Phillips Academy Andover review by Yale University student. Andover is mainly known for it's academic reputation. Firstly, every department is extremely strong, and offer many advanced classes in each subject. You can take organic chemistry, multivariable calculus, international relations, and perform college-level biology research if you'd like. That's rare at a high school. It's a very collegial student body, but of course some competition. But Andover does not have that vibe. In order to do well, you realize you have to work together with your classmates. I think one of the jewels of Andover is the writing. Coming to Andover, you might believe you know how to write a paper, but Andover will completely re-work your writing style to help you become a better writer. From that, you can function in any collegiate/professional environment (a diplomat talked about his time at Andover did exactly that for him). Most of the work at Andover is a great deal not because of just the amount of work, but also the quality of the work. Andover really strives for their students to THINK. It's not busy work like you did previously. It's difficult, but I was grateful at the end of my time at Andover for that type of training. What can I say? Andover is the best when it comes to academics in general. The school really focuses on discussion, because they want you to learn from your peers. I think that's something that's really hit home. A lot of people realize that when you go to college, your greatest asset for college and beyond are your peers. At Andover, you learn a lot from class and from your peers. Math and Science, however, are more straightfoward lectures. Class size is about 1 teacher:15 students. Faculty live with you, so they are extremely accessible, and they want their students to talk to them and ask questions. You wouldn't be getting the most out of the talented faculty if you didn't. My house counselor had a white board in his office and would teach us concepts at 10 PM for calculus the next morning. That's how accessible they are. The work load is about 25-30 hours per week, more during project/research paper time. It's a great deal of work, in addition to the fact that it's not busy work. You'll spend most of your time studying at Andover (if you are a diligent student, that is). It's through things like this that helps Andover students learn early in their lives the value of time-management.
Andover is in the city of Andover, MA. It's a primarily middle/upper class white town. It can be somewhat uncomfortable for minority students, but the community on campus is wonderful, in addition to the closeness of Boston. Crime & Safety. It's an extremely safe place to live. I can't stress that enough. Students feel so comfortable during the nighttime to walk into town and buy groceries/go to dinner, etc. Downtown (or Down the Hill) are restaurants, banks, stores, etc. Everything a student needs. Pastoral support: There is one doctor that sees most students, and he's quite good (he also runs an independent class on medicine for seniors). The tutors and houseparents/counselors are always there to talk when you need them. The chaplains try to be accommodating, but I think this is a difficult part of Andover. I think some students of certain religions found it hard to practice. I'm a Seventh-Day Adventist, but it's difficult to find a church in the surrounding area. Time-old traditions: Andover-Exeter, Non Siby Day (everyone does a community service project on campus or in Boston - this one is quite treasured), athletic competitions are definitely a huge part of school culture. Dining. Since the expansion and remodeling of the new Commons, the food on campus is wonderful. It's state-of-the-art services, and the variety is staggering. My brother who attended said he enjoyed the casseroles especially. Ethnic/Socio-economic background. 40 percent of students are on financial aid, and Andover gives out many full scholarships. 38% ethnic, and 8% international students. That's pretty rare for a boarding school! Dorms: Wonderful. Living areas are pretty nice and spacious (although floors tend to get dirty). Your house counselor is a faculty member, so you can get help on homework often. Discipline: I don't think the approach to discipline was too rigid. It was very fair. Andover keeps a "second chance" policy. If you mess up in a way, they usually give you another chance and might be put on probation. If you mess up a second time, however, you usually are kicked out.
I think the school does a fantastic job in balancing student life. You have a pretty structured day on MTThF. Classes from 8 AM - 2PM (with study periods in between). Afterward you participate in sports, which are varied. There are your standard courses, and then things like crew, rope courses, dance, archery, ultimate frisbee, etc. I also did community service for sport, which was amazing. Aftewards, you can study or participate in extracurricular activities. By 8 PM everyone must be in a place of study. Normally, students have an average of 6 hours in a day when they can study. Wednesdays are half days. You have class in the morning, and then All-School meeting where we go to Cochran chapel and listen to a lecture by influential person in the world. And the rest of the day is free time for activities, sports, work, etc. Rivalries. EXETER. The oldest high school rivalry in the country. It's amazing to get together with Andover students during the Andover-Exeter games. The camaraderie, the pranks, the "Exeter Geek Day", campus spirit and morale is sooo high. Definitely one of the things you'll leave Andover remembering. Community Service is one of the foundations of Andover. Our motto is "Non Sibi", not for self. And they make it interesting. For example, there are public service fellowships, where you can work with a local community/state/national organization for public service and the student will write a research paper in the end about the opportunity. There are service-learning trips that go to Belize and India. Service learning is very important at Andover because any body can do community service, but when you learn about the background of the problem and analyze it, it can make the situation more meaningful to you and will give you opportunities to figure out how to make real change. I think the time a student will spend with extracurrics can be a lot, but it depends on the student. Academics are tough at Andover, so you might found out very early that you cannot do as many activities you did at your previous school. For example, I think students mainly do a sport, and a couple of extracurriculars, and then study. Which is a good balance. But it's important because when you start college, you won't feel as pressured like many students coming from other high school backgrounds to do a million extracurricular. You will be able to better focus on your academics The students are most definitely well-rounded, passionate individuals.