Phillips Academy Andover review by Yale University student. The school is pretty strong in all subjects, but I would say that the English and History departments are weakest. The student body is very competitive. Andover has a 0-6 grading system which results in many classes being graded on a curve. But when you are in a class with ten people the it gets competitive. Andover is very good at forcing students to mange their time well and it makes students learn which things to prioritize, which is a big part of doing well in college. Also Andover classes are just as difficult if not more challenging than in college and you have a lot less time at Andover to do work. The only thing that is hard about college is the switch to large classes. At Andover you are forced to be engaged by the teachers because you are in a class of 10 or 12 but in a lecture of 250 that is not the case. At Andover it is a mix between lecture and discussion. Unlike Exeter and some other prep schools Andover does not use the Harkness method for all subjects only History and English are taught that way. Math and Science classes are taught using lecture followed by discussion but classes are so small that students can alway ask questions even in a lecture based class. Languages are taught using emersion except for Greek and Latin. 3) Classes are small English and History classes are capped at 13 and most classes are around there. I had classes as small as 4 and as large as 18 though. Most teachers live on campus and only teach two or three classes so they are very available to their students. The recommended amount per class is 4-5 hours times 5 or 6 classes, but it really depends on the class how much work there is. Yes there is extra help from the teacher from peer tutors and there are also math and science study halls with tutors. If students are advanced teachers will definitely give them harder material or they can do an independent study in their area of interest.
Being a school in Massachusetts, Andover is pretty liberal. While the conservatives are few and far between they are often very passionate and have a few clubs on campus that meet to discuss the more their point of view. Andover emphasizes community so students definitely look out for each other. In most cases Andover was pretty reasonable about discipline. The school has a second chance policy when it comes to drugs and alcohol which allows students to make mistakes and seek help without fear of being asked to leave. The other main issue resulting in disciplinary action is academic dishonesty which Andover takes very seriously. While this is obviously an important issue the school goes a little too far in my opinion. I distinctly remember waking up at 4am in a cold sweat the night after turning in a history paper and going back to look at it because I was worried about having accidentally messed up a footnote. Even accidental plagiarism can hold serious consequences. Andover is a pretty diverse place in terms of its student body and faculty. It is as diverse as any of the colleges that I toured. Many people have the misconception that the student body of prep schools has not changed since the 1950's and that they are still full of only wealthy white kids, when in fact Andover prides itself on its diversity both in terms of ethic and socio- economic background. When I was applying about forty percent of the student body was on financial aid, and I can tell you that they aid that Andover gives is much more generous than what the colleges give. While Phillips Academy may be diverse the town of Andover is not. The town is predominately caucasian and fairly well-off.
Andover definitely encourages its students to participate in activities outside of the classroom. Sports are required for all students and the academy wants students to follow their interests through clubs and community service to enrich the community. The institution itself does put effort into the students having a healthy social life by partnering with clubs and sponsoring events on the weekends. However, Andover is an extremely competitive environment, due to the culture of the school students choose very full schedules because the academy supports it and because of the pressure of college admissions. Therefore it is difficult for students to balance academics, extracurriculars, and a social life, it is often a pick two of the three kind of thing. This depends a lot on the student. I probably spent about thirty hours a week on extracurriculars some students spend as much as forty others less than ten. It really just depends on which activities you get involved in and which positions you hold in those organizations. One of Andover's aims is to produce well-rounded individuals; so the academy does try to foster a balanced life for its students. However the school also puts a focus on allowing students to take responsibility in their own lives. Therefore how a student chooses to use the resources that Andover provides dictates their experience more than any mandate from the administration. Crew was definitely my favorite activity at Andover. It was a great way to make friends and it gave me structure and discipline however it was a huge time commitment probably upwards of twenty hours a week. I was the president of Classical club so it was another favorite. It was always fun to plan the meetings even during a busy week. Pot Pourri is yearbook, and it is a large time commitment once you reach the upper board. It was really amazing to see your work in print however I had a lot of late nights working on it. I volunteered at Bancroft school which is a local elementary school. It was always great to get off campus for an hour or two during the day however it was sometimes difficult to find a time during the week to go because of Bancroft's school day.