community house where you can live, called QHouse. There is no cohesiveness to it, which is frustrating because there used to be the Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA), but it’s been out for a few years now.

How would you describe the student body?
I think everyone gets in their own heads. There is an athlete divide that some people feel strongly about. You have the athletes in their own groups who sometimes act superior, then you have the people who aren’t athletes that are tired of the athletes. There is a culture of not going to sporting events which sucks because the athletes work hard for those. It might be created by the non-athletes, but I don’t think it’s the sort of thing where people come in thinking they’ll hate the athletes. The athlete [dominant] spaces are where my friends and I don’t feel comfortable, so I think it’s a two-way street. I think the arts are taken very seriously. [See Haverford Clerk article “The Athlete, Non-Athlete Relationship at Haverford College.”]

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.]
It has its pros and cons. Haverford is a little smaller than my high school, so it’s not something I’m not used to. One thing I noticed going to college is you can choose who you spend your time with, where in high school you are kind of forced to hang out with the people you are around because of class or lunch. In college, you have to make an effort to be friends with people. This is good, but there is the downside that if you don’t get along with someone or get in a fight, there’s no way to avoid them. I really like it. I love having small classes and running into my friends everywhere I go. If you make a mistake and piss people off, it’s hard to come back from that.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Not yet but I’m trying. I connected with an alumnus in my hometown. He hasn’t gotten back to me yet, but I’m hoping he’ll help me out.

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
They’ve been pretty helpful for me. I’ve been considering pre-law, which at Haverford there are no classes you have to take for that. There’s a pre-law advisor working in the career office. She’s helped me with my resume, and is helping me find an internship. They’ll walk you through how to make a phone call and ask for an interview. They also have sample emails and stuff like that. It’s helpful for people who have no idea what they’re doing, and need someone to walk them through the steps. From what I’ve heard, if you don’t have a direction you’re going in, it’s not that helpful. If you just want general help they’re not really there for that.

Have you learned any computer programs or languages that will be helpful to you professionally?
I signed up for an online HTML course through Swarthmore last year. It was a very random thing that hasn’t happened since, so I know very basic HTML.

Financial Aid

Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs? Were they responsive to your questions? Did your aid change during your time at your school?
I’m not happy with them, it’s been a mess. I have financial aid and also take out student loans to cover what financial aid doesn’t. It’s a disaster. Before I go back to school every semester I get all these random bills, and have to call in five times to sort it out. The people in the office are very friendly and helpful, but it’s such a bureaucratic nightmare. [See Haverford Clerk article, “New ‘We’re Not Here to Say Thank You’ Campaign Starts Dialogue on Difficulties Faced by Students on Financial Aid.”]

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Haverford before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew that you don’t need to kill yourself doing extracurriculars. There’s a huge culture of doing everything you possibly can. It’s a very toxic mentality that during your first year you throw yourself headfirst, and then realize you can’t handle all of it.

What is something a prospective pre-law student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
I was really intimidated by law. Everyone talks about how scary it is, and when I first got to Haverford, I went to a lot of the pre-law speeches. I got very intimidated by the other people in the program. It’s easy to get scared away from that, but it’s your own thing. Take it at your own pace, talk to people and get help, and don’t be scared away by other people. I think that goes for everything though.

What is something a prospective LGBTQ+ student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
It’s hard to branch out as an LGBTQ student. Just be willing and not afraid to go make friends when they advertise to come and hang out if you’re gay. Being LGBTQ is difficult when you don’t have someone to relate to. Don’t be afraid to take matters into your own hands and do the work yourself.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
This may be my bias, but I think Woodside Cottage is really cool. It’s a cute building off on the side of campus, [that is home to the] head of the English department. I don’t think they ever show it on tours. James House is also really cool, but I think they show it.

Reasons to attend Haverford:
1) If you don’t know what you’re going to college for, Haverford is great for trying new things. I’ve taken mostly STEM classes and am still able to be an English major.
2) If you think you’d like the small school environment. If you want intense classes where the professors will know who you are. [Haverford has a 9:1 student-faculty ratio.]
3) If you want to run into the same people all of the time.
4) People take academics very seriously.

Reasons to not attend Haverford:
1) If you really want to have raging parties every weekend, that’s not Haverford.
2) If you’re serious about athletics, it’s not that respected by the student body.

Notice: Haverford College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Haverford College.

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