Haverford vs Bryn Mawr: Which College is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Young woman looking at her phone.

Haverford vs Bryn Mawr: Which College is Right for You?

Choosing the right college is a crucial decision, as it can impact your future in various ways. Whether it is the location, academics, student life, or campus culture, every aspect of a college plays a significant role in shaping your experience. When it comes to small liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania, Haverford and Bryn Mawr are two of the most prominent names that come to mind. Both colleges have a lot to offer, but which one is the right fit for you? Let’s take a detailed look at Haverford vs Bryn Mawr to help you make an informed decision.

Location and Campus: The Differences Between Haverford and Bryn Mawr

The location of a college can have a significant impact on the overall experience of a student. Haverford and Bryn Mawr are both located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, but they have different surroundings. Haverford has a more secluded campus situated on 200 acres of woods, while Bryn Mawr’s campus is situated in a more urban setting with easy access to Philadelphia.

Both campuses offer excellent facilities such as libraries, sports recreation centers, and dining halls. However, if you want to be closer to the city and enjoy cultural events and nightlife, then Bryn Mawr may be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you prefer a quieter and more serene environment with greenery and outdoor activities, then Haverford is the perfect fit.

Another difference between the two campuses is the size of the student body. Haverford has a smaller student population of around 1,400, while Bryn Mawr has a larger student population of around 1,700. This can affect the overall feel of the campus, with Haverford having a more intimate and tight-knit community, while Bryn Mawr may offer more opportunities for socializing and networking.

Additionally, both colleges have unique traditions that contribute to their campus culture. Haverford has a tradition of honor code, where students are trusted to uphold academic integrity and ethical behavior. Bryn Mawr has a tradition of self-governance, where students have a say in the decision-making process of the college. These traditions can shape the values and beliefs of the student body and create a distinct campus culture.

Academics: A Comparison of Haverford and Bryn Mawr’s Programs

Both Haverford and Bryn Mawr offer rigorous academics and have a similar curriculum. However, there are some differences in their programs. For example, Bryn Mawr has a strong focus on women’s education and gender studies, while Haverford has a dedication to Quaker values and traditions.


Another essential aspect of academics is class size and faculty-student interactions. Haverford has a more student-faculty ratio, allowing for more personalized attention from professors. However, Bryn Mawr has more resources due to its larger faculty and broader fields of study.

Furthermore, both colleges offer unique opportunities for students to engage in research and independent study. Haverford has a strong emphasis on undergraduate research, with many students working alongside faculty members on various projects. Bryn Mawr, on the other hand, has a well-established program for independent study, allowing students to design their own courses and pursue their academic interests.

Lastly, both colleges have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. Haverford has a dedicated Office of Multicultural Affairs, which provides support and resources for students from underrepresented backgrounds. Bryn Mawr has a similar office, as well as a Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, which offers programming and advocacy for LGBTQ+ students and allies.

Student Life: Haverford vs Bryn Mawr

The student life at both colleges is vibrant and engaging, with a plethora of student-run organizations and activities. Haverford is known for its tight-knit and supportive community, where students engage in recreational activities, volunteer work, and social events.

Alternatively, Bryn Mawr’s student culture is characterized by independence and advocacy, where students frequently engage in activism and political causes. Both colleges have strong traditions and rituals that reflect their unique cultures.

At Haverford, students have the opportunity to participate in the Honor Code, which is a student-run system that emphasizes academic integrity and trust. The Honor Code allows students to take unproctored exams and complete take-home assignments, which fosters a sense of responsibility and accountability among the student body.

On the other hand, Bryn Mawr has a strong focus on women’s empowerment and gender equality. The college has a long history of educating and empowering women, and students are encouraged to take part in initiatives that promote gender equality and social justice.

Diversity and Inclusion: Haverford vs Bryn Mawr

Inclusivity and diversity are crucial aspects of a college experience. Bryn Mawr is an all-women’s college, while Haverford is co-educational. Both colleges have taken significant steps to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all students, regardless of gender, race, or sexuality.

Students outside the campus

Furthermore, Bryn Mawr has a more diverse student body, with a significant representation of international and minority students. Haverford also has a diverse student body, but the ratio of domestic and international students differs.

Another aspect of diversity and inclusion at Haverford and Bryn Mawr is the presence of LGBTQ+ students and resources. Both colleges have LGBTQ+ centers and offer support and resources for LGBTQ+ students. However, Bryn Mawr has a longer history of supporting LGBTQ+ students, with the establishment of the Rainbow Alliance in 1988.

Additionally, both colleges have made efforts to increase diversity among their faculty and staff. Haverford has implemented a Faculty Diversity and Excellence Initiative, which aims to increase the representation of underrepresented groups among faculty. Bryn Mawr has also made strides in this area, with a recent increase in the number of faculty members from underrepresented groups.

Athletics: Haverford vs Bryn Mawr

Both Haverford and Bryn Mawr have competitive athletics programs, with intercollegiate teams in various sports. Haverford has a broader range of sports programs, including varsity, club, and intramural teams, with a focus on a healthy and active lifestyle. Bryn Mawr’s athletics program is not as extensive but has a strong emphasis on teamwork and leadership.

At Haverford, some of the most popular sports include soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. The college also has a strong tradition in cross country and track and field, with many athletes competing at the national level. In addition to varsity sports, Haverford offers a variety of club teams, such as ultimate frisbee and rugby, as well as intramural leagues for students of all skill levels.

Meanwhile, Bryn Mawr’s athletics program may be smaller, but it still offers opportunities for students to participate in sports such as volleyball, tennis, and swimming. The college also has a unique tradition of “May Day Games,” where students compete in a variety of fun and quirky events, such as a spoon race and a tug-of-war. Bryn Mawr’s emphasis on teamwork and leadership is reflected in its sports teams, where athletes are encouraged to support and motivate each other both on and off the field.

Faculty and Staff: Haverford vs Bryn Mawr

The faculty and staff of a college play a vital role in shaping the academic experience of its students. Both colleges have experienced and dedicated faculty members who employ various teaching styles to engage students and promote critical thinking. Haverford’s professors are known for their approachability and personalized attention, while Bryn Mawr’s teaching style is characterized by a more hands-off approach, allowing students to take charge of their learning.

a teacher demonstrating something on the computer

However, it is important to note that both colleges also prioritize the importance of mentorship and guidance from faculty members. Haverford professors often serve as academic advisors and mentors to students, providing guidance on course selection, research opportunities, and career paths. Similarly, Bryn Mawr professors are known for their willingness to provide one-on-one support and mentorship to students, particularly in research and independent study projects. This emphasis on mentorship and guidance from faculty members is a key aspect of the academic experience at both Haverford and Bryn Mawr.

Admissions Process: Haverford vs Bryn Mawr

The admissions process for both colleges is highly competitive, with a selective acceptance rate. However, the requirements and application process may differ. Haverford requires a supplemental essay, and Bryn Mawr requires a two-part application with a personal statement and a writing sample.

Additionally, Haverford offers an optional interview for applicants, while Bryn Mawr does not. The interview can provide an opportunity for the applicant to showcase their personality and interests beyond what is included in their application materials. On the other hand, Bryn Mawr offers an Early Decision option, which is binding and requires the applicant to commit to attending the college if accepted.

It is also worth noting that both colleges have a need-blind admissions policy, meaning that an applicant’s financial need is not taken into consideration during the admissions process. However, both colleges do require the submission of financial aid forms for those seeking financial assistance. Overall, while the admissions process for Haverford and Bryn Mawr may have some differences, both colleges are committed to selecting a diverse and talented student body.

Career Services: Haverford vs Bryn Mawr

Both Haverford and Bryn Mawr offer excellent career services to their graduates, including career counseling, internships, and job placement programs. Haverford has a strong alumni network, which provides numerous opportunities for career advancement and networking. Bryn Mawr’s career services are equally effective, with a focus on individualized attention and guidance.

Job Search Opportunity Concept

In addition to the career services offered by Haverford and Bryn Mawr, both colleges have partnerships with various companies and organizations that provide exclusive job opportunities to their graduates. These partnerships also offer access to industry-specific events and workshops, allowing graduates to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in their fields. Furthermore, both colleges have a strong reputation in the job market, which can give graduates a competitive edge when applying for jobs.

Financial Aid: Comparing the Cost of Attendance

College tuition can be a significant factor in deciding which college to attend. Both Haverford and Bryn Mawr offer generous financial aid packages to their students, covering tuition costs and living expenses. However, the cost of attendance may differ due to various factors, such as room and board fees.

It is important to note that the cost of attendance can also vary depending on the student’s individual financial situation. Students with higher family incomes may receive less financial aid, while those with lower incomes may receive more. Additionally, students may be eligible for scholarships or grants that can further reduce the cost of attendance. It is recommended that students thoroughly research and compare the financial aid options at both Haverford and Bryn Mawr to determine which college is the most affordable for their specific situation.

Campus Safety: Which College Has a Better Record?

The safety of a campus is a crucial concern for students and parents. Both Haverford and Bryn Mawr have excellent safety records, with dedicated security personnel and safety protocols. Haverford has a more secluded campus, which provides a more secure environment, while Bryn Mawr’s urban setting may have more security concerns.

However, it is important to note that both colleges have implemented various safety measures to ensure the well-being of their students. Haverford has a 24/7 emergency response team and a campus-wide alert system, while Bryn Mawr has installed security cameras and emergency call boxes throughout the campus.

In addition, both colleges offer resources for students to learn about personal safety and self-defense. Haverford has a self-defense class taught by certified instructors, while Bryn Mawr offers workshops on topics such as sexual assault prevention and bystander intervention.

Alumni Networks: How They Can Help You After Graduation

The alumni network of a college can provide numerous opportunities for career advancement, networking, and philanthropic activities. Both Haverford and Bryn Mawr have active and engaged alumni networks, providing assistance and guidance to graduates in various fields.

One of the key benefits of alumni networks is the ability to connect with fellow graduates who have similar interests and career paths. This can lead to valuable networking opportunities, as well as potential job leads and mentorship relationships. Additionally, alumni networks often offer professional development resources, such as workshops and seminars, to help graduates continue to grow and develop in their careers. By staying connected to their alma mater through the alumni network, graduates of Haverford and Bryn Mawr can tap into a wealth of resources and support throughout their professional lives.

Student Organizations: The Types of Groups Available at Haverford and Bryn Mawr

Joining student organizations can be an essential part of college life, providing opportunities for social engagement, leadership development, and community service. Haverford and Bryn Mawr have a wide range of student-run organizations, including cultural, recreational, and academic groups.

social culture in university

Some of the most popular student organizations at Haverford and Bryn Mawr include the debate team, the environmental club, and the student government association. These groups offer students the chance to engage in meaningful discussions, participate in community service projects, and develop leadership skills that will serve them well beyond college. Additionally, many of these organizations host events and activities throughout the year, such as guest speakers, movie screenings, and social outings, providing students with a well-rounded college experience.

Research Opportunities: Which College Offers More for Students?

Research opportunities are vital for students pursuing academic careers or graduate studies. Both Haverford and Bryn Mawr provide excellent research opportunities for their students, with access to cutting-edge resources and facilities. Haverford has a particular emphasis on undergraduate research, providing numerous opportunities for hands-on learning and research collaboration.

However, Bryn Mawr also offers unique research opportunities for its students. The college has a strong focus on interdisciplinary research, encouraging students to explore connections between different fields of study. This approach allows students to develop a broader perspective and tackle complex problems from multiple angles.

In addition, Bryn Mawr has a strong commitment to community-based research, partnering with local organizations to address real-world issues. This type of research allows students to apply their skills and knowledge to make a positive impact in their community, while also gaining valuable experience in project management and collaboration.

Campus Culture: A Comparison of Life Outside the Classroom

Campus culture refers to the shared values, traditions, and behaviors of a college community. Haverford’s campus culture is characterized by its strong community values, where students engage in sports, volunteer work, and activism. Bryn Mawr’s campus culture is more independent, emphasizing self-expression and advocacy.

Ultimately, the decision to attend Haverford or Bryn Mawr depends on your individual preferences and goals. Take the time to research both colleges thoroughly and consider various factors that are important to you. Both colleges offer a unique and enriching experience, whether you are interested in community service, research, or athletics. By considering the differences between the two colleges outlined here, you can make an informed decision about which one is the right fit for you.

It’s important to note that while Haverford and Bryn Mawr have distinct campus cultures, there is also a strong sense of collaboration and community between the two schools. Students often take classes at both colleges and participate in joint events and activities. This allows for a diverse and dynamic college experience, where students can explore different perspectives and make connections with a wider range of people. Whether you choose Haverford or Bryn Mawr, you will be part of a supportive and engaged community that values intellectual curiosity and social responsibility.

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