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Phillips Academy Andover

School rating 4 / 5 by

180 Main Street Andover MA 01810 United States
9th to PG
9th to PG


Phillips Academy Andover review by .

The academic program at Andover looks, at first glance, to be extremely broad. The Course of Study teems with offerings in Critical Race Theory, the work of Jane Austen, and Non-Euclidean Geometry. Though these courses do exist and students (myself included) take them, the majority of academic life at Andover centers around a few core classes; almost every student takes them at some point in their career. These courses are: Math 320-360, followed by 520, 570, or 580; Biology 100; Chemistry 250 or 300; English 100, 200, 300; History 100, 200, 300; Language at levels of 100, 200, 300, and 400. Of course there is some variability even within these options - sometimes the language courses in particular are given fancy names; further, students are required to take a number of electives in arts and philosophy - but the basic outline stays constant. Certainly, students in their first 2 years at Andover will be taking some combination of these classes. The most general comment about these classes is that they are all very solid. The instructors have taught these classes for many years and the material has been worked out in order to provide a solid foundation for students who take them. This quality preparation becomes evident in the school's high AP score averages, particularly in math, as well as in the ease with which students take college placement exams in math, language, and writing. Now, moving to those courses that make the Course of Study so thick, we really get a mixed bag. Some of these courses are excellent. For example, I took a course on Virginia Woolf's novels from a woman who got her PhD studying Woolf's work. She knew everything about both the books and the author and the she taught at an extremely high level. Others are not so great. First of all, Seniors - who make up most of the population in these classes - do tend to get lazy as their time at PA wanes. Second, teachers are generally more focused on their work in the "core" classes; consequently, the electives can seem like they're less "solid." The proceeding may be a function of the fact that the courses often try to cover in 10 weeks of high-school classes what is often covered in a university over a semester. Nevertheless, students often discover their academic passions in these courses. Andover's strengths certainly lie in the humanities. The school teachers you - across the English, History, and Philosophy curricula - to think creatively and write precisely. At university, it is clear that most students do not have anything close to this level of preparation. The thing that truly makes this area Andover's strength, though, is that the faculty in these departments have such small classes sizes. They can, and do, focus an enormous amount of attention on each student and each essay. This is not to say that math and science are weaknesses at Andover. It is simply the case that the school provides extremely solid foundation for study in these areas for students who are not particularly inclined to win Nobel or Fields Prizes. In other words, Andover isn't the best place for you if you want to focus very intensely on your high-level math work. It can be done, but it's not really the easiest thing because your humanities courses take a lot of time and require focus and creativity. If you are a mathematician or a physicist, there are plenty of opportunities for taking coursework far beyond the level of a high-school student (i.e. fluid mechanics, organic chemistry, etc.). Andover prepares you very well for college. As I said before, you just get a very solid grounding in every subject. This fact comes largely from the amount of time that you are required to spend preparing for each class. Students simply get really comfortable with the material because they have spent so much time working with it (and even if the topics aren't at a high level, students are expected to perform with high quality). Andover's academics are certainly of the type whereby you get out what you put in - and almost everybody puts in a lot.

College Counseling

I had a very good experience with college counseling at Andover. Ultimately, I ended up....

Sample insights on college counseling

  • They have contacts at most of the major universities and feel perfectly comfortable picking up the phone and advocating for a student to get accepted somewhere they feel is a good fit for that student. However, these counselors are certainly not magic bullets. They cannot guarantee that a student will get into an Ivy League university...
  • For those wishing to move on to Oxford or Cambridge, the provision is second-to-none. In the months running up to application and interview, every subject faculty offers classes (often run by former Oxbridge tutors) exploring further areas of their subject as well as offering advice on personal statements, interview technique and more...

Admissions - Getting Accepted

I had really good grades in middle school and got a high SSAT score; I'm....

Sample insights on admissions

  • For the interview, dress conservatively. Try to be very clean and put together. Also, I was a tour guide for two years and at the end of every tour, we were asked to evaluate the candidate so if you think the tour is not apart of the process, you are very wrong. Ask questions and be interested. Also, tip for the parents: the kids speak on the tour. Do not ask their questions for them...
  • Most younger siblings have an easy time in the admissions process. I can only think of one case of a younger sibling not being admitted. About half of the students who entered with me had come from public schools. The remainder came from private K-6 schools, or had transferred from other New York private schools The Elizabeth Morrow School and St. Bernard were two of the larger feeder schools...

School Life

Andover was definitely a love-hate relationship. That's the way that everyone feels, though. The reason for this sinusoidal reality is that there are weeks where it seems like everything's going well, and then there are weeks where it seems like the world is going to collapse because you have so much work. If you're not up for that, don't come to Andover. If you are up to that, you will have that love-hate relationship while you're at the school, and then you'll miss the place like crazy because you'd give anything to stay up all night with an English paper,....

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