How to Write the Haverford College Essays 2020-2021

Nestled in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia, PA, Haverford College is home to around 1,300 undergraduate students. Founded by Quakers in 1833, Haverford embodies traditional Quaker values such as respect, acceptance, and an emphasis on family and community. These Quaker values, along with Haverford’s Honor Code and the large percentage of students living on campus, contribute to Haverford’s close-knit community.

 

Haverford College is ranked #11 of all national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report with an acceptance rate of 16% for the Class of 2024. Haverford’s selective acceptance rate is a testament to their academic expectations, seeing as a large percentage of Haverford students were in the top 10% of their high school class.

 

Additionally, Haverford is part of the Tri-College Consortium, which includes Bryn Mawr College, Haverford’s sister school, and Swarthmore College. Haverford students are able to take classes and participate in activities at both Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore. Through the Quaker Consortium, Haverford students can also take courses at theUniversity of Pennsylvania. 

 

As with many other liberal arts colleges, Haverford is interested in more than just your high school transcript. Through your application, Haverford admissions officers want to see how you would fit into, participate in, and contribute to Haverford’s community. While this may seem daunting at first, there are plenty of opportunities to use your supplemental essays to convey these ideas.

 

Want to know your chances at Haverford? Calculate your chances for free right now.

 

Want to learn what Haverford College will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Haverford College needs to know.

 

Haverford College Honor Code

 

Before we dive into the essays, we want to provide some background on the Haverford Honor code. Here’s what you need to know.

 

Haverford College has one of the oldest and one of the very few student-run Honor Codes in the U.S. Our Honor Code is not a set of rules, but rather a statement of shared values centered on the concepts of trust, concern, and respect.

 

Our Honor Code serves as an educational tool in and of itself and provides a powerful framework for our community, emphasizing and supporting qualities we see as essential to a Haverford education. Among other things, the Honor Code at Haverford shapes:

 

Academic Freedom: The Honor Code fosters an atmosphere emphasizing academic integrity, collaboration over competition, and the cultivation of intellectual curiosity. Differences and disagreement are respected, valued, and embraced, and open discourse is seen as fundamental to the academic endeavor.

 

Student Agency: The Honor Code upholds a culture in which students are deeply trusted to take substantial ownership of their education and to profoundly shape and define the Haverford community. Student ownership is reflected in self-scheduled exams, in the fact that every student completes a Senior Thesis, in shared responsibility for the residential experience, and of course in oversight of the Honor Code itself.

 

Community: The Honor Code establishes a supportive environment for living and learning, where the community experience plays a central role in one’s education. The inherent value of every community member is recognized, and diversity in all respects — including diversity of background, experience, and perspective — is nurtured, celebrated, and embraced.

 

Leadership and Engagement: The Honor Code allows every student to find and develop their own voice, to practice ways of improving community and acting on issues of importance, to learn methods of problem solving and conflict resolution, and to examine the ways they can and will impact the world beyond Haverford.

 

Before delving into Haverford’s supplementary essays, it is extremely important to have a solid understanding of Haverford’s Honor Code and its role in Haverford’s community. At first glance, Haverford’s Honor Code may appear to be an explicit set of rules that are designed to govern the lives of students, forcing them to comply with specific guidelines and standards. However, the goal of the Honor Code is not to restrict students, but rather to allow for more freedom.

 

The Honor Code fosters a community grounded in honesty, fairness, and respect. These values create an environment where students feel not only comfortable, but confident sharing their own ideas, opinions, and beliefs. Diversity in thought, belief, culture, and perspective are not only recognized, but accepted and celebrated.

 

The values of the Honor Code afford students an unprecedented level of control over their education and community. Since it is expected that students adhere to a high degree of honesty and integrity, students are trusted by the administration as well as their professors and peers. For instance, Haverford students don’t have RAs in their dorms, are allowed to take tests without proctors, and are able to schedule their own final exams. These freedoms and privileges can exist because of the values of the Honor Code. 

 

Haverford’s Honor Code also presents an opportunity for self-governance. At Plenary, an all-student “governing” session, students can debate and vote to revise the Honor Code. In this way, students have the autonomy to change and improve Haverford’s campus. 

 

While Haverford’s Honor Code is taken seriously, consequences for infractions are not seen as punishments, rather as opportunities to instill lifelong lessons. Consequences are decided upon by the Honor Council, composed of students, not members of the school administration. It is the hope of the Haverford community that through this process, students will take ownership for their bad decisions, learn from them, grow as community members, and realize that they have the power to control their circumstances both inside and outside the classroom.

 

As you write your supplemental essays, keep Haverford’s values in mind. Incorporating their values into your essays not only shows that you did your research, but also creates connections between yourself and the Haverford community. For instance, Haverford’s collaborative environment could enable you to work with your peers to understand complicated mathematical theorems. Or, Haverford’s respectful and accepting community could empower you to debate the best policies to solve climate change. Regardless of the interests you choose to express in your essays, it is always a good idea to connect your thoughts to Haverford’s Honor Code and core values. 

 

Haverford College Supplemental Essay Prompts

Prompt 1: Please tell us what motivated you to apply to Haverford and what excites you most as you imagine your Haverford experience. (150 words)

 

Prompt 2: Tell us about a topic or issue that sparks your curiosity and gets you intellectually excited. How do you think the environment at Haverford, including the framework of the Honor Code, would foster your continued intellectual growth? (250 words)

Prompt 1

Please tell us what motivated you to apply to Haverford and what excites you most as you imagine your Haverford experience. (150 words)

At its core, Haverford’s first prompt simply asks you “Why do you want to apply to Haverford?”. As with many other schools, specifically liberal arts colleges, your answer should go beyond general factors such as academics, location, or class size. These factors can easily apply to other schools. 

 

Since 150 words is not a lot of space, it is important that you focus your essay on how you plan to participate in Haverford’s community as well as how your personal values mesh with those of the college.

 

First, do your research! Find 2-3 clubs, activities, classes, organizations, or programs that really peak your interest. These resources should be relatively unique; don’t mention the Neuroscience minor, for instance, as that can be found at almost any school. If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that Haverford offers a course on the Neurobiology of Anxiety, as well as the Stress Neuroscience. You should aim to get this granular.

 

Regardless of which resources you mention in your essay, be sure to connect them to your interests and goals. Don’t simply list all the great things about Haverford; anyone can do that. To truly emphasize your fit with the community, explain why those opportunities interest you, and provide some background for that interest. 

 

Here are some examples to get you started:

 

  • The aforementioned neuroscience student may be interested in becoming a psychiatrist and researching new ways to manage stress/anxiety, as they have a sibling with Social Anxiety Disorder. 
  • A Muslim-American student may want to be a human rights lawyer for oppressed religious groups, after witnessing persecution towards Muslims in their community and around the world. At Haverford, they could major in Religion with a concentration in Peace, Justice, and Human rights.
  • Maybe you’re passionate about musical theatre and have been performing in shows since you were five. For this reason, Greasepaint, Haverford and Bryn Mawr’s shared musical theatre group, will allow you to continue pursuing this activity.
  • An avid chef might want to expand Haverfood’s Food Co-op to teach students budget-friendly recipes they can make with their food deliveries.

 

Your reasons for applying don’t all need to be tangible, either. You might also take some time to reflect on Haverford’s values, and mention any that you particularly resonate with. While the next prompt is more focused on Haverford’s Honor Code, you should still consider including how Haverford’s values have prompted your application. What appeals to you about Haverford’s unique community? Maybe you value the increased autonomy and feel it will allow you to make positive change on campus. Or, perhaps Haverford’s diverse and inclusive environment will enable you to share your opinions and perspectives. Or, maybe the honest and open community will empower you to form closer connections with your peers. 

 

Lastly, this prompt is also a great place to include any notable experiences you had on Haverford’s campus. While avoiding the general discussion of information sessions or campus tours, you should certainly discuss a memorable conversation, class, meeting, or experience you had while on Haverford’s campus. These experiences are not essential to your essay, however they will certainly demonstrate an added layer of interest in Haverford. 

 

Prompt 2

Tell us about a topic or issue that sparks your curiosity and gets you intellectually excited. How do you think the environment at Haverford, including the framework of the Honor Code, would foster your continued intellectual growth? (250 words)

This prompt is an excellent opportunity for you to showcase your specific interest in a given subject or topic. Your topic could be as obscure as Victorian fashion or as common as math, but it must be the focus of your essay. Additionally, you’ll need to explain why and how your topic excites your intellectual curiosity, and how you’ll be able to continue your intellectual growth on Haverford’s campus. 

 

Starting your essay with an anecdote is a great way to show your interest to readers, rather than simply telling them about it. For example, you could begin your essay by telling the story of how you became interested in art after your first visit to an art museum. Or, you could describe your thoughts and emotions as you’re creating art. The complexity of your story doesn’t matter, as long as it reflects your genuine passion for the subject.

 

The next part of your essay should focus on why you are so interested in the topic or subject you chose. What specifically about your topic makes you excited to learn more? Maybe it’s because science explains how everything in the world functions. Or, perhaps it’s because music has the power to inspire and connect people. Reflect on the deeper reason behind your interest, since this is also the reason your topic or subject sparks your curiosity. 

 

You also need to explain what you do to satisfy your curiosity. Do you read every available book on Egyptian pyramids? Or do you debate what the most successful political strategies are with your family? 

 

Lastly, take some time to reflect on which of Haverford’s values are most important to you. Take time to read and maybe even re-read Haverford’s Honor Code. Ask yourself these questions:

 

  • Which of these values speak most to me?
  • How will these values and the framework of the Honor Code contribute to my education and college experience?

 

While you don’t need to deliberately answer each of these questions in your essay, you should consider them when crafting your response to this prompt. Maybe you’re a spirited debater and Haverford’s accepting and respectful community will allow you to be challenged by other opinions and perspectives. Or, perhaps you love theater and appreciate a supportive and collaborative community that enables you to create and share art. Or, maybe you’re passionate about advocacy and crave an environment that encourages self-governance. Remember to pick the values of Haverford that will enable you to continue fostering your curiosity and exploring your subject or topic.

 

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