Phillips Academy Andoverreview by Stanford University student. Andover is known for having strong programs in every discipline; a few that really stand out though are Physics, History, and Chinese. The Physics Department has a slew of extremely qualified teachers, and it was the department that prepared me best for college, both in terms of the workload and what I learned. The History Department is probably Andover's most storied, and even though I wasn't really a history person I thoroughly enjoyed the classes I took in the subject. Chinese is one of many phenomenal language programs at Andover, but what really makes it stand out is the relationship the school has with schools and faculty in China. I felt extremely well-prepared going into college, mostly thanks to Andover. I worked hard while I was there, and took full advantage of every opportunity to learn, but I still had plenty of time for friends and extracurriculars. The workload was definitely more than what I've found the case to be in college, but it wasn't horrible. The most important thing Andover prepared me for was essay writing. The English department and all of the humanities departments give you great tools for writing well-reasoned essays on a variety of topics. While Andover certainly has a few exceptional programs, they don't push you into any one at all. I personally was more of a science-type, and Andover allowed me to progress in the sciences at a faster rate than others, while still giving me a very well-rounded education and instilling in me a love for a variety of topics.
Housing was one of the best parts of Andover to me. I lived in a 40-person all-guys dorm all three years and considered it my second home. There was a sense of community there that hasn't been equaled for me since, and I felt like I was at least pretty good friends with everyone in the house. The food was pretty good at Andover, esepecially after they finished renovations on Commons. Every now and then a meal wouldn't be a hit, but there were always a bunch of options and finding something good usually wasn't hard. The surrounding area is a pretty upper-class suburb, and there's a cute little downtown area about a 10 minute walk away. To me, at least, downtown Andover had more to offer in terms of restaurants and amenities than any other comparable school. Every dorm has between one and four house counselors that oversee the dorms. They ensure students are in the house when they should be, and enforce rules within the dorm, but they are pretty relaxed for the most part and I felt pretty close with all of my house counselors. I definitely felt like I could go to them with problems, whether academic or social, and get a helpful response.
Andover is all about well-rounded students. The curriculum encourages taking classes in a variety of disciplines, and the social life fits in well with the school's academic rigor. The place where Andover's emphasis on varied interests is most clear is in the athletic department, where every student is required to take some sort of athletics every term. I played an interscholastic sport every term so I'm not too familiar with the other offerings, but there was a range of things from yoga to dance to intramurals, and it seemed like there was something for every level of ability and interest. I spent a lot of time on extracurriculars, mostly because I worked for the newspaper, which took about 30 hours per week of my time while I was Executive Editor. I also spent about 20 hours a week on sports fields, as well as around 5 hours each week doing math things. This was more than a lot of people though, and it's definitely all optional, Andover really doesn't force you to do that much. I didn't participate in community service but a lot of my friends did, and Andover definitely provided a variety of outlets for those interested.