Phillips Academy Andover review by Duke University student. Phillips Academy Andover's academic curriculum is strong in all areas; however, it is highly dependent on the quality of the teacher. Furthermore, over the last few years, especially with budget cuts, many elective classes are being dropped from the curriculum which is always disappointing. The teaching staff is mixed, some being very good, many being of average quality, and some being very poor. For all those who spend 3 or more years at Andover you will definitely have one or two classes with bad teachers. As for the nature of the student body, academically it is very college acceptance driven. Students are very motivated and do not hesitate to challenge themselves, but it is clear that there is always the underlying theme of getting into college. Surprisingly, it is not cutthroat competitive. The school does not have a blanket teaching philosophy. Whilst some classes are primarily lecture and some are primarily discussion, and some are a bit of both, they are all small, with an average size of around 10. This diversity in teaching styles makes the school day more interesting because you are not sitting through the same class 5 times over again. Faculty is very accessible, and very helpful. It is never hard to get an extension, or get help on a project, or homework. In fact 30 minutes is set aside 4 days a week when teachers must be in their classes to answer student questions. For talented students there is always a higher level class, or an independent project. For those who are having issues, the academic support center is fantastic, and even individual teachers are very understanding, often going out of their way to find out what the problems are.
At Andover you will live well. Dorms are nice, but you soon realize it doesn’t really matter if you live in five star luxury or your Andover dorm, it is about whom you live with, and the students at Andover are some of the best people you will ever meet. A new dining hall has just been built so that and the food served there is fantastic. Andover is very very safe. You will not feel worried walking around alone and if you do, Public Safety will drive you. As far as notable social events go Andover certainly makes an effort to keep students entertained, but after two years it gets very repetitive and the quality of weekend life greatly diminishes. There are many computer centers, in which the staff is very helpful. One is specifically for art and video projects, and the software is fantastic. Students are never required to do labs out of class, so those are generally locked for safety purposes, but quick consultation with a teacher can get you entry to do an independent project. The science building is also new so that is fantastic. Andover and the surrounding area are beautiful. It is your typical New England town, with a struggling little downtown, and trees everywhere. It is very pretty, very safe, and getting to Boston is relatively easy. The student body is very diverse, the faculty less so, but they all have different backgrounds and are very different if you get to know them. The one issue with Andover, is that it is incredibly liberal, less so than other boarding schools, but still very liberal nonetheless. Support wise Andover is great. People are there for you. Whether it is coaches, teachers, chaplains, or peers, it has never been hard to find a shoulder to lean on, an ear that will listen, and someone to help. Traditions are fantastic. They mainly revolve around our rivalry with Exeter. School spirit is huge, each class cheering for itself, students painting themselves blue for any occasion, and excessive cheering. Students will protest the administration when the feel mistreated. There is definitely a strong sense of community that is natural, recently; however, the administration has been trying to make the school a poster school so community is overly emphasized as well as other things that make the school more attractive to prospective students. Discipline is changing fast. It is becoming more and more aggressive and intrusive on student life. Earlier it was very lax. You needed to be caught red handed breaking rules. However, now rumors can lead to investigations which can lead to trouble. Moreover, Andover picks favorites very badly, if you are on the bad list, watch out. I don't think I was ever coerced into doing more work. You take classes, you can get away with doing very little work if you want, if you want to do well you need to do a lot of work. End of story.
Extracurricular activities are huge. They are very easy to get involved in, and their influence on your live depends entirely upon you. It is very easy to start clubs and organizations, however to get money for them is slightly more difficult. That being said, there are hundreds of active clubs and organizations on campus so often time they will have what you need. Community service is there if you want to do it. It is a no pressure body. There is a community service office that works hard to create over 50 community service programs. Students are encouraged to join, but not in a bothersome manner. I kept myself very busy with extracurricular, spending often time more time on them then my academics (which did suffer as a result). Many students will spend 1-3 hours a week on clubs and organizations. Sports are required, and vary in time depending on the level of intensity from 45 minutes to 3 hours. For those who did get involved with something (which is 99% of the student body) they did end up well rounded.