Haverford Schoolreview by Yale University student. I came to Haverford School for its academic reputation, and, for the most part, was not disappointed. The English department is the school's crown jewel, and for the most part, its teachers do not disappoint. They are very distinguished and have been teaching for decades, so there is much to learn from them, but also a pretty set paradigm of what they think is "correct" form for an English paper, and anyone looking to succeed in class ought to conform to the teacher's expectations as quickly as possible. The small art wing is appreciated by all who choose to spend time there (which is, in the context of Haverford's more sporty, self-consciously masculine student body, not that many people), although the school seems unable to keep ahold of any given multimedia teacher for longer than two years at a time. The science department is a mixed bag -- while all teachers there are knowledgeable and one or two are exceedingly kind and helpful, some are well past their prime as professors, and others are downright unfriendly and seem to view their job as a monumental chore. The math department is more or less Haverford's weakest link, featuring a cast of teachers who have wildly disparate personalities and teaching styles, but are all more or less unable to teach their classes to anyone who isn't extremely inclined to mathematics and chooses to learn everything from obsessive reading of the textbook (and occasionally, additional tutoring). One of the teachers was never trained to be a teacher at all, and only teaches math to supplement his incomes as disciplinary dean and lacrosse coach. If you're willing to coast by on a B average or less, Haverford is pretty easy. Grade inflation ensures that only the very worst of students ever fall into C or failing territory (Haverford does not give Ds), with a few exceptions of particularly difficult and unforgiving teachers. But, if you want to get in the A range, it's a pretty steep and competitive slope: the top 10 students in each grade are very territorial, and more than aware of the "race to college." So if that's what you want, get ready for a fight; if you want to just coast, Haverford can be pretty gentle.
The cafeteria, when I visited in 8th grade, was amazing, and actually one of the main reasons I wanted to attend Haverford. However, over the five years that followed, the food quality and selection declined rapidly, and I hear it's even worse now. Really is a shame. The gym is one of the largest and most impressive on the mainline: pool, squash and tennis courts, soccer and football fields, athletic track, wrestling room, basketball courts, rowing ERGs, weight room, etc etc. As for the area, the Mainline is one of the safest places to be, at least crimewise. That's hardly a concern at Haverford, at all. For the most part, the student body, faculty and the school's surrounding neighborhood are all predominantly white, although in recent years Haverford's made commendable strides toward diversity.
The art and music programs at Haverford are strong and worthwhile for those at all interested in pursuing them, from vocal groups like the unparalleled Notables and the catch-all Glee Club, and instrumental ensembles like chamber orchestra and the jazz troupe. Sportwise, our strengths are lacrosse, water polo and crew; our weakest sport is football, which is generally a disgrace for us. As a former crew captain, that was the extracurricular that had the biggest impact on my life at Haverford. It was by no means easy and was very trying at times, but easily one of the most rewarding, encouraging, and positive things I've ever experienced in my life. I would not have gravitated toward rowing at any other school, so for that, I have Haverford to thank.