Phillips Academy Andoverreview by Washington University in St. Louis student. The school is strong in all areas, but especially in the humanities and languages. The biology, physics, and math programs are also quite impressive. The school's academic program is so rigorous that college is a breeze in comparison. The school's demanding academics in terms of both workload and course difficulty, the high expectations placed on students, and instructor expertise have overprepared me for the academic rigors of college. The school's teaching philosophy influenced me to really consider others' opinions, to think unconventionally while maintaining logical leaps of thought, and to see the beauty in both the traditional and the innovative. For humanities and languages, the classes are discussions with peers that are jump started by faculty. For math, sciences, and other quantitative courses, it is a more lecture based learning. The class sizes were never more than 17 students. I had classes as small as 9 students to 17. The faculty accessibility depends on the specific instructor, but there are conference periods, and I would say 99% of teachers would respond to email in a timely manner and were willing and very very ready to help outside of conference period. I had one math teacher, Mr. Farrell, who I still consider to be the best math teacher I have ever had in my life to this day, who met with me for thirty minutes before class every day to reteach me the material and explain BC Calculus in a way that I understood. I got a 5 on the AP Exam despite not being the best in my class. Average work load is very heavy, with the worst being the last two years with the exception of senior spring. You can get peer tutors and go to teachers, review sessions, and go to the math and science study halls for help, and there is even a writing center to help look at your papers. The best people to go to, however, are the instructors themselves. For talented/advanced students, well, it's Andover. You can always find a harder class or propose an Independent Project. The possibilities and opportunities are there and are endless.
The dining is wonderful. The food is unlimited, the cafeteria, called Commons, was recently renovated. The food is one of the best parts of the school. I am a day student, so I never dealt with housing. The school is very safe. The facilities are top notch. The school is always renovating something, so everything is quite modern and in top condition. There are numerous labs, libraries, study areas, and technology resources. Notable social events are dances like Blue and Silver and Sadie Hawkins. Andover/exeter is a huge deal in the fall. The school is mostly white, but there is a strong minority contingent and the school emphasizes diversity a lot. 44% of students are on financial aid, but the majority are upper class. The faculty are also educated and probably upper middle class. The surrounding neighborhoods are also mainly white and upper class. Pastoral support is excellent at the school, but you have to seek it first. Traditions include Head of School Day and social activities as noted above. Campus sentiment is lately upset with the administration. There are some rulings in Disciplinary Committee that seem ridiculous, but the overall rules are pretty fair. Peers almost always contribute positively to the community, and I know I can always call up someone from my class to help me better understand the material, for instance, an econ genius explained the financial crisis to me the night before a major exam. In my opinion, the school's approach to discipline was too rigid in some cases and too liberal in others. I think if I were coerced into doing more work, i would have hit a breaking point and left the school. It is really intense. They constantly push you to your maximum.
The school does not do a good job of balancing student life. Be prepared to devote an overwhelming majority of your time to schoolwork. Activities...well there is nearly everything, and if there isn't what you want, you can always propose it. There's numerous ethnic groups, a fashion show, an improv troupe, a cappella groups, theater troupes, athletic teams, you name it, we've got it. A lot of kids end up doing community service at some point in their Andover careers. The school is very supportive of providing and encouraging students to engage in such activities. The students are well rounded because they learn time management and devote time to things they are interested in, though don't be surprised if extracurriculars suffer because of academic demands. The school is known for its academic rigor, and that will consume most of your time. The balance between all of those things, or rather, lack of balance, produced highly efficient, dedicated individuals to schoolwork and a few select activities.