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Expectations Versus Reality at Haverford

Haverford students come from many different backgrounds and expect different things from their college experience. To shed light on these expectations, a few first-year students took time to reflect on their first semester at Haverford through a Google form sent out by The Clerk. The consensus view was that students enjoy the tight-knit Haverford community, specifically the students and professors, the Honor Code, and the collaborative academics, but they were disappointed with the nonacademic facilities.

As for the unfulfilled expectations at Haverford, many complaints surrounded the facilities, particularly their hours. Noah Tunis ’25 summed it up when he affirmed that there is “limited dining and facility access.” On weekdays, the Dining Center closes at 8 p.m., and on weekends, the Coop closes at 2 p.m. Many students believe these hours are due to understaffing, and they wish there were more than two food options on campus in general. Most people believe the quality of the food is standard for a college, but sometimes it can get repetitive: Zoey Despines ’25 stated that she typically has a “struggle with the DC.” An alternate option is the Library Cafe, and although its hours extend to 10 p.m. on school nights, coffee and snacks are the main items offered.

In addition to accessibility, the quality of the facilities has disappointed some students. Rosario Lozada ’25 is not alone in feeling like the bathrooms in Gummere Hall, a first-year residential building, are “worse than imagined.” Moreover, it is not only the facilities, but also some of the resources used by Haverford, that frustrate students. For instance, Jax Wittenberg ’25 admits that “registering for classes on Bionic [was] a little overly confusing.” Although the use of Bionic is understandably necessary, many students feel that this website makes class registration a relatively stressful and drawn-out process.

In regard to the aspects of Haverford that have surpassed expectations, the community was a common response. Summer Ryan ’25 said it best: “Everyone I have met here has been so welcoming and has made Haverford feel like home.” Tunis believes this is due to the “kindness of people on campus… Everyone is genuinely rooting for one another to succeed, whether on the field, in the classroom, in an extracurricular, or in their personal life.”

Despines mentioned that this altruistic mindset rings true in the staff members as well: “professors genuinely care about their students as people and are very accommodating to us as individuals.” Because of the caring faculty, the kind students, and the warm, accepting nature around campus, she feels that “our differences are celebrated daily at Haverford… [which] creates an environment where people feel comfortable to pursue their passions.” 

Lastly, an integral part of the Haverford experience is the Honor Code. Many students find the trust between them and the College, in both their academic and social endeavors, very meaningful. Wittenberg said, “The resources on this campus are exceptional and it is really a unique thing to see the Honor Code coming into effect and how much trust this school puts in its students.” 

Heightened by the addition of the Covid-19 pandemic, some incoming students were nervous about the transition to college. However, many of the interviewees indicated a smooth transition to Haverford. Wittenberg believes, “Haverford made the college transition very easy, especially with the Customs orientation.” Customs provides students with an easily accessible network right off the bat, which helps “to promote building relationships with our class,” Despines added.

Though many students had a pleasant transition, Despines spoke openly when she acknowledged that “almost everyone here deals with imposter syndrome… This is because people here are highly driven and have high expectations for success.” 

When it came to balancing academics and social life, the responses were mostly positive. “Academics definitely needs to take a front seat when it comes to living a healthy, balanced life here,” said Wittenberg, but Ryan made sure to affirm that she “never go[es] a day without doing both schoolwork and socializing with friends.” Many students communicated that Lutnick is a sociable place. Despines feels as though “academics and social relationships are intertwined because of how much collaboration is emphasized at Haverford.”

However, students still have to work towards balance. “Sometimes I get burnt out or don’t sleep enough,” Tunis said, but there are solutions. Lozada “reached out to resources on campus like the OAR… [to help] allow time and space for social life and for [her]self.” The OAR stands for the Office of Academic Resources and provides workshops, academic coaching, and peer tutoring for students. There is an inevitable learning curve with regards to maintaining balance, but, generally, “all people [at Haverford] collectively value learning and good social relationships,” Despines expressed. 

The students interviewed had some advice for prospective and incoming students as well. In terms of creating a stable social life, Tunis encourages others to “talk to people; everyone is so nice and friendly.” Annie Bravacos ‘25 expanded by suggesting, “make buddies in your classes.” Further, Lozada noted that it is important to be open-minded because “you will meet so many new people and learn so many new things about yourself.” Despines believes being open-minded and friendly is key because “everyone here has a unique background and something positive to offer.”

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