Vassar vs. Haverford: Which College is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A man is studying

Vassar vs. Haverford: Which College is Right for You?

If you’re making the big decision between choosing to attend Vassar College or Haverford College, it’s important to do your research. Both schools are well-respected and offer unique academic and social experiences. In this article, we’ll go in-depth into comparing Vassar vs. Haverford in terms of their location, campus, academic programs, student life, admissions, cost of attendance, financial aid and scholarships, athletics and extracurricular activities, alumni network and career opportunities, campus diversity, housing options, and student support services available.

Location and Campus: A Comparison

Vassar College is located in Poughkeepsie, New York, while Haverford College is located in Haverford, Pennsylvania – a suburb of Philadelphia. Vassar has a larger campus stretching across 1,000 acres with Gothic-style buildings and a lake for students to enjoy. Haverford, on the other hand, has a smaller campus spanning 200 acres, also with Gothic-style architecture.

Despite the difference in size, both campuses offer a variety of outdoor spaces for students to relax and study. Vassar’s campus includes a botanical garden, a farm, and several sports fields. Haverford’s campus features a nature trail, a duck pond, and a cricket field.
Haverford College Duck Pond
When it comes to location, Vassar’s campus is situated in the Hudson Valley, known for its scenic views and outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking. Haverford’s campus is located in a suburban area but is just a short train ride away from the bustling city of Philadelphia, offering students easy access to cultural events and internship opportunities.

The Academic Programs at Vassar vs. Haverford

Both Vassar and Haverford offer rigorous liberal arts curriculums that prioritize critical thinking and cross-disciplinary studies. Vassar offers over 50 majors and 70 minors, with notable programs in neuroscience, psychology, and drama. Haverford offers over 30 majors and pre-professional programs, with renowned programs in biology, chemistry, and economics.

Additionally, Vassar has a unique program called “Exploring Transfer” which allows students from community colleges to spend a summer at Vassar and experience a liberal arts education. Haverford also offers a unique program called “Study Abroad Tri-Co” which allows students to study abroad in over 50 countries while still receiving credit towards their Haverford degree.

Student Life: What to Expect at Each College

Vassar and Haverford differ in terms of student life. Vassar has a more diverse student body, with a mix of liberal and conservative students. The school has many traditions, such as Founder’s Day and the annual Vassar-Hopkins game. Haverford, on the other hand, has a smaller student body, with a more tight-knit community. The school has a unique honor code that fosters trust and mutual respect among students.

Additionally, Vassar offers a wide range of extracurricular activities, including a strong arts program and a variety of student-run clubs and organizations. Haverford, on the other hand, has a strong focus on athletics, with a variety of sports teams and facilities available to students. Both schools offer opportunities for students to get involved and make the most of their college experience.

Admission Requirements and Application Process

Both Vassar and Haverford are highly selective schools, with low admission rates. Admissions requirements at both schools include standardized test scores, transcripts, essays, and letters of recommendation. 

Cost of Attendance: Vassar vs. Haverford

Vassar and Haverford both have high tuition costs, with Vassar costing slightly more per year. While both schools have large endowments that fund scholarships and financial aid, attending either school may require taking on student loans.

A student loan

It’s important to note that the cost of attendance goes beyond just tuition. Students also need to consider the cost of room and board, textbooks, and other expenses. At Vassar, the cost of room and board is higher than at Haverford, which may impact a student’s decision on which school to attend.

However, both schools offer various resources to help students manage their finances. Vassar has a robust financial literacy program that provides workshops and one-on-one counseling, while Haverford offers a work-study program that allows students to earn money while gaining valuable work experience.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Opportunities

Students at both Vassar and Haverford have access to financial aid and scholarship opportunities. Vassar’s need-based financial aid is highly regarded, while Haverford offers merit-based scholarships and financial aid.

Additionally, both colleges have resources available to help students navigate the financial aid process. Vassar has a dedicated financial aid office that provides personalized assistance to students and families, while Haverford offers workshops and information sessions to help students understand their options. It is important for students to explore all available resources and apply for financial aid and scholarships to make their college education more affordable.

Athletics and Extracurricular Activities

Vassar and Haverford both offer a range of athletics and extracurricular activities for students. Vassar has 23 varsity sports teams, while Haverford has 23 club sports teams. Both schools have active and diverse student organizations, with opportunities for students to get involved in community service, political activism, and the arts. 

Some students are doing some community service.

At Vassar, students can participate in a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking, through the Outing Club. The college also has a strong music scene, with a student-run radio station and multiple a cappella groups. Additionally, Vassar has a robust theater program, with opportunities for students to act, direct, and design productions.

Haverford offers unique extracurricular opportunities, such as the Bi-Co Bike Co-op, where students can learn how to repair and maintain bicycles. The college also has a strong focus on sustainability, with a student-run organic farm and a sustainability committee that works to reduce the college’s environmental impact. Haverford also has a thriving arts community, with a student-run art gallery and a variety of music and theater groups.

Alumni Network and Career Opportunities

Vassar and Haverford have strong alumni networks and career opportunities for graduates. Vassar alumni are successful in a variety of fields, from entertainment to finance, while Haverford alumni are known for their success in the sciences and academia.

Both Vassar and Haverford offer extensive resources for their alumni, including career counseling, job fairs, and networking events. Vassar’s Career Development Office provides personalized career advising, workshops, and internship opportunities to help students and alumni achieve their professional goals. Haverford’s Center for Career and Professional Advising offers similar services, as well as connections to alumni mentors and job shadowing programs. With the support of these resources, graduates from both institutions have gone on to achieve great success in their chosen fields.

Campus Diversity: How Vassar vs. Haverford Compare

Vassar is well-known for its commitment to diversity and inclusion. The school has a diverse student body, with an active multicultural center and various support services for underrepresented groups. Haverford is also committed to diversity, with a multicultural affairs office and various affinity groups for students of color.

However, there are some differences between the two schools when it comes to diversity. Vassar has a higher percentage of international students, with over 15% of the student body coming from outside the United States. Haverford, on the other hand, has a higher percentage of students who identify as LGBTQ+, with a thriving queer community on campus.

Both schools have made efforts to increase diversity among their faculty as well. Vassar has implemented a diversity hiring initiative, resulting in a more diverse faculty in recent years. Haverford has also made strides in this area, with a faculty diversity committee and a commitment to hiring more faculty of color.

Housing Options: Vassar vs. Haverford

At both Vassar and Haverford, students have the option to live on campus or off campus. Vassar has various housing options, from dorms to co-ops, while Haverford requires all students to live on campus for their first three years.

Living on campus can provide a sense of community and convenience, as students are close to classes, dining halls, and campus events. However, off-campus housing can offer more independence and flexibility, as well as potentially lower costs.

dining hall for students

At Vassar, students can apply to live in special interest housing, such as language houses or sustainability-focused co-ops. Haverford’s on-campus housing includes traditional dorms, apartments, and even a sustainable living community. Both schools offer resources and support for students who choose to live off campus, including assistance with finding housing and navigating the local community.

Student Support Services Available at Each College

Both Vassar and Haverford offer various support services for students, including academic advising, career services, and mental health counseling. Vassar has a strong network of student-run organizations, while Haverford has an extensive Peer Awareness & Wellness Support (PAWS) program to provide mental health support to students.

In conclusion, both Vassar and Haverford offer unique academic and social experiences, with differences in location, campus, student life, admission requirements, cost of attendance, financial aid and scholarships, athletics and extracurricular activities, alumni network and career opportunities, campus diversity, housing options, and student support services available. Ultimately, the decision to attend either school should be based on your personal preferences and goals.

Additionally, Vassar offers a Writing Center that provides one-on-one consultations with trained writing tutors to help students improve their writing skills. Haverford, on the other hand, has a dedicated Office of Academic Resources that offers workshops, tutoring, and study groups to help students succeed academically.

Furthermore, both colleges have resources for students with disabilities. Vassar has an Office for Accessibility and Educational Opportunity that provides accommodations and support services for students with disabilities, while Haverford has a Student Accessibility Services office that offers similar services and accommodations.



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